As I write this editorial, the news broadcasts are dominated by stories of fear and calamity. While this is perhaps the way the news is typically marketed to the public, there is something deeply disturbing about the cumulative impact of hearing every day about Ebola, ISIS, climate change, civil wars, crime, economic distress, and political uncertainty. How do we retain a sense of hope and purpose in the face of all of this bad news? And, of at least equal importance, how do we help our students to be aware of these issues in a way that does not cause them to slide into despair and hopelessness?
This issue deals with a number of these challenging issues. Among them: How do we support students as they move through the stages of spiritual, emotional, and physical growth to an awareness of themselves as God’s people, called to do God’s work in this world? How do we deal with students who may be facing enormous personal challenges and disadvantages? How do we offer encouragement to students in a world where troubles seem to be overwhelming, and where opportunities seem to be so limited?
The suggestions and directions presented by the contributors to this issue are offered with the hope that as educators we will again be encouraged in our work. One of the greatest gifts we can give our students is our conviction that in spite of everything we see around us, and perhaps, if we know how to look, because of everything we see around us, that this is God’s world. As a number of the articles here remind us, we live in an “in-between time,” where we see the effects of sin around us, but where Christmas will soon remind us again that Christ has come to show us the way to healing, hope, and peace. The celebration of Christ’s coming repeats the invitation to live our lives in a way that demonstrates our acceptance of the call to be God’s servants of healing and reconciliation and to live in the way of peace and rest and hope.
So, as Christian educators, let us commit ourselves to seeing past the chaos of a broken world to recognize that Christ’s coming has changed everything. Let us share that vision of hope with our students and let us show them the many places where the healing power of God’s love is visible. Let them see the places where the sick are healed, the hungry fed, the lonely comforted, and the homeless given shelter. And let them see that, together and individually, we can participate in this healing work in our own communities and beyond. In that way, we and the entire world can see that there is hope, and that there is a better way to live than what we often see around us.
May our celebration in this season bring us much joy and peace.