At Easter some time ago I had a new reflection on the story of the resurrection. It likely is not revolutionary but brought me some comfort. In John’s recounting of the story, Mary Magdalene is a faithful servant up early to finish the work that could not be done on the Sabbath. Some disciple is faster and runs with all his heart to the tomb, but cannot muster the courage to go in. Peter follows, slower but bolder, and enters. Each plays their role in the story, each gives what they can to advance God’s kingdom work.
Christmas has a similar lesson. In Luke’s telling of the birth of Jesus Joseph is quiet, steady, and obedient in the face of challenges. Mary, while bearing a child, also shares in the obedience, and adds wonder, reflection, and poetry to the story. The shepherds abandon their work to see the newborn and tell everyone they meet their story. Each person in the story plays a God-given part. No person is complete without the others.
In the last few years, between COVID, political unrest, and social discovery we have been called as educators to take on hats we never knew we would need. Some of these hats were interesting and life-giving. I discovered an odd affinity for studying indoor air quality, which appealed to my building design and physics interests. But most of these changes were unwelcome and out of my areas of interest. When I would talk with other educators I would hear phrases like, this is not what I signed up for. It is hard to work outside of your area of giftedness, and takes extra time and energy, saps your strength more quickly, and brings burnout.
Over the next few years we all, but especially educators, will need to find ourselves again. God made each of us for a purpose. He gave us gifts to give to the body of Christ that have been intentionally and for a time unused. We need to use those gifts again, in the new context of pandemic, division, and social discovery. We are not going to be able to return to the way it was, but instead, have to find a new way forward to live wholeheartedly in this new world. Together we, who are interested in Christian Deeper Learning can do this. In fact, it is what we ask our students to do each year. Wrestle with what they know about the world and how they can build God’s kingdom in that world.
If I go back to the same stories I started this reflection with there are clues to where to begin. Mary strengthened herself by, for a time, spending time away with Elizabeth. Two disciples walked the road to Emaus together and wondered about it all, and in the wondering and wandering Jesus joined them. Intentionally find spaces, regular spaces at home or school, and retreat spaces where you can think, reflect, and pray about how God created you to work with Christians around you to meet today’s new challenges.