October 17, 2021
During my first year as a pastor, there were certain milestones I knew to look forward to. I looked forward to the first time I stood at the communion table and invited my congregation to share in the feast, and the first time I marked an infant with water and proclaimed how much God loved her in baptism. I looked forward to my first Christmas and first sunrise Easter service. But there were other firsts that I didn’t know about that caught me off guard with their beauty.
One of these unexpected firsts was when the first day of school rolled around in my town. I was able to call or text each of my children and youth and hear about how their new school year started. I got text messages from high school freshmen with concerns about how far they have to get between classes. I talked to a brand-new second grader about how much she already loved her new teacher and how her class gets to go to the library twice each week.
These check-ins felt as sacred as the regular rituals of worship. I was letting these young people know that the love their church family has for them extends beyond the walls of the church.
Our love for our schoolchildren extends into their education. It extends into collecting supplies so that all the children in their school have what they need. It extends into attending school board meetings to make sure schools are safe and equitable places. Our love for these children may even send us all the way to the statehouses, to the Senate, to the U.N. advocating for children to be safe and be able to learn and grow everywhere.
And if our love for these children can extend so far and reach out in so many directions, it is amazing to imagine how much wider, deeper, stronger and more powerful God’s love for them extends.
As a pastor and an advocate for education, one of the ways I serve our denomination is on the Educate a Child Roundtable. In this group, we gather to equip, educate and empower churches to support education on the local and national level through direct support and advocacy. For more information, you can reach out to the Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson in the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
Rev. Beth Olker, Pastor, Macedonia Presbyterian Church, Field Staff, Racial Equity and Women’s Intercultural Ministries, PMA Member, Educate a Child Roundtable
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, October 17, 2021, the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Today’s Focus: Educate a Child, Transform the World
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Dwayne Batcho, Production Clerk, Presbyterian Distribution Center, Administrative Services Group (A Corp)
Doug Batezel, Vice President, Information Technology, Board of Pensions
Let us pray
Holy God, since the moment you placed people into your world, you have taught us lessons of compassion, justice, mercy and hope. We pray that the schools in this nation and around the world would be safe places where children of all ages can grow and learn and thrive. Keep helping us extend our love and our hope into the lives of the children we call beloved and the schools we call neighbors. Bless the teachers and staff, the students and parents, and make us all partners in your kingdom work. Amen.