This week in third grade we have been discussing how our God is a mighty fortress. Students enjoyed creating a 3-D fortress and background. This activity allowed students to be creative and artistic in designing and setting up their fortresses!
This is a special week for Lutheran churches and schools all around the world as we celebrate Martin Luther and the reformation of the Christian church over 500 years ago. We want our students to know our rich Lutheran heritage founded on the ideals of “Grace Alone”, “Faith Alone”, “Christ Alone”, “Scripture Alone”, “To the Glory of God Alone”.
Throughout the month of October, we sing Luther’s most well-known hymn in Chapel, “A Mighty Fortress”, based on Psalm 46. Our 6th graders have their annual Martin Luther competition, culminating in the winner “nailing” Luther’s 95 Theses to a church door, as Luther did on Oct. 31, 1517. Dr. Heide shares his travel photos from his many trips to Germany and the important sites from Luther’s life.
It’s a month-long celebration for the blessings of having God’s Word to learn more about His amazing Grace and the man who started a revolution of teaching everyone how much they are loved by God the Father and freely forgiven through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
I have a small card under the glass on my desk at school that bears a simple, yet profound, message: “Everything seems impossible until it is done.” I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about that card lately.
It wasn’t too many days ago that none of us were too sure how the school year would begin. New (and often contradictory) regulations and guidelines were hemorrhaging out of Sacramento, seemingly hourly. Newscasters made the most of the confusion, predicting a crisis in classrooms through California and the nation, as a whole. Meanwhile, here in Orange, St. John’s Lutheran church and school leadership quietly spent the last seven months intensely studying the guidelines, creating policy, and then deftly shifting it to follow the new guidelines that would ultimately determine how St. John’s Lutheran School would face a challenging (and, at times, a daunting) future.
Yet, here we are.
It’s the second week of school for all of us. Preschool through the Sixth Grades are in their proper classrooms, being taught by hardworking, caring, and somewhat exhausted Christian teachers. While the Seventh and Eighth Grade students are still learning online, the word going around is that, given the current trends, Seventh and Eighth Graders could be back in the Chapman Building in a couple of weeks.
Far from the potential train wreck predicted by some, the opening of St. John’s Lutheran School has been, calm and orderly and, in a sense, predictable. We’ve met the challenges and pressed forward. Given the predictions of disaster, how has St. John’s Lutheran School achieved such a feat?
It wasn’t us.
God’s Hand has clearly been at work. In His eternal foresight, Our Lord has placed the right leaders in positions where their skills are in direct alignment with what needed to be done – and when. The right people became “Covid-19” experts. The right campus management team envisioned the right policies that allowed the right administrators to compose the right words for the waiver, which was submitted to the right people, at the right time, to effect the right outcome. The right teachers prepared for both styles of learning – online and face-to-face – so that, whichever mode was needed could be implemented immediately. Parents stood in solidarity with St. John’s Lutheran School, praying, petitioning, and holding their ground as SJLS supporters even when things looked a bit dicey.
Because of the power of the Almighty, working with and through the people mentioned in the paragraph above, St. John’s Lutheran School opened, as it should have, on the date that was determined last January, before most Americans had ever heard of plague known as “Covid-19.” While not, perhaps, in the same league as changing water into wine, I consider what happened here miraculous, given the challenges the church and school faced – and is facing today.
God is good. God is powerful. God engages with His people. We’ve just seen that here at St. John’s.
Like you, I’m awed. And, of course, highly thankful.
Kevin G. Smith
Seventh Grade Language Arts & Christian Faith and Life