A Year Like No Other

“It’s not what we expected.” It wasn’t the first day of kindergarten we thought it would be. It wasn’t the retirement we had hoped. It wasn’t the birth we had planned. It wasn’t the funeral he deserved. In the end, the outcome doesn’t match the glossy photos we had imagined months before; and yet, here we are. We are living in this familiar-yet-different world where expectations are turned on their head, and plans are in constant motion. It’s not an easy place to be, and yet, here we are.

Even with all the changes, another school year is beginning. Of course, the normal fears and anxieties are present: Will my friends remember me? Will my teacher like me? Will I learn something new? Will I remember my homework or which bus I take?There also are new worries: Will I make someone sick or will someone make me sick? What if I forget my mask? What if my computer doesn’t work or the power goes out? What if my teacher can’t see or hear me? Who will answer my questions? What will I eat for lunch? Will I see my friends again? Our families are holding so many things in tension. Even with all those worries, they are sitting down, logging on and walking in, to start school. A year ago, no one could have imagined a school year like this one, and yet here we are.

We are on the threshold of something new, something beyond our expectations. While that is an uncertain place, we are not the first to face it. I can imagine the Israelites standing on the banks of the Jordan River were similarly uncertain: They knew how to live in the desert, but how do you live on the land? I can imagine Jesus was a little nervous when he first stood to preach in Nazareth: They know me as Mary’s boy, but are they ready for a Savior? When the Apostles first went out to preach… they were anglers not evangelists. In each of these circumstances, God reminded the people they were not alone in this endeavor. At the beginning of a new school year, I pray for our students, teachers, administrators and families and hope they will be reminded they are not alone heading into a year of the unexpected. 

A Prayer at the Beginning of the School Year: 

God you have guided your people through all things, and you are with us now. Help us at the beginning of the year:

Bless us as you blessed Abraham and Sarah heading out from Ur to unknown lands.

Protect us as you protected the people from danger in the desert.

Make us strong and courageous, like the Israelites crossing the Jordan.

Renew us when we are weary, just as you helped Elijah as he fled.

Place your Spirit upon us, so that we can understand and speak your truth.

Guide us when we begin new things, just as you led the apostles to teach and preach.

When we walk through fire, keep us safe.

When the waters rise, keep us steady. 

When we are lost, find us. 

When we are found, help us rejoice. 

Remind us again and again that you are with us, today and always.