The communal graduation verse that the students chose to direct and focus their celebration comes from Romans 15 verse 13. What a great choice, given our current situation. It is a prayer and a blessing and so very relevant and meaningful in this unsettled time: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Congratulations, WCS Class of 2020! Let’s hold onto the hope and joy and peace that only God provides.
We have known some of our grade eight students for 10 years, and some for just a short time. Staff and students at WCS have been blessed by our bold, creative, athletic, sincere, godly, caring and awesome (and more!) grads. We will miss you, but we also know it’s time for you to move on to new challenges. Know that God continues to provide grace and love in abundance. He will continue to guide and bless you. Farewell & God bless you, Abi, Aiden, Aliyah, Alyssa, Brett, Cora, Elena, Erin, Hendrik, Ken, Lauryn, Mackenzie, Miranda, Ryan and Tony.
- Carol Verbeek, Principal
It seems this has been an ongoing theme over the past weeks and months. Everything we are doing, it seems is from a distance. As we enter the month of June, I know for the students in grade 8, our minds go to graduation and the end of elementary school celebrations and events. We at Woodstock Christian School are excited about our Class of 2020 Graduation Celebration plans and of course we are also very proud of our graduates. Over the past little while, I have been thinking about my elementary school graduation and trying to recall my experience as a graduate. As distant in my memory as it may be, around 30 years ago, there are a few details that still stand out for me. It took place in the gymnasium at Pineview Public School, in Athens, Ontario. The ceremony took place in the afternoon, the gymnasium was packed full of people and I wore a silver suit, with pleated pants and had a ‘mullet’ haircut. I do not remember any specifics of the ceremony, I do not remember who the valedictorian was, but I do remember they shared with us a song that still comes to mind often. I believe we also sang this song together as a graduating class choir. The song was called ‘From A Distance’ by Bette Midler, I encourage you to take some time to listen to this song on Youtube or Spotify. It speaks about how our world looks ‘from a distance’. Even today, in the midst of this pandemic it raises some questions for me about the state of our world and if things have really changed all that much over the past 30 years. The one line that stands out for me in this song has always been “God is watching us, God is watching us, God is watching us...from a distance.” I have always had a hard time with this one line in the song, because I believe God is always right here with us, living our lives right alongside us. This concept of God being present in my life has often been an encouragement to me, but especially now as we continue to navigate through this pandemic together. Though it may seem like God is far from us at times, it is comforting to know that He is right here with us, our God will not abandon us. Even in this time of living life ‘from a distance’, God is still with us. His word is full of examples of His faithfulness and we need to hold onto His promises. It is my prayer that we can all take comfort in the fact that God is with us even though it may seem like it is at times...from a distance, even through this uncertain time.
In Colossians 3:16 Paul tells us that we are to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Did you know that the Bible contains over four hundred references to singing and fifty direct commands to sing? And the longest book of the Bible, the Psalms, is a book of songs?
Why does God so often tell us not simply to praise him but to sing his praises when we meet? One reason is that God himself sings. In Zephaniah 3:17 God exalts over his people “with loud singing.”
Music helps us remember words. Ever notice how easy it is to recall hymns you sang growing up — or a TV jingle from your past, nursery rhymes, Christmas carols, or pop songs that you learned as a teenager? Do you ever find yourself singing along to a song you haven’t heard for twenty years? You can see the power of music in Alzheimer’s patients who can’t tell you the name of their spouse or children, but can instantly sing songs they learned as a child.
Along with helping us remember words, singing also connects the words we sing with our hearts. In every culture and age, music is a language of emotion. It expresses, arouses, and speaks to our feelings. Music is capable of moving us in subtle and profound ways — in anticipated and unexpected ways — with or without words. For instance, singing, rather than reciting, the words to “Amazing Grace” enables us to stretch out and think more carefully about what we’re singing. Music is meant to affect us. Singing is also a way in which to demonstrate and express our unity.
God wants to use music, and has even designed music, to break through our worry, apathy or hardness of heart, to sing praise or lament, and to help us engage emotionally with his Word. Sing with thankfulness. Sing to remember the goodness of God.
(adapted from Words of Wonder: What Happens When We Sing? )
This past week, we celebrated Ascension Day (a day that is often forgotten, but yet a very important day for Christians). I came across this blog about Ascension Day and I want to share it with you.
According to Luke, Jesus had presented Himself alive from the dead “by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3. They would have been unforgettable experiences for the disciples, seeing and hearing Jesus in His resurrection body, unmistakable proof that He had completely conquered sin and Satan, and death itself. Just like the two disciples who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), their hearts must have burned with excitement and wonder. He appeared to them in the upper room on the first Easter Sunday, and a week later, Thomas had the opportunity to touch the resurrection body of Jesus that bore the marks of His crucifixion, evidence that He had died to sin, once for all.
