We have just come out of the Advent season, a season that marks a period of waiting - remembering the waiting for the Saviour’s coming, and waiting for the anticipated return of Jesus to make all things new. We find ourselves in many waiting situations these days, whether that be for curbside pick-up, in the Zoom waiting room, waiting for appointments, for news of new measures, for notice of return to in-person learning. We ask each other what school, work, public health will be like after the pandemic while we wait for it to run its course. We say we ‘can’t wait’ to have students back in the school again. Or ‘can’t wait’ for things to return to normal. In John 10, Jesus speaks to his audience using examples of sheep and shepherding to convey his message. His listeners are not understanding, not ‘getting’ the message, so Jesus tries another approach. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” says Jesus. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus comes to bring life to His people. Jesus is in direct contrast to the thief. He provides. The thief steals. Steals joy, contentment, faith, confidence. There is much living to be done in the waiting. Do not let waiting steal life from you. Life does not pause: words need to be spoken, work needs to be done, decisions need to be made, rest needs to be taken, good news needs to be shared, moments need to be celebrated. From a Bible commentary, “The Greek word for ‘abundance,’ perissos, has a mathematical meaning and generally denotes a surplus…The abundant life is above all the contented life, in which our contentment is based upon the fact that God is equal to every emergency and is able to supply all our needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus” (Boice, commentary). Abundant life isn’t an especially long life. Abundant life isn’t an easy, comfortable life. Abundant life is a life of satisfaction and contentment in Jesus. He provides more than we can imagine.
- Carol Verbeek
(Resources: enduringword.com/commentary, Bible ESV)
Greetings from the WCS Library. Books surround me here as I write this. There are words, words and more words. Since I love reading words, sometimes I try to imagine how they are put together so skillfully by any author. Words fascinate me and where they came from fascinates me even more. Last week I read about a proficient “word scientist,” an American writer known as an “aphorist.” I had to check that specific occupation out a couple of times! This writer named Cooley Madson just loved words and greatly debated the weight of their meaning. It seems obvious that words can cause people great joy and hope or great sadness and mistrust (Isn’t that a current theme in our world, right now). As a writer, he felt that his goal in life was to write witty aphorisms, a “terse, quick, memorable statement of a general truth or principle. Here are a few he came up with:
“Reading Gives us someplace to go, when we have to stay where we are.” (Very timely!)
“Creativity makes a leap, then it looks to see where it is.”
Here is another one: “There are three different rules for reading, thinking, and for talking. Writing blends all three of them.”
I just thought I would share the words of this aphorist. The greatest example we have of words that bring life are those from Jesus Christ. His words in the Bible are full of life, hope, and joy. Especially in this challenging time, and any time, may we bring others words that bring life.
Marion Dieleman, Librarian
Here we are in a brand new year - with brand new opportunities to learn more about God, about the world, about the people around us, and about ourselves. We have a God who loves us - a God who makes and keeps his promises to us and to the world. We’ve just come through the celebrations of Christmas - Jesus’ birthday - and reminders that all of those prophecies and teachings in the Old Testament Bible really did come true.
What does God have in store for us this year? What will happen this year in our families, in our community, in world events? We have come through a rough year and though life continues to be unsettled, we can be assured that good things are happening and will happen - that we will be blessed. We also know that disappointing, sad and hurtful things will happen. Our school theme this year is “STAND FIRM”. The words of 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, “Be on your guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love” continue to be so relevant and inspiring.
In everything, we will keep praising God, encouraging each other, and praying for those in our community - those who know Jesus and those who don’t. We will pray that God will also use us to do his work - to love and serve others. We will stand firm in our faith in our Lord.
Last year is past, but not forgotten. Take what wisdom you’ve gathered last year, learn from it, and keep growing in knowledge and in understanding and in wisdom. May God bless you and guide you as you walk with Him in 2021.
Carol Verbeek, Principal
O Holy Night was originally a French Christmas carol written in 1847. It’s rumoured that a French soldier in the trenches of the First World War began singing O Holy Night (along with several other carols) and kicked off the Christmas Eve Armistice of World War I. Historians to this day debate exactly what happened, but the story goes that French, British, and Belgian troops lay down their weapons and mingled with their German counterparts for a short time on Christmas Eve, and may have even played a friendly game of soccer!
During the Christmas season, no matter where you go, shoppers, travellers and listeners are subjected to relentless Christmas music and at the same time, reminded of the coming Messiah! Maybe the song “O Holy Night” has crossed your airwaves recently. Did you ever stop to consider the words? One line, in particular, stands out to me: “a weary world rejoices.”
Many feel weary this Christmas. 2020 has been a difficult year. It’s been a year of loss for all of us, whether that was a job, a loved one, a relationship, or our sense of peace and security. As we head into the Christmas season, it can be difficult to muster up feelings of holiday joy.
