It’s a funny feeling, walking back into a place from your childhood as an adult. It’s weird enough looking back at the house you grew up in, noticing how small everything looks, and wondering what happened to that store that used to be on the corner, but when you arrive back “home” and are in a position of some authority, well, you never know what reaction you are going to get.
When Gabe Kotter arrived at Buchanan High for the second time, it was as a teacher instead of a student. He’d been a troublemaker during his original time there, and, as fate would have it, he suddenly had to teach a class full of remedial sweathogs that reminded him of himself at their ages. And actually this experience was a boon to him. He was able to connect to and believe in those kids like no one else. Even Vinnie Barbarino. The only real problem was, Gabe’s old teacher, the one who had hated him as a student, was now the vice-principal. How do you deal with something like that? How can you convince someone who has seen you at your worst and most childish moments that you are now an adult and can take responsibility for teaching these people that everyone else has given up on?
Jesus had a similar problem, only with less John Travolta. He grew up in the town of Nazareth (Jesus, not John Travolta), but left town as an adult to begin his teaching and ministry. Along the way he built up quite a name for himself, and people came from miles around seeking his wisdom and his healing. At least most people did. Not those Nazareth folks though. When Jesus’ tour of the Holy Land took him back through his home town, he did not receive a hero’s welcome. He went up to the temple to do his thing, and the people were all like, “Isn’t that Joseph’s son? I remember him. I used to steal his lunch money. What’s he doing back here? Remember that time he wore that plaid robe with those striped sandals? Classic.” And Jesus told them that no prophet is accepted in their own country, but kept on preaching to them anyway, which made them so mad that they threw him out of the city. In fact, they were going to throw him off of a cliff until he decided that he’d had enough of that and just left and went to Capernaum, where people were cool with him again.
This bring me back, as always, to myself. You see, I just took a job as the minister of music at the church I grew up in. Going through the choir music this week I found old music scores with my name on them! Half of them people in the choir now were also still in the choir when I was in high school! Reading the previous two paragraphs, can you understand why I worry?
Now, I have to tell you that everyone has been very supportive of me so far and almost nobody has tried to hurl me off of a cliff, so I think these issues are mostly my own, but I have a hard enough time calling some of the people by their first names! They were my Sunday School teachers for goodness sake! And now I am in charge or telling them that they came in a beat too early. Crazy. We’re having our first rehearsal together on Thursday, and I am actually very excited about it. I’m not really as worried as maybe all of this would make it seem. I just wanted to take a moment and say, it is a little weird to be in a position of some authority in a place where I did a lot of growing up. That’s all. And if Mr. Kotter could be welcomed back and eventually win over Mr. Woodman and become vice-principal himself, I can probably run a choir rehearsal without being run out of town. I’ll let you know how it goes.