Concordia Classical Academy

2101 Lor Ray Drive, North Mankato, MN 56003 • 507.388.4336

Archives for 2008 | pastor becker | Concordia Classical Academy

Chapel

Every Wednesday morning, the preschool, elementary students, and teachers at Good Shepherd Lutheran School gather for chapel. It is usually at 9:15 AM and parents and other guests are welcome to join us. In chapel, we learn about the many wonderful things God does for us, which always includes our forgiveness of sins through Jesus, using age appropriate songs, object lessons, etc. We also learn about how to worship, listening to God’s word from the Bible, and responding by confessing our faith in the creed, and praying together. Another thing we learn is how to respond to God’s gifts by worshiping him with our offerings.

Our offerings are designated for mission projects. The first quarter, we supported Lutheran Braille workers, which produce devotional materials in Braille for those who are blind. Each student received a Bible verse printed in Braille and an alphabet card. In chapel, we talked about how Jesus used touch to help the blind and how Jesus’ love is shared with the blind through touch today.

One Wednesday in November, the students enjoyed bringing non-perishable food items as their offering. This was a way of participating in the youth group’s service project of collecting food for Mankato’s ECHO food shelf.

In the second quarter, we are participating in the Ablaze Bible Listening Project, a special program for LCMS elementary school students. As part of this program, we hope to raise $157.50 through chapel offerings to provide for the purchase of a "proclaimer" for a Lutheran school in India. A proclaimer is a solar, crank, battery, and plug in powered device on which the whole Bible is recorded and can be heard by a group of up to 25 people who do not yet read.

As a part of this program, our elementary students will also be listening to a dramatized recording of the Bible in class, on their own using "BibleStick" MP3 players, and at home using a CD with their families. Grades 1-4 will listen to twenty 10 minute segments of the life of Christ. Upper grades will listen to the Gospels in twenty days and the rest of the New Testament in twenty days. Then they will be encouraged to share God’s word by passing the BibleSticks and CDs on to someone else.

Does this make you wish you could listen to the Bible yourself? You can. CD recordings of the Bible in MP3 format are available for free at the church. You can also text B I B L E to the number 80672 to listen to a chapter a day of the dramatized New Testament on your cell phone.


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Worth Supporting

Victor Dietel, a widowed member of First Lutheran Church in Glencoe, died this past year, leaving his estate to the church, designated for evangelistic mission work. A committee was formed for the joyful task of distributing it. After learning of the mission outreach of our school, they sent a check for $15,000! Thank you to Victor and First Lutheran! First Lutheran also has a School and knows the value of outreach through Lutheran schools. Have you considered including the mission of the church in your will?

Parents

In an earlier article, I made the point that the most important single influence in a child's education is parents. This is true, but what is the most important thing in the classroom? It is not the curriculum or the technology, but the teacher. A tool in the hands of a skilled worker can create wonderful things beyond the power of the same tool in clumsy hands like mine. In the same way, books and marker boards, the tools in a classroom, are made effective largely through the skills of a prepared and skilled teacher. The main thing that makes a Christian school a Christian school is the Christian teacher and how he or she approaches every task of education.

For this reason, parents and all who care about Lutheran schools want to do all they can to support and encourage the teachers in their school. Even with our school's financial limitations, there is much we can do to make their work a joy and not a burden, effective and not a frustration. We can show that we care about their work and consider it important, just as they do.

As you have the opportunity, encourage and thank a teacher. Let them know that you know how important their work is, appreciate all they do and care about their problems. Take an interest in their work and let them share with you their happiness about the good things happening in their classrooms and their difficulties with the challenges. Even brief sincere comments and short written notes can be a big boost to a teacher's enthusiasm and energy.

You may be in a position to help teachers by things you do. We have more volunteers helping in various ways in our school this year than ever before, and it makes a difference. There are still things others may enjoy doing. For example, since we do not have a bus, volunteer drivers are needed for students to be able to go on field trips.

One important thing everyone can do is pray for our teachers. Pray that God will provide for them and their families, that he would keep them strong and healthy. Pray that they would be strengthened in their own faith. Pray that they continue to have faith, courage, wisdom, patience and many other virtues that are given by God. Pray that God would make them effective and that they would have an impact on the lives of their students. Thank God for Christian teachers. Like a hammer that a sculptor uses on a chisel, they are gifts from God and tools in his hands that make the gifts of his word, truth and grace, even more effective in forming the lives of students.

School is out for the summer

School is out for the summer. Does that mean that the students are done with learning until fall? Not at all. Some, including students from Good Shepherd Lutheran School, are going to summer school (through District 77) to keep working on reading or math skills. Others will not be in classes, but the teaching and learning continues at home. As Martin Luther noted in his introduction to the Small Catechism, parents are always their children's primary teachers. This is true, whether they intend to be or not.

Parents can help their children keep learning by encouraging them to keep reading, reading to them, and taking them to the library regularly. Vacation travel is a great opportunity for learning about geography, history, art, science, etc.. Beside making visits to historic sites, museums, national parks and other informative visitor centers, parents can encourage children to simply be observant and inquisitive and model this themselves.

