All school Opening Convocation Chapel on Wednesday, August 24, 2022 was a special gathering that brought our Kindergarten through 12th grade students and faculty together to worship. Father Hylden, Associate Rector of the Church of the Ascension and Downtown Campus Chaplain, reflects on the impact of this moving service.
Dear brothers and sisters,
This morning, our Ascension Episcopal School students started off the new school year with an all-school opening chapel service. It was quite moving, if I do say so myself! The new senior class processed in alongside the kindergartners, all of us clapping to the tune of "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." Student representatives from each division (PreK/K, elementary, middle, and upper school) brought up gifts they chose to stand for different aspects of their education--arts, athletics, academics, and acts of service-- and placed them on the altar, offering them up to God at the start of the new school year. By the end of it, the altar was covered with footballs, notebooks, musical instruments, paint sets, team photos, children's Bibles, and more.
I have to say, I got a little emotional watching them! It was a beautiful picture of what I want for my own children-- discovering and developing their God-given gifts to the fullest, and then using those gifts to love and serve their neighbors, giving thanks and honor and praise to God. It was a picture of them learning to see all the blessings of this life as a gift, and then joyfully giving it all back to God.
It's a good picture for the rest of us, too, whatever age we may be. "For what do we have that we did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7) Just like those students this morning, how can we offer up our gifts to God this year?
When it comes to our children, one of the most important gifts we can provide for them is opportunity. It not only prepares them for their future but also gives them the independence to discover and define who they are: who they want to be. Our faculty and staff focus on developing the whole child, with a curriculum designed to teach lifelong learning skills.