Even though Monday was my day off, I made a appointment to visit with the principal of our local middle school late Monday afternoon. I brought a member of my congregation; we're doing research for a community forum this fall on "Closing the Achievement Gap." Our community has become much more economically, culturally and racially diverse in the last few years; we have Hispanic students, African American students, African students (some from Somalia); Asian students. The diversity has brought both strengths and challenges to our community.
We were very impressed by our middle school principal, an African American man who grew up in Tennessee and came to our area as a teenager. I noticed the "Negro League" baseball jersey he was wearing right away, and complimented him on it. He is committed to fighting institutional racism in education as well as educating families to take responsibility for their education (there's that both/and that I am so fond of.) He has a passion for education, and for helping at-risk kids. Like us, he believes "all kids are our kids".
Yesterday I spent the morning in a staff meeting; the whole staff then helped our children's ministry coordinator clean up after Vacation Bible School. Later on I took some study materials and went to our local bookstore/coffee shop to study and get a little ahead on my sermons for July 6th and 13th. I also bought a large-print Bible. And in the evening I met with a couple to be married in August.
This afternoon I visited a shut-in that I have known for four years, ever since she and her husband moved back here from Arizona. Her husband died last December. She is legally blind, but has received one of those reading machines, so she had requested that I pick up a Bible for her, so that she could participate more fully in a Bible study she has been attending.
She was so excited when she saw the Bible. She just raved and raved about it, and also about the wonderful Bible study she has been attending. She is so excited that she will be able to read the Bible more often now. I wish I could bottle her excitement and pour it over many more people. What is it that has made her not only love the Word, but also love to read and study it?
Our church recently took the Natural Church Development inventory. The good news was: our highest category was Empowering Leadership. We also had pretty high marks in Inspiring Worship. The bad news was: our lowest category was Passionate Spirituality. In the mind of the inventory-writers, passionate spirituality includes regular time for prayer and Bible study. So, right now I'm thinking: how do we create more people like my widow, who could hardly wait to receive her Bible today?
Achievement gap picture from here.