How wonderful it has been to be back at school throughout all of 2022, to re-embrace routines long taken for granted, to reconnect with so many within the Carey community and to simply sit, pray and talk in special places like the William Carey chapel, the library, the Quad, the MGH, my office and those of my colleagues, staff rooms and the Kew Sports Centre during Table Tennis training sessions.
While each of us will have our own highlights of the year, for me, it has been watching a cohort – many of whom we first met in the ELC over a decade ago – finishing their last year in Middle School. Thanks to the efforts of so many at Carey, in the years to come, this group of young people will care for their local and global communities with a deep level of compassion, collaboration and courage.
The end of the school year falls within the church season of Advent. It is a time each year when people are invited to reflect on what it means to wait patiently for God to make plans known, to wait for change and to wait for circumstances to become more favourable. Life can be busy and there will always be wait times. Some researchers suggest that the average person will spend five years of their life waiting in line, two years playing telephone tag, and six months sitting at red lights. This alone is over seven and a half years of waiting, at best doing nothing, or at worst experiencing great aggravation – especially at those red lights on Bourke Road when you’re running late for school! Advent is an invitation to look again at how God is active in our world in ways expected and unexpected and to revisit our own values and priorities.
Some time ago, poet, educator and Presbyterian minister Henry Van Dyke challenged readers to make good use of waiting time by asking yourself if you are willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you.
Are you willing to ignore what the world owes you, and to think more what you owe the world?
Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of the vulnerable?
Are you willing to remember the weakness and loneliness of people growing old?
Are you willing to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough?
Advent invites us to ask these and other questions and to wait for God’s response. It is the time to reflect on what it means to attempt and expect great things for and from God and for and from others.
May the following prayer help guide your decision making in the coming days.
Let us pray. Heavenly Father, whatever form our celebrations take over the next few weeks, may the perseverance and generosity of the travellers from the east, the obedience of Joseph and Mary and the peace your son Jesus gives encourage us and draw us closer to those whom we love.
In the same way that the birth of your son reshaped the attitudes and actions of people in Bethlehem and beyond may the Christmas story encourage us to do good to others and make this world a better place for all. Amen.
Rev. Scott Bramley
Middle School Chaplain