Memorial Day - Easter Season
What do you do to remember people who have died for their country? If they are from your family, you might go to the cemetery to put flowers on their graves. From the time of the U.S. Civil War, Americans have set aside time to remember those who served their country. One of those times is Memorial Day.
We originally called this day Decoration Day, because the graves of the soldiers were decorated with flowers.
When I was in school, we would bring our pennies (yes, pennies) to school to be collected for flowers to be placed on the tombs of soldiers in our local cemetery. I can remember proudly giving my teachers my pennies to help brighten up the graves of soldiers who I would never know.
It is important that we honor those brave men and women who have sacrificed for our country, who have given up their lives, without question for our freedoms. For freedoms we so often take for granted.
Most people of my generation have someone who has served in the military. You see, I come from the time when young men were drafted. You didn't have a choice, you SERVED! You served proudly. It was an honor to serve your country, if you were drafted into the armed forces.
The Bible tells us, "No greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13)
We all have someone in our lives who gladly gave His life for us. He did this willing, when He went to the cross. Our LORD gave His life so that we may live in Heaven with Him. He didn't do this for love of country. He didn't do this because he received a notice telling him to report for active duty. He did this purely out of His love for each and every one of us.
We don't have to go to a cemetery to place flowers or flags on a grave to remember the ONE who gave His life for us! The reason is the tomb is EMPTY!
We have the JOY of knowing that while Christ laid His life down for us, this isn't the end of the story! He rose again on the third day and His tomb is Empty!
We don't need a Memorial Day to remember our LORD and His sacrifice for us because we have a Good Friday and an EASTER!
Praise the LORD - We live in an Eternal EASTER Season!
Who are you?
Before I was married, I used the Title "Ms." Instead of "Miss" with my last name, of Tetro. I didn't want to have people know whether I was married or not, it was a security thing. I was proud of where I came from and wanted them to know who I was, and who I was related to - I'm proud of my parents.
After, I married I never used the title of "Ms." again! I proudly "took" my husband's name twenty-eight years ago as well as the title of "Mrs.". I still use the title today, even though it's been six and a half years since he has gone home to the LORD. I would no more drop the title than I would drop my last name.
When we married, I became a new person - I was no longer single. I went from being alone to being one with my husband. Strange math our LORD has when He speaks of the two becoming one.
This is so true of our relationship with our LORD. We are told that when we are His we are a new creation - We read in 1 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone; the new is here!
With the shedding of the old and the putting on of the new we also take a new name, that of Christian. As we take the name of Christian, we become "little Christs" followers of Christ. We strive to follow Him all the days of our lives. We live for Him, become one with Him. He lives in us. We listen to Jesus' words in John 14:15, If you love me, keep my commands. This isn't an earthly command made for proof of love with a chance of the loved one turning away, but a heavenly command with a promise and with a show of love.
When we were brought into the family of God, we are indeed new in Christ and even though He hasn't been on the Earth for over two-thousand years we still use the title of Christian. We still strive to live to the example He set for us. We are still one with Him.
We truly have an awesome God who loves us and has given us a unique identity that changed who we were before the Son set us free through His sacrificial death and resurrection.
HIStory is Coming
(Why We Teach & Lead the Children of Grace)
I love a good story!
I especially love true stories!
I love it when our family gets together and tells family history stories!
I love the Easter Story!
I love all the little stories inside the Easter Story!
I love the various connections in the Easter Story!
This week we begin the telling of Jesus' final walk to the cross.
There are three disciples that are mentioned, by name, with key roles, in the events of Christ's death and Resurrection:
Each of these three disciples responded to their sin differently
Each of these disciples can be compared to the walks people take in their faith.
Each of these disciples can be compared to the seeds the LORD speaks about in the parable of the SOWER in Matthew 13.
Sadly, Judas' faith mirrored that of the seeds that were not able to produce fruit.
Both Peter and Thomas went on to great ministry in the spreading of the Good News of Salvation in the early Church - even to die for their LORD and Savior.
"Sticks and stones will break my bones,
But names will never hurt me!"
This was a popular rhyme when many of us were younger. We all know this isn't really true. Part of growing up is learning to deal with "name calling".
We as teachers work with this on a daily basis.
