During the season of Advent, we prepare for and look forward to the coming of Christ. For the four weeks leading up to Christmas, we focus on the themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. As we reflect on how Christ brings each of these virtues to us in his coming, we consider how we might also be bearers of hope, peace, joy, and love. While Advent is a Christian holiday, the themes of hope, peace, joy, and love are far from uniquely Christian. These virtues are held by people across many different faith traditions, and we encourage all students to think about their own need for and ability to share these qualities.
In the spirit of Advent, the Lower School is participating in an Advent Challenge. Each day, students and faculty alike are encouraged to complete a specific act of kindness. These acts of kindness are simple things that can be done at home or at school (or both!). After completing the day’s challenge, the students are encouraged to write their name on a slip of paper that is kept on a bulletin board in the Greer Center. As our season of Advent progresses, we will be able to see how our acts of kindness grow in number and wrap us up in hope, peace, joy, and love as the strips are used to make a paper chain that will be stretched around the room.
To kick off the Advent Challenge, the fifth grade religion students performed a skit in Morning Meeting that was a play on Mission: Impossible. Four secret agents were tasked by the Episcopal Lower School Secret Agent Headquarters to complete daily missions as part of the Advent Challenge. The secret agents in the skit discovered that their mission was far from impossible as they completed daily missions like picking up a piece of trash, writing a thank you note, trading time on electronics for time with friends or family, and offering encouragement to someone else. The Advent Challenge was dubbed Mission: Possible, rather than Mission: Impossible.
Each day’s mission is a surprise, and the challenge is announced daily in Morning Meeting or Chapel. Lower School students have eagerly awaited an opportunity each day to complete their mission and add their name to a slip of paper. Since the beginning of the challenge, students have been caught on campus picking up trash, doing a daily task for a teacher or friend, or offering compliments to one another. Maybe you have been the recipient of one of their acts of kindness as the students were challenged to tell a family member that they love them.
Episcopal families, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to encourage your students to participate in the Advent Challenge and enjoy watching them be givers of hope, peace makers, joy bringers, and love spreaders. If your family does not celebrate Advent, talk with your student about how their participation in these acts of kindness fits your own family’s faith tradition or set of values. We hope you'll accept this mission and check back with us on social media for new Advent challenges.
Sam Oakley started as a Lower School Religion teacher at Episcopal in August 2017. She previously served as the Associate Director of the Center for Family and Community Ministries at Baylor University where she conducted research, developed resources, and edited a journal. She received her M.S.W. and M.Div. from Baylor University. Sam is married to David Oakley, who serves as the Youth and Children’s Minister at Broadmoor Baptist Church. They have three children: Elijah, Taylor, and Sadie.