Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Speak Life

"To be human is to be oriented toward a goal." (James K.A. Smith, Calvin College Philosophy Professor) What is it that I, Jennifer Baham, long for in my inner being? What do my longings, desires, and loves uncover about my idea of flourishing or "the good life"? And when I look at the habits in my life, what love-shaping practices or liturgies do I see? For, as Professor Smith shared at the CSI Worldview Summit (August 2-4, 2016), those practices or habits in my life do something to me even as I live them out.

What would a "liturgical audit" of my teaching or my Christian school reveal?  Professor Smith posed that it is not possible to THINK our way out of an undesirable cultural liturgy. But rather, by consciously and consistently choosing practices or habits aimed first at God and His Kingdom, transformation happens at the heart level. I orient what I love to God's design and will by choosing habits that do something to me even as I live them out. "Practices invite me into God's story in a repetitive motion over time." (James K.A. Smith) This recalibrating of my loves, through repetitive practices, reforms my heart and my habits of desire. Practices change what I live for, or think I want to live for. 

As a Christian school, we have a unique opportunity, indeed a unique calling, to reorient our hearts and those of our students toward the GOOD LIFE as relationship with God and obedience to His call. If a student graduates with a heart posture that sees flourishing as relationship with God and obedience to His call, I believe we are on the path to which God has called us in Christian education. Growing together in practices which move toward redemption and restoration of God's good creation brings God's kingdom here on earth.

This year our SJCS community will consider what it means to SPEAK LIFE. It is our prayer that as we uncover this theme, we will be reorienting the heart of our community toward God and His kingdom. Together we will discover what God's word has to say about the words we choose or don't choose, the heart posture from which our words flow, and the power of our words. What will it mean to SPEAK TRUTH on the playground or in a homework assignment? What will it look like to SPEAK HOPE given the history of our country and world? Can I SPEAK SHALOM in a hurting relationship? What does it mean to SPEAK RECONCILIATION as we uncover the racial tensions that continue to surface? Do I SPEAK WISDOM when I prepare students for an assessment and then unfold the results of that assessment? When I speak to a coworker, student or parent, do I SPEAK LIVING WATER that leaves the dry and thirsty souls in my school community less parched than they came? Will I SPEAK GOD'S PRAISES as an outflow of my heart, even in the hurting places? I believe that prayer, Bible study, confession, welcoming the friend and the stranger, and taming the tongue will be some of the powerful habits that will shape us and orient us.

We have an overwhelming call, yet we move forward humbly knowing that indeed it is GOD'S WORK!! He goes before us. His Spirit speaks and intercedes and teaches and guides. As my principal, Dave Intlekofer, pointed out at the conference, the more we learn the vocabulary of integrating faith into all we do, the more opportunities the Spirit reveals to us, and the more we can move forward in our own particular trust and obey.

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