"One cannot but feel that we are in an atmosphere of tense expectation. Only now, looking back, can we realize the position. We have seen at a certain period of history the great nations of earth unconsciously making a pathway for the Christ, and the whole Jewish race on tiptoe of expectation of Him, and the poor world at its lowest blindly groping for some uplift.
And, just then, THE CHRIST CAME!"
(from The People's Life of Christ by J. Paterson Smyth)
For the past two weeks, we have been using the opening chapters of Smyth's The People's Life of Christ during our morning time together. This has been a difficult read for the students, but I think it has given them a level of appreciation for Advent, a term with which most of them seemed unfamiliar. The book begins by tracing the long expectation that began with Abram. It tells how the world was preparing. The Romans built the roads that allowed the Gospel to spread. The Greeks unified the civilized world through a common language. And the Jews kept the teachings about the Messiah even in their exile. And for long, long years the world waited--until an unassuming young girl (a peasant, though descended from kings) was chosen to bring us the greatest gift.
On Friday, we made our own preparations for Christmas by putting up and decorating a tree for our school. We got our own Advent wreath and talked about how that tradition began and the symbolism. We also made cards for the members of our host church's congregation as a token of the gratefulness we feel for their gift to us. On Sunday, our school families attended the church's service together, and the children did the scripture reading and lit the Advent wreath.
Thinking about this season as Advent, as opposed to Christmas, has allowed us to "live" the anticipation of something bigger than a box with a bow. It has kept the focus on peace and on what we can do to be better people and help others, rather than what material things we are getting for ourselves. It has been a special time together that will culminate this Friday in a celebration with our families.
Last Monday, we went to Art Blooms to screen print our school shirts. The children got to choose their shirt and ink colors, and the shirts have that uniqueness that anything hand-made has.
We also got our school pictures back. We wanted our pictures to show our uniqueness, too, so we opted for the beauty of the outdoors and let our personalities shine.
On Friday we walked over to the GWU library to talk with a student who has her senior exhibit on display. Missy Potter works with pastels to create stunning portraits that are full of life. She talked with the students about her technique (called "integrating") and how it is similar to Impressionism. After spending a few minutes reading in the children's section, we walked over to the Millennium Playhouse to see the set of My Sweet Charlie. Chris Keene showed us around and let us see some of the lighting effects. He also talked a little about the plot of the play, which is set during the time of segregation.