One of the really great things about our faith is that it’s not just a “get out of hell” card, not just about gaining eternal life. Our faith is also just a better way to live. I write often of the importance of spiritual disciplines in living this good life, a life that is holy and healthy and pleasing to the Lord. When we think of spiritual disciplines, we often talk of reading Scripture, and of prayer, of quiet time, and of fasting. But, rarely to we talk of two spiritual disciplines that I think are extremely poignant as we near the end of the school year: the disciplines of remembrance and celebration.
God calls us again and again to remember. Throughout the Old Testament, God reminded the Israelites again and again that He freed them from oppression in Egypt and called them to the Promised Land. Communion, which we practice regularly as a church, is a commandment to remember what Christ has done for us in giving us new life and making us whole. God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us remember. Jesus said, “but the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
God wants us to remember over and over again that He is good, He has called us to Him, and that we are His. He wants us to remember who, and whose, we are. Remembrance is important to our identity; it’s so easy in this day and age (probably any day and age), when the larger culture is bombarding us with messages telling us who we are, to constantly remember the truth about ourselves.
God also calls us to celebrate. We don’t often think about celebration as a discipline, but it is. God commands festivals and celebrations throughout the Old Testament. Again, communion is an opportunity to celebrate Christ’s work in us. The end of time, the New Jerusalem, our eternal destiny, is described as a great feast, a fantastic celebration. When we celebrate, we recognize the good things God has given, and we recognize that God is the giver of all good things. Celebrating well is a discipline.
With these two disciplines in mind, I pray you’ll find some time in the midst of the frenetic end-of-school-year activities to remember and celebrate what God has done in the life of this school, and in the life of your child this year.
Five state championships. As I’m writing, I have a hard time believing it: drum line, choir, girls track, basketball, and soccer. And, high placements in several other co-curricular competitions, including boys soccer, football, softball, orchestra, band, and art. This has been an amazing year for interscholastic competition at Grace. Whether the school wins the Henderson Cup this year or not, it is certainly the most well-rounded school at its level in the state. God has given us a new vision for the school, a vision I shared with you in February, and the strongest board the school has ever had is building a strategic plan (based, in part, upon your comments and feedback) to accomplish that vision. We celebrated the elementary school being awarded Blue Ribbon status as an exemplary school. Further, Grace successfully piloted its classical school this year, and moves into the second year of operation next year. We celebrated the retirement of several great teachers and leaders who have served our school family well for decades, people like Galen Taylor, Susan Boylan, Julie Aldredge, Dawn Bridges, Christina Jontra, and Janet Taylor. We can also celebrate that God, in His infinite grace, has provided great people to replace those who are moving on to God’s next ministry assignment for them.
And, what about within your own family? Do your children know Jesus better this year than last? Did they learn something wonderful that surprised you? Did they make new friends, maybe different ones than last year? Did they experience a particular victory in their life, and learn to give God the glory for it? Did God use a difficult circumstance to teach them to trust Him, to draw near to Him, or to love others more: one of those hidden blessings that mean everything as we become strong, resilient followers of Christ? Did they learn something about their calling, or the way God made them, or His vision for their lives, one piece of the mosaic that will ultimately be their life and their mission? If you stand still and remember for a few minutes, you’ll realize we have much to celebrate this year.
James tells us that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights. All these blessings, even those coming to us in disguise, are from God’s hand. Remember them, celebrate them, give thanks to God for them, and remember that Your Father gives good gifts to those He loves.
Jay Ferguson writes regularly on his blog, The Head and The Heart.