And you know what? That’s okay. We don’t have to have it all together, or even feel particularly festive, to feel that thrill of joy and hope at our Savior’s birth. In fact, these moments of pain make the miracle of Jesus’ life and death feel all the more relevant and important. For what else could make us feel such awe and wonder, even in the midst of trouble?
What a beautiful reminder of the splendour of our Savior’s birth. That after the world lay in sin and darkness, it was struck with a “thrill of hope.” This event was the fulfilment of many prophecies and reason for rejoicing. The birth of Christ brought and continues to bring about a “new and glorious” day (reference: biblestudytools.com). As you go about your Christmas celebrations this year, keep your eyes on Jesus, God’s gift of hope and salvation for our weary world.
Blessings to all for the Christmas break. Looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us in 2021!
Carol Verbeek, Principal
Once again, our WCS community came together, for 2 evenings last week, in our shared mission to nurture faith, engage learning, and grow in community … to the glory of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. Parents and teachers share a commitment to nurturing the faith development of our students. Parent-teacher conferences are an opportunity for us to speak honestly about the progression of this development. The “Living in Community” section of the progress report offers a window for parents to understand how their child is responding to and contributing in Christian community.
Proverbs 4:13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Learning at WCS occurs through a biblical world-view that requires the learner to question, gather information, and reflect on God’s design of His world and all things contained in it. Progress reports give parents an understanding of how and what their child is learning through a biblical world-view. All subject areas can be considered ‘bible class’.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. The parents and teacher experience a close sense of community during a year of teaching a student. God is present in that close community. His presence during conferences allows parents and the teacher to develop a Godly vision of learning progress, goal setting, and support for the student.
Once again, God has demonstrated his love for and faithfulness to WCS. During a time of social distancing and uncertainty, God provided a way for our community to meet and discuss the training up of His children. God has blessed us with the technology, flexibility, and adaptability to fulfill the mission of WCS. Once again, God has demonstrated his love for and faithfulness to WCS!
Then you, being rooted and grounded in love, will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph 3:17-19
Yesterday our churches celebrated the 1st Sunday of Advent - HOPE.
Isaiah 11:1-3 - A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a BRANCH will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit or counsel and of might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
This branch (Jesus) will have an intimate relationship with the Lord and will desire to do His will. He will be greater than David. With righteousness he will judge the world. Jesus will be the obedient servant and will experience the judgement for our sins. He will bring peace too hard to imagine. He will bring joy to the world and heaven and nature will sing. Nature will be at peace, shalom.
God will transform the whole world by the shoot of the stump of Jesse. All our hopes and fears are met in this shoot. HE is our hope and glory.
Take this hope with you wherever you go!
One of the topics that we’ve discussed recently as teachers in regards to cultivating student success is ‘grit’. Biblical words for grit might be ‘steadfastness’, ‘firm’, ‘endurance’.
What is grit? Grit is not about talent or intelligence. Grit is about passion and determination. It is the ability to persist at achieving goals and persevere when there are obstacles or a situation becomes difficult. According to a leading researcher, Angela Duckworth, grit can probably be taught both in the home and at school. "Kids may have the wrong beliefs and have misunderstandings about skill development…beliefs that stand in the way of tapping into performance traits. When students struggle with a task, they may believe that they lack the ability to solve the problem and, therefore, give up. It is important for students to understand that it is ok to feel confused when learning something new, and actually, it is expected. We can teach students that making mistakes or taking a long time to complete an assignment is a normal part of learning, not a sign of failure.” With a focus on character development, community and belonging, WCS strives to create classrooms that are safe places to be curious, to explore, and learn. There will always be mistakes and failures along the way, but those too, are learning opportunities.
Carol Verbeek, Principal
One of the things that I miss most in this pandemic world is hospitality. Not that people aren’t hospitable, not at all, but that our homes and spaces are not open and available as usual for people to drop in, to share food and refreshment, to hang out in person. Perhaps you too lament the absence of the buzz of a gathering, of good conversation, coffee, cupcakes, and maybe croquettes. As we at Woodstock Christian School plan for fall and Christmas, though we would love to invite guests for our annual Christmas production/program, host grandfriends at our Christmas tea, gather at the Southwood Arena for our annual skate, or even as we think of Winterfest this week, we continue to limit our WCS contacts to essential workers and visitors. Regardless, we are celebrating! We celebrate God’s goodness. We celebrate each other and being together in the best way we can. We celebrate God’s gift of Jesus in the coming Advent season. We celebrate our community and the long and faithful commitment to Christian education. We shine the light of Jesus when and where we can.
Christian love is intended to shine brightly. Our current plight is a challenge for us to create opportunities for love and hospitality: to help a neighbour, host virtually, deliver when possible and encourage where necessary, to stay attuned to the needs of others.
Blessings for this week, WCS community! Stand firm. Do everything in love.
