Wrapping Up the Season
by Adam Kronberger / Head of School
I remember the first Christmas mornings for each of our children when they were just babies. The air was full with anticipation and the video cameras were ready with fully charged batteries. Both sets of grandparents were present, wanting to watch first hand how their grandbaby might respond to their many gifts. Each of those many gifts were wrapped in a variety of colors, bows, and ribbons. And then the moment finally arrived when gift after gift was placed in front of the valued grandbaby.
After some coaching and modeling and a little help, each gift was systematically unwrapped and revealed. With increasing interest and speed, each remaining gift was quickly consumed by our infant. But then, instead of focusing on the value and unique purpose of each gift, the baby’s interest focused on the piles of leftover wrapping paper and miscellaneous decorations. Initial disappointment from the gift-givers quickly turned into fascination as it was clear that the glitz of the packaging clearly exceeded the more valuable gift from the giver.
In the same way it is still possible as adults to trade in the reason for the season with the glitz our culture provides around every corner. The birth of God’s son and the gift of eternal life can easily be overshadowed by lights, toys, and tasty treats. While these cultural components of Christmas can be part of the celebration, they are similar to used wrapping paper in comparison to the true value of God’s gift of His Son.
As our children grew older, they quickly learned that the gift inside the package is much more important than the colorful wrapping paper. In the same way, during these weeks of Advent mature disciples focus their celebrations on the coming of Christ. The packaging of the season is not intended to replace the value of the season, but rather to draw attention to His arrival. So celebrate like crazy with lights and cinnamon rolls, and as you clean up the wrapping paper, remember to continue to reveal, enjoy, and share the greatest gift ever given!
– Adam Kronberger / Head of School
O’ Christmas Tree
by Molly Dillon / Keizer Campus Principal
An unintentional Dillon family tradition is to choose a Christmas tree size that exceeds the opening of all entrances to our home, and almost certainly exceeds the height of our living room ceiling. However, as the Angels advised, we “fear not”, for man has created the ingenious tree baler. For two additional Christmas dollars, this wondrous device downsizes the oversized. This year's Turkish ten-footer was transformed into a manageable slim and trim bundle.
Once properly placed in the living room, my husband begins the process of patiently unwrapping the tree. Releasing the twine at the top and working his way down, he ever so slowly and carefully frees each branch. Within minutes, the “Turk” is transformed from its unnaturally bound position, into the fullness and beauty it was created for. The fact that no branch snaps or breaks off despite being bound so tightly astonishes me.
I am also astonished by how God reveals truth through creation. By the light of the Christmas tree, I recalled seasons where circumstances, pressures, and situations bent me to the point of thinking, perhaps this time, I might just break. Other seasons I found myself unable to move or breathe, bound tightly by various struggles rooted in sin or pride. Yet, there always appeared a juncture where that patient, still small voice asked me “Are you ready to let go and be set free?”
Christmas is God’s perfectly placed reminder of who He is and whose we are. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. He alone is our Wonderful Counselor, always present, providing wisdom, guidance, incomparable love, unsurpassed power and resources used to do what only He can do on our behalf. He is Mighty God when we need a protector, or strength to loosen the most heinous of knots in our lives. He is our unchanging Everlasting Father who comforts us, patiently working to keep our thoughts fixed on eternity and off our momentary tribulations. He alone is our Prince of Peace; there is no true peace apart from him.
As we continue preparing our hearts to celebrate God’s promises fulfilled, we joyfully remember that He takes us from being bound, to being blessed. Carefully and lovingly,He unwraps whatever sin or circumstance binds us, weakens us, or hinders us in our relationship with HIm. Only then can our lives experience the freedom, fullness, and beauty we were uniquely created for.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14
– Molly Dillon / Keizer Campus Principal
by Adam Kronberger / Head of School
It was definitely one of those “uh-oh” moments as a parent. My 10-year-old son and I were descending from the 10,358 ft summit of the South Sister. We had completed two-thirds of the round-trip hike, and had just passed the last water hole on the main trail. Not wanting to delay our trip, I gambled that the amount of water left in our hydration packs would be sufficient for the remainder of the descent. But within an hour, we were out of water, and the discomfort of my dry mouth was of little concern in comparison to the signs of heat exhaustion in my 10-year-old son. Suddenly, my knowledge of the surrounding area and the availability of alternative water sources was put to the test.
Whether paper or digital, maps are very important to provide guidance to various situations in our lives. On the surface, maps are just colored paper or collections of pixels. But they represent hundreds or thousands of people who have already experienced that location. A map combines all those different experiences together. Unless you are content with only walking your neighborhood, or constantly getting lost, you’re going to need a map to successfully experience all that life has to offer. You will never get anywhere by just looking at a map, nor will you have safe and successful adventures without one.
God has given us His map that exceeds any product from Rand McNally or Garmin. First, He has spoken directly to us through creation, prophets, and His son Jesus. He also continues to reveal Himself to His church, as those who are really in touch with Him experience Him in their daily lives. The pursuit of every disciple is founded in this revealed truth God continues to map out for us.
Fortunately for me and my son, I recalled a lake a couple miles off the trail where we could replenish our supply. My poor decision resulted in painful extra miles and additional delays recuperating on shady snow fields crunching on dirty ice. My opinion that we didn't need to refill earlier had no impact on the truth of the remaining distance of the trip and the heat of the sun. While life may be full of mistakes, the right map can provide the guidance to get back on track. I am reminded that without regular attention to prayer, God's Word, and spending time with others also on the trail, we can quickly lose our way.
– Adam Kronberger / Head of School