Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Built Right In: Words Etched in Stone

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Psalm 111:10

I showed a potential new family through our school this morning. The joyful discovery of this text above by the parent just outside of my office started a significant discussion. Engraved in hard black granite, it was built right into our building in 1962 in the form of a keystone just outside the former front doors. That “home” of LCES has expanded over the years, now placing this keystone inside our beautiful facility that the Lord has blessed us with, where we work to sustain our vision statement: “To educate children, equipping them for a life of faithful, Christian discipleship.”

“Wonderful! What a statement!” was the reaction of a different parent earlier this spring after seeing
most of the school, watching teachers and students interact, and seeing how we teach, and most importantly how a student is viewed by everyone participating in his/her education. “Knowing, loving, and serving God is built right in here, just like that stone is built right into this school.”

“I want my child to be seen as I see them, a gift from God, a precious person, someone God watches
over. My child is God’s child before they are anything else. That’s missing in their education right
now.” I’m unsure how those words affect you, but I found them to be encouraging, humbling, and invigorating.

We have important work underway in this place - the care of God’s children. Young minds and hearts
being nurtured in the Lord in the habits of faith are growing in wisdom in an encouraging community.
How many students and parents have walked past that keystone through its many years of prominent
position? Thousands, I’m sure. I appreciate its message every time my eyes are drawn to it in my hallway travels.

SJ

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A “Good News” Day

As principal, I have many opportunities to talk with students, staff, and parents on any given day. It is actually one of my favourite parts of the job. Sometimes it amazes me how comments made in separate conversations about different aspects of LCES life actually sound remarkably alike.  

Here is a set of three comments shared with me in the last week:

“It doesn’t matter what happens, I’m going to have a good day!”
“It is going to work out perfectly. I just know it. It’s not even a question in my mind.”
“I’m glad I get to come to my school today. We're doing awesome stuff.”

While I suppose one could state that we have an overabundance of excessively optimistic people, I would propose that this is evidence of people in our community deliberately deciding to have a “good news” day. I was introduced to this term years ago by an author who reminds readers that the word “gospel” comes from the Greek for “good news. The gospel does not promise a worry-free life. Instead, it urges a stance toward life that sees patterns of faithfulness before needs, opportunities before problems, and hope over despair.

Put another way, “…a good news day is a day when the gospel shapes my beliefs, my hopes, my plans, my actions, my interactions, and how I deal with sins and failures” (both my own sins and those of others that impact me.”

What does it mean for our school to have a “good news day?” I would suggest that it means that our problems and challenges do not define us, God’s love does. It means that we live out the gospel of good news each day, not leaving room for doubt that God is, and will be, faithful.

Have a “good news” week!

SJ

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Worms and Puddles and All Things New

There they were. Two lone students staring intently at a puddle having an animated discussion this morning before school. The subject of their attention? Some squirming worms at the edge of the receding “lake” we’ve been contending with for the last week. As I walked past them I overheard them discussing if all the worms of the world were destroyed in the flood. I love it that our students have such questions on their minds as they connect God’s story they hear daily in class with the world they, quite literally, play in.

While spring in an elementary school pushes the family washing machines into overtime, I’m inclined to believe we should try to look past that. After winter, the sound of chirping birds stood out to me this morning as something to notice. The grass, greening up from a week of rain, and the daffodils showing themselves are also proof that God is awakening life from the slumber of many winter months.

I was challenged several years ago by a speaker at a teacher’s conference to view every aspect of creation as responding to God in praise. Choosing to notice that truth helps us, he proposed, to realize our call to respond in the same way. Trees that blossom, birds that sing, grass that grows (even in the sidewalk cracks he reminded us), worms that squirm, and fish that jump - all do so in response to their creator. We can and should be part of that chorus of response.

Against the backdrop of Passion Week that we marked this morning in chapel, what a rich blessing for our students to start this spring day praising the Lord of life at LCES!  May your week be filled with praise-filled moments of recognizing God’s creation and treasuring the gift of new life – in our world and in our hearts.


SJ

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Bus Stops and Waiting: Lenten Expectation at a Christian School

About two months ago I waited with a group of students for a city bus to whisk us away to an off-site learning opportunity.  The moments ticking by after the scheduled time of arrival started to confirm the realization that was becoming clear: we were at the wrong bus stop. It is hard to have your needs met when you are in the wrong line, no matter how long you wait.

So where do we wait? During this season of Lent we find ourselves waiting in a time of sober reflection as we anticipate the joy of the resurrection of Easter Sunday. We know it’s coming, and yet we believe the waiting has value. Waiting forces us to watch, listen, and meditate on God’s Word. It challenges us to look forward and backward in our lives to see patterns of disobedience or faithfulness.

