Teaching in Uncertain Times
"For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
The midsummer month of July is "normally" filled with family vacations to beautiful, sometimes far-away destinations, trips to beaches on the Indiana Dunes Lakeshore, or attending Major League or Minor League baseball games in cities such as Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis or South Bend. Based upon Facebook posts, some of you have traveled some this summer to wonderful vacation spots and perhaps (safely) visited the local beaches. Yes, Major League Baseball is currently resuming albeit without fans who have been replaced by artificial crowd noise. However, like many aspects of our "new normal," Minor League Baseball will sadly not occur this season due to financial limitations from COVID-19.
In addition to accepting the changing landscape of vacations and other activities that were perhaps taken for granted in the summer, our school systems, colleges and universities have engaged in healthy dialogue (through many Zoom meetings) to determine the best and safest ways to implement education to students of all ages for the remainder of 2020. Some school systems have decided to begin the school year with online classes, while others are planning on a return to the classroom with many health and safety measures in place. Others are planning on a hybrid of online and in-person attendance. Nevertheless, based upon the increase in coronavirus cases in many communities, any plan for our young people to return to school is fluid and can change at any moment - just like almost every aspect of life in the year 2020.
As a Christian faith community, we have been blessed with outstanding leadership which has placed the greatest importance on the health and safety of our community. When difficult decisions are being made about developing and establishing an appropriate structure of how students will initially receive their education in the fall, we are blessed with the divine example of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to guide us through this world health crisis. Change, transition, wisdom, patience, flexibility and the ability to adapt are values and virtues that Jesus Christ exemplified and continues to encourage in his ministry.
When Jesus was teaching large crowds about the kingdom of heaven, he communicated his divine wisdom in a variety of ways through parables which are chronicled in the Gospels. Christ told the crowds the Parable of the Four Soils, the Parable of the Weeds, the Parable of the Mustard Seed, the Parable of the Yeast, the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, the Parable of the Pearl Merchant, and the Parable of the Fishing Net. This was intentional by Christ as he knew that people connect with God's message and Word in unique and different ways. In other words, Jesus Christ was willing to be patient, flexible and adapt to the needs of the people in order to help them become believers, and thus understand the divine beauty of the eternal kingdom of heaven.
Yes, our students, teachers, parents and administrators will be facing 21st century educational challenges never seen in our lifetimes. Through our daily prayer, we are encouraged to thank God for wisdom and ask God to provide each of them with patience, flexibility and the resources necessary to meet the spiritual, educational, and social needs of everyone involved in these transitional times. Through the guidance of Jesus Christ, we have faith in God's plan and the assurance of hope for a better future!