At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Advent: Ending In Order To Begin

I find it fascinating that for something new to come into being, sometimes a former thing has to pass away. There are times when this is sad, sometimes there's an air of necessity about it.

There's precedent for this in the Bible. When Christians celebrate Advent, they de facto profess that the era of the Old Testament--with all its historical vigor and moral fluctuation--had to come to an end to usher in the birth of Jesus Christ. Galatians does say, "In the fullness of time, God sent his son, born of a woman…" (And on the subject of Christ, even when Jesus left earth, it turned out to be a boon for the growth of the church despite much persecution.)

And then there are events that happen around Christmas that you hope will turn out for the best, because all you can see for now is the sadness.

This week, I received news from some friends in Palm Beach County, Florida. It was there that I served for two wonderful years (2006-2008) as the campus pastor [i.e., chaplain] at Wellington Christian School. This opportunity came at a point in my life when I had been dismissed as pastor of a North Carolina church for declining numbers during my time there. It was the first time in my life when I had worked as faithfully and well as I could, but the  perceived level of success was lacking [Interestingly enough, the person who engineered and spearheaded my dismissal is now on trial for 208 counts of inappropriate sexual contact with minors]. I was burned out and questioning myself, but this opportunity in Florida turned out to be quite the tonic. I was able to pastor in an educational setting, grow relationships with students and speak into their lives, and craft vision and leadership for the school's chapel program and spiritual life.

And it was a few days ago that some friends there let me know that the high school at Wellington Christian was--in almost all likelihood--closing at the end of the 2013-14 school year. Declining enrollment is one factor married to lack of funds. How they got to this point is not my point of order here. There is still much to be considered about the K-8 school, which will be discussed over this weekend. What I do feel the need to say is that it hurts to see this happen. I have many close friends among the faculty and staff at WCS. For almost all of them, the closure would drastically affect their income. For all of them, this is a severe blow because--whatever their pay is--this is a calling. Teaching high school kids is their oxygen and really cranks their tractor every day. I have served on the gifted faculties of four Christian schools; I would put the high school teachers at WCS up against any institution when you consider ability, passion, commitment, and love for kids.

So what if what is probable becomes a reality? I don't want that to happen, and I pray there is some sort of miraculous turnaround. But both experience and hope teach me that all is not lost. A lot of what education happens to be is not polishing the final diamond, but unearthing the rough jewel and beginning the process of tending to it, shaping it, and making the initial chisels over what will be a long journey of beauty.

If Wellington Christian's high school closes--in fact, whatever happens regarding any school, or church, or agency that comes to an unintended end--its impact and efforts will not have been in vain. I mentioned on Facebook a couple days back that truth taught is never done in vain. I honestly believe that.

Even Christ had to die in order to rise again, one could argue.

Ending is not necessarily evidence of failure; it can begin a new era of blessing in ways we might not initially foresee.

No matter what, WCS has been a success in the way it needs to be.

And the school will always be in my heart.

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