Last summer, after having taught in public schools for eight years, I felt called to accept a job at Our Savior Lutheran, Lansing. Principal Matt Couser then shared with me a piece written by his mother-in-law and former OSL teacher, Miriam Sohn. In it, Miriam reflected in positive ways on her long and fruitful Lutheran school teaching career. Little did I know at the time that, through Miriam, my third grade students and I were to be given the opportunity to live out our faith in a very real way. And this is why I love serving in a Lutheran school.
Miriam was living with ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease). One day, during morning circle, I asked the class how we might help our former teacher. Many of their siblings had had Mrs. Sohn as a teacher and they would see her and her loving husband at church on Sundays. Immediately, the eyes of my eight and nine-year-olds lit up and Christ-filled ideas poured out. Eagerly, they sought to raise awareness of this debilitating disease that was diminishing Mrs. Sohn’s physical strength each day.
We also prayed daily for Mrs. Sohn and sent her cards and videos throughout the fall. When we learned that Miriam was in her final days, my students wished her “a good time in heaven” and saw it as simply moving on to a better place a bit sooner than the rest of us. The trusting, loving reactions of my third graders were an example to me. “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:4). My students still reference Mrs. Sohn during our study of God’s Word. Their walk with Christ is real and it brings me so much joy.
I love serving in a Lutheran school because I can openly approach each day asking, “What is God up to today and how can he use me?” It means being able to respond naturally and unabashedly to all that He has done for us in dying on the cross. It means working alongside others who also desire to further God’s kingdom each day. It means taking difficult situations among colleagues or students to Jesus’ feet. It means playing football with my third graders, coaching middle school basketball, tackling tough questions at a middle school retreat and being entrusted to further relationships in Christ with our sister church in Middleburg, South Africa, this summer.
It means closing my eyes during chapel to listen to the beautiful chorus of childrens’ praises flood the sanctuary—an ethereal experience. It means laughing, crying, and growing with brothers and sisters in Christ. It does not mean secluding ourselves or shying away from the tough questions of this world.
Miriam Sohn served in Lutheran schools for 33 years; this is my first. I am thankful for her example and for the way God used her final days to help me quickly understand my new role. Serving in a Lutheran school means including the Maker of everything in everything we do. What could be more important?
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