A Blended Advent
A Blended Advent and Christmas
by The Revd Peter Laurence OAM | Chief Executive Officer, Anglican Schools Commission (ASC)
Schools run on a different timetable to the rest of society. They’re not open when the major Christian festivals fall … notably Christmas and Easter. Indeed, they often miss most of Advent and Holy Week also.
In schools, Christmas is celebrated in Advent. I’ve coined the term ADMAS to describe the seasonal and liturgical blending that we in schools do, to ensure the Biblical story of Christmas is retold annually during term time. While not the prefect singular description of what Anglican schools do in early December, it’s better than ‘Chrisvent’!
As Anglicans, we’re used to ‘moveable feasts’. For schools, almost every great liturgical celebration or commemoration is moveable. Christmas is a case in point.
This year Advent Sunday fell on 28 November. We haven’t even celebrated the Second Sunday of Advent, and schools are in the early days of this season of preparation for the retelling of the Christmas story. However, schools started preparation months ago, almost before David Jones and Myer had their Christmas Decorations departments open! How very ‘Advent’ of schools … a time of preparation. Six-year-olds were busy rehearsing for their end-of-year Nativity Plays, which are being performed in schools as you read this article. Chaplains are conducting Advent or Christmas Carols Services for students, staff and families … some were held even before Advent Sunday. The moveable feast of ADMAS!
With a majority of school families not being regular church attenders these days, it’s so important that our schools take time to tell the Christian story, no matter what the season. Religious Studies classes complement occasions of worship, with parents, grandparents, carers and former students often joining in these significant liturgical occasions with students and teachers. For many of our school families, these services are the only time they’ll hear the Christian story in a clear, uncluttered way. Indeed, the storytellers will often be their own children.
Isn’t it amazing that the truth of the Gospel can be told so simply to we adults, from the lips of our young? Then again Jesus did say, as it is recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’ (18:3) and ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’ (19:14).
2021 has been full of challenges, living in a global pandemic, even if we’ve been largely sheltered from the spread of COVID-19 across WA to date. As we come to the end of the year, it’s time to thank the Principals and administrators, governors, Chaplains, teachers and support staff, parent volunteers and all involved in Anglican schooling across our state, for your absolute commitment to the young people in your care. The many and varied contributions you make to the mission of Anglican schooling ensures the quality, culture, diversity and inclusion of our communities. Thank you.
ADMAS is a time to prepare our hearts, minds and spirits to again receive the good news of Jesus Christ being born into our world and our lives. At the heart of the mission of a church school is the daily preparation of young (and not-so-young) lives to receive the Christ-child, the Christ crucified and the Christ raised in glory.
2022 will be challenging for us in WA as borders open and we reconnect with the world. Amidst the uncertainty, may it be a time of hope, bringing new beginnings and opportunities.
Published in Messenger December 2021