Advent and Education

Happy New Year!

Last Sunday marked the first Sunday of Advent, and with it a new church year began. The civil calendar marks the beginning of a new year in a few weeks, but those who follow Christ live by a different rhythm, an ancient yearly cycle that walks us through the incarnation, birth, life, death and resurrection of the One who created space and time and who has redeemed a broken world. Last Sunday we began our yearly journey to Easter.

Advent, of course, comes from a Latin word (ask your children) meaning “coming” or “arrival.” In Advent we celebrate the coming of our Lord in the flesh in the Israelite village of Bethlehem during the reign of Caesar Augustus. But of course, with Advent we also begin the year afresh and demonstrate to the watching world that this Jesus – the same baby born to a virgin among cattle, adored by kings under the star, brought up to be the Lamb of God – is the Lord of all men and nations, the Judge of every soul, and the only Deliverer who fulfills all the promises of God. And not only that, with the celebration of Advent and the new church year, we declare that He is the Lord of time itself. He thought it up. He created it, along with all things. He entered it and then remade it. Having taken on flesh and being born in Bethlehem, he lived as a servant, died as a sacrifice, and was raised to reign. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Eph 1:21). And he promises a new Advent, for which we wait expectantly.

So, again, Happy New Year! The school year began in August. The calendar resets in January. But the new year of the King of kings and Lord of lords announces to the world that Jesus is Lord. “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Ps 2:10-12).

So what does Advent have to do with education? Everything, actually.

Education involves teaching children to know and understand the world. What is the world? Where did it come from? Why is it here? Why am I a part of it? What is wrong with the world? How can the brokenness of the world be fixed? What is the story of the world? What does it mean? What does any story mean? Imagine trying to answer any of these questions without the single most relevant piece of information that will make sense of any of it. In fact, you don’t have to imagine this. The local secular school does this every day.

Christian educator Chris Schlect reflects about his own experience of a purportedly God-neutral education growing up:

In not mentioning God, my public school teachers preached a thundering sermon every day. By implication, they taught that God is not relevant to most areas of human endeavor. The most destructive things I was taught in public school were not the outright falsehoods that were presented (e.g., I descended from apes, the Puritans were nasty people, etc.). The most destructive things I was taught were, by far, subtle lies about the character of God. Daily this lesson was reinforced to me: two and two are four, the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, and frogs breathe in water, regardless of whether or not Jesus Christ is Lord. I had been a theist since childhood, and I never relinquished this belief. But with every school lesson, in every class period, I was taught to think like an atheist. And I didn’t even know that I was being indoctrinated.

The existence of God, the truth of His Word, and the Lordship of His Son aren’t just relevant to “churchy” things like morality and worship and life after death. They are relevant to everything. In fact, everything else is irrelevant without beginning with them. Jesus Christ’s advent as a helpless baby in Palestine two millennia ago is the single most relevant fact in the world. This Jesus is Lord. Our job is to conform our minds to His thinking in everything, to submit ourselves to Him, to love Him. An education that aims for anything less is a lesser education.

Providence Classical Christian School consciously strives not to be neutral but instead to acknowledge Christ as Lord in every area. We have made it our aim to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:5) – every historical thought, every artistic thought, every mathematical thought, and so on. We are educating for the New Year of Christ’s Advent, in which He reigns as Lord and His grace fills our halls and classrooms and our hearts. I am thankful for you, parents, who are committed to educating your children for Christ and who gladly sacrifice to do so.

The season reminds us that we are partnering together to give our children a Christ-centered education worthy of the New Year of His Advent. Jesus is Lord!