Written by Gradye Parsons
Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.
We are making a generational shift in our family this year. My wife, Kathy, is not teaching school for the first time in thirty-three years. Our grandson, Dylan, started preschool. So there is at least someone in the family in a classroom this fall.
My first days of school were in Mrs. Williams’ kindergarten. I remember one of her challenges with me was trying to teach me to spell my name. She insisted it was spelled Gradye. I insisted that it was spelled Roy, because if that was good enough for my Roy Rogers lunch box then it was good enough for me. She eventually won.
As Presbyterians we talk about education a lot. We try to follow our foreparent, John Calvin, who started a school so people could read the Bible for themselves. Calvin’s school was tution-free and open to all, two things that were generally unheard of in Europe at that time.
In Jeremiah 31:33, God tells Israel, “… I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” It would seem an unsecure place to leave a word. The human heart is so fickle. It is both capable of loving another human for decades and of road rage. It can get all mushy at a baby’s baptism and hate the new carpet in the sanctuary. Why would God want to write on such an unpredictable vessel?
I learned how to read a few years before I learned to love to read. It began when I was in a split 4th and 5th grade. Mrs. Martin did not like idle hands or heads. To ensure against the creation of mischief she had a well-stocked library. I read through the shelves that year and have not really stopped since.
If we are to honor Calvin, we need to go all in. We need to use our whole mind and our whole heart to discern what God has in store for us. It might take some extra homework but the graduation is spectacular.