• We Are Not Silent

    Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
    Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
    Tell of His glory among the nations,
    His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
    For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
    Psalm 96:2-4

    What kinds of verbs do you see here? Are they action verbs or being verbs? What are the verbs you see? Sing, bless, proclaim, tell, and praised.

    These verbs are describing an action, a calling that David is proclaiming to us.  Now look at that first line, “Sing to the Lord, bless His name” What kind of sentence is that? Is it declarative, imperative, what is it? It is imperative. And what does that mean? It is a command, a calling. David is reaching out to us and calling us, and commanding us, to sing to the Lord and bless his name.

    Notice what kind of action these verbs have: sing, bless, proclaim, and tell. They are all calling you to use your voice to praise the Lord; to tell of his salvation every day, to tell of his glory and make it known to all. We are being told to SPEAK UP, to not be silent, but to proclaim his glory from the rooftops.

    At Covenant, we greatly emphasize speech. In our chants, Singing Bible songs, Harkness table discussions, Chapel Call-out, even as I am giving a speech to you right now. We are being prepared to speak to the world. When you recite your Bible verse in class, it may seem as if it is pointless, but you are actually being given answers, answers to questions that you have not even been asked yet. You are being prepared by knowing the Word.

    Now older students, when we have round table discussions, we too are being prepared so that we might know how to listen to others, reflect upon what they have said, and evaluate the truth of ideas. And, then, as you will see as each Rhetoric student comes up here throughout the year, we are learning how to express our ideas to you, how to take what we have learned in Grammar School, to evaluate the truth of other ideas like it, and to communicate it to you. We are learning how to speak, how to proclaim the good tidings of His salvation, to tell of his glory among all the nations. We are being commanded to speak out against the silence to tell of the Lord’s grace, goodness, and salvation; to sing, to bless, to proclaim, and to tell of his glory!

    As Christians we are not to be silent, as a school we are not to be silent, as children of God I am calling all of us here to not. be. silent.

    As part of their training in Rhetoric, our students in grades ten and up are required to develop and present a brief presentation to the school body during Chapel with guidance from their instructors and school curriculum. Each student presentation must be understandable and relevant to all age groups. Sowing seeds of rhetoric training by requiring them speak to all age levels has yielded a harvest for all to enjoy.

    This week’s Chapel presentation was given by Lydia, one of our twelfth grade students (pictured above).

  • Farm to Table: Cultivating Minds through Classical Education

    “The concept of man as a gardener is highly suggestive: A gardener does not destroy nature, nor leave it as it is. He cultivates and develops it, enhancing its beauty, usefulness, and fruitfulness. So God expects His servants to bring all creation under His lordship. Science, engineering, art, education, government are all part of his responsibility. We are to bring every dimension of life, both spiritual and material, under the rule and law of God.” from Timothy Keller's "Mercy is Not New"

    There’s a new trend in restaurants for those who prefer to eat local and organic food: it’s called farm to table. Customers will delight in delicious and beautifully prepared food selected from a menu containing enough adjectives to almost justify its hipster price. Our grandparents’ parents would think farm to table was a trendy way to describe everyday life for the average American family who wanted to survive back in their day. Cultivating a garden, tending to it and preparing one’s own food used to be the norm. Farm to table was just the way it was.

    In much the same way our grandparents’ parents would look at the classical education our children are receiving and think: that’s a lot like the way I was educated. Classical education is the way education used to be. At Covenant, we partner with parents to train students in the liberal arts through the Scriptures. We invite our students to explore, discuss, debate and dream as they encounter great works such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Till We Have Faces and That Hideous Strength. Our school is intentionally old fashioned in our methodology. You might say we are a farm to table school.

    Gardens (or farms) and tables are an unlikely pairing as an educational model but stick with me. Gardens are full of soil that is prepared, sown and cultivated so that the harvest reaped can be shared at a table. Our teachers view their profession as a process of cultivating: sowing, tending, and reaping. We are preparing the soil of our students’ minds during the grammar years: sowing much seed, pulling away weeds and allowing our tender seedlings to thrive in the light. Soon we transition our tender plants to the fields, training them to withstand the drought and wind in the logic years. In the rhetoric years, we bring the plentiful harvest of the garden to the table (the Harkness table) to be enjoyed and feasted upon. Education is a feast of the Lord’s bounty. We want to taste and see that the Lord is good. Our harvest may take thirteen years from K-12 to fully ripen but it’s worth each and every hour we spend tending our gardens. As our grandparents’ parents would agree, this would be a harvest worth waiting for.

    It is an annual tradition at Covenant to invite our students and families to donate mulch to spread, tools to trim and elbow grease to beautify our campus grounds. This first school-wide service project of the year takes place on a Saturday during the month of September.

  • Inciting a Rebellion

    I had one goal for our upper school retreat: incite a rebellion. Not a rebellion against authority or government or religion; a rebellion against low expectations. With the Scriptures at the center, we evaluated what the world says about teenagers, what the Bible says about teenagers, and what they want to say about teenagers. We examined our purpose for living (building God's Kingdom through hard work) and the purpose of community. We also took a look at the history of the word "teenager" and why we want to change the expectations people have of teenagers for today.

    Our upper school students want to rebel against low expectations, do hard things, step out of their comfort zones, collaborate with one another and change the world. As you might expect, our students were eager to dig into God's Word and eager to be challenged to be more than a passive consumer of entertainment; they want to do something with the strength that God has given them in their youth. They want to learn from those who are older, stand on the shoulders of mentors as they seek to learn the skills that are needed to lead the world.

    Here's a look at some of the Scriptures we studied together:

    • What does the Bible say about teenagers? Proverbs 20:29 tells us it's a glorious thing to be young and strong and it's a glorious thing to be old and wise. We learned that collaboration between the generations is the perfect blend of both glories.
    • What does the Bible say about community? Genesis 2:18 tells us it's not good for us to be alone. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us that we are intended to spur one another on to do good things instead of competing with each other. We sharpen one another, inspire one another; we're better together.
    • What does the Bible say about work? Lamentations 3:27 tells us that it's good for young people to learn how to work hard so that they can be more effective in their older years. Hard work leads to good things. The harder the work, the better the outcome.
    • What does the Bible say about how to think? Romans 12:2 and Colossians 3:2 tell us not to take our cues from the world but to be transformed by God's Word into the image of Christ. We are called to think God's thoughts; what an incredible calling. We are to set our minds on things above. Our disappointment with what the world says about teenagers is fitting: we are supposed to be changing the world we live in for the good by reflecting God to the world. Why would we settle for anything less?

    Our upper school students want to defy the world's expectations of lazy, rebellious, unproductive teenagers. They want to do more than be entertained and I believe they will. On the last day of the retreat our high school set about how to do hard things for our school as a Student Council. They voted to forego their afternoon break to extend their lunch, allowing them more time to work collaboratively to serve our school. Their discussions, ideas and determination are positively inspiring. They want to lead and I intend to let them. They are rebels. And I couldn't be more proud of them.

    I'm very grateful to the two teenagers who wrote Do Hard Things. Their goal was to inspire a "rebelution." Thankfully, they have.

    Be sure to visit our Facebook page to view pictures from this year's Upper School Retreat!

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