The Eighth Commandment says, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." This means that we should protect our neighbor's (friend's) reputation at all times. This includes the way we address our friends and neighbors. This is a very difficult concept for children of all ages to comprehend.
We know that the tongue is a powerful weapon. We are told in Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
It is hard not to fight back when someone hurts your feelings. Both children and adults often lash out with words, with name calling. Often when a child is called a name and his/her feelings are hurt they identify with the name he/she was called. As many times as we tell them they are not that name or that they should ignore the name they were called they have difficulty following our words.
What then can we do?
We can teach them to stand up for what they believe in - by our example!
We can teach them to have faith in their LORD and that He created a unique human being in His image - by our example.
We can teach them through our actions and language that we respect all people as our LORD does.
We can show them through the examples in the Bible where our LORD faced the same issues we face today. We can show them how He faced these challenges as both God and man.
We can teach them that there is one name by which we all are to be called, that will not hurt us for eternity - CHRISTIAN! This is the name that will guide our behavior. This is the name we are given as followers of Christ. In John 15:14-16 Christ tells us that we are now His friends and that He makes everything know to us that He learned from His Father.
We have a choice when calling people names.
We can call people by names that will hurt them.
We can call people by the name that will help them for all eternity!
John 15:14-16 (NIV)
14You are my friends if you do what I command.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
We have had some changes this past week at Grace. Mrs. Hoffman left to teach at another school, grades, first, second, and third, joined with fourth and fifth.
Two classrooms that were separate are now one. There are adjustments to be made. We have made many adjustments. We are beginning to work as one. It is interesting to watch the children working together. They are beginning to put each other first. They are beginning to put value on each other.
As I began to think about this week's message for THE CONNECTION, I read back over some of the one's from past years. One from spring of 2017, made me do some thinking. I've used this as a basis for my message this week.
What do you value?
Do you have enough?
Do you want more?
Do you look to what others have and think, "If only, I had what someone else has." Or do you think, "Why don't I have enough ____" (you fill in the blank.)
We as parents and teachers have what can be an over whelming job at times as we attempt to balance our time, talents, and treasures with those we love and work with. At times, it almost seems like we are walking a tightrope and doing a juggling act all at the same time - and we certainly don't want to fall and drop anything. We feel like we are being pulled in many different directions.
We want to please and help everyone - but we can't!
There are fires to put out - large fires, medium fires, small fires. Which do we handle? Do we put out the small fire first, which could turn large, or the large fire that might burn itself out?
We try to be fair - We try to be equal.
We have to remember there is a difference between being fair and being equal. To be equal means that all are treated the same - NO MATTER WHAT! To be fair means that each is treated rightly according to his/her needs. Sometimes we need to be fair; sometimes we need to be equal with people.
Everyone wants something - FIRST!
Jesus had something to say about this. He told us to be like servants - to be first we had to be last. (Matthew 10:16) We had to serve to be first. We are also told that where our treasure is, that is where our heart will be. (Matthew 6:21)
Sometimes we are so intent on getting our fair share that we fail to remember that we already have more than our fair share.
Our Father in Heaven gave us more than we deserved. He gave us a promise of more than we deserve. What we deserve is not a life of salvation. Not a single one of us - we are all equal in that we do not deserve to spend life with Him. We deserve a life separate from our loving Father.
Our Father through His love for us has given us equally a promise of eternal salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ our Savior. We are told this in John 3:16 & 17.
He did not treat us fairly. He did not give us the fair share - eternal damnation - eternal life separated from Him.
Our Father doesn't play favorites - He doesn't give any one person more of a chance than another. He doesn't bless one more than another because of who we are - but rather He expects more from us because of what He has given us. We are told in Luke 12:42-48 that those of whom are given much, much is expected of us. This covers all things. Our time, our talents, our treasures, and YES, our faith.
This past week, I have had to balance between being equal and fair as we pulled together and started to become one as a classroom.
So, place your value in the LORD our Savior and follow His lead as a servant leader.
When we teach children safety about crossing the street, we tell them to stop, look both ways and listen for the traffic.
At Grace we have a phrase we use with the kiddos when we want their extra close attention. It is "stop, look at me and listen". All I have to do is say this phrase and all eyes are on me, and the children are waiting for an important announcement.
