A Summer Send-Off for Raggants

The following is the address that I gave the students of ECS at our end-of-the-year assembly. We thought it’d be an appropriate mental send-off for us all, so we’ve posted it here. Enjoy.

Well, Raggants, we are about to send you off to summer break, as our very first year of existence at ECS comes to an end. And we have learned a lot this year. We have learned that there is a difference between a direct object and an indirect object. We have learned that there are certain sounds that we never use at the ends of English words. We have learned how to properly punctuate dialogue. We’ve learned that before you get to break grammatical rules strategically, you have to first know them well. We’ve learned about the key millennial positions and their many implications.

What We’ve Learned

We’ve learned that life begins and ends according to the will of God, whether in the pumpkin patch or the pasture, the stable or the sickbed.

We’ve learned that there is no god like the true God, that men know exactly how lost they are, and that they are clawing and scratching for the answers that we have, by God’s grace. We have learned that it is our responsibility to share the gospel with the world all the time, with our actions and our words. We have seen firsthand how powerful it is when Christians assemble together for worship, even if it’s only for five minutes to start the day.

And I think we’ve had some fun along the way, too. Would you agree? I love Tuesdays when we gather together at 9:00 to start our week of school-at-school, and you guys are all happy and excited to be there. I love meeting with the Omnibus students when we get to talk about what we have just finished reading over the weekend. Tuesdays are awesome.

So are Wednesdays. I love the energy in our car as we are headed to school, because Ellie and Abbie look forward to Bible lessons with Mrs. Hall and Art class with Mr. Van der Beken and hanging out after school while their parents exercise. Wednesdays are great.

And I love Thursdays when we invite in the Omnibus auditors, the adults who come out to the school to talk about the things we read for Omnibus. They come out not because they have to, but because they can. That’s pretty cool, and it makes Thursdays sweet.

I love that so many of you are sad right now…that school’s ending. Abbie [Sarr] said the one thing she doesn’t like about our school is that it’s ending today, and she was literally crying in bed last night at the thought of not seeing you all every day and not having classes…and I know from talking to your parents that she’s not alone.

I love singing with you all every morning. We’ve sung 36 different hymns in the 36 weeks of school, and we’ve done so 3 times apiece. That really adds up and makes a difference at church on Sundays.

I love playing soccer with you all at recess, throwing the football, playing on the swings, or out in the barn.

The field trips have been a blast, too, and not only because you are pretty well-behaved or I’m proud to walk around downtown Seattle with such a fine looking group of students. To me, there’s a deeper meaning to all of this, and it has to do with summer.

The Lordship of Christ and Enculturation

We have seen again and again and again the ripple effects of the Christ’s lordship. If Jesus is Lord over all the world, then that makes a difference in how we live during the school day, at home, in winter and on summer break. And this is the lesson that I’d like to revisit this afternoon and shoot you off into summer vacation like with the velocity of an under-inflated water balloon launched by overzealous teenage boys. (Have you ever seen those water balloon launchers that take three people to operate? And have you ever seen how water balloons fly if they’re not super full? Whoa!)

You see, what we are doing here at ECS is, in fact, a support and a help to your parents. Your education is their responsibility. And while we realize that the help we provide is important, it’s not everything. A child’s development is itself like a river, with a bunch of streams flowing into it. These streams may be things like, dinner time conversations, visits with grandparents, devotional times, time in front of the TV, time with the kids in your neighborhood, church, and so on. Well, for the summer, the stream called “school” won’t be flowing as strongly into the river of your development as it has the last nine months, but that doesn’t mean the whole river has a big beaver dam in the middle of it. No! You’re going to keep becoming who Christ is making you over the next (almost) three months, and all of the streams flowing into your development matter.

And when you realize that, you are able to approach all of life with a special energy and enthusiasm. Everything has value; nothing doesn’t matter. The time you spend shooting baskets with the kids down the street is time you’ll never get back, and it’s something that Christ is using to change the world! And He’s also using it to change you into who He wants you to be. So be excited and shoot baskets like a Christian, like shooting baskets and impacting your neighbors matters, because it does! The way you and your family barbecue and picnic, play and pray, work and rest all matters.

Fun and Battle Training

When we get together at ECS to play soccer, sing hymns, conjugate verbs, learn phonograms, memorize multiplication tables or factoids about invertebrates, you may think this is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. That’s great. It is fun, and we want you to have fun. It’s fun for me, too. But you know what I hear over the deafening giggles and Latin chants and rhythmic rattling off of the days of the week? I hear an occasional “BOOM.”

You see, when unbelievers get together in classes and study volcanoes or geography or Anne of Green Gables, the devil is not threatened. They may even come away with a greater sense of themselves rather than a greater sense of God, and miss the point of education altogether.

But when Christians do these things, it is nothing less than an assault on the kingdom of darkness. When we assemble for school, we’re training you for war…and you don’t even know it. What we are doing in training you to be happy warriors for Christ is a real threat to the kingdom of darkness. It is nothing less than a full-scale assault on the citadels of unbelief, hence the “BOOM,” as the enemy gates are pounded relentlessly.

All of your life, the kingdom of God will be in attack mode on the kingdom of darkness, and you’re a soldier in that cause. And that makes the devil really nervous…and it should.

Imagine if there were a bunch of North Koreans “peacefully” assembled in one of the pastures adjacent to ECS, and they were doing drills, training exercises, and maneuvers. That would make us nervous, and rightly so. And if they were having a blast in the process and passers by wanted in on their party, we’d find that even more troubling.

The leading of the Christian life is a powerful weapon in our cause. You may think you’re just going about your life, but as you’re going, the Father is making you more like the Son, and the Son is purifying you to present you to Himself pure and spotless as a part of His bride, the Church. This is something that Jesus takes seriously.

So what about summer? Well, if what I’ve said is true, then it doesn’t end with the school year, right? Only one part of it (albeit significant) takes a vacation: the going-to-school part. But the preparation for war goes on, nonetheless.

Raggants, if we are miserable, the devil is happy. You know why?

First, we’re disobedient, because Christians are supposed to be joyful. Second, there’s no chance than we’re going to draw anybody into the kingdom of God, because if being a Christian is all about boring joylessness, well? The world doesn’t need Jesus to be boring and joyless; they can do that without Him, right?

When we are miserable, we misrepresent Christ. So be happy this summer. Have fun. Have a lot of fun. God smiles at that, and the devil hates it. Just make sure you’re doing the right think along the way (i.e., no rule-breaking or disobedience to your parents with “fun” as the excuse).

I’m not saying that unbelievers can’t have fun. But what does their fun get them? Happiness for a moment? Maybe even a lifetime. I say, “BIG DEAL!” At the very best they can love the blessings they’ve been given. But we get to love not only the blessings, but the Giver of those blessings. Our fun and happiness become expressions of delight and thankfulness to God for His giving us good things.

So are you ready to put this into practice? In a moment we’re going party in such a way as to make the devil really nervous, as he thinks, “There’s a bunch of Christians up there having a whole lot of fun! I hope nobody notices.”

Well, here’s to a fantastic summer break living robust lives for Christ and growing in our knowledge of and love for Him. And by His grace, may others take notice.