Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Advent At Our Christian School & Students As “Brokers of Hope”

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

The church sanctuary was deliberately darkened. Two nervous 12 year old children strained to reach the microphone and read the words of Isaiah and remind the congregation of what is coming. Light and hope to chase away darkness, or so said the prepared script on cardboard cutouts in sweaty palms. One of them struck a match against a box and attempted to light the stubborn candle, seemingly determined not to start. The nearly full matchbox was held too long too close to the match trying to light the candle. Suddenly a flame burst forth with a white flash as the entire box of matches started on fire, finally lighting the candle of hope. Everyone’s heart skipped a beat, and all gasped. I think I will always connect this story with the start of advent.

Christ’s birth was at time of intense darkness, and God’s seemingly silent treatment of the world and people he had made. His arrival, in a way, is properly represented by the flash of light in the above story. It got the full attention of people as it pierced the darkness, and then settled to a lone candle with its warm, hopeful glow. I can recall silence after things settled as the congregation all watched the single flame. Perhaps they were all too stunned to know what to do next!

The advent wreath of Christmas Day, with its five candles brilliantly glowing on a triumphant morning, begins with a single candle piercing the darkness. Students, teachers, and parents all crave hope. We cling to the notion that our heart’s desires will be realized. We console ourselves with the hope that some situations will not last forever. We cope with some situations simply because others have given us hope even though we don’t see or feel hope yet ourselves. These are the kind of people we wish our students to be as they go forth into their God-given place in this world desperate for hope. “Brokers of Hope” is how I’ve heard Christian Education condensed to a phrase.

We frame our understanding of the world and our place in it with the hope that comes from a long- expected Jesus. What a joy it is to know our students are being led in such deliberate, hope-filled paths on the road of faith. Praise the Lord for Christian education!


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