This past Sunday we celebrated the TRANSFIGURATION of Jesus. The day we remember when Jesus appeared with Moses and Elijah to three of His disciples. What I find interesting is that while Jesus is on the mountain with Moses and Elijah, Peter is busy talking and making plans about what they should do while Moses and Elijah are there. I think this aspect appeals to the teacher in me. I have to wonder if Jesus just wanted to tell Peter "Shhhh!" Jesus didn't have to do anything. His Father in Heaven took care of it for Him. While Peter was still speaking, God the Father said, "this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" (Matthew 17:5).
When the disciples heard the voice of God, they were terrified and fell on their faces. Jesus, the Great Comforter, told them to get up and not be afraid. He knew the love His Father had for His children. He knew the message and ministry that was to come and the purpose He, Jesus, had to accomplish.
It is important that we as Christians stop, look, and listen to the Word of God, just as the disciples had to stop look, and listen on the mountain.
We need to STOP what we are doing once a week. Stop and attend a church service. Stop what we are doing and be in fellowship with other Christians through Word and Sacrament.
We need to LOOK, pray, and meditate daily on the word of God and seek His message in our lives.
We need to LISTEN to what He has to say to us throughout our lives through His word. The Word of the LORD is a living and breathing word. It has applications for us at every stage of our lives. We need the fellowship of others to help us understand what He has to say to us.
The children of our school stop, look, and listen to the word of the LORD each and every day. We as adults need to do this as well.
This is what our LORD told us.
Wednesday begins the season on Lent with Ash Wednesday.
This is a time of the year so many people give up something. There are many reasons for doing so. The reasons range from following Christ's example to making oneself better, to following the crowd - everyone else is "giving up something."
The tradition of giving up something for Lent has its roots in our doing something for God, rather than God doing something for us. This is what was required before Christ's death and resurrection.
While we observe the season of Lent as a time of sorrow and preparation in remembering what our LORD and Savior Jesus did for each one of us, we are not required to give up or deny anything for what Christ did for us. Jesus, "himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24)
Jesus' death and resurrection is a pure gift, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were to sacrifice their first fruits to the LORD. They had to give of their best. This after all is what was going to happen when Christ would go to the cross - He is the only begotten Son of the Father who would be the final sacrifice for all.
Once Christ died on the cross and uttered the words "It is finished" (John 19:30) and the Temple curtain was torn in two, there was no more separation between man and God. We do not have to sacrifice to the LORD - Christ did it ALL.
Now, is there anything wrong with giving up something for Lent? No, not if your heart is in the right place. Is it being done for betterment? Is it being done for improvement? Is it being done to make a deal with God? When the item being given up during Lent becomes the focus such as "I can't wait until Lent is over so I can..." then the focus isn't where it should be.
Remember, our LORD doesn't call us to sacrifice to Him as was done in the Old Testament. He does tell us to "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24). This doesn't mean just for Lent - this means at all times
If you are giving up something "for Lent," are you focused on what you are giving up or are you focused on the better person in the LORD you are becoming? If you are giving up something for Lent that has cost you money in the past, are you able to use that for the betterment of others?
One possibility of actions in Lent is performing an act of service for someone without their knowledge. By doing this, we make not only others better, but ourselves better as well.
How about you? What will you be giving up for Lent?
Thursday of this week we had a special visitor at school, Bosco. Bosco is a pet therapy dog who works with Mr. Hayford's sister-in-law (Mrs. Dietre Hayford) through Pet Partners. Bosco's job is to help comfort people in need. They may be sick, dying or have emotional issues.
We had a great time learning all about Bosco, his training, and what is expected of him.
We met Bosco last school year, so he was a returning friend!
Bosco has a unique calling. He must behave differently than many dogs, when he is working. Many of Bosco's natural instincts must be trained out of him. When Bosco is working, he must not react to loud noises, people trying to get his attention, other dogs or animals. As one student put it, Bosco must resist temptations.
This is Bosco's "calling". He knows what to do when Mrs. Hayford takes Bosco into a hospital. He knows what the person needs. He will often cuddle with the ill person and simply lie they and be "loved" upon. This calling can't be taken out of him. We were told this is something he loves to do at home with his family, as well.
