Focal verse

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Reflection

Turn the calendar to August and you may see numerous things to do before school starts. Our family already feels the sadness of saying goodbye to afternoons at the town pool. I’m going to miss the slow mornings to linger over coffee and books. The days will soon fill with classes, practices and meetings.

The beginning of the school year brings new rhythms and routines. Schedules change and new opportunities arise. Churches often begin new programs or add a worship service. We might feel as if everyone has something planned. Even before the start of school, many families feel overwhelmed and wonder how they’ll manage their time. The season is fun and exciting but also overwhelming.

I’m learning that there is another way, a way to say yes to the things that matter to me and my family rather than all the things vying for our attention: work, school, friends. True, the start of school brings more places to be and more things to do, but it also invites us to reflect on experiences that are meaningful for individual families.

Transitions provide space to ask, What can I do to add more margin to my day? When can I say no in order to say yes? 

As the school year begins, I’m in no hurry to sign up for school extracurriculars or volunteer opportunities. Rather, I’m open to seeing where I can create more space in my days. Where can I leave room to marvel at God’s creation and the laughter of my children? When can I find moments to sit with my family, talking or playing a game? Where can I pause and offer prayers for God’s people?

However you approach the next month and the transitions ahead, remember that God meets you wherever you are. God invites you to trust that, no matter how much lies before you, God goes with you.

Practice

Block out rest or free days on your calendar, and say yes to how your family wants to spend the day. Make no plans other than to be together.

Service opportunity

Getting out in nature is a great way to practice rest and bask in God’s creation. Connect with a local park or nature preserve to see about opportunities to pick up litter or help with trail maintenance.

Prayers

We pray for teachers, administrators, staff and students as they begin a new school year.

We pray for those who provide respite care.

We pray for those experiencing burnout in their work and home lives.

We give thanks for moments of rest—time to sit, listen and feel God’s presence.

We give thanks for invitations to join in games and music.

We give thanks for the start of new routines.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers. Amen.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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