The Task at Hand

How quickly the magic of Christmas fades in the cold of January, especially with the stress of a new semester in the classroom. MTR President, David Montague, shared these words with MTR teachers on the first day back to school this month. They are just as applicable and relevant a couple weeks into the semester. Every morning is another moment to remember “the task at hand.”

Andrew Wong, MTR Resident, teaching at Cherokee Elementary. Andrew Wong, MTR Resident, teaching at Cherokee Elementary.

Author: David Montague | MTR President

And so today is the day to get back at the task at hand… to live in such a way as to display to the world the love and character of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Or, said another way, to teach.

Yet it is not simply the rest of the break that equips us to return, but it is the truth of the break.

Over the holidays I researched and read several of the Christmas Mass sermons preached by Popes over the past century.  For the Christmas dinner my family hosted for our extended family, I placed selections from a variety of these sermons under each place mat to be read during the meal.

I’ve copied below several of these readings. As I’m sure we can all use a reminder to the big “Why” question that we often ask, especially at the return from Christmas break, I present to you selections 13-17 (Pope Francis, 2013) from the Montague Christmas Dinner…

  • On this night, like a burst of brilliant light, there rings out the proclamation of the Apostle: “God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race” (Tit 2:11).
  • The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst.
  • The shepherds were the first to see this “tent”, to receive the news of Jesus’s birth. They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast. And they were the first because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks.
  • Together with them, let us pause before the Child, let us pause in silence. Together with them, let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us: We bless you, Lord God most high, who lowered yourself for our sake.
  • You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich and you made  yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable.
View Michelle Turner, MTR Resident, teaching at Berclair Elementary.:

Michelle Turner, MTR Resident, teaching at Berclair Elementary.

As I think about why I come back to work today, these readings center me. My takeaways:

  •  Jesus Christ is the grace of God who provides for me that which I most need and could never obtain: forgiveness, salvation and peace with God.  Therefore, I know to be grateful in all things and fully His.
  • He is the meaning and purpose of life.  Therefore, I am not.  Life revolves around Him, not me.
  • He has demonstrated a particular care for and desire to dignify the “shepherds”… the outcast, the manual laborers, the night-shift workers.  Therefore, so will I.
  • His grace and love silences me.  Therefore, it quiets my talk and concern about myself with talk and concern about Him and His goodness.
  • Christmas has set for me a Way… to become smaller and more vulnerable for the sake of bringing life and blessing to others.  Therefore, I now return from a break with an understanding and a picture – a Story – to live.  To understand and to willingly become more weak, small, vulnerable, and uncomfortable for the sake of others as a means of obedience to and proclamation of His love.
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MTR professional photographs taken by Gretchen Shaw.

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