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 to our staff gathered in the gym at WCS. The theme this year was Education as Hospitality. Thursday’s lecture and discussions began with looking at scripture in order to understand how hospitality is woven into the biblical command to love and care for one another. Hebrews 13:1-2 tells us: “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” A key concept communicated by Dr. David Smith was, “If a school is a hospitable space, it will serve as a home that introduces students to a tradition of knowledge, creates a safe space in which they are shaped by constructive practices, and makes room for students to move in new directions and begin to tell their own story.”
As we see considerable tension and ‘taking sides’ in our world currently, it is more important than ever to find and share our common story, to bring people in, to build trust, to serve each other with justice and mercy.
I wonder if we as parents and school partners are raising children/students who are aware of their stories and are committed to caring for others. Do your children know your family’s story? Do they know their faith story? How are they growing and expanding their circles of interest and contact? Are they demonstrating care for and interest in the stories of others? It starts with love for others. Galatians 5:22 “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” My prayer is that WCS and our families reflect the abundance of love, honour and grace that God has given us, and that our lives and actions are characterized by generosity and hospitality.
Carol Verbeek, Principal
The autumn season in Ontario is a great one, isn’t it? I had the opportunity this weekend to visit a bustling place outside of London called “Apple Land Station”. The trees have turned colours, the pumpkins are ready, the apples have been picked, and the corn is being harvested. In Daniel we are reminded that God is the one who designed the seasons:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
What an imaginative Creator, God is. Like our Creator God, He has created us with the ability to create as well (after all we are created in God’s image). We cannot create things out of nothing as God has done, but we do have the ability to be creative with our own ideas, or create things with the materials around us, or shape our ideas into poems or stories. Enjoy this lovely poem (see bottom) about the season of autumn by Joyce Rupp, an American author. It is also found here. And enjoy the long weekend enjoying His creation!
Prayer for Autumn Days
God of the seasons, there is a time for everything;
there is a time for dying and a time for rising.
We need courage to enter into the transformation process.
God of autumn, the trees are saying goodbye
to their green, letting go of what has been.
We, too, have our moments of surrender, with all their insecurity and risk.
Help us to let go when we need to do so.
God of fallen leaves lying in colored patterns on
the ground, our lives have their own patterns.
As we see the patterns of our own growth, may we learn from them.
God of misty days and harvest moon nights, there is always
the dimension of mystery and wonder in our lives.
We always need to recognize your power-filled presence.
May we gain strength from this.
God of harvest wagons and fields of ripened grain, many gifts
of growth lie within the season of our surrender.
We must wait for harvest in faith and hope.
Grant us patience when we do not see the blessings.
God of geese going south for another season, your wisdom enables
us to know what needs to be left behind and what needs to be carried into the future.
We yearn for insight and vision.
God of flowers touched with frost and windows wearing white designs,
may your love keep our hearts from growing cold in the empty seasons.
God of life, you believe in us, you enrich us,
you entrust us with the freedom to choose life.
For all this, we are grateful. Amen
We have just come out of a Thanksgiving weekend. What did you thank God for?
For many it has been a difficult 18 months and many find it easier to grumble and complain about the world and circumstances around them . But Philipians 4:14-16 reminds us to “ do everything without grumbling or complaining...so you will shine like stars among them”
Do you complain about all the laundry you have to do? Do you grumble when it is time to do dishes? Do you gripe about being stuck in traffic? What if we took these as opportunities to see how God has blessed us and to change our perspective and attitude.
Instead of complaining about the laundry, be grateful you have clean clothes to wear each day. When the dishes have piled up thank God you have plenty to eat each day. While sitting in traffic thank God for giving you the opportunity to slow down and spend some time in conversation with Him.
What other ways can you “shine like stars” in the days, weeks and months to come?
Marcia Horinga, Grade 1 Teacher
My family will tell you that I am somewhat of a bird nerd. Not quite a bird watcher (yet!) but a bird noticer. From my perch on the front step with my morning coffee, at daybreak each fall, winter, and spring morning I notice hundreds of gulls flying overhead to spend their day westward and returning to the east at dusk to rest at the lake. Gulls glide mostly quietly, high above with an occasional call. In the winter, the crows follow the gulls each morning and each evening, going west and returning east, loudly proclaiming their presence. Geese and ducks come and go in their seasons. This Thanksgiving week, as I consider with gratitude all that God provides, in every season, I am thankful for the rhythms and patterns that I see in creation. Birds do not go unnoticed in the Bible - have a read through the following verses and be encouraged about the care and detail God has created in our world. That care extends to each of us. God’s fingerprints are everywhere. He is Creator, Sustainer, God with us. Give him your praise and gratitude!