What does it mean to “wait expectantly“ in an organizational setting like LCES? Spring in a Christian school setting is, after all, a busy time of planning, budgeting, and preparing. It seems to call for action more than waiting. Perhaps expectant waiting is the type of waiting infused with hope; we know that the desired end result will come, that it will be of God’s choosing, and is for our good.  Waiting with hope allows us to lift our heads and work in the assurance that everything is in His hands. God’s provision for us will be a reflection of his original plan for us as he “makes all things new”. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

SJ

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Whales and Stars:A Singing Creation

Late March and early April in Ontario can be kind of drab. Cooler, damp days are common. However, spring is eventually an amazing time of growth and renewal as creation wakens from a winter slumber.

Chapel on Monday morning challenged our students to see the beautiful natural world around us as more than just pretty pictures that are pleasing to the eye. Creation is much more than screensaver material after all. Every mountain stream, every sunset, the wind in the pine trees, the sea otter swimming in the outer banks, every creature, plant, bush, and tree – all of it sings out in praise to the God who made it. Even the whales and stars.

That’s right. We listened to whales and stars singing in chapel. Pretty amazing stuff, these sounds happening everyday just outside of our ability to hear. But God hears and delights in his singing creation. Here is the video we watched the concluding minutes of.

“All creation is an outstretched finger pointing toward God.”

What a thought to consider! It challenges everything around us and asks us to spend time appreciating creation’s intricacy, beauty, and size. When we do so we quickly realize how small we are and how great our God is. We serve God who make galaxies measured in light years, yet knows us and loves us individually.

Our students repeatedly encounter God’s grand creation on display in their studies throughout all their years at LCES. I’m thankful for Christian education that reminds our students to consider such things, even on a wet March morning.

SJ

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Gift of Hospitality

I wish you could have heard the conversation! A recent guest at our school unfamiliar with our community, our building, and the opportunity of Christian education, asked if they could speak to me for a moment.  I agreed, unsure where this conversation might lead.

 “I want you to know this” was how the ensuing conversation began.  This person told the story of how they had been welcomed by parents and students, of how a staff member had dropped everything to help them,  how great the school looked, and how amazing the people were in this school. “And they didn’t even know who I was” closed out the summary of the observations.

I’m pleased to tell you that I am blessed to hear remarks like these fairly frequently. They testify to the blessings of belonging to a community whose strength is the “the joy of the Lord” (Nehemiah 8:10), a community that enjoys agreement of purpose and daily practice of faith.  We exist so that God may be praised as young children are taught the things of God in an educational setting. There is immense joy for us in hearing that recognized by people in the community. 

What’s your part in continuing that glowing impression of our school? I’m convinced that first impressions and opening conversations are essential to people learning about who and what we are in ways that leave room for us to enfold them in our midst. There is enormous cost for our school when that does not remain a guiding principle and a priority.

Pray for the leadership of our school who are busy looking for ways to guide our community of purpose into an upcoming school year.  Welcome the well known and brand new faces we find among us! 

 SJ

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spreading the Word: A Pattern of Prayer and Work

School tours and conversations with inquiring families significantly increase at this time of year. An out-of-province parent considering a job offer in London recently found us on-line and made contact with me. After spending some time explaining what our school looks like, how it is organized, and why parents send their students to LCES, the parent was clearly amazed. “Wow, you have some very committed people in your community! “ I heartily agreed. God has blessed us richly.

Seeing Christ as the head of our school is integral to how we think and operate each day. It shapes all we do, how we plan toward the future, and how we learn to walk the line between “ora et labora” or “pray and work.” We are to pray daily for the provision and guidance to operate our school, and also work responsibly with the gifts, talents and opportunities the Lord has given each of us at LCES. One side of that statement represents God’s unstoppable grace, the other reminds us that we have a part in working in God’s kingdom.

I’m frequently reminded by many people of their daily inclusion of LCES as part of their prayer life. One of them mentioned the text of Psalm 50 which makes reference to the fact we serve God who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills.” The encouragement was this:  “commit your plans to the Lord, remain unceasing in prayer, and remember afterwards to praise him for his faithfulness.”

Another parent:

“London Christian Elementary School is a great place for kids to be taught to have a heart for Christ.
Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your colleagues at work - you may be their answer to prayer for the right place to school their children. God is great and he answers prayer.  He also wants us to promote his Kingdom. Let’s all work together to fill the hallways of LCES with God's children.”

Amen, may it be so! Pray for our school. SJ