I understood the importance of Lutheran schools. I agreed that they are beneficial for the strengthening of body, mind, and spirit. I recognized the Christian influence and appreciated the nurturing incubator. I knew Lutheran schools really, really well, as a student, as a teacher, and as a parent. The treasure of Lutheran schools, their mission for Jesus and their impact on lives, was dear to me.
And then …
In February, 2017, my son John died, and every reason I ever had for loving and promoting Lutheran schools became more real than ever before. The words I had memorized, and pondered, and taught, held me and carried me. God’s words of promise, life, and salvation came to me when I needed them, because my world of family, friends, and Lutheran school ministry had sealed them in my heart and mind. I am the recipient of the faithful influence of believers before me who told me about God’s mighty acts. “Let each generation tell its children of God’s mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).
John and his siblings are my next generation who were told about God’s mighty acts. We told them, our extended circles told them, and Lutheran schools told them. What are these mighty acts of God that we have to tell? We have the wonders of God’s creation, His providence in the lives of His people, His prophecies and plan of salvation for us in our brokenness to tell. We have the miracles and parables of Jesus, His life and death and resurrection to tell. We have personal testimonies of Jesus to tell. These are mighty acts! My John is in heaven, praising Jesus, because more than belonging to us, John belongs to Him who has done mighty acts. “These (acts of Jesus) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
A pastor friend spoke about mission trip memories of John, thoughtful conversations and laughs they shared, and faith that grew. He reflected on the preparation in a young life to know and meet Jesus. We who have been entrusted with God’s mighty acts are charged to keep on telling; tell the children, tell what God has done in the world and in our lives. They need to know. Whatever else comes, whether life or death, it’s still all about Jesus. Thank you, steadfast Lutheran teachers, for telling John.
This is why Lutheran schools matter. Curriculum and activities and school community are important because they prepare children and families for what God has planned for them to do with their lives, but that is temporary. The real reason that Lutheran schools matter is that they bring people into relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is eternal. At the heart of kingdom ministry is this: it’s still all about Jesus.
Gracious Lord God, to you alone belongs all glory. Fill us with your message so that no one will miss the wonders of your mighty acts. We pray in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Photo courtesy of Elisa Schulz Photography