What a great way to start the week: over 200 teenagers and their teachers singing together: “How Great is Our God,” and “Here I am To Worship,” and “Lord You Have My Heart.”
Spiritual life director Gord Park opened with a prayer for a blessing on “the person sitting next to me,” and giving thanks for feeling the presence of God in our school.
“You belong here,” Park told the students, accompanied by a photo.
He then shared his own childhood experience as the son of a Salvation Army pastor who moved eight times and attended eight different schools, struggling with being the “new kid” each time. Because he was small of stature, “I spent a lot of time in lockers,” he joked.
Park gave the students four tips for making Smithville Christian High School a welcoming place – not just today, or this week or even this year, but always.
“Anybody can be welcoming for one day or for one week, the cool thing is if it’s a lifestyle,” Park said.
1) Personal spiritual formation: He said the first tip comes from Jesus, who told his followers in Matthew 22: 36-40 that the greatest commandment is to love God. This school is not only your opportunity to not only see Christ in everything you learn, but also to “be Christ,” Park said. “Open your spiritual eyes and recognize why God brought you to this school. The tighter your relationship is to Jesus, the welcoming stuff will ooze out anyway. Be who Christ intends you to be. Step one to being welcoming is to let Christ come alive in your life.”
2) Connect with others: “There are all kinds of things happening in this school all the time,” Park said. Get involved, but also “give your friends the freedom to grow in Christ. I am not asking you to be everybody’s best friend. Just be friendly and let Christ be in the middle of every friendship.
3) Believe there is a purpose: “This school is yours,” he said. “God has designed the teachers, the classes, and the kids for you. Please don’t feel new any longer. Discover the treasures that have been set in place by God for you. Pick them up and enjoy.”
4) Get involved: “Don’t be afraid to get involved. There is no ownership here – it’s wide open. But the most important thing to make this school good is your relationship with God. God has knit you (students) together for the next year, or two or three or four, and that’s the way he wants it. This is not a welcome week or even a welcome year. This is a lifestyle of being welcoming, of being like Jesus.”