The chapel is quiet. The candles on the Advent wreath shine as classes of students enter and find a seat. Programs of prayers, shared talks and music are distributed and the Advent service begins. This will happen several times a day until every AW student has had the opportunity to be part of our school community celebration of Advent.
Advent liturgies date back to 380 AD. The season is four weeks long. During this time, reflection on the coming of Christ and the second coming of Christ to judge the living and dead is the focus. Central to the season is the fresh green Advent wreath with all its symbolism. The four candles, three purple and one pink, found on the wreath, served the Peer Ministers, who facilitated all services, as the catalysts for their witness talks. Themes of the presence of hope, peace, joy and love in their lives and in the lives of their classmates resonated during the service. Kristen Burke spoke to the college application process and the stress that comes with acceptance to that college of choice. With the help of God, Kristen said, “God doesn’t put anything in our lives that that we can’t handle. It’s hard to find hope in my future with it being so undecided and unpredictable , but I have trust in God that He has a plan for me, and that I will be okay no matter what happens.” The Peer Minister’s words found an audience with her senior classmates. Senior Colton Casper shared the deep disappointment of the Turkey Bowl loss. “The next day was Thanksgiving and I was still disappointed from the game. The only thing that could cheer me up was my grandmother’s stuffing. Eating all of the wonderful food with my family and friends helped me to forget about that game and live in the present. Just being together with family is where I found my peace. God put all those people in my life together and has kept them healthy and happy. Even when I’m done, God is still there to provide peace in my life.” Colton’s wisdom was genuine and relatable. Mary Kate Clougherty spoke of her service experience on an Indian reservation this past summer. The service provided a bed for a child who never had one of her own. This revealed to Mary Kate a new meaning for the word “joy”. “My perception of joy completely turned around after this experience. This little girl was so filled with joy by something most of us don’t even think about. Her joy inspired me to find God’s light in the smallest parts of life. The joy filled face in front of me made me realize that even in the darkest of places joy can still be found.”
The quiet of the chapel was only broken by the notes of “Christmas is Coming”, “Silent Night” and “Mary Did You Know” and perhaps the silent notes of appreciation that students felt in an Advent service that renewed the presence of God’s grace in their lives.