The pressures and blessings of a new school year

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Minister's Forum

It is that time again, when parents may dread to learn that buying what is necessary for the new school year often means buying things so that their child can belong to all those kids pressured to follow the newest trends.

Kids have to belong, and it brings pressure on them – and on their parents – no matter how hard we try to remember and remind others that we are measured not by how we look  and dress.
I thought about this when I was looking for something to send to my brother, who is in high school and whose wish would be a new phone. He often points out that I have no idea about what pressures a boy at 13 has to endure.
I do understand, in some ways, just by being a pastor and having to read about Jesus, whose parents also had the task of raising up a child and later a teenager.
According to the Gospel writer Luke, Jesus' parents lost track of Jesus and were worried.  "After three days, they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers" (Luke 2:46 – 47).
I know, therefore, that Jesus knows the pressure of being a child, a teenager, a young adult and one with parents who worry. And, yes, even Jesus had to study and learn so that he would, as the scriptures say, "grew and became strong, filled with wisdom" (Luke 2:40).
His parents were human beings who were not perfect,  only faithful and loving, so that Jesus would grow and would be strong to be what God called him to be.
We learn something important from the way Jesus was raised and cared by his family until the end of his life. We take Jesus with us and become strong in our faith as we experience pressure as children and as we try our best as parents.
We learn that it was God’s plan for Christ to be just like us, including the difficulties and blessings of starting a new school year, struggling to resist peer pressure, worrying as parents about our children and grandchildren, and yet trusting that our faith will guide us through all of these.
I did not buy a new phone for my brother. Instead, I decided to do something just as trendy and give him something online with a click on the computer keyboard.
However, the real gift that we give our children this year will not be purchased at any store; it will be given in ways of attention, discipline, patience and teaching by our own example. For all of these very difficult and often worrisome tasks, we ask for God’s wisdom, strength and patience.