A disciple is another word for a follower of Christ, one who is learning to be like his Master. As a disciple you follow Jesus Christ, who is the Master and by living like Him you become more Like Him. (Matthew 16:24; 1Peter 2:21-22) Seeing and hearing Jesus in His resurrection body, unmistakable proof that He had completely conquered sin and Satan, and death itself. Just like the two disciples who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), their hearts must have burned with excitement and wonder. He appeared to them in the upper room on the first Easter Sunday, and a week later, Thomas had the opportunity to touch the resurrection body of Jesus that bore the marks of His crucifixion, evidence that He had died to sin, once for all. (John 20:19-29) Moreover, He encouraged them to stay in Jerusalem because very soon they would also receive power to overcome and be His witnesses through the Holy Spirit, whom He would send them from heaven.
But to do that He first had to return to heaven, and take His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. That took place near Bethany on the Mount of Olives. (Luke 24:50) That was a glorious open-air meeting. With the farewell promise that He would not leave His disciples alone, but through the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Helper, the Teacher of Righteousness, He would be with them always, even to the end of the age. (John 16:7, Matthew 28: 18-20) Jesus was taken up before their eyes “and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”
I think had we been there on Ascension Day, we might also have stood there in silent farewell, gazing steadfastly up into heaven. But God has work for us to do, and He sent two angels to give the disciples their marching orders, “‘This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’ Then they returned to Jerusalem … and all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” Acts 1:9-14. These 120 people were the first fruits of the church, and it was given to them to lay the foundations of God’s temple on earth, made from living stones who follow Jesus on the way that He made for us.
The Race Marked out for Us
It’s that time again. It should have been track and field day this week. Love that day! WCS always has SUCH a great turnout of family fans. Lawn chairs and food tickets. Overflowing parking lots (Where would we have parked this year???). Conversations and community. Excitement and disappointment and not a little intensity… Spring. Running and races. Journeys.
Here’s a passage from Hebrews that resonates at this time of year, but filled with wisdom for all of life. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us: Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
This passage takes a different twist this year as we consider the pandemic, emergency remote learning, working from home and all of the new experiences we are having. This is an uncharted race - but read carefully - did you catch it? “The race marked out for us…” Yes. You read correctly. The path is not always of our own choosing and planning. It is set before us. What godly characteristics are we going to display when the path takes unexpected, unprecedented turns? Read some of the lessons that can be learned through just this short Bible passage:
The Race Analogy: We all want our kids to press on toward the goal as they make their way through life. When preparing your kids for this most important race, be sure to keep a few things in mind:
Training is essential - Paul reminds all of us to train yourself to be godly. Training needs to take place every day in every way. Look for opportunities to teach, model, and reinforce God's incredible grace 24/7.
Cheer one another on - It’s no accident that Scripture repeatedly implores us to encourage one another, build each other up (1 Thess 5:11), to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). No one is meant to run this race alone.
Stay focused- Run with perseverance the race marked out for us
Finish strong “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
Pass the baton - The greatest legacy we can pass onto the next generation is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Be sure to practice your handoff, over and over again! (Adapted from christianliferesources.com)
Carol Verbeek, Principal
This morning at the class Zoom meeting the students shared what they did for Mother’s Day. It was beautiful to hear and see the sweet ways the children made their mother feel special. Cards and crafts were made, breakfast was made, and some moms were served in bed, food was ordered in, and flowers were given. I reminded the students that even though there is just one day set aside to honour our mothers it is important to show our mothers how much we appreciate and love them all year round.
Proverbs 31:25-31 says
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Thank you, God, for mothers, grandmothers, and special women in our lives that reflect godly love to us, encourage and guide us, and love us unconditionally.
Mrs. Jannette Hickey
More about the Emmaus Road
How often we underestimate the power of God. Back to the story from Luke 24:13-35 NIV - On the Road to Emmaus. The travellers looked at the death of Jesus and were so disappointed. They’d put their hope in him as a prophet and as Messiah and He had died. Their hopes had died with Him.
There is a significant life experience lesson to learn from this. When we are in circumstances in our lives which tempt us to think that God has thrown us a curveball, that there is no hope, that we have been consigned to a misery that we do not deserve, that somehow God's plan has failed, we are exactly where these disciples were. ... They looked at these events, they looked at the death of the prophet and Messiah that they loved, and could not understand. In this very event which they see as the loss of hope, God has revealed His power in using it as His stratagem to display His glory.
