Unique dress days. Coin wars to support mission projects. Worshiping together. Special lunch menus. Field trips. Those are some of the things we usually think of when celebrating National Lutheran Schools Week and all of these things, plus a whole lot more, were present during last week’s NLSW festivities.
This past week, many also took time to thank God for their own personal experiences with Lutheran schools and the influence of teachers, coaches and pastors. For me, I remember Miss Kopishke and my Dad, both who encouraged me to be a Lutheran teacher. I also give thanks for Immanuel in Marshfield, WI and Concordia in Chicago for my elementary schooling and my college education. All the aforementioned have provided God’s direction to me through Lutheran education.
And, so NLSW concluded. It was a week to remember.
As the week came to a close, I was reminded that life in Christ is what we teach, what we preach, and what we live. It’s a cradle to grave ministry. This week, that fact was very apparent.
Monday I had the honor to share the homily at Concordia Lutheran High School’s chapel service. Through baptism hymnody (God’s Own Child I Gladly Say It, Baptized into Your Name Most Holy) and a reflection on the Aaronic Blessing (Numbers 6:24-27), God’s face shone brightly upon those gathered. While 2000 years ago, God turned his face on his only begotten because of the shame and guilt of the sin Jesus carried to the cross, we–the redeemed–share the blessings of God’s name being placed upon us through His Word and through baptism.
Usually, in this grace-filled tone of new life, life in Christ is celebrated as life on earth, in communion with one another, in grace, in peace.
As a school community, we live out this life in Christ with worship, with devotions, with prayer, and with other reflections on God’s Word. But it’s also acted out in our mission projects and in behavior management plans that are centered on confession and absolution, of living out the Christian’s life of repentance.
However, on Friday of last week, life in Christ was seen as a new beginning realizing the hope that we teach in a more harsh way. On Friday, I worshiped with hundreds who were mourning the death of their teacher, colleague, and friend (preschool teacher of St Michael, Michelle Wolfer). Worship to start the week; worship to end the week. Jesus at the beginning; Jesus at the end.
This worship was unique. In this worship, we celebrated a race complete, a joy mixed with mourning. It could have been a very sad time. It could have been time to dwell on cancer as the evil it is. It could have been a time to find some type of success story lined with Michelle’s accomplishments and all the lives she touched.
In true Lutheran fashion, the message instead was about life. It was the same message Lutheran students need and that they hear every day. Because the message was not about Michelle’s doings, but Christ’s doings. The message of the day was baptism- and it was unmistakeable in words and in the baptismal pall that draped Michelle’s casket.
“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
What makes Lutheran schools unique? It better be all about Jesus. Michelle showed us that on Friday. Because as cancer had taken most everything away from her, the one thing left was the only thing needed- Jesus.
As this new week gets started, let’s keep Christ at the forefront.
“Nothing have I, Christ, to offer,
You alone, my highest good.
Nothing have I, Lord, to proffer
But Your crimson-colored blood.
Your death on the cross has death wholly defeated
And thereby my righteousness fully completed;
Salvation’s white raiments I there do obtain,
And in them in glory with You I shall reign.”
Hymn #536, One Thing’s Needful