Sunday, December 31, 2017

St. Andrew's School to meet a greater need in the community

Beginning in 2018-2019 St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, an accredited member of the Virginia Association of Independent Schools and an outreach of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, has expanded its mission to meet a greater need in the community.  St. Andrew’s Episcopal School continues to serve children from PreK3 to grade 5 in an inclusive nurturing Christian environment. Recognizing that families’ and children’s needs have changed over time, St. Andrew’s School is excited to offer three new initiatives. 

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School will implement a variable tuition model that will allow families to better afford an independent education for their children. Tuition will range from 50% to 100% of actual cost.  Additional incentives will also be implemented to allow for better affordability: multiple child discounts; alumni tuition credit; and incentives for Episcopalians, military families, Huntington-Ingalls Industry employees, and full-time faculty and staff of local colleges and universities. 

St. Andrew’s will also introduce the Orton-Gillingham instructional approach to serve individuals with dyslexia.  Those students will spend part of each school day working one-on-one or in small groups with an Orton-Gillingham Associate. Orton-Gillingham’s multi-sensory approach is focused on the learning needs of individual students to help them become successful readers and writers. After-school tutoring using the Orton-Gillingham approach will also be offered to individuals in the community who have difficulty with reading, spelling and writing. 

The third initiative is an Innovation Lab, which will be designed and equipped to facilitate larger scale, project-based learning for elementary students. Engaging students in laboratory innovation at this early age encourages collaboration, critical thinking, brainstorming, learning to invent, and inventing to learn. The innovation lab will be available to home-school cohorts, community groups and businesses. 

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is committed to serving a greater need in our community. Providing better affordability, a targeted approach proven to help dyslexic individuals, and an innovative learning lab specifically designed for elementary school students will enhance the reach of St. Andrew’s already excellent education.

For more information, contact Janna Outlaw, Head of School at 757-596-6261.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas is coming!

Dear friends,

Our Advent waiting is almost over; the joyous season of Christmas is just around the corner.  The Advent wreath adds a new flame each week, helping us mark the passing time.  We wait, as we always do, for our annual remembrance of the coming of God into our midst as a tiny, fragile baby; and for the second coming of Christ, at a time we can neither know nor predict. 

And as we wait, in hope and expectation, we practice our faith—not only through our worship but also through our actions.  In honor of the newborn babe in Bethlehem whose only shelter was a stable, we reach out to those in our world who live in poverty and lack resources.  We volunteer at PORT, gather food for Turkey Sandwich Day, collect socks for homeless veterans, give clothes to refugees.  We do these things together because we are church, the living body of Christ in this world.

I am so grateful to be in this part of God’s church with each of you, and I am greatly looking forward to celebrating our first Christmas together.  Please come for worship as we move together from Advent to Christmas, transitioning from expectant waiting to joyful celebration and gratitude.

Sunday, December 24th will be a busy day here at St. Andrew’s. 

  • We will mark the Fourth Sunday of Advent—the last few moments of our waiting!—with Holy Eucharist Rite II at 10 AM. 
  • Our 4:30 PM Family Christmas Eve Service will include a child-oriented, interactive telling of the Christmas Story; child-friendly prayers; Holy Eucharist; and beloved carols. 
  • At 10:40 PM we will have a concert of Christmas music followed at 11:00 PM with a Festival Eucharist Rite II.
On Christmas Day, there will be a service of Holy Eucharist at 10 AM.  On Sunday, December 31, we will celebrate the First Sunday of Christmas with a traditional service of Lessons and Carols at 10 AM.

Friends, as Advent rolls over once again into Christmas, may your waiting give way to joy.  May you meet again, in new ways, the “God incarnate, man divine” who arrived in our midst 2000 years ago with such vulnerability. And together, may we serve him faithfully—especially as we encounter him in the faces and lives of the most vulnerable in our own midst today.

Blessings to you in this holy season, and always.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Hang in there; it's still Advent!

Around us, there are many signs of Christmas. Christmas carols are being played on the radio, Christmas lights and decorations are adorning many front yards, and Santa Claus has made more than one appearance at a mall near you. 

In our culture, it is already Christmas.  But in the Church, it is still the season of Advent.  Advent is a time of waiting for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas, and also a time of expectation for the return of Jesus to the world as he promised.  We are to take this period to examine our hearts and renew our spirits, making way for Christ to enter into our lives and transform us.  This season of preparation is designed to make us more Christ-like, and to connect us more deeply to our Creator.

It is a challenge to keep Advent while others seem to be celebrating Christmas.  But hang in there!  This period of waiting is well worth it, and when Christmas actually comes, it will be even more joyful!

Happy rest of Advent!

Monday, December 4, 2017

In a baby's hand

Very soon, a special day happens that we have been looking forward to for weeks.  We are looking forward to Christmas and what we may find under the Christmas tree.  But, is that all we should be looking forward to?  How about looking forward to remembering the birth of a little baby that the world would come to know by the name of Jesus? 

The birth of a messiah or king had been foretold by many for hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth.  In the Book of Isaiah we read, “For a child has been born to us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  In an Advent hymn, the opening words of each stanza are “Blest be the King whose coming is in the name of God!”  And in a Christmas hymn, the opening line is “Hark! the herald angels sing glory to the newborn King!” 

People were expecting a King – a ruler – someone to lead them.  And if a king, how do we expect him to be dressed?  A king would be wearing robes of many colors, probably outlined with fine furs, and a crown with many jewels.  The king would be surrounded by a court of people also dressed in their finery and acting very superior.  The king would live in a fancy home, maybe even a castle. 

Is this how the baby Jesus would be dressed when he became a man?  Is this how the shepherds and the people who lived in the town of Bethlehem would have dressed when they visited the baby, born in a stable and laid in rags in a manger? 

Ponder these words from a Carol of the Epiphany written by John Bell:

                I sought him dressed in finest clothes,
                        where money talks and status grows;
                but power and wealth he never chose:
                        it seemed he lived in poverty.

                I sought him in the safest place,
                        remote from crime and cheap disgrace;
                but safety never knew his face:
                        it seemed he lived in jeopardy.

                I sought him where the spotlights glare,
                        where crowds collect and critics stare;
                but no one know his presence there:
                        it seemed he lived in obscurity.

                Then, in the streets, we hear the word
                        that seemed, for all the world, absurd:
                that those who could no gifts afford
                        were entertaining Christ the Lord.

                And so, distinct from all we’d planned,
                        among the poorest of the land,
                we did what few might understand:
                        we touched God in a baby’s hand.

Imagine if you had been born in a stable – and if you had been wrapped in swaddling cloth – and if you had been laid in a manger.  Jesus didn’t have the finest clothes, he wasn’t born in the safest place, he didn’t seek the spotlight.  And yet, we remember him today and every day even if it isn’t Christmas Day – a baby whose hand was touched by God.  May his hand and the hand of God, through the hands of others, touch your life and the lives of those you love this holiday season and throughout the coming new year.

Bill Wilds