One of the most important things children learn from their parents is not just information but attitudes. Parents who encourage continued learning and show an interest in reading and learning themselves teach in a powerful way that these things are important. I still remember being on Christmas vacation from school when my mother had to go to her room and do her homework for a college class she was taking. Modeling speaks volumes and teaches valuable lessons that are hard to teach in any other way.

This is not just true of academics. Lutheran Schools teach about the Christian faith and what we believe, but children learn most about how important this really is when their parents not only send them to school and Sunday school but also take their children with them to worship. This includes finding a place to worship or taking time for family worship while on vacation trips. It also includes having regular family devotions. This is how children learn from their parents what is truly important and what has lasting value for adults as well as children.

While school is out for the summer, there is still much work to be done at the school, work being done by the teachers and school leaders, learning being done by students, and much important teaching being done by parents.

Everything Depends on God

When Jesus ascended to heaven, he instructed the disciples to wait for the gift the Father promised, saying, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses." God has important work for them to do, but everything they must do depends on what God does for them. This is a hallmark of Lutheran - that is, Biblical - theology. Everything God requires us to do, God does for us.

God’s law says, "You must be perfect, as I your God am perfect." What we do is not perfect, but God makes us perfect by Jesus’ perfect life in our place. God gives us his righteousness by grace through faith, so we are called to "Repent and believe the gospel." But this also is not something we can do by our own choice or decision. The Holy Spirit uses God’s word and sacraments to turn us in repentance and to bring us to faith in the gospel. Now we are to witness and do good works. This too, is not our own doing but is the work of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

Does this mean we just sit and wait and do nothing? Not at all. If God is doing all these things in us, to do nothing is to stubbornly resist God’s work. Since everything depends on God, we must be found, like the disciples after the ascension, fervently praying and looking to God to act. Since God does his work in us through his word, we must be constantly in the word, studying it, and sharing it.

From the beginning, Good Shepherd Lutheran School has been a work of God. Many times it has been seen that God provides just what is needed with just the right timing. This has led us to work all the harder, confident that we are doing what God wants us to do.

Now the time has come for us to say "God be with you" to five seventh grade students who will not return to Good Shepherd Lutheran School next year. We are not yet able to add eighth grade. Our teachers have worked hard with the students who are not returning. When we have done our best, we trust God to cause it to bear fruit and to continue to bless them in other ways with what they need to grow.

God’s continued blessings are needed also by the staff and students who continue. Financial support is not keeping up with expenses. Based on the current pattern, it is anticipated that one third of costs will be covered by tuition and another third by fund-raisers and special gifts. What about the other third? If the school is to continue, options mentioned have been reducing teacher salaries by a third, eliminating one of three classrooms, doubling the number of tuition paying students, or more major gifts.

As always, everything depends on God. That does not mean there is nothing we can do, but much that we can do. First, we can and must be fervent in prayer for God’s guiding and providing. We can talk to others at every opportunity about enrolling students and giving support. We can depend in everything on God, who said, "You will receive power…you will be my witnesses."

The Key to Understanding

Luke tells us that after Jesus rose from the dead, he spent 40 days appearing to the disciples, explaining things they did not yet know. "Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, 'This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise form the dead on the third day.'" Jesus had told his disciples this same thing several times before his death, but they didn't seem to grasp at all what he was talking about. But now that he had died and risen again, they finally saw what he meant.

Jesus' death and resurrection was then also the key to understanding the whole scriptures. Before his death, Jesus told the Chief Priests that the scriptures were all about him. The Passover points to his redemption; the laws of purity point to his holiness; the sacrifices point to his death for us; the defeat of their enemies point to his victory over the devil; and all the prophesies of the messiah are fulfilled by him. Without Jesus, the rest of the Bible is a collection of strange stories and ideas that don't make a lot of sense to human reason.

This is why, in our Lutheran School, we don't just teach about Bible characters just as heroes for us to imitate or about the Bible as a variety of stories, each with a good moral, or about God's instructions as just a set of wise principles; but we teach how everything points to and connects to Christ and what He has done to save us. The Easter story of Jesus' death and resurrection for us is the key to understanding the whole Bible.

This understanding of the Bible, seen in the light of Christ, is then also for us the key to understanding all of life, including everything that happens to us and everything we are to do day by day. How do we understand why God allows troubles to come into our life? How do we understand the reason and purpose of the many blessings we do receive? How do we understand why we should be obedient, kind, and loving toward others? It is all because of God's power and love revealed in Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus, who died to save us, can use the worst evil for good purposes. It is never too late for God to help us. God loves, forgives, and blesses us purely for Jesus' sake. We love because He first loved us.

Everything in our life, everything we teach and do in our Lutheran School, everything we read in the Bible, and everything taught by Jesus is centered in Jesus' death and resurrection for us. This is the key to understanding.