Dear Sir or Madam,
Congratulations! On this the 20th of June, 2014, I’d like to formally acknowledge your enrollment in, and welcome you to, The School of Love—or “Your Family” as it as commonly known. Please forgive our tardiness in sending you this letter. I’ve been working to send this notification to upwards of six billion people and I’m slightly understaffed.
As you are well aware, perhaps by those with whom you kept company today, you have been a student of this School of Love for the entirety of your life. While you most likely have no memory of your enrollment, you can trust the process was both laborious and miraculous. Indeed, a great many people (far more than you could possibly imagine) worked very hard so you could receive this education.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, great! You mean to tell me I’ve been enrolled in a school my whole life and didn’t know?! I must have a hefty tuition bill.” Fear not, the School of Love prides itself on being unlike any other. Even though it is the very foundation of a flourishing world, admission to the School of Love is free. In fact, it’s a gift to you. It is God’s design for FAMILY.
What’s left now, and the purpose of this letter, is to remind you of the tenets of this most ancient and beautiful of institutions, so that you may learn and grow as model students.
First and foremost, the School of Love is rooted in mystery. After all, it is a reflection of the Triune God (our fine institutions founder) who himself is a mystery. He is one, but he is three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How can this be? It’s a question we’ve struggled to answer for centuries. In this mysterious dance, however, we find the foundations our existence: communion, grace, and love. As image bearers of God, we can be certain that this is his overarching desire for us—to be in relationship with one another, to show grace and give gifts to our classmates, to offer ourselves in love in all that we do.
Secondly, life in the School of Love will not be easy. It will test the bounds of your patience, your will, and even your sanity. The School of Love—family life—may even break your heart. Consider our most sacred of our alumna: Jesus’ mother, Mary. She was a model student who praised God and delighted in the gift of her son, only to watch him get torn apart by a broken world.
How can this be?
As a student, you must remember that you learn in a broken world and that you, yourself, are a broken student—a shattered image of God and his love and grace. You will struggle with the mystery, for your acceptance into the School of Love was not based on merit, but the grace and love that overflows from the mystery of God. In these hallowed halls you will be confronted with your own vulnerability and inadequacy. You will be confronted by the brokenness of your classmates. Your true character will be revealed – the old nature as well as the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Allow the Triune God to form you into his likeness. Humbly trust that this is his desire, that by abiding in him, you may grow in the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, attending School of Love is not about you. Success doesn’t come from learning all the right answers and acing all the tests (that will never happen, anyway). It’s not even about the job you’ll get when you graduate. Success in our lifelong program is measured by your faithfulness. In other words, KEEP SHOWING UP TO CLASS. Keep offering yourself to your Teacher, God our Father, WHO IS LOVE. Keep offering yourself to your classmates—your family—and your main assignment: to be fruitful and multiply, to replenish the earth and have dominion. Be like our greatest teacher and your adopted brother, Jesus, who empties himself out for you as a glorious sacrifice. Be a loving gift to your class, to your family, at all costs. This is how everyone will truly flourish. This is your first and foremost calling for the life of the world.
So, welcome to the School of Love. Welcome to the mystery of communion, grace, and love. It is a glorious mystery. Questions will arise. Keep showing up. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask.
PS – It can be really easy to get caught up in classroom distractions. The temptation to compare yourself to others and dismiss differing viewpoints will always be present. Don’t lose your focus. You don’t have it all figured out. My advice, continue to contribute to class, but do so by being a model student. Offer yourself in fellowship, grace, and sacrificial love. Leave the judging and grading up to the teachers and just be a student eager to learn.
“The Nativity” illustration by Rebecca Green