While Mrs. Hayford was speaking to the classrooms about Bosco, I thought about our calling that the LORD put in us before we were part of our mother. We are told in Jeremiah 1:5 that the LORD knew Jeremiah before his birth, He said to Jeremiah: "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations."If this is true of Jeremiah, this too must be true for us as well.
We all have been given special gifts and talents that we are to use to glorify the LORD in whatever He has called us to do.
Some of us know what we are called to do from an early age. Some of us don't know until we have the "aha" moment and find that position that just seems to "call" to us. Some of us have someone who directs us to the path we are to take. Some never seem to find it till they retire and then...there it is! But no matter what we do we are to do it all to His glory.
It was interesting to watch Bosco with Mrs. Hayford. He waited for her to give him the directions he needed before he acted. At times it was a bit of a wait. For us it was a couple minutes. For Bosco, it must have seemed even longer, because he would be receiving a treat at the end of his task or trick.
Again, how much like Bosco we all are. We must all "wait upon the LORD". How often to do get impatient and want it now. Our reward is much more than Bosco's though. Our reward is that one day we will be in paradise with our LORD. For us it is quite simple but also very hard as well. It is very hard to resist the temptations of this world. We are told that all we have to do is, "Believe on the LORD Jesus, as your Savior, and you will be saved". (Acts 16:31a)
Our calling cannot be taken away by anyone - it was placed there by the LORD. The calling that our children have been given is there for them to discover. It is up to us to help guide and lead them to where He wants them to go with their gifts.
We celebrated Valentine's Day on Thursday. A day of showing those we love, that we love them. The kiddos really enjoy this day, as do the teachers. We receive joy in watching the children share their love with the important people in their lives.
We are here for the children. We are here to show them we love them. We are here to protect them. We are here for a multitude of reasons. Mainly, we are here to show them the love of the LORD. We are here to show them the GREATER LOVE! We are here to show them what the LORD did for them. We are here to show them Jesus and then let the Holy Spirit do His work.
We spend the year teaching the students about the Greater Love, the love that Christ gave us, the love of His laying His life down for us.
While we might not be called to lay our life down for another, we are called to do for others. We are called to love not just one day of the year but every day. We are called to show the love that Christ showed us to others. We are called not to ask about the person we are showing our love to but to show that love to them simply because Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19)
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Over the course of my teaching career I have been blessed with many leaders, guides, and mentors. They have all made an impression on me. At times I have wondered why these amazing people have given some of the assignments to the staffs on which I have served.
When I taught in Western New York, I worked with a wonderful principal, for one year. He often handed out "strange assignments" during our faculty meetings.
He would say one day next week I'm going to assign you to a random classroom without any warning, or for one day you must teach without any text books, worksheets, or support materials. He would pick the day and tell us on that day. We would have to be prepared to work in either a setting we had to adapt to/or an unfamiliar setting. Needless to say, many on the staff grumbled when he would do this.
The questions and statements always came up "Why? We're experienced teachers, we don't need these kinds of exercises!"
Our principal was training us for a path we might have to walk someday.
He was right, we would face experiences where we had to think on our feet, where we wouldn't always be prepared and have the best, near-best, or even close the to best of everything.
Over the years, I've often thanked the LORD for this mentor, as he taught me not only how to work in extreme settings, like we've had these past couple of weeks, but he taught me what the Bible Parable about the "Ten Virgins", Matthew 25:1-13, is about. Yogi Helming (no relation, different spelling) taught us how to always be prepared.
He taught us that in our calling as church workers we must be prepared, that we don't know what the day, or hour might bring. He taught us that we must be prepared to give an account in and of our faith. He taught us that we can not build up our faith for another. He taught us we must lead by example. He taught that our being prepared will lead others to be prepared.
Shortly after I left Martin Luther Christian School in Western NY Yogi contracted cancer. He led in this area too, by his faith. He faced this disease with strength and dignity. He knew his LORD and Savior. There was no doubt when he passed from this world into the next, that the next world was that where his Savior & our Savior, Jesus is. I know that Yogi is there. I know because he was one whose lamp was full.
What are you being trained for? What are you being challenged to do? Where will it lead you? Where will it lead your children? Let the LORD guide you.