Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Beautiful Work

I like movies and I love movies that tell a story about Biblical truths. I also love food, so when these two things combine I get excited. This past weekend I watched a movie that I first watched about 15 years ago. The movie was a Danish film written and directed by the Gabriel Axel called Babette’s Feast.
The film is set in a small, bleak Danish village. The three main characters are two sisters and their maid. The two sisters have given up much in life in order to dedicate themselves to the church started by their father and to care for the people of the village by bringing food to the elderly. The food is simple and reflects peasant food that can be found throughout the world. In this film, the main dish was ale bread soup. A combination of dark rye bread and ale that was mixed in to a thick, brown, pasty mass that was heated. Life was portrayed as simple and harsh and their religion matched the setting. Going to church meant you dressed in black. The service was singing and preaching. One song continues to be repeated, “Jerusalem, My Heart’s True Home.” The most prominent lyric is “Jerusalem, my heart's true home, your name is forever dear to me. Your kindness is second to none, you keep us clothed and fed. Never would you give a stone to the child who begs for bread.” This lyric ties with the image of the bread soup. Life is simple, harsh but God provides. They longed for the glory of the New Jerusalem.

The climax of the film is an extravagant feast. The sisters long ago took in a refugee from France, who became their maid, Babette. The maid toiled for fourteen years in their service preparing simple meals and cleaning their home. One day, it appears as if life was going to change. The maid won the French lottery and won a significant amount of money. The sisters fear Babette will leave. Babette asks for a favour, permission to prepare a true French meal for the members of the church. The sisters deeply suspicious do grant the wish. As the supplies for the feast begin to arrive, the sisters become trouble and fear the devil is about to tempt them into sin, but they do not want to offend Babette. The sisters, along with the remaining members of the church agree to eat the meal, but will not discuss the food with the understanding that they will not enjoy it. Babette used every penny of her fortune to create a true French feast for Babette was once the head chef of one of Paris’ best restaurants. Each course was rich, luxurious and extravagant and was accompanied by a matching wine. The one outsider invited to the feast is astonished to find food like this in a simple village. As he raved and marveled at the feast the others begin to take delight in this beautiful meal. The feast ends with one church member looking up into the starlit sky and with his hands raised stated, “Hallelujah.” They just tasted a glimpse of the feast God has prepared for us in the New Jerusalem. God gave them more than their heart’s desire. He gave them more than bread.

The feast was created by a master chef with a grateful heart and it was beautiful. The meal was a work of art. Beautiful work allows us to experience what God has in store for us. Beautiful work or art is but a glimpse of the new heaven and the new earth. Beautiful work creates hope.
This is one of the reasons why beautiful work is important. As a staff of Community Christian School and embers of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools we are being challenged to create curriculum that inspires students to create beautiful work in all subject areas. This involves understanding and appreciating the work of masters and learning from them. It is my hope that you will be able to catch a glimpse of God’s glory in the work of your daughter/son/grandchild/friend.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Agents of Hope and Grace Part 2

Agents of hope and grace. During the month of December, Students' Council organized a clothing drive to help assist new Syrian refugees settle into life in Canada. Below is a photo of our student council members and the clothing they collected.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Witnesses and Agents of Hope and Grace

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

One of the advantages of teaching from a Christian perspective is that we can explore God’s grace and the message of hope. The passage from Romans has been on my mind the past couple of days and it is a passage that reinforces the message of grace and hope. This verse has been on my mind because in the Grade 5/6 creation studies class, we have been examining the beginnings of Canada and the story of New France.

A part of understanding the story of New France lead us to look at King Louis XIV of France. We discovered he was a powerful, self-centred, extravagant and misguided. He eventually begins to develop a god complex and we saw evidence that King Louis XIV portrayed himself as a god. The Grade 5/6 class wholehearted agreed that they would not want to be his friend or be ruled by him. However, because of King Louis XIV character traits, he help the development of a very small, almost forgotten colony, of New France grow and prosper. This growing colony became home to many from France who lives were filled with poverty and dead ends in France. In essence, there was no opportunity for growing or flourishing. They were hopeless. By moving to New France, many of these people had new opportunities. They prospered and flourished.

In class, we spent some time talking about the bigger story or the upper story. What was happening from God’s perspective? We see God’s grace in action. God used the negative characteristics of Louis XIV to develop a new colony. This new colony was a place of hope and flourishing. God was gracious. The people who dared to start new lives experienced this grace. They still faced many hardships, but there was hope. Hope is the key to flourishing and to leading a prosperous life.

Christian education is all about examining the messages of God’s grace and the message of hope in all of the subject areas. We do this for two reasons. First, in order for our students to fully grow, prosper and flourish they must have hope. A hope that is rooted in the grace of God. There need to hear, see and experience this hope. Secondly, we want our students to be agents of hope and grace. Once they are equipped, we desire to have our students offering hope to others in everything that our students do. Our desire is that our students will active agents of restoration in order that the Kingdom of God may flourish. Our efforts are not perfect and our student are not perfect either, but we can be assured that God’s grace will ensure that our work is blessed.