Scripture Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ESV
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
Time catches our attention. Time is fleeting. Time is awastin’. Time is marching on. Time is at a premium. We busy ourselves with home preparations, school presentations and a variety of mission projects, and with these commitments comes worries about time.
Time is a key element to the great narrative of Christmas. The time in which Jesus was born was Rome’s Golden Era. It was a time of peace, a time of creativity and a time of a flourishing Roman economy. As a citizen of the empire, it was time to go to one’s hometown for the census. For Joseph, time was pressing not only to fulfil his civic duty but also to find an inn for his pregnant wife.
But most important was that it, time, was fully come (Galatians 4:4). Christmas is the time when we share with the angels’ joy that the promised Immanuel had come. No more promises and remembering of promises. Those promises that pointed to the Messiah had fully come...all in God’s time. His perfect timing. His grand design.
However, it doesn’t take much to consider the joy killers of the season. Report cards or some type of reporting. Calendar year budgets and church voters meetings. Family struggles seem to ignite into allout rage in December.
The Christmas narrative also includes joy-killers. No room in the inn made a barn and manger the accommodations and birthing room. Friends and family celebrating the new arrival were replaced with lowly shepherds. To top it off, it wasn’t too long after the hours of the baby’s surprise visitors (time flies as babies grow) that the peaceful Roman leadership turned with horrific turmoil, bloodying the countryside with lives of infant boys.
A word of caution- Be sure you are not counted among the joy-killers this December! Don’t be the one who is missing the anticipation of the celebration of Christmas and is bemoaning everything that quenches the excitement.
“Do not quench the spirit.” Paul’s words in this year’s theme verses are good reminders for a time such as this. It’s quite easy to let the joy of the season to be quenched by the busyness of the season. What are preventative measures to avoid this? Prayer? Planning? Embracing the reality of the stressors placed upon ministry at this time of year?
Also consider “Do not quench the spirit” as it relates to the pool of pastors, teachers and others who work in our schools.We have been told for years that there are fewer and fewer young people considering teaching of ay kid, let alone in Lutheran schools. Those numbers are real. But there is also the reality of fewer and fewer teachers... period. Early retirement or leaving the field of teaching for other endeavors seems to be prevalent. Even with all kinds of incentives from state government subsidies or from Concordia system granting, the pool of teachers is dwindling and the challenge of filling out a teaching staff becomes a time consumer and a burden.
Look in the mirror- are you quenching the spirit of future Lutheran educators? With the rationale given of poor pay, loss of authority and overall lack of support, many have quenched the spirit of a budding church professional. So sad are the stories of present and recently retired teachers who discouraged even their own children to find a different way of life instead of serving in a Lutheran school.
Consider this summertime post from Focus on the Family- (https://jimdaly.focusonthefamily.com/guest-post-an-exciting-time-to-be-alive/?refcd=138602&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=jd_blog_July_26&fbclid=IwAR3vur9rEplv1M3vj3WJL2MC5wk5tYAtG1vZIQ5jao8g2nvOtD0A2LN5dHk) . The writer, a self described millennialist, shares, “I don’t remember Y2K, and I don’t remember much of life prior to 9/11. As I’ve grown up, I’ve had countless older people in my life apologize to me for growing up in this time period. ‘Life won’t be easy for you,’ they say — and, ‘You won’t get any social security.’ As if I had any control on the time period I was born into. But that’s just it — God did not make a mistake on the timing of my birth. I believe God intentionally placed me here, on this earth, for such a time as this.“
Here’s to a plea to encourage the students in your school (and in your home) to be church-workers. “Don’t quench the Spirit” with a bias wrought with the wounds of a campaign or two of hurtful parents or self-inflicted wounds caused by laziness or quenching one’s own purpose and vocation. You’re here, just as future church-workers, for a time such as this, according to God’s good purpose.