Genesis 1:20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.”
Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
Job 12:7-9 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?
Carol Verbeek, Principal
“God created us for expanding community and He calls us to live a life of welcome.” - Amy Caroll
I came across this quote in my Facebook memories this past week. I guess it struck a chord a few years ago and struck again now. (While it may have shown up on social media, I did research the author and she is a legitimate Christian podcaster and writer.) During the first two weeks of school, the Community Relations team offered a hot dog lunch to all our families, providing an opportunity to do just as she writes - expand our community. We understand it can be overwhelming when you are in a new school or adjusting to just being WITH people again after such a long absence. We hope you felt welcome and could place names to a few more faces. As I stood back and watched it all unfold, I noticed welcome happening in many forms - families inviting children whose parents couldn’t make it to sit on their blanket, parents reconnecting with others, students introducing their new friends and teachers to parents, or giving tours of their classrooms. I saw grandparents and other family members filling in. I saw staff greeting new and previous families, and treating a few bee stings in between. I saw parents volunteering to prepare and pass out the lunch, making sure everyone got one (or two or three hot dogs) - and then cleaning it all up again. Thank you SO much to each of you! Your time and effort were a blessing to so many. As I drove home, my heart was full and I thanked God for these events - to be together, to offer a welcome regardless if it’s your first or your twentieth year at WCS. As our theme verse says, “God is able to do above and beyond anything we can ever ask, think, imagine.” I look forward to how that will unfold over the next ten months. May He show us in the most amazing ways!
Heather DeBoer- WCS Board
The communal graduation verse that the students chose to direct and focus their celebration comes from Colossians 3:23-24. What a great choice, given all the work they’ve done at school and at home in their years at Woodstock Christian School. They have lived and grown through the disruptions and unpredictability of these last two years and are well aware that life can be complicated. As these hardworking students leave the care and learning at WCS that is familiar and move on to the next stage of their school and life journey, the verse they have chosen will be a guide for them. They know and believe that God is present and that it is for Him and through Him that we live and work and have our being. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Congratulations, WCS Class of 2021! Hold onto the hope and joy and peace that only God provides.
We have known some of our eighth grade students for 10 years, and some for just a few years. Staff and students at WCS have been blessed by our bold, creative, athletic, sincere, godly, caring, funny and awesome (and more!) grads. We look forward to celebrating you at the graduation ceremony on Tuesday. We will miss you as you leave, but we also know it’s time for you to move on to new challenges. May you continue to grow in wisdom and understanding. Know that God continues to provide grace and love for you in abundance. He will continue to guide and bless you. Fare well & God bless you, Abigail, Alex, Arianna, Conner, Danika, Duncan, Eden, Erin, Esther, Evyn, Gabriel, Hailey, Jeremy, Judah, Julia, Julie, Katelyn, Naomi, and Paul.Blessings to each of you,
As some of you may know, I am an avid baseball fan. During our many days and evenings at home during the pandemic I have been watching a lot of Toronto Blue Jays baseball games on TV. I miss going to see games at the Rogers Centre. As our family was watching the Blue Jays game a couple of weekends ago, one of the starting pitchers did not have a strong start. In fact, I remember one of the announcers saying the pitcher had to make some ‘in game adjustments’ if he was going to last the expected six or seven innings for a starting pitcher. Well, after a rough first inning, the pitcher did make some ‘in game’ adjustments and continued to pitch into the seventh inning. In fact, he did not surrender another hit for the rest of the game. He actually seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. I wonder if we can learn something from the resiliency of that starting pitcher?
In our devotions and Bible classes in grade eight over the past couple of weeks we have been focussing on Paul and his missionary journeys. I am reminded of this verse from Philippians 3:14 where Paul writes: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” The 2020-2021 school year is quickly coming to a close. We at Woodstock Christian School have had to make a number of ‘in game adjustments’ throughout this school year. Our students have gone from in person learning to remote learning twice this year. For the most part, we have been able to make our adjustments. It has not always been easy, but we have done it. As we work to finish out this school year let us all continue to press on. Perhaps we could even tap into our own resiliency and work at getting stronger as the year comes to a close. Thank you to all of the parents in our school community who have stepped up in a big way to support our students while learning from home. I have appreciated being able to partner with you throughout our school year.
Psalm 13:5-6 But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.
