Thursday, February 24, 2022

The "Real World": Learning, Home, and Refugees

 “How do your students do when they enter the real world?” 

The manner in which the question was asked suggested that at least to some degree, the inquiring family presumed that the learning journey for students at LCES is not linked in a direct way to what happens in the broader world outside of the school day. I firmly believe it does. 

Take for example our student service project this spring. After wrapping up our learning connection with Indwell, our students are being challenged to learn about what “home” means, especially to those who don’t have one. LCES will be learning about refugees throughout the world, but also locally right here in our city as they read through books specifically chosen to help them understand the journey of those who have fled their home. 


Christian education has as its goal not to isolate students from life, but to enable them to fully understand what they are actually seeing around them: God’s amazing world! We seek to have students be able to peel back the confusion and distortion of that good creation caused by sin in order to see creation as it was originally meant to be, and one day what it will become again. The “real world” without the story of the mighty acts of God isn’t real at all, since it tells an incomplete story of what life is really all about. As C.S. Lewis said through one of his characters, we seek to provide students ample opportunity to “…go further in and go further up” as they deepen and widen their understanding of all things. Mixed in between math facts and poetry, gym class and art, Christian education grounds students with the chance to sort through a messy world to find what is real, true, valuable, honorable, faithful, and praiseworthy. 



SJ

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Wonder: Sleeping With One Eye Open

"Mr. Janssen, did you know that dolphins sleep with one eye open?



Frequently, I have reason to speak with our students. In most of the occasions I have the pleasure of celebrating things with them; a birthday, a recent creation or project, a story from their life outside school, something they have just recently learned, or something they think is “amazing” about God’s creation.

Loose or missing teeth, holiday plans, counting in French, and many other parts of their lives are readily shared with joy and excitement. Life at every turn offers something new to take in. This is the joy of the Christian elementary educator: we pace with our students who are seeing God’s world as something brand new, like an undisturbed field of snow they have never visited before.

Life is amazing. Though our often-jaded attention as adults tends toward areas of frustration, worry, or lament faster than it goes to wonder – our world is an astounding place. Your child’s days are filled with seeing, appreciating, and attempting to understand many brand-new things for the very first time. “Wonder creates awe, and awe creates worship” a friend of mine used to say. While eyes and ears are focused to see these things, what a perfect opportunity to be telling the mighty acts of God and answering the big questions of life like “Who am I?”, “Where am I?”, “What’s my purpose?”, and “What is this world really all about?” This is one of the ways that we attune our students to the kingdom that Jesus taught his disciples about.

I’m thankful for Christian education which not only draws our children’s attention to an amazing creation, but also to worship its creator. All of life (including learning at London Christian Elementary School) is sacred.

Praise God!

SJ

Friday, December 17, 2021

A Letter From God At Christmas At Our Christian School

 A few years ago one of the focal points in kindergarten at this time of the year was mail and the activities of a post office. Imaginative “letter and parcel mail” had been moving around the building, including several staff members who had special mailboxes which were regularly filled with proud notes and letters sharing their developing printing and writing skills. 

On one occasion Ms. Stortz had given me the happy responsibility of delivering some pieces of group “mail” to arrive during lessons. I played the role of delivery person with a baking recipe for this morning’s class in a large envelope. One of the students saw me with the large letter in hand and said, “Maybe it’s a letter from God!” 

A letter from God. What a wonderful way to think about the focus of this unique week of school! Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Immanuel – God with us! How precious is that Word enabling us to receive God’s gift of grace. That Bethlehem baby became a living letter to us of God’s unfathomable love and paved the way for us to a new covenant of grace. 

As we celebrate, may we have the quickened steps of the shepherds who, bursting with joy cried "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." (Luke 2:15) The LCES board, staff, and students wishes you all a faith-filled, safe, and memorable break. 

Merry Christmas!

SJ

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Passionate for Peace At Our Christian School

 

Hearing a primary student sing “Sleep in heavenly peace” might be best sermon you hear this advent season.

U Thant, then United Nations secretary general from Burma, addressed 1600 delegates from 42 nations in the late 1960’s with a question. “Why is it for that, for all our professed ideals, our hopes and skills, peace on earth is still a distant objective seen only dimly through the storms and turmoil of our present difficulties?``  Translation:  Why haven’t we figured this out already?

The rage of the nations (Psalm 2) can feel like a forest fire of hatred that leaves behind the scarred remains of hope the world over. COVID has been ruthless it seems. Families are torn apart, people are displaced, and suffering and disillusionment pulls our hearts through the images of war we see.

Where do we go with our craving for peace?  God’s word. David’s mention of raging nations isn’t the final word. That is found in the book of Revelation where John proclaims “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ.” (Revelation 11) The nations rage, but without any absolute effect. The battle has already been won.  Our task in Christian education is to so capture our student’s hearts with the peace of Christ that they are compelled to words and action to secure peace for all.

