Devotional for Aug. 26, 2012 – Restoring Creation: Teaching and Learning


Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible/Theme Background

The author of our Ephesians passage is working closely with previous scripture, Isaiah 59, in order to make the contemporary church relevant. Compared to Isaiah, we are still working with language that suggests we take on spiritual tools in order to fight the evil darkness in the world.  The twist is that in Isaiah, it is God alone that is the warrior whereas in Ephesians it is the entire church that armor’s up to fight darkness.   This is a communal mission, not a solitary one. This is a chance to grow in our understanding of God instead of backing off of what we have learned from Christ.

In order to catch all of these leanings, we must take on and learn from God in order to be successful.  We must arm ourselves with faith and prayer.  We fight with peace and justice.  It is a participatory act.  We must be knowledgeable in our past, Isaiah’s story, as well as our present and be willing to continue to learn in God’s ways.

In our gospel lesson, Jesus continues to teach about how to be a part of that community.  The teaching and the learning is not easy.  In both the Ephesians passage and the John passage, the learning is all part of the struggle and our teachers are great.  Because the way is not easy, we must be ready to take on God’s work in order to continue. It is a gift to continue and a particular calling to teach and to learn.

As I read and research these passages, I have come to realize that this isn’t so off base for anything that we are encouraged to learn and to teach. It is clear that both are callings in our world and change throughout time.  Learning is only embraced by effort and community.  Without great teachers, we are lost along the way but we must be able to commit. Neither the teaching nor the learning is a piece of cake and in the end we are rewarded with knowledge and living into who we are.

Today we are celebrating those in our midst who teach and those who are learners.  These two jobs go hand in hand and when done correctly, we are inspired past the struggle and into something new.  We are reminded that these two calls are great gifts in our lives.

I remember the great teachers of my past who pop up in my mind in the present because they have been part of my journey along the way into who I have become. I feel blessed to receive new teachers all along the way. My learnings have not stopped outside of school.  We celebrate those who continuously are open to learning in what comes their way.  We celebrate the teachers, the students, the classroom assistants, the faculty, and all other teachers in our world.  Thank you for answering the call to one of the most challenging and rewarding professions. 

Quotes for the Week

“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.” ― Aristotle

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”  ― Albert Einstein

“I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.” ― Barbara KingsolverThe Poisonwood Bible

“Teaching is a calling too. And I’ve always thought that teachers in their way are holy – angels leading their flocks out of the darkness.” ― Jeannette Walls

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”  –William Arthur Ward 

Ephesians 6:10-20 (NRSV)


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.


John 6: 58-69 (NRSV)

This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”

For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Questions for the Week

Who has been your favorite teacher? Why?

Where do you still feel called to learn and be the student?

If you could thank one teacher, who would it be and why?





About pastorcourt

Courtney McHill is the pastor at Rose City Park United Methodist Church in Northeast Portland where they love compassionately and inclusively!
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