It’s almost June and of course June is about finishing well, closing the school year, and about graduating our WCS Class of 2021 on to the next phase of their life. The Psalmist here teaches us a beautiful truth: remembering releases rejoicing.
To worship God is to tell Him we believe Him for who He says He is. Who is God to you? What stories do you have to tell about answered prayers or his continued presence in your life? What do you remember about God’s goodness? Favourite Bible stories provide remembrance and examples of God’s faithfulness and grace. Share those stories. And share your stories. Ask grandparents about their stories. Every day we’re faced with choices to either acknowledge and proclaim God as the great and merciful God He declares Himself to be—or instead to deny Him. If we can’t bring ourselves to trust that He is full of mercy, then perhaps, at least in part, we’re implying that He does not care and is not merciful. There is actually no middle ground. He either is the all-powerful, all loving God His word declares Him to be—or He is not.
Psalm 78:1-4 My people, listen to my teaching. Pay attention to what I say.
I will open my mouth and tell a story. I will speak about things that were hidden.
They happened a long time ago. Our people who lived before us have told us about them.
We won’t hide them from our children. We will tell them to those who live after us.
We will tell them what the Lord has done that is worthy of praise.
We will talk about his power and the wonderful things he has done.
Remember and praise.
Carol Verbeek, Principal
Over the weekend I came across some pictures of birthday celebrations of my own children. Last week one of my students reminded the grade 3 class that it will be her birthday on Tuesday, May 25th which is today. Happy birthday! Who doesn’t like birthdays? Who doesn’t like to celebrate with balloons, decorations, cake, candles, gifts, and loved ones?
The Christian Church just celebrated its birthday this past Sunday on the day that is called Pentecost. Pentecost wasn’t a new celebration to the Jews living during the times of the Old and New Testament, as it was initially known as a Feast of Weeks to celebrate the “firstfruits” of the wheat harvest, and followed 50 days after the Passover (or for Christians 50 days after Easter). Just like the wine and bread took a new significance when Jesus died on the cross, Pentecost took on a new significance. It became the birthday for the Church. The “firstfruits” of the Church were gathered and heard the Apostle Peter’s preaching as the Holy Spirit came and filled the disciples as was promised by Jesus when he ascended. You can read that story in Acts 2.
Check out these seventeen ways that the Spirit helps us, especially the last point: http://www.westhillscc.com/
I don’t know about you, but there’s something about the lengthening of the days and spring sunshine that just makes me itch to get my fingers in some soil. The month of May means pulling out my wheelbarrow and getting back in touch with the earth. Yes, I have farming in my background, perhaps in my blood? The new green of a winter wheat or rye field brings me joy. The smell of cut grass or fresh hay stops me in my tracks. Coffee, sunshine and garden centres in combination make me think of heaven.
Green thumb or not, really, so much of life is about growing and moving forward. Whether nurturing plants or students, guiding a school and a staff, living in a family or in a faith community, we are on a growth journey. Storms, wind, rain and sunshine come in abundance or sometimes not. Conditions change and we navigate, moving forward. I plant seeds and expect sprouts. I plant seedlings and expect them to grow. But I also expect setbacks: slugs, hungry rabbits, lack of rain. As a co-worker with you in God’s service, I pray God’s strength and blessings for each of you as you plant, actually or figuratively, in all the areas of your life.
I love this Bible passage (and wonder what the apostle Paul’s experience was with food production/gardening). It comes to mind often in my discussions and thinking at WCS:
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 NIV
Carol Verbeek, Principal
Patience in waiting. Wait. Aren’t patience and waiting the same thing? Please be patient as I explain the difference: One definition of patience is: “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Waiting is defined as “the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.” There is a difference if you look closely: patience highlights the act of having self-control, whereas waiting highlights a delay of any sort of action.
I’ve found myself needing a lot of patience in my waiting; namely: waiting for this pandemic to end... or, at least to have a very minimal impact on my life. It’s difficult to do all that is required in order to keep my neighbour healthy. It’s difficult to follow the rules set out by our government when it becomes an inconvenience or annoyance to me. But when I read the news and think about why these new rules are in place; and what God says about loving our neighbours, it should be a no-brainer for me. Yet, it’s still difficult! In these times of waiting, and when stamina is needed to end well, I find myself needing to turn to God and to His word for encouragement/wisdom. I pray that everyone would be blessed with an extra measure of patience in their waiting as we (hopefully) begin to see the end of this pandemic.
Luke 10:27: And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Axel Hiemstra, Grade 5