“School’s Out for Summer…” As the students and teachers in our greater community celebrate the recent completion of another school year, I can’t help but think about the lyrics to the famous Alice Cooper rock song my contemporaries and I shouted in our youth. While the song’s energy is boosted by the spirit of the moment rather than the truth of its words, one lyric in “School’s Out” always baffled me. It’s the lyric where Cooper sings, “School’s Out Forever.”
Again, I’m sure on the final day of school each academic year, both students and teachers feel a certain reprieve, a sense of accomplishment and the culmination of a high volume of challenging work that perhaps leaves them exhausted at times. Just like a runner crossing the finish line of a long race, students and teachers can celebrate the conclusion of a long journey. But the irony of the lyrics, “School’s Out Forever” is evident as we all know that school is always in session (Summer school is available) and we are continuing to learn and grow even if we aren’t taking or teaching classes.
Our Savior Jesus Christ is the greatest teacher of all-time. But despite his Oneness with the Holy Father, Jesus didn’t automatically transform into the role of great counselor. Jesus was a student first – a child in need of instruction and a boy who embodied a constant thirst for knowledge. In essence, Jesus never stopped wanting to learn, from his childhood days to the day he ascended into heaven to be with his Father, Our Lord. In Luke 2:41-52, when 12-year-old Jesus had traveled with his parents, Mary and Joseph to the Passover festival in Jerusalem, his absence during the return (they assumed he was with the group of travelers) caused them to return to Jerusalem in search of Jesus. “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46).
Although destined to be the greatest teacher, Jesus sought out the wisdom of those older than him. While frightening his parents while he was missing, Jesus chose to tap into the knowledge of those who had much more life experience than him - those who were already serving God. For Jesus, school was never out and his growing wisdom was noticed by many. “And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers,” (Luke 2:47) was the refrain from his three-day “class” in the temple. In fact, Jesus was surprised his parents had searched for him as he said to them, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). School’s Out Forever? Jesus definitely didn’t think so.
For many currently of school age – whether in elementary, middle school, high school, college or seminary – summer does certainly provide an opportunity to re-charge our batteries, to prepare for another academic year with appropriate energy – but it should also serve as a continuing platform to grow, particularly spiritually. How can we accomplish this? I encourage each of you to read a book on a regular basis. Of course, The Bible is first on my recommended list. The Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – are the literary foundation of the words of Jesus Christ and will inspire you to read further in both the New and Old Testaments. Personally, I am starting to read The Shack, by William P. Young, a best-selling novel about a man, who experiences tragedy and is visited in a Pacific Northwest shack by the representations of the three persons of the Trinity (as we celebrate Trinity Sunday, this Sunday, May 30). Some of you likely saw the movie by the same name. A Case for Christ by Lee Strobel is also on my summer reading list, as well as The Post-Quarantine Church by Thom S. Rainer.
Even though some may be excited to emphatically sing those words, “School’s Out for Summer,” please don’t stay away from learning too long. After all, our Great Counselor Jesus Christ was a lifelong student who became our greatest teacher by listening to others, learning from others and applying the gifts of the Almighty Father and the Holy Spirit to our lives today, tomorrow and eternally!
Enjoy the summer!