A Wonderful Variety
LEA Weekly Devotional
Week of October 29, 2006
Proper 25 (B)
Extended Reading: Jeremiah 3:7–9
A Wonderful Variety
“I’ll bring my people back from the north country and gather them up from the ends of the earth, gather whose who’ve gone blind and those who are lame and limping, gather pregnant women, even the mothers whose birth pangs have started, bring them all back, a huge crowd!” (Jeremiah 31:8 The Message).
The street sign outside my boyhood Lutheran school was a bit demoralizing. The City of Chicago (Richard J. Daley, Mayor) put it there. They somehow knew about us. It said SLOW CHILDREN. Good thing we were in sixth grade before we could read it. And we weren’t offended until we reached eighth grade. (When everything imposed by non eighth graders was offensive.) We blamed air pollution for our condition.*
At first glance, it appears that Jeremiah’s large enrollment came down from Canada to fill his classrooms. And it doesn’t appear that his students would make the best subjects for the publicity brochure. At least there were lots of them! Do any remind you of the students in your school, youth group, Sunday school, Confirmation class, or Bible class? I hope so.
God sent a wonderful variety of students to you.
Okay, so wonderful might not be how you would characterize all whom you serve. Some are from other countries and don’t speak English very well—or use it too goodly. Others are blind to the richness of God’s mercy and grace, so they don’t see Him as you do. (Yet!) Others suffer (and practice!) a variety of developmental abnormalities (which their parents think are perfectly normal!) that threaten the progress of others in the class. Some use way too many parentheses and exclamation marks (!). Of course, there also are those who are ready grow and who will some day be pregnant with ideas and activities that will nurture the faith of others and benefit society. (These students can be your biggest challenge!)
As we daily deal with this “wonderful variety” of students, we must remember that they are sinners. Or, maybe, we must forget they are sinners, which may be the harder task. Luther labeled this dichotomy “saint and sinner.” You have lots of them in your class (even if you have a little class ((I mean small class)). And you are one of them too. God the Father’s grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as revealed by the Holy Spirit has turned a mob of sinners into a wonderful variety of saints.
God’s word through Jeremiah pictured a joyful reunion of believers—people chosen by Him to receive and assimilate the Gospel. People like you and me. People like the students you teach. All shapes, sizes, conditions, languages, colors, degrees of intelligence, and range of attitudes. Sinners. Saints—or someday to become one.
Satan is a dedicated and diligent teacher. He persists in strategies to convince you and your students that God and His Trinity are useless—if they even exist. He attempts to sour you on your mission and on the “wonderful variety” of those you teach. And as that happens, it’s good to remember God’s word through Jeremiah. It’s good to picture you and your students coming together on Judgment Day, a joyful lot to be sure.
God has indeed given you a wonderful variety of students. Enjoy them all. Let them enjoy you. Include those who don’t yet know their Savior, for the Holy Spirit will use your joy to affect their receptivity to the Gospel. God has sent them all to you. (Even the ones with obnoxious parents.)
* A gross exaggeration! Miss Fox, our first grade teacher, taught us well to comprehend Dick, Jane, Spot and lots of other good stuff at Holy Cross in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago. Armour, however, did make Dial soap a few blocks from the school. Air pollution is a distinked possibility to explain this writer’s condition some 50 years later! (Yes, I know I spelled distinct wrong. This was just my attempt at a sic joke.)
Written by Ed Grube
Director of Publications & Communications
© 2006 Lutheran Education Association
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