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The Countdown has begun: Learning at Lunchtime

August 6, 2018

1Tonight is our back-to-school assembly, seeing the whole GCA family connecting with one another.  The students’ families will gather to meet the administration and staff in a sort of “open house” for a few hours tonight, wandering the halls and peeking into various classrooms. I have cleaned and decorated my room accordingly; I shall post myself in my classroom and greet both new pupils and “returning veterans”, giving words of encouragement and instruction concerning the coming school year.   

That will officially put us at T minus 35 hours until liftoff.  School begins on Wednesday.

We will start the pattern of class schedules and follow the regular rhythm of class bells, chapel meetings, morning announcements, and lunch breaks.

Lunch period.  Ah, yes.  The favorite part of many a GCA student’s day.  The much-needed break for energy, rest and even a bit of guffawing. Some students take their meals outside to catch a little sun as well.  It’s a break in the action.

To be truthful, for years I hadn’t really liked lunches.  Honestly.

Dinners I’m okay with; you finish the day and relax while you reload on calories.  Breakfasts are good, too; they coax you gently into the day like a gently clucking Russian grandmother.  Go out and have a good day, boychik.

Lunches, though, intruded on the pace of the day.  They seemed like interruptions.

However, over the last years, I learned to enjoy them and actually use them for a better purpose.  I would sit in the cafeteria’s “teacher table” and discuss Middle Knowledge with Tony, or perhaps a bit of church history with Scott.  I sometimes left the cafeteria and would have an in-classroom Bible study on Luke or maybe some apologetic discussion with some of my students in the National Bible Honor Society.  In any case, I take the time to either teach or learn whenever I can.

Which brings me to a great mealtime lesson that is a good example of what I need to do this year.

It was at a mealtime during the week of Jesus’ crucifixion.  It was Thursday.  The disciples were sitting with Jesus and having a dinner, but not just any dinner; they were having the Passover dinner.  In Jesus’ day, the annual Passover dinner attendees would gather with a roasted lamb, herbs and other parts of a ceremony/meal commemorating the deliverance to freedom out of Egypt brought about by the mercy given when Death would “pass over” a household due to the blood of an innocent lamb.  You know the story.  For untold years this ceremonial dinner had been celebrated, and there are many things I could relate, but I want to give you one pertinent point that hit me.

Good back to the disciples and Jesus eating the Passover dinner.  The meal consisted of various actions, such as the drinking of a blessing to God, a prayer of thanks, the singing of a Hallel, the eating of bitter herbs, and the washing of one’s hands.  It’s the hand washing part that struck me.  

In the second part of this dinner the disciples would wash their hands, and it’s for more than making the hands physically clean.  This is a ceremonial washing of the hands to openly display their understanding of the need for personal cleansing; each participant wants to be right with the Lord before they continue to commemorate the joy of the historical deliverance of God  The disciples would show this by an external washing of the hands.  It was a symbol of their cleansing and desire to be holy.

But look at what happened at this part of the dinner.  Luke 22:24 gives us the details:

“There rose a dispute among them as to which of them was regarded to be the greatest.” 

They might be washing their hands and showing a cleansing but they are far from ridding themselves of pride and self-will.  Even a bit of jealousy, too.

This might be the first recorded “food fight” in history.  Voices rise…  

John 13 continues this narrative.  I believe it is at this point that something else rises as well.

More accurately, who rises. 


He quietly puts a towel around His waist and – can you believe it – washes their feet.   They stopped at the hands, but Jesus started at the feet. This selfless service is a before-your-eyes rebuke to their selfish pride.

Their routine was stopped by a lesson – not what was taught, but what was shown.

This is a graphic picture of what I, as a Christian educator, need to bring into the classroom.  The action of love.  The action of commitment.  The action of humility.

Say all you want, but at the end of the day, the students will most deeply register what you have done. They will go beyond the mouth; they will witness the heart action.  The Lord can enable me to have the love, respect, courage and endurance to bring the His power into the education of these very special people by my actions … and reactions.

It’s not acting, either.  Lord, spare us from play-actors in the classroom.  Students want – and need – genuineness.  May I learn from this deep act of humble service that Jesus used.

At a meal.


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