And it is like that in our own lives. When we are tempted to say, “This is too hard. This is not how it's supposed to be. My plan would be better if I were in charge” we doubt the power of God. In this place of disappointment, we are needy and have no idea of the joy that He is capable of giving when we believe and trust. No rug can be pulled out from under you when your confidence is in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No circumstance can rob that from you. The beautiful thing in the Emmaus story is, these men got it! Jesus breaks bread, He prays, He gives them the loaf — suddenly their eyes are opened and they realize, “It's Jesus!” and He's gone. They recognize the power of Jesus: “Weren’t our hearts burning within us when He explained the Scriptures?!” When they get back to see the eleven, they say what? “The Lord has risen indeed!” They get it! They believe; they embrace the person of the Messiah, the cost of the redemption, and the power of the resurrection, and it changes their lives. What a beautiful story we share with the Emmaus travellers!
(adapted from: fpcjackson.org/resource-
Last week was Christian Education week. Typically this week would have been filled with celebrations of learning, of shared faith, and of community events including the picnic, ArtWalk and Grandfriends Day, but due to the current pandemic, our celebrations were very quiet. (Did you catch the WCS Grandfriends Day video with Granny B? Check out our Facebook page!) Why celebrate Christian education? We teach that all we see, hear, learn, and discover is God’s. As we see God’s hand at work, first through the good creation, through the fall into sin and its resulting brokenness, we are called to recognize God’s work, our sinfulness, and our human task in renewal and restoration. We are called to faith, to learning and wisdom, and to act in community. We are called to action, to transform our world as we live in the time between the first and second comings of Jesus to this world. Being a community means doing this together, with other believers.
Christian schools partner with parents to guide students biblically, in learning more about themselves, about the world, and to grow in faith and discipleship, learning more about God as the Creator, Sustainer, and Saviour of the world. Each student as an image-bearer of God is precious, unique, and complex. As educators, we are called to love, guide, and nurture. We meet students at their level of development and gently urge them onward, providing for their needs as they grow. We seek to teach for wisdom and discernment. It is crucial for students to understand our culture and time, to build skills to live within it, and to live and act rightly and in a godly way, with justice, perseverance, always in community and in relationship, serving God and serving others. It takes a large committed community to provide Christian education, and 'thank yous' go out to all who volunteer, pray, donate, work, and make it possible. God blesses us in so many ways.
Christian education week is a week to celebrate all of this and to recognize that we are not alone in the learning journey. Christian schools across the province, the nation, and the world provide partnership with Christian families to grow the next generation of workers, influencers, and builders. That’s worth celebrating!
Carol Verbeek, Principal
Perhaps you've asked yourself this question: "What impact will social-distancing, self isolation, our changing economy, and our different routines, have on our mental/emotional health?" I've thought about this a fair bit throughout the past month and much more lately as my family is beginning to feel the impact of it all. I believe God has wired most (if not all) of His people to be social beings that crave face-to-face interaction, that is, in-person interaction, (not just through video chat). We desire to love, be loved, and cared for. When our social circles diminish, careers change or disappear, routines drastically shift, and/or when our future seems uncertain, many aspects of our health take a hit... Unless we are careful to take care of ourselves and lean on God (more on that later).
I've also been thinking about kids (not just my own) - how are they handling all of this? We have to remember that kids' worlds have also been flipped upside down in a matter of weeks; many of whom do not fully understand why this has happened, when it will go back to normal or even what the Coronavirus is. So much change in a short period of time can give anyone (no matter what age), stress and anxiety.
I have come across 2 short articles recently that can really help us navigate this changed world we're in. The first is about how parents should talk to their children about the pandemic. Secondly, some tips for teachers (but parents too) on how we can create a self-care plan in order to stay mentally/emotionally strong.
Here are some of the main points from each article, plus the link for each. I highly recommend you read them!
1) "Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus"
- Don’t be afraid to discuss Covid-19.
- Be developmentally appropriate.
- Take your cues from your child.
- Deal with your own anxiety.
- Be reassuring.
- Focus on what you’re doing to stay safe.
- Stick to routine.
- Keep talking.
2) "Self-Care Reflection"
- Identify what types of physical activity help you feel better.
- Identify what types of food make you feel best.
- What helps your mind feel calm?
- What makes your heart full?
- How much sleep do you need?
- Do you have any devotional/worship practices that will ground you?
One point I'd like to add is that we also need to maintain a proper perspective in the midst of all of this. Yes our lives are different, and we are missing out on many aspects of our normal life, but we are still blessed beyond measure - especially when we compare our situation to other situations around the world; past or current.
I hope you're taking care of each aspect of your health: mental, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. I also hope that: as believers in Christ, our faith will have been strengthened, not hindered when all of this is done. Take care of yourself and your families and neighbours, and lean of God!
Axel Hiemstra- Gr. 5
Hope or Despair?: On the Road to Emmaus
Bible reading: Luke 24:13-35 NIV - On the Road to Emmaus
I love the glory and the surprise and emotion of the Resurrection story. The drama of the stone being rolled away, the angels, the guards fainting away, the empty tomb! The wonderful and tremendously evident power that God displays. Hallelujah! Christ is risen!
