Our calendar year may start on 1st January but for me September always feels more like a new start as the academic year begins. I realise that for almost all of my life it has been the predominant cycle; starting with being at school myself, then university, then accountancy training. Even in the period where Ian and I were ‘dinkies’ (double income, no kids!), for most of that time I was working in further education colleges so although I worked through the school holidays most of the staff and students were away. And of course since becoming parents the school year has again been important and looks set to be so for several years yet.
Many of our church activities also take a break during August. Breaks are important, especially for those tasked with leadership but also for everyone. Times of rest and relaxation allow for refreshment, reflection and blessing. I hope you have all managed some rest over this period and it’s something we can give thanks for before we dive headlong into September.
The start of the new school year can mean many things. It is just that, the start of something new. For many people, particularly young people, there are new classes, new teachers, maybe a new school. For those moving on to university, it’s a time of big transition. There may be nerves and uncertainty, but also excitement. For other people, it’s maybe the impetus to start a new activity; an evening class, a club, an exercise regime.
The shops of course have been doing ‘back to school’ promotions since July, reminding me of how I would get our children to try on their uniform and see what they had grown out of. So September is about new things, transitions, and growing, all words which have meaning for us as Christian disciples individually and as a church.
Paul writes to the Ephesians,
“ … by speaking the truth in the spirit of love, we must grow up in every way to Christ, who is the head.” (Ephesians 4.15).
So whether your schooldays are now or a distant memory, I hope we will all find some way to grow up in faith and discipleship in the year ahead.