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Midweek Musing by a semi-guest writer 2/21/24

So, Brittany ended up chaperoning a group of young people in her first year of teaching at Sequoyah High School to Harvard University for a debate and speech competition. As a chaperone, when the students were competing, she ended up sitting and waiting for students to need her. Because of this, she ended up with some free time on her hands. She did the normal teacher things like get ahead on lesson plans and grade papers and even did some fun things like read a novel. There were also a few things that she did not do including spending any extra time outside…as you will see in the picture Boston in February can be cold and Brittany, who is southern born and southern bred, was not keen on the cold weather.

Now while they are many things about technology that drive me crazy, one of the things that is super positive is the ability for friends and family to communicate and keep up with one another even when they’re on the road. I remember when Laura and I were dating, and she was in Macon, and I was in Woodstock Georgia. We had to wait until after 11 o’clock to call one another when long-distance rates went down! Today, there are no such things as long-distance rates, and you can both text and FaceTime at a moment’s notice. Thus, throughout this trip I got a play-by-play of everything that was happening. It led to a lot of laughter and a few wry smiles from me as I remembered my first years of teaching and the trepidation that comes from those field trips with students, especially when they are overnight…though, I will admit I never had to get a group of 29 young people through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and TSA security. Oh, and she said baggage claim was a lot of fun – NOT!

At one point Brittany asked if we needed her to do anything as she was bored. I responded that she could go ahead and write a sermon and finish next week’s musing, I ended that text with LOL, which means I was joking. However, she took the time to reflect on her trip and related it to her faith and even though I am biased, I found some real meaning in it, and wanted to share it with you.

 

Grace and peace,

Clay.


 
Guest Musing


“Love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31. We all know the “golden rule” it is some variation of treat others the way you want to be treated. It is the cardinal rule we learn in pre-school, or we learn the church version of “Love your neighbor as yourself” in Sunday School. This rule about love is the most important of all teachings from Jesus.

This past long President’s Day weekend I traveled with Sequoyah High School’s Speech and Debate team to Cambridge, MA to compete at Harvard. Planning this trip was overwhelming, stressful and to be honest I was somewhat dreading it. The thought of being in charge of 29 high school students in a city that I have never been to (and going through the airport!) created a lot of anxiety leading up to the trip. But then we got there… I am not saying that it was perfect; there are always hiccups when you travel with different people, but the support and love that each student has for each other is astounding. This group of 29 students includes some of the most diverse people I have ever encountered on a school trip (or any for that matter). But their differences truly make them stronger.

Some of the students had never been on an airplane before and those around them ad tried to make things calmer when going through the horror that is Hartsfield-Jackson’s TSA. Some had never traveled before or had never competed in a tournament at this capacity. It’s scary to think about going to a new place to compete against thousands of people, but these students showed me that they could come together and support each other no matter the circumstances.

Throughout the weekend students from all different backgrounds came together to work on debate cases, blocks, speeches, homework and so much more. But it wasn’t even just SHS’s 29 students coming together, it was the well over 4000 students plus coaches, chaperones and officials competing at this tournament. Sharing information, complimenting outfits and hair styles, running mock debates or watching speeches to give suggestions. These students reminded me what it means to love my neighbor.

We live in a world that is divided when it comes to anything: politics, economics, climate change, sexual orientation, human rights and pretty much anything and everything in between. We turn on the news and no one is listening or working together; they are just trying to “win” for the sake of winning… But these students could not have cared any less about what the weather was doing or if someone used different pronouns or who they might vote for in the next election. They truly just wanted their neighbors, their competition, to do well. They understood that their differences might actually benefit them by talking through the different ideas and ideologies they encountered over those five days. These students, to me, became the definition of the Golden Rule.

As we go into this Lenten season, we need to remember to love our neighbor, because that is the best way to show our love for Jesus who died on the cross for us. We need to remember that the differences we have make us a better society, if we just learn to put aside divisions and work together and root for our competitor.


Brittany Gunter

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