Following is a short letter I wrote to our 8th graders as they take off for the summer and head into high school next Fall…

Ladies and Gentlemen of the 8th Grade,

Before your summer begins and you head off to the beach or to the pool, before you plop down in front of the TV to play video games, I hope you will take some time to reflect on this past year and envision your coming experience in High School.

Every good story has conflict.  Your life is no different.  This past year has seen plenty of conflict.  The coming years will bring  various kinds – the daily kind that can create a numbness to life if we allow them, and the explosive type that come through more challenging experiences.  In all of it, my encouragement to you, is to remember.  Remember the larger story that God has told and is currently telling.

There were 12 stones erected to help the children of Israel remember their identity as God’s people.  Elijah used 12 stones to build an altar on which God showed himself immeasurably stronger than his enemies.  Remember who you are.  The Triune God who made you in his image and has redeemed you in grace for himself calls you to live in faith.  There is great risk in living a life of faith.  There is no insurance policy.  “Venture on him, venture wholly.  Let no other trust intrude.”  This God who spoke and formed the universe has you… remember who are.

“The pupil comes to the Rabbi and asks, ‘Why does Torah tell us to ‘place these words upon your hearts?’ Why does it not say to place these holy words in our hearts?’ The Rabbi answers, ‘It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts.  So we place them on top of our hearts.  And there they stay, until one day, the heart breaks, and the words fall in.”

When your heart breaks I pray you remember the stories of those who have gone before you and humble yourself to hear their wisdom.  I hope the words fall in.  You are not alone.  Love each other well.  Make your bed every morning.  Look your loved ones in the eyes every day to tell them you are thankful for them and express your love freely.

Enjoy your summer!

Your Friend,

Mr. Horn

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