By: Dr. Michael Smith
Advent is perhaps my favorite time in the liturgical calendar. I don’t like much else about the darkening days of late autumn. During the last month of drifting to the solstice, we gradually add light in Advent candles and luminescent decorations. We’re reminded that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
More than just an act of resisting the expanding night, Advent represents one the great mysteries of our faith – the Incarnation. The liminal space between warm flickering light and cold black darkness is a reminder of that space between us and God that Jesus mysteriously, miraculously, and lovingly unites.
Liminality, standing at a threshold, or on both sides of it, has been on my mind as we face many transitions as a community. The Incarnation represents the ultimate expression of liminality, uniting God and humanity, which causes me to reflect on the value of liminality as a Christian school. What does that look like in what we do?
Our ultimate value as a Christian school is to integrate faith and learning in action. Rather than simply adding a Bible class or chapel requirement onto an otherwise secular education, we pursue all learning with a passionate commitment to explore all of God’s creation. Rather than put our learning in one box and our faith in another, we stand in both places at once, embracing the tension of the mysteries at that threshold.
Our mantra for this pursuit is “All truth is God’s truth.” This is the light that guides us as we learn. This light has no boundaries. It could cross into any aspect of God’s creation, which is everything. Therefore learning at SCS is a journey, not a destination. We will have creative products, assessments, and other measurements of learning. But they are only useful to the degree that they also light the way on this infinite journey. We are seeking truth no matter where we find it, because all truth belongs to God.
This may sound like a lonely slog through the darkness. The poet John Donne imagined that “On a huge hill, cragged and steep, Truth stands, and he that will reach her, about must, and about must go.” There is no doubt that this is difficult work that can set us wandering in circles for a time.
But we have help. We don’t take this journey alone. The mystery behind the mystery of the Incarnation is the Trinity. Jesus the Son exists as part of the larger mystery of God in three persons. We are made in that divine image. We are made to belong to a community. Our community sets the context where we can pursue God’s truth. We love, serve, and challenge one another along the way. We always belong to each other as we belong to God. The pursuit of truth ultimately unites us with others and with God.
Advent, the last month of the calendar year, is the first month of the liturgical calendar, which begins with the light coming into the darkness. I wish everyone in our community a season filled with the joys and challenges of seeking that light together.