We had some tears and nervousness, but there were also a lot of happy faces as older children welcomed younger children into their classrooms. (As far as I know, there were no tears among the adults.) For most, this was an enjoyable day of new experiences.
The meaning of the word, promotion, is based on a simple prefix-root construction: pro (meaning “forward”) and mot (meaning “move”). Promotion means “moving forward”, hence the natural use of the term when we assume a new position someplace ahead of where we have been. Consider this use also, as we shepherd our children from the old classroom to the new : our own promotion to glory. Oh, the glory of that day when I shall cross the river and enter the Celestial City to spend eternity with my King! I know this is what I long for, when I shall lay aside the sins that hinder me and the weight of a world groaning with iniquity and lawlessness. With every wearisome and sin-plagued day, I am reminded that in Christ I find my Sabbath and that He awaits me for an eternal rest in Heaven. This is a great theme to discuss with your children while they still have in their minds the excitement and novelty of this Promotion Sunday.
The father of a college friend of mine posted this comment on the sudden death of his son, “My wife, Ben [his oldest son] and I were with him at the end of his life on this side of GLORY. He was ready to go! This is a man who walked the walk and really cared for those who needed a friend, especially young people. He wanted to know and grow in the Lord. If he knew you then he prayed for you.” Faithful in life, promoted to glory!
In the same way that the children, who had heard all about what to expect in their new classes, were experiencing mixed emotions -- some anticipation, some fear, yet nonetheless really didn't know what to expect, we don't know what faces us in the next realm. We don't even have a guarantee of what manner of promotion awaits us. For some, like Christian in Pilgrim's Progress, the river is dreadful, turbulent and dark. For others, like Hopeful, the gates of glory were like a flame to his weakening body, drawing him forward, but he did not fail to assist his companion with reminders of the loveliness and faithfulness of the Savior, giving what strength he could to his friend.
Then I saw in my dream that Christian was in a bewildered stupor for a while. Hopeful spoke to Christian, encouraging him to “Be of good cheer,” reminding him that Jesus Christ would make him whole. With that Christian shouted out with a loud voice, “Oh, I see Him again, and He tells me, ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.’”
Then they both took courage and crossed the river, and the enemy was as still as a stone. Christian soon found solid ground to stand on, and the rest of the river was shallow. So Christian and Hopeful crossed over the river and arrived on the other side. As soon as they came out of the river, they saw the two shining men again waiting for them. The men saluted the two pilgrims saying, “We are ministering spirits, sent here to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation.” Then they all went they along together toward the gate.
(From a special printing of The Pilgrim's Progress, written by John Bunyan, that is made available through Truth For Life by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, found here.)