May peace abound in the hearts of our students and transform them as they pronounce Christ’s kingdom that will come, and has already come.  SJ

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Anticipation For the Right Christmas At Our Christian School

The first moments of advent are exciting at a Christian school – but is that because it is familiar and comfortable like a warm cozy blanket, or is it a rush of hope in a bruised, sometimes dark world? Are we excited about Martha Stewart moments, or is it anticipation of Jesus Christ’s second coming that draws us to Christmas?

Consider the following:

“….faces and hands pressed against the frosty window, our kids keep watch for that first glimpse of red brake lights lighting up, while Grandma’s Honda slows, making the turn into our driveway. Any moment they will abandon their post in a flurry of singular delight: “Grandma is here! Grandma is here!” The ensuing mad scamper of children dashing through living room and dining room, then kitchen and back hall will leave couch cushions crumpled, once neatly folded blankets askew, and our pets in a confused scurry, unsure of whether they should hide under the table, join the joyful delight, or courageously defend our door. 

 

In a way, our kids’ anticipation, rooted in the memory of Grandma’s previous visits, fills the Advent season as we both remember Jesus Christ’s birth and anticipate his second coming. These rhythms of remembering and anticipating provide the primary cadence for this season. Advent is neither a nostalgic longing for a past that has been lost nor a na├»ve fixation on a utopia that remains always out of reach. Rather, by looking back at what God has already done and looking ahead at what God has promised yet to do, Advent roots us deeper in the assurance that God is with us – even here, even now.”                                                                                                                    (http://muddiedprayers.com)

Our participation in all things Christmas at LCES is so much more than snow, lights, carols, and chocolate. We celebrate the gift of a first-born son, given to redeem this world that our students study.  We praise God for the gift of a Saviour whose grace allows them find their place on earth to use their gifts and talents. We delight in promise that he will come again and that he makes all things new. (Revelation 21:5) Hallelujah!

Now is something new worth celebrating!  (SJ)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Our Hope Filled Christian School

Hope is the first bold candle of advent that many church traditions will light to pierce the darkness next Sunday.

“I hope you remember to wear your snow pants.”

“I hope we have pizza for supper.”

“I hope that treatment will work for her.”

“I hope tomorrow will be a snow day.”

“I hope that the groceries last to the end of the month.”

It seems when we use that word, it shares a desired outcome or wish but doesn’t communicate confidence in a certain outcome at the same time.  A biblically grounded concept of hope runs deeper than a strong wish. The Bible assures us that our hope is a sure thing. Jesus has already won, and we are renewed creations! This world belongs to God, in its entirety and we are assured that there is nothing we can do and nowhere we can go that we can escape the Love of God. (Romans 8) What else do we need to know?


Christian schools, like ours, are places where that kind of hope is the anchor. Our Christian school teachers don’t see a group of students to manage for the day or even year, they also see future mechanics, engineers, mothers/fathers, social workers, electricians, politicians, web designers and accountants. They see them all with a grand vision implanted of hope for a world that is entangled with sin, but redeemed by Christ. Woven into the fabric of how the board and administration sustains this school is confident hope that God will provide for our parents, and as result bless our school with all its needs. Our children are free to embrace a certain hope in learning in these things: that this is God’s world, that Christ is enough, that they belong, and that they have a purpose in God’s kingdom.

We know the future will be great, because Christ is already there!

SJ


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Teachable Moments At Our Christian School

Teachers, like parents of young students, listen to a tidal wave of questions and observations. Some of them amuse us, some challenge us, and sometimes the frequency of them can overwhelm our patience. Some perplex and surprise us, and some even sadden us as we realize that our students are meeting the reality of a fallen world in a new way. Other times we realize that we are challenged to reshape our own thoughts by the jubilant and faith-filled way our children respond to God's call. All of them are worth responding to; these are young minds looking for ways to unravel the truth found in God's world.

“But did it have to be like that? Couldn't God have made it work differently?” Why did God have to leave the possibility open for Adam and Eve to fall into sin? This was the classroom topic that I was privileged to hear concluding moments of. I'm convinced that many students left the class thinking differently after the teacher made the wise choice to pursue this “teachable moment” that arose spontaneously from the day's lesson.

There is so much more than skill development and content delivery going on in your child's classroom! Woven through the sum total of up to ten years of LCES education from K-8 are teachable moments that shape a child's worldview in ways that have implications through to eternity. I'm grateful that our qualified, Christian teachers seek out these opportune moments to help our students develop a discerning mind, a compassionate heart, and a willing spirit for service. Pray often for your child's teacher in this vital role they play in “equipping them for a life of faithful, Christian discipleship.” LCES Vision Statement


SJ