“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger and did nothing for you?” (Matthew 25:44)
Dear Friends of Second Church,
This morning was the first day of school, at least for the Greenwich Public Schools, and our daughter Grace was up early.
She’s very excited to be a first grader, and so at least for today, our morning routine was a delightful performance of her independence–clothes on without any “Poppy, not THAT…..” editorializing, breakfast downed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, lunch packed, backpack checked one more time, and off we went.
The lawn outside her school was like old home week for the under-tall, and Grace got right down to business, comparing new sneakers with her friends and telling them all about the raptors she saw a couple of weeks ago at the Stamford Nature Center. (Is it just me, or are children are smarter than they used to be?) Parents with cellphone cameras were everywhere.
It wasn’t until the classes were all proudly marching in the schoolhouse door behind their new teachers that I noticed the few kids hanging back–holding on tight for another minute as mom or dad carefully moved them toward the door, harrumphing them along in stages, like thirty pound bags of flour. And from a word here or there I managed to catch, I realized that they were all “new kids.” New to school, or new to Greenwich, or just new to Julian Curtiss? I don’t know yet. But they’re new.
We all know that in a few days, most of them will be just fine.
But I’ve been thinking about them all day, and thinking about how I can help Grace be one of the kids who makes an extra effort to welcome them.
How do you explain to a first grader about Jesus’ commandment to welcome the stranger? How do we help our children see that building community is about lunch tables and playground games and the look on your face when the teacher picks your partner? And how can we help them learn how sacred it is to do those things with others in mind? Do we do the same sort of things ourselves, so that our children see the lesson often enough to follow our example?
The beginning of a new school year is always a holy moment. Somewhere nearby, moms and dads are praying that their worried new student will settle in, make friends, and begin to love their new life in this new place to which they’ve come. My hope is that, each in their own ways, the children of Second Church will be answers to those prayers.
See you in church,
Beautifully articulated. While you’re talking specifically about Grace and her friends in grade school, the feeling of being an outsider in new situations never quite goes away for some of us.
Bless those who make an extra to make fake extroverts like me feel safe and welcome in new situations.
And when the heck did your daughter grow up enough to start first grade??