I was asked recently by a faculty member about the meaning of advent. The faculty member was intrigued about Advent and how our school celebrated the season. I was struck by the yearning of this community member to better understand the significance of this time of year. As a priest, and a person of faith, this conversation compelled me to provide my own understanding about the meaning of Advent and how it can impact all individuals.
Recently, I have become a big fan of the Netflix original series,” Stranger Things”. The series explores the dynamic between “things” of this world and “stranger” things that might lie beyond human logic or science’s ability to fully understand those things.
One of the most beautiful things about this time of year is the celebration of thanks. If you are fortunate enough to work at a school, you have the wonderful opportunity to engage young minds on the importance of giving thanks. Often, during the elementary school years, the focus is on the simple and tangible things in life - parents, grandparents, friends, pets, etc. Indeed, one of the highlights of the year for many at our lower school is the annual Blessing of the Animals chapel service. For many of our youngest students, this is the first time they take part in a celebration of thanks. It is a moment they meet with joy and excitement.
When I joined the St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes faculty as a sixth grade English teacher in 1993, I had heard from many people that it was a wonderful school and a special place. What I did not fully comprehend at the time, but what became quite obvious early in my tenure, was that being an Episcopal school was an integral and foundational aspect of the institution and a major reason why I have loved being a teacher and administrator here over the past 25 years.