December is upon us and all around is the air of anticipation. There are of course a multitude of objects pulling and tugging for our affections in this regard. There’s the longing for a time of rest, delicious food, leisure time with family and friends, and the joys of giving and receiving gifts- to name a few!
In the fellowship of followers of Christ for the past two millennia, it is also the time that we celebrate the Advent (or “arrival”) of the most important Person to ever come to our world- the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Believers who know the Scriptures (and their own hearts) are reminded of God’s wisdom in waiting, on full display in the incarnation of Christ. We are reminded that God’s people waited and waited- for thousands of years- for their promised Messiah. Throughout its painful history, Israel was invaded, subjugated, and conquered by one foreign power after another. Time and time again, the people witnessed their kings and judges give way to corruption and complacency. Their longing for a wise, just, and righteous King only got stonger as the years went by. They longed for One who would come and restore their prestige, power, and prosperity.
Then, after ages upon ages, it happened. As the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 4:4-5: “…when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” In God’s perfect wisdom, the stage was finally set, the pieces were now in place, the waiting was over. It was time for the Advent of His Son to come and redeem lawbreakers, “so that we might receive adoption as sons.” This was, and is, our true need of salvation.
Tragically, in spite of all of the waiting and longing and peering into the Scriptures, multitudes who had been waiting for the Messiah completely missed Him! The problem then is the same problem we have now- they were looking for the wrong savior; they didn’t know what, or Who, they most needed. In reality, they were waiting for a king and savior in their own image who would serve their own purposes. “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” (John 1:9-11, ESV)
So why is your school Headmaster writing to you about the Advent? Do the lessons of the first Advent have bearing on how we think about a classical education and our Mission at Oak Grove? Absolutely! The story of the Advent of Christ reminds us that the world and culture at large can be completely sold out on an idea of what is needed, and completely miss it when it’s right in front of them. In the education world, especially in the States, there is an increasing sense of longing for a quality education that will make our children “successful.” We sense something is wrong with the system. Like the Jews of Jesus’ time, “success” in our world can be described as the attainment of prestige, power, and prosperity. One area where we tend to go especially wrong is in what we think is the best pathway towards these rewards. We tend towards the path of least resistance because we want success instantly, in our way, and in our time. However, classical educators had a clearer understanding of what was needed. They recognized that the harder, longer, and more difficult path was necessary to get to that “better place.” They saw the importance of process. They knew that like growing a tree, cultivating a wise, strong, and virtuous person take lots of time, wisdom, and trust. Christian classical educators understand that God works in His time, and His way, and for His glory as we nourish the soul of the child with morsels of His truth, beauty, and goodness provided in His Word and world.
We join our children in their longing for the waiting to be over- whether the waiting for a time of rest from labor over the holidays, the waiting for them to grasp that concept, master that skill, become the expert, reach that goal, or develop the virtues of the One in whose image we are made.
Dear Oak Grove community- our Lord demonstrates to us in the first Advent that He is the Master Teacher and Master Planner. Just as He demonstrated His wisdom in timing two thousand years ago, He does still today. He still knows what the world, and each of us, needs. He knows when we need it, how we need it, and why we need it. He is never anxious and never in a hurry. Our society bombards us with different messages: “Follow your heart,” “Trust your instincts,” “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” In contrast, the wise father instructs his son in Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
As we experience longing and waiting in anticipation of many good and beautiful things this holiday season, let us ponder that these longings are a whisper from another world, a clue to the true need of our hearts- the Person Jesus Christ. May we trust Him to mold us and our children into His image, in His way, and in His time!