Thursday, May 7, 2009
Written by Chamie
We've been grateful to live in this rhythm of prayer/worship... starting and closing our days with the prayer candle... Sundays worshipping with family and friends... It is something we can carry with us wherever we go.
Another rhythm we have been choregraphing is "study." In some ways, you could say that it is the first sabbatical rhythm we adopted because we had to prepare out of necessity - Aidan would normally be attending 2nd grade at school. When Tim started applying for sabbatical grants, one of the first people we spoke to was Principal Lavik. "How might this look for Aidan?" we asked.
Aidan has been blessed with a curiosity for life. He always likes to explore, ask questions, and discover a new place, person, or thing. On his own volition and unbeknownst to us, he took a crowded page of sermon notes last Sunday. We were rather impressed as well as amused at them when he showed us after worship. It was also Aidan who coined the word "modattical." It stands for "mom," "dad," and "sabbatical." Everyday we have "Modattical School." They even have "uniforms" which all three children made themselves and are rather proud of. Currently, we are attempting to finish all of Aidan's second grade book studies prior to leaving for England.
Morning study has become a rhythm for us. But Aidan isn't the only one studying - we all are. We desire to carry this spirit of wanting to grow and learn with us our entire lives. Each day, Tim and I take turns grabbing a book and heading to the local beachside coffee shop to study.* Our study-buddy Aidan joins us and sits across the table with his own studies. In addition, "Mr. Modattical" (aka Dad) has taken the children down to the beach for P.E. class where they play soccer. Madame Modattical (aka Mom) has attempted teaching French (with a CD).
How can any of us play a sport well or know how to communicate in a different language or gain the skills of a profession if we don't study them? Study has been a key component of the Christian life across the ages. This has, of course, always included the study of scripture, but also the study of subjects like science, literature, language, history, and astronomy. In fact, did you know that Sunday School began NOT as a means to teach children scripture (they did that at home) but as a means to teach children the basics of reading, writing, and artithmatic? Children commonly were in the labor force in those days and were unable to go to school during the week. Thus the church concluded they could serve children by helping their minds on Sundays. Furthermore, do you know that Martin Luther said if he could be anything other than a pastor, he would be a teacher?** John Wesley and the Methodists (I just can't let Luther have the last word here), emphasized the importance of "faith and knowledge." When I served as campus pastor at South Dakota State University, it was the words "where faith and knowledge meet" that were etched into the cornerstone of our Wesley Center Chapel.
May "study" be for you not drudgery or burden, but blessing and passion and possibility! I have this theory that the more we study the stars and the octopus and the human cell and the history of the world and the literary greats and the theories of therapy - and, yes, the words of scripture - the more we will have seen and heard God.
* WHAT ARE WE READING ON SABBATICAL? In case you are wondering, Tim has thus far read The Contemplative Pastor by Eugune Peterson and The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. He is now reading Sabbath by Wayne Muller and Grace-Based Parenting by Timothy Kimmel. I have read An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor and The Danger of Raising Nice Kids by Timothy Smith, and several essays from The Child in Christian Thought by Marcia Bunge. I'm now reading Growing Compassionate Kids by Jan Johnson as well as Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson.
** SO, I CONFESS... LUTHER HAS A LOT OF GOOD THINGS TO SAY ABOUT STUDY AND EDUCATION... HERE'S A FEW:
“If I could leave the preaching office and my other duties, or had to do so, there is no other office I would rather have than that of schoolmaster or teacher ... for I know that next to that of preaching, this is the best, greatest, and most useful office there is ... It surely has to be one of the supreme virtues on earth faithfully to train other people’s children....”
“I shall say nothing here about the pure pleasure a [person] gets from having studied, even though he never holds an office of any kind, how at home by himself he can read all kinds of things, talk and associate with educated people, and travel and do business in foreign lands....”
“You parents cannot prepare a more dependable treasure for your children than an education in the liberal arts…”
“What do we older folks live for if not for the care of the young, to teach and train them? The prosperity of a city does not depend on the accumulation of great riches, the building of walls and houses.... Rather, a city’s greatest and best prosperity, salvation, and power is this that it has many fine, learned, sensible, righteous, well-trained Christian citizens.”
Posted by Pastor Tim at 7:53 AM
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