Back to School


I then shall live as one who's learned compassion.
I've been so loved, that I'll risk loving too.
I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges;
I'll dare to see another's point of view.
And when relationships demand commitment,
Then I'll be there to care and follow through.

from “I Then Shall Live” by Gloria Gaither (1981)


I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.

Jeremiah 29:11


When we pack a backpack to travel, we’re primarily concerned with getting our shoes, clothes, and toiletries safely into the overhead storage bin. Don’t let someone else’s roller bag get in the way! Our perspective is limited to our present needs and circumstances.

It’s tempting to read Jeremiah’s words from a limited perspective as well. We read: God has a plan for me, and it’s one that leads me to hope and success for my future. However, this passage was written for the Jewish people living under Babylonian exile. Jeremiah’s prophetic words are best understood not in an individualistic way but as words of hope for a whole community. God does have plans for us, and we do have a hopeful collective future together.

God knows us as individuals, but we are woven together with others in communities and fellowships. And we can take hope in God’s promises to our faith ancestors. God hears the prayers and concerns that we offer as a community. Through this hope, God is glorified.

Ben Brown


God who holds the future, help me to seek the needs of others today. Let me find peace in offering hope to someone in need. Amen.


Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines. Not just in the moments when life seems easy.

Henri Nouwen in Turning My Mourning into Dancing (2004)

Go today in gratitude.

Go today with God.