The Last Word

Nov 5th, 2019 | Category: Columns, The Last Word
By Erik Ankerberg

Be Opened

Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”

– Mark 7:34 NKJV

The story never gets old to me–a group of friends bring one of their own, a man who cannot hear or speak, to Jesus. Our Lord touches his tongue and his ears and commands that they be opened. The results? His ears are opened, his tongue is unchained, and the man speaks plainly. A man who came to Jesus broken left restored and made whole. Thanks to Jesus, this man has a completely new life in front of him.

As I write today, we are just a few weeks into a new academic year at Concordia University Chicago. Yes, a new year has begun, but perhaps the excitement that accompanies this new beginning has already begun to wear off. The start of the year offers such promise, but the realities of life can degrade our optimism. We have carefully planned our classes; we have brought our best intentions and our best professional selves to our work. Yet, just days into a new year, we may wonder whether those efforts are enough.

We see students, full of optimism as the school year begins, who falter along the way and struggle to find academic success. Many families strive valiantly to offer their children support, but face difficult obstacles. Our colleagues bring their expertise and professionalism to the classroom, but their challenges and frustrations follow them there, as well.

Our schools, like our homes, are places that offer hope for the challenges we face in life. Our Lord, through the work of the Holy Spirit, opens schools that offer a transformational education that is grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and him crucified. In the context of our schools, he opens the ears of our students, their families, and our colleagues, and fills those ears with the one thing needful–the assurance of his restoring love.

This edition of Lutheran Education continues the journal’s long-standing commitment to sharing ways in which our ears are opened. Whether it is developing forms of mentoring, encouraging struggling readers, or developing new forms of curricula, this edition highlights many examples of colleagues carrying out the good work of placing hope and encouragement in the ears of students, families, and professional educators.

As we begin another year of partnering together, across educational institutions at all levels, my prayer is that we actively seek out and promote those opportunities in our schools, where the Lord of the Church can open our ears to hear the good news of our work together to serve young people and transform their lives, as well as the Good News of God’s work to serve us and bring us home to himself in eternity.

Have a most blessed and wonderful year. LEJ

Erik Ankerberg, Ph.D., (Class of 1992) is Associate Vice President for Academics and Professor of English at Concordia University Chicago. He has previously served in various teaching and administrative roles at Martin Luther High School, Wisconsin Lutheran College, and Concordia University Texas.