The summer has certainly flown by, and now it is time for the new school year to commence. As much as many lament the end of summer, I find it better to focus on the opportunities that new beginnings afford. Certainly, the Christian Faith is all about new beginnings. This theme can, and should, seep into our outlook on life. While this is true, we as a church family also need to be aware of the emotional challenges of our brothers and sisters who may struggle during this time of year. For instance: the young families who are sending their kids to school for the very first time and feel the anxiety of having to entrust their children to others, the journeymen educators who are mustering the needed fortitude for yet another school year, the parents who have invested their lives into raising their children and now see them leaving the nest to pursue their dreams, and those who are melancholy for the past.
What can we do as fellow members of a church family? There are several meaningful things. Let me first pull from scripture.
Eccl 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. ESV
Gal 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ESV
Gal 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. ESV
Rom 12:4-13 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. ESV
Be sensitive to the needs of your church family. The sensitivity I am referring to is not just empathizing with whatever may be going on, but an awareness that leads to action. These do not need to necessarily be great actions, but the simple communication of your support through words and deeds. Writing a card or electronic message to let them know you are supporting them can go a long way.
Above all, pray. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Let your prayers be led by the Holy Spirit. Take time to listen as you intercede. Let that person know you are praying for them and be open to praying together. Ask them how you can specifically pray for them. Doing these things will help us develop deeper relationships together within the body of Christ.
Remember that this is a time of new beginnings. Just because you may not have done this in the past should not hinder you, but rather give you the chance to make new, life-giving habits.
If you are struggling through this time yourself, I have some good advice for you as well. It is the same advice. Focusing on others is a wonderful remedy for the heaviness of our own heart.
Loving you all,