A Few Words From Pastor Brian
Listen my sons to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding...Do not forsake wisdom and she will protect you; love her and she will watch over you.
- Proverbs 4:1, 6
September, for many, means back to school time. The days are shorter and there's often a nip in the air, the last cookout is done and the grill put away until next summer, and the school busses start to roll. For most of us at Redeemer though, our schooldays are long since past, but does that mean that we no longer have a need or the ability to learn new things? Discipleship, as Jesus used the term (follower), is a lifelong process. As Solomon writes to his sons in Proverbs, there is no age limit for gaining wisdom and understanding. Lifelong learning is the way of a Christian.
“Well, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.” Or so the saying goes. But haven't you learned all sorts of new things in recent years? As our lives and circumstances change, we need to learn new ways of doing things, new patterns, new technologies, and all sorts of things we learn as we go. Perhaps some of us have had to learn a new walker or cane. Some others may have to learn and adapt to a new diet, some may learn how to use hearing aids or glasses, or other things to help us do what we once did without much thought. We are always learning, even if it's been decades since we were in a classroom.
Most learning takes place outside of the classroom. There's an old farmer's saying, “I'd rather trust a farmer with dirt under his fingernails than one with a PhD under his belt.” Some types of learning must be done experientially – you don't really know it until you do it. The dichotomy between theory and practice is really a false opposition. Look at how Jesus trained His disciples. He didn't have them travel to a classroom 1 or 2 nights per week and lecture them. He took them along with Him and they learned as they went. When they passed a newly sown field, Jesus taught how the Kingdom is like a farmer going out to sow seeds. As they passed by a vineyard, we get the illustration of Jesus the Vine and we as His branches. Off in the distance, the sheep and goats could be seen grazing the hillsides and we get various parables about shepherds, sheep & goats, lost sheep, and the like. There were no textbooks, no final exams, and no class projects – just life. Yet it is these lessons that stick with us more than the multiplication tables we memorized in 4th grade. Perhaps this is why the Israelites were instructed to “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Dt. 6:7)
As we begin another academic year here at Redeemer, how or what will you learn this year? We'll have some formal instruction times; Lunch with Luther examining the 95 Theses the end of Sept., Women's Bible Study on Tuesday nights, Confirmation classes (adults can attend too!), and many other learning opportunities. Yet all these formal lessons pale in comparison to “the school of life.” Jesus' brother James tells us, “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says, is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:22-24) Classroom work (theory) is important, but so is living out the lessons (practice).
Wisdom, which Solomon so often extols us towards, is the practice of living out the things we've learned. So how do we do that? We have a few opportunities for putting our faith into practice throughout the next few months; we have MOPS starting up, getting an older adult ministry formulated and started, Trunk-or-Treat, Shoebox packing, and a clothing drive. But there are many opportunities to live the lessons you've learned in everyday life. If you are in contact with other human beings on a daily basis, you have the opportunity to practice forgiveness daily. We have all been given gifts of time, talent, and treasure which we must practice (and thereby learn) good stewardship of. We each have our own unique situations where the lessons we hear and learn from God's Word can be put into practice in a tangible way in everyday life. So will you grow in wisdom this coming school year?
Peace in Christ;