As the start of school approaches, it’s tempting to put all the focus on our own kids. Let’s be honest, they certainly won’t complain. With new clothes, new lunch boxes, and a focus on their new classes and schedules, our kids quickly begin to think the school year is all about them.
But what might happen if we each helped our kids and grandkids think about others as they enter the new school year? What if we helped them enter the classroom, not thinking about themselves, but searching for the kids sitting by themselves. What if their primary focus on the first day of recess was to include the shy person on the playground. What if your child took the theology of the open table where all are welcome to the school cafeteria. The Kingdom of God would spread.
Our children will have new kids in their classes. What a beautiful opportunity for them to be welcoming! The Old Testament is full of scriptures reminding the Israelites to care for the foreigner, the stranger, or the alien among them. For our kids, with no real concept of borders, a new kid, even if they look exactly like them, is a stranger or alien.
Check out these verses:
18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. 19 You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. – Deuteronomy 10:18-19
33 When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. 34 The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 19:33-34
Even Jesus in Matthew 25:35 says that when we invite in a stranger, we are inviting in Christ.
Talk with your kids about inviting and welcoming. Ask them how they think it would feel to be a new kid in the class, especially if they didn’t fully speak the language. Help them shift the focus from themselves so that they will notice the new kid or the lonely kid. Your children are created in the image of God. They have a deep sense of goodness within them and the Holy Spirit is working in and through them. If you help them notice, God will help them know what to do next.
May God bless this new school year and may each and every child feel deeply loved throughout the year. Our children can play an important role in making this a reality.