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Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gospel: Matthew 16: 13-20

Back to School: Renewing Our Minds

Highlighted Verses: Romans 12: 1-8

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

It's a special time of year, isn't it? Whether you've already started - or you're about to go back - it's about time to start a new school year. Isn't that exciting? A new year means new teachers and new friends - and the chance to catch up with old friends as well.

We usually spend our time together talking about the week's gospel lesson, but today I wanted to spend a little time thinking about one of our other verses. It's from the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans and as I read it this week I couldn't help but think how perfect it was for the beginning of a new school year.

Paul talks about two things in particular that just really fit nicely with this special time of year.

First, he tells us to "be transformed by the renewing of (our) minds." And that's what school is all about, isn't it? We change and grow by learning new things. (Paul is hoping that our learning will help us to better understand the choices that God would have us make.)

The other thing he talks about is how within God's family everyone has different gifts and strengths. You might be good at one thing and I might be good at another. That sounds a lot like a classroom, doesn't it - and what an important thing to remember as we start the year!

In a classroom everyone has the chance to be a teacher (of something) - but maybe more important is the reminder that there are things that we can learn from everyone. (I hope you'll always remember that.)

So as we start school, I thought we might pray today for the year ahead. Will you join me? 

Dear God,

Thank you for a wonderful summer and for bringing us to the beginning of a new school year. Watch and guide us as we transform our minds with new learning - and help us to remember that we have both things to teach and important lessons to learn.


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