For teachers in New Brunswick, today was the last day of summer vacation. Monday morning we will all return to our schools for meetings and preparations for ten months of duty, lesson planning, marking, teaching and running extra-curricular activities. A week later the students will also return and it will be as if we had never left. Our days will have routine again, and the daylight hours will gradually get shorter and shorter. I love the fall, the crisp air, the fun of shopping for school supplies, meeting a pile of new students and time with my colleagues! Soon we’ll be going to the exhibition to eat dippy dogs (fresh made corn dogs), carmel corn, and cotton candy, and see the beautiful handiwork on exhibition and the animals in competition. This is the sunset of summer.
I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m not looking forward to being back at work! I am ready to go back. Today, at our final day of Vacation Bible School, our Bible story was the parable of the talents. The servants who put their talents to work pleased God, while the servant who was afraid to lose the gift and buried it was a disappointment. All those people whom God has gifted with the ability to teach will be back at it, putting the gift to use just as the students will be using their gifts to get their education and set the path for their lives.
I would like to beg your indulgence to add teachers, and students alike to your prayer list for the coming week.
My daughter is about to prepare her first casserole to take to a pot-luck supper. We have been going to potlucks all her life, but this is one of the first to which she is invited without us. She has chosen to make a casserole which is classic comfort food in our house ever since I got married and started having meals at the home of my mother-in-law. The recipe comes from the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada cookbook, Cooking Collections (1988). It was entered to the book by the Hon. Muriel McQueen Fergusson and is titled simply My Favorite Casserole.
Other than the great chance to get together with people and have a great time, the joy of a pot-luck supper is two-fold; first you are sure that there will be at least one thing you like to eat on the table since you brought it, and second it provides an opportunity to get a variety of foods for one meal which you would never put together on your own and which may lead to finding new favourite recipes.
One caution which we often forget until it is too late is to take tiny servings of things. It is all too common to go back to the food table over and over again until you are so full you can barely move. In that condition we often vow never to indulge in another pot-luck, or at least to do better next time.
Do you see a parallel to church here?
Making your first casserole for the event is like the life of a person (young or old) within the church. When we fist start attending we rely on those people with experience to lead us, to do the work of preparing and leading worship, preparing and leading Sunday school and Bible studies etc. As we mature in our faith we gradually take steps beyond this comfort zone of simply attending worship or other events. Perhaps we start with helping out at coffee hour, or with taking up the offering in worship. It may not seem like a big deal, but for many people it takes great courage to step up in front of the congregation in any capacity. In turn these actions may lead to further growth in service.
The variety of items on the table at the supper is like the hodge-podge of knowledge and talents with which the members and adherents come to the church. We all have our own special gifts to share and we are comfortable with those. We also have a huge selection of other personalities, gifts and talents, ideas, activities, and jobs with which we may work. Some of those may turn out to be great favourites and some we may choose to avoid in the future.
I’m sure we are all familiar with the results of putting too much on your plate and then trying to eat it all! Within the church context this represents the all too frequent burn-out of volunteers, staff, and clergy alike. All those activities look great, and they may not get to run if nobody volunteers to run them or attends them. The problem is that God created only seven days and we have this fixed amount of time and, even if we don’t like to admit it, limited personal energy resources. There comes a time for all of us when we need to learn to say no, hard as that may be. If we don’t say no to some things and provide some true Sabbath time for ourselves, we may find that it gets really hard to get up from the table. We may need to go lie down to recover. We may swear that we will not ever volunteer again, or we may even stop going to church altogether!
A few years ago my sister and I spent a week in July in Cancun . The colours there seemed more brilliant than here at home. Among the many animals I saw while there we saw iguanas, the above macaws, brightly coloured fish etc. I took lots of pictures, like the one above, but the bird that held my heart while we were there and kept me continually entertained was plain black. Locally called the cenote, this bird is the great tailed grackle. Yes, it was basically the same bird that often covers my front lawn at home to which I give only passing attention! I was so enchanted with these birds that I actually didn’t take a single picture of them.
I enjoyed watching their personalities which were clear while they watched for a snack at the open restaurant, puffed themselves up to get the attention of a female, and their voices called to me all day long. These otherwise plain birds represent that awesome week to me, not the showy ones.
So what colours are you? Just as God has given different colours to different birds He has given each of us our own unique “colour.” I don’t mean skin colour, brown, blonde, red or black hair, nor do I mean blue, brown, hazel eyes. These things are not what give people their colour. We get our colour from our personalities, our talents and we show them through our beliefs and our behaviours.
In September of 2007 a Grade 9 boy at Central Kings Rural High School in Nova Scotia wore a pink polo shirt on his first day of school. He was bullied, called gay and threatened with being beat up. Two grade 12 students took it upon themselves to rectify the situation. They spread the word using the internet and were on hand the next day passing out 50 pink t-shirts they had purchased at a discount store for people to wear along with many who wore their own pink clothes. These students sent a message that day that is now repeated all around North America on Pink T-Shirt Day (Feb 23 this year). That day in 2007 these two boys showed their beautiful colour to that young man and to all of us.
Your God-given colour is there waiting to shine. Perhaps you will join with people on Wednesday to wear pink in protest of bullying in our society. Perhaps your colour will express itself through your donations to a charity, or through your actions to lobby for help for the marginalized people in our society. Maybe it will be seen as you listen to a friend who needs support. Whatever form your talent takes it will only show your colour if you put it to use. Go ahead…show your colours!
Read more about pink t-shirt day at: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/09/18/pink-tshirts-students.html#ixzz1EMJqUUVY
Posted in Reflections
Tagged behaviours, beliefs, bully, Cancun, colours, God, great-tailed grackle, kindness, leadership, love, mccaws, parrots, personalities, pink t-shirt, students, talents