Well, the weather here has begun to take a turn towards the cooler fall temperatures and I have been forced to break out the winter coats, although this past weekend was somewhat of the exception. The other week, my husband was driving to work and saw snow! I’m not one for the cold weather. I prefer to be warm and toasty, maybe drinking some hot chocolate by the fireplace. What about you? Do you like this cold, almost winter weather? We are also quickly approaching Remembrance Day here in Canada, Veterans Day in the United States. This is a time where we remember and thank the soldiers who sacrificed so much so that we could enjoy the many freedoms that we have today.
There are times where I find myself outside on cold and rainy/snowy days and just shiver and stand there because I think it is too cold to move. But then as I begin talking with my students about what is Remembrance Day and why it is important, I begin to re-evaluate my thinking. I have a warm winter coat to wear and an umbrella to keep off the rain. I have a place of shelter from the wind and other elements when my 30 minutes of outdoor supervision is over where I can go to get warm again. I have dry socks and clothes to change into when I need to. The soldiers who fought for the many freedoms that we have were considered to be extremely lucky if they had even one of these things during World War I or II. This is a reality that many of our children may not understand.
Each year, I read “A Bear In War” and “A Poppy is to Remember” to my students. The first is an amazing true story of a soldier, a medic, who fought during WWI told from the perspective of a teddy bear sent to him by his daughter. This story allows children to see that life is not always as they know it, that there were many people who gave up everything they had – even their lives – so that we could know this life today. I follow it up with the second book to get them thinking about why Remembrance Day is important. How will your family honour the sacrifices made, and the sacrifices that continue to be made this year?
Erica Schuster, Teacher Grade 1/2A
Thursday and Friday last week provided the annual late-October long weekend for our WCS families and provided spiritual and professional refreshment and growth for our staff team. The Edvance Annual Gathering was live streamed from Toronto District Christian High and began with music and devotions forming the framework for our two days of work. As our staff gathered in the WCS gym, we professed together with educators across the province these words from the song, Testify To Love: “every word of every story, every corner of creation lives to testify … I’ll be a witness … with every breath I take, I will give thanks to God above. For as long as I shall live, I shall testify to love.”
As Christian schools across Ontario, as Woodstock Christian School, we testify - we declare - we claim God’s love. In all we do, in all we study, in all the places we explore, we see God there. As we open up the world for our students, to explore the beauty and the brokenness, we testify that God is there too. In the presentations we heard, again and again, the importance of working to combat isolation and individualism, to build and maintain community. When parts of society are broken, it is more important than ever to find and share our common story, to bring people in, to build trust, to serve with justice and mercy. It is crucial to share God’s love with one another and create spaces in which to welcome others. Our theme verse for this year is a call to action, but always within the framework of love.
Carol Verbeek, Principal
On Thursday October 29 and Friday October 30, the WCS staff will gather together for the annual Teacher’s Convention. While the event will look different this year, (live streaming into our gym) we anticipate that it will be a great time of learning and sharing together.
From the Edvance Christian Schools Association website: The theme of this year’s convention is called “Opening Doors”, “Christian schools play a fundamental role in shaping the values that inform how students encounter and contribute to the world locally and globally. We live in an age where both the importance and the risks of our local human connections are being scrutinized more than ever, and our communities feel vulnerable in the face of significant global tensions. How do we navigate issues such as health, race, and identity with a sense of shared purpose and honoured differences such that community and character blossom? How can we pursue the call to love our neighbour with local action and global awareness without feeling overwhelmed? What doors can the school open with students to encourage courageous encounters with and for the world?
Below are our speakers and study topics for the day:
"How Your Classroom Changes the World" featuring David Brooks "Another Torn Veil: Having the Courage to Boldly Go Through..." featuring Dr. Mary Ashun “Whose Education Counts? Who is my Neighbour” featuring Dr. Steve Sider "How To Really Know Your Students" featuring David Brooks We are thankful for this opportunity, for all the work that Edvance put into organizing the day and for providing Christian educators around the province with opportunity to grapple with these ‘big picture’ ideas and tensions. This will be a time of learning and inspiration for WCS staff. Please pray that they will use this knowledge to continue to lead students toward wisdom. Linda Westerveld, JK Teacher
Have you thanked a bus driver lately? Each year, in the third week of October, the Ontario Bus Safety Week highlights the importance of school bus safety across the province. Our classic yellow school buses travel hundreds of kilometres every day, transporting their precious cargo to and from school daily, in all kinds of weather and traffic conditions. We thank God for our regular drivers, our spare drivers, and all those who work behind the scenes to ensure that our student transportation services are safe, efficient and reliable. School Bus Safety Week provides an opportunity to talk about the overall importance of safety in the buses, in the community, and especially near school bus stops and school zones. Whether you have kids travelling on a school bus or are a driver in a school zone, everyone benefits from increased vigilance, obeying posted speed limits and being careful around school buses.
Help us celebrate School Bus Driver Appreciation Day on October 21st by greeting and celebrating our drivers and acknowledging the important and complex job they do. Thank a driver this week!
Carol Verbeek, Principal