When I was growing up I loved getting ready for the beginning of the school year. There was always a bit of nervous wondering about which teacher I’d get or if close friends would end up in the same class. My memories of those concerns are now far overmatched by the excitement I recall in getting ready by shopping for a couple of outfits and picking out a pair of new shoes. But the greatest thrill was getting new school supplies: a box of crayons perfectly pointed and arranged in a rainbow of color, notebooks with pristine paper, an array of binders and a whole set of new books. As I got older the ruler gave way to the pencil compass, and long after I grew beyond being the child getting ready to become the parent who paid for the supplies, our children began to need calculators of such sophistication that I couldn’t tell you what they were meant to compute. As a child, as a parent, and as a pastor now conversing with BMPC families beginning a new school year, I cannot round the corner of Labor Day without remembering with fondness how I love getting ready for a fresh start.
All of which has me thinking about how we get ready for Rally Day at church. There are similarities – promotion in Sunday School, youth moving up from the Education building to the Youth Gathering, new adult class offerings, even new teachers and supplies and ample excitement. But here is the amazing difference. You don’t need to buy anything. You don’t even need to bring anything, save perhaps an open mind, a willing spirit to grow in discipleship and deepen in spiritual commitment. A love for God, a desire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, or a Bible in hand are surely welcome companions as you get ready to come to church on Sunday. However, just as important are a hunger and thirst for the goodness and grace of a loving, living God.
Like a child getting ready for the first day of school, I can hardly wait for Rally Day. To begin anew and to recommit to the vitality of worshipping together, learning together, growing together, welcoming newcomers together, serving together, eating together. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, and I hope you share my excitement in getting ready.