And I also love the Emmaus story. It’s simple and humble, with so much to which we can relate. Any one of us could imagine ourselves a traveller, leaving Jerusalem on the road to Emmaus. Jesus shows up, inserts himself into the conversation of two locals who are talking about what’s going on in their world. Can you just imagine Jesus asking, “Whatch’all talking about?” The travellers are astonished that he does not seem to know and proceed to tell him about Jesus of Nazareth and the events of the past days.
There are a lot of pieces of this story that resonate with me. Read and listen:
“We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel”.
Do you hear their disappointment? Their despair? “We had hoped…” Were their eyes full of tears? Were they so focused on their circumstances that they couldn't see Jesus?
How many times have we thought or cried ... “we had hoped. . . . “
The fact is, Jesus had answered their hoped-for request. But not in the way they expected. He had redeemed Israel, indeed all of humanity! He had done immeasurably more than all they (or we) could have asked or imagined (Eph. 3:20)! But they were slow of heart to understand. They needed God's perspective, and so do we! We are Easter people, but living consciously and intentionally in Jesus’ presence is a daily challenge. We so readily miss the reality of Christ with us. Yet this is our hope: Christ is with us whether we recognize him or not. Don’t ignore him. Look for him. Immanuel, “God with us,” walks with us.
(Sources: various. Stay tuned for more Emmaus lessons.)
EASTER: FEAR & JOY
Bible reading: Matthew 28:1-10 NIV
It’s Holy Week in the Christian calendar. Good Friday and Easter approach. Like those at the tomb, we know something of living in the extremes of fear and joy, what with the new realities of life (in a worldwide pandemic). Fear dominates this part of the resurrection story (Matthew 28): the earth trembles in a mind-bending earthquake; the ostensibly fearless, hulky guards are so afraid they faint; the women are frightened by the angel, and then just as they attempt a quick getaway from the tomb, they are greeted by the ghost of their dead friend Jesus. It isn’t the tulips and lilies image we have of Easter. But the phrase that captures my attention as I read it is this: with fear and joy they ran to tell the others. With fear and joy. Scared out of their wits, and afraid that what they saw is too good to be true, they nevertheless leave with fear and joy to tell others on the outside chance that it was true. We know something of fear; we know something of joy; but it is the “and” that we don’t always grasp. Fear AND joy. Notice in this story that is burdened with fear, that Jesus doesn’t take away their fear nor does he replace it with joy. In fact, he greets them in their fear before he invites them to be unafraid. It is the experienced power of fear and joy that send them on their way, excited about something new, something mysterious and unknown. We try to make sense of the mystery of resurrection because we think it will be the answer to death and pain. We accept without questioning that joy will be known only in the absence of fear. But even in their non-scientific world, the gospel writers knew that it didn’t work that way. Life AND death, peace AND chaos, joy AND fear are the realities of life. As people of faith .... we realize that the way the universe works has more to do with relationship than control. We are more co-creators with God than the objects of God’s good will or miraculous rescue. We are co-redeemers with God offering salvation from the power of fear to control by creating the joy of this divine order. We may want answers and solutions and miracles; what we are given is courage and faith and joy during the storm. (Source: Gary L. McCann The New England Church Pulpit ) Submitted and revised by C. Verbeek
I tend to be an optimist and believe that together - with the strength of God and others - we can work through many of life’s challenges. One or our staff recently reminded me that it’s also important to recognize our losses and why we are feeling sad and disoriented in times of life change. For many of us in the current COVID-19 situation, we are missing and aching for ‘normal’ and for others and - our families, our colleagues, our sports teams, our friends. We want stability and security. We acknowledge the weight of our pain and suffering before God, and in the midst of it all, acknowledge the God above it all. When it feels like the world is unreliable, we can remember God never leaves us. He is our salvation in every moment.
Our angst is real. So, also, is God’s strength, the refuge He offers us, and the salvation we have in Him. We will encounter trials. Jesus tells his disciples to expect them. When we face difficult times, how do we hold on to hope? King David knew a few things about suffering. As we read David’s Psalms, we see him fighting for hope. He struggled through threats to his life, country and his leadership, family brokenness, betrayal, the death of a child, and much more over the course of his life. In his writing in the Psalms, we see his incredible strength and an example of how to cling to hope in hard times. Psalms offer an example of fighting through emotional and spiritual difficulty and will help you look to God for hope in hard times.
Even in our greatest struggles, we can know that God is walking through it with us. (adapted from crosswalk.com)
Bible reading this week: Psalm 71
If anyone is interested in this Bible study about hope through hard times, here is a link: https://www.crosswalk.com/