Every school year brings with it a new beginning. Allow yourself a moment to sit with that thought and see how you feel – excited, anxious, joyful, scared. Whatever it is, this is fine – the future offers uncertainty, but do not forget the hope. The prophet Isaiah (43:18-19) reminds us to keep looking forward and trusting in the path laid out before us:
Forget about what has happened, don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.
Repeatedly God offers new beginnings and a chance to be the best version of ourselves. You see, God does not want you to be a different person, He created you perfectly (He smiled when he made you). God just wants you to accept His purpose for you. When the angel Gabriel appeared to young Mary, she was apprehensive. How could it be possible for a virgin to be the mother of Christ? Yet her answer was one of acceptance to the will of God – Let it be done to me according to your word.
Sometimes a new beginning offers us a chance to reflect on what we are holding onto – negativity, preconceptions, fear – even for Jesus. Struggling with the thought of his imminent death, he called out to his Father to take it all away. Yet, in the end, he too would conclude – Not by my will, but yours be done. Of course, crucifixion is not a concern for most of us, nevertheless new things can still be unsettling, even frightening. Yet they can also lead to great moments and revelations about ourselves. It requires looking for hope. This is what Christmas is all about. Every year we recall and celebrate the birth of Jesus and the hope that this year will be a little brighter, a little fuller of the peace and joy that the little baby lying in a manger brought to all of humanity. In a new school year, so too, is the promise of something extraordinary!
This year will offer you many opportunities for growth and learning, not only for your children but also for yourself. Ask yourself, what new thing is God doing for me now? How can I answer His call for me? There will be various chances to answer this call throughout the year, and I urge you to take a risk and step boldly into this new beginning. It will be worth it!
May today be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be confident knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us. (St Teresa of Avila)
Dr Nathan Leber