September 6, 2022 is a self-declared holiday in our home. Of course, similar to Easter it’s not a holiday on a fixed date. It’s just whenever the first day of school falls. In celebration of our astonishing conquest over another summer as parents, there will be champagne, victory speeches, sparklers, and probably a parade. O death, where is thy sting? Not even the grave, or as I call it, “the never-ending month of August,” could destroy us.
But as much as I cannot wait to send my two wee bairns out of my house and into the rhythms of the school year, I also will take a deep, trusting breath. The world can be a frightful place. So I entrust my children into the care of classroom aides, custodians, teachers, and administrators. I put the two most precious things in my life into the hands of others who have made a vow to cherish them as I do.
I’ve been thinking this week of the vows we make. Certainly all of us make vows in one way or another: vows of fidelity, vows of love, vows of commitment and character. For centuries marriage vows made in English-speaking churches used a variation of the phrase “I plight thee my troth.” You don’t hear it much at weddings anymore, and that’s a shame I think. To plight one’s troth means literally to pledge one’s trust/honesty/faithfulness. There at the altar the betrothed are asked if they will be committed in truth to the other, if they will live for the other’s well-being, and work for their good. They are asked if they will be true in their allegiance.
Just as educators plight their troths to students and parents, and the soon-to-be-married plight their troth to their beloved, pastors and congregants alike make similar promises to one another. Next week is not only the start of school for many local students, but it leads up to the beginning of a full church program year. There are so many places where we need the faithfulness and commitment of church members. There continue to be opportunities to serve, to learn, to teach, to set up and clean up, to usher, to greet, and to share. As we look toward it all, I plight my troth again to this congregation and our shared ministry in Christ’s name. Might we count on you to do the same?