Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Each year, about this time, our students head back to school. Some are excited, some nervous. And some of the students are excited and nervous too. Many students dread the start of another rigorous year and difficult classes. Few express the same joy at attending that the children in developing parts of the world do at the opportunity school is. And sometimes, we teachers and educators dread the return of a busy schedule and the inevitable difficulties and challenges that students can present.
This is a great time of year to focus on what is so good about this fresh beginning, about learning, and about the students themselves. We do a disservice to our kids when we hype the school year but forget to get excited as adults. After all, especially as Presbyterians, we are lifelong learners, and we value education, and a theology of gratitude. We charge our ordained leaders to lead us with "energy, intelligence, imagination, and love," in their vows. So what do you do to prepare and how do you walk along side them?
Some of you are school teachers and professors and professional educators. This makes you trained and ready to teach at church too. Some of you are experts in raising successful kids who have grown and graduated, making you seasoned in assisting a new generation of parents with Sunday school and youth group. Some of us are aunts and uncles and coaches and mentors who have wisdom and expertise and time to offer. And all of us are called to see the goodness and image of God in our young people and volunteer to help make disciples.
This week, I watched a young man at our youth kickoff night from Casa Brasil, the Portuguese community that worships in the Youth Garage weekly. He ran alongside the giant inflatable, cheering on and encouraging his friends to cross the finish line. Brothers and sisters, this is the good and noble and worthy of praise we have been called to see and to emulate and encourage. Join us.