Pondering about houses and homes? There’s more to say. Last term I began to explore the notion that if we think about Christian schools using the metaphor of home/house/household there are some ideas that may help us to think more clearly about MECS. So far, we’ve considered the foundations (a biblically grounded worldview), the design plan (curriculum), everyday life in the home (pedagogy), and love in the home (our spiritual wellbeing).
A good home is a safe place. A place in which the pain and stress of the world can be kept at a distance. A place in which new ideas should be able to be explored, discussed and debated in an atmosphere of love and trust. It is a place where parents model life in all its fullness to their children. Home life has a major formative impact on children, but of course it is only the Holy Spirit that transforms them (and us). This is my great hope for our Christian school; that it is a safe place where formation and transformation by the Spirit of God can take place.
Step into most homes and you will usually encounter photos and art on the wall. You might see beautiful or quirky crafts on display. Perhaps there will be kids’ art on the fridge. Or you’ll get a particular vibe from the styling, furniture and furnishings. The photos, the art, the style, these things are a reflection of who lives in the home.
MECS has an interesting early history of tending to avoid Christian symbols and art around the campus and in the classroom. After all, putting up a cross or displaying a piece of religious art is not what makes a Christian school authentic. Clearly the family photos and art on the walls of a house are not the people who are actually alive in the house. Nevertheless, they reveal something about those who live in the house. This to me is the purpose of symbols and style in and around the Christian school. They give a glimpse to us and our neighbours who we are and what matters to us.
What about the garden and yard around the house? This reminds me that our learning community is not to be constrained by walls. Effective learning takes place as much outside the classroom as within. Gardens point to discovery, offer opportunity for beauty, remind us that life and learning can be messy – maybe a ‘hands dirty’ kind of place. Many houses of course don’t have gardens, or only have tiny ones. Does the image breakdown? Maybe. Though perhaps a home lacking a garden challenges us to consider what might be missing from our Christian school.
Homes of course exist in neighbourhoods. What kind of neighbour are we? I don’t mean physical neighbour (though our literal campus neighbours can’t be forgotten). I’m thinking of our community, our society, our nation. Ideally, we are the kind of neighbour that brings hope and joy, rather than the kind of neighbour that causes problems and irritation. As we consider our neighbourhood, do we participate in society, or do we withdraw and have a fortress mentality to the world around us?
And finally, in this reflection; we all know that a perfect household is a myth. Probably because we are all sinners. Our homes need transformation. Our school needs transformation. A good home is one in which we have the greatest opportunity to see the Kingdom of God lived out fully, and a place in which transformation by the Holy Spirit can commence. And while we wait for the day when Christ returns to fully reveal the Kingdom of God and bring complete transformation, we seek the Kingdom of God at MECS because that is where we get to glance at our longed-for transformation.