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Christmas is in the Air!

This is our last Eagle in 2016. How can it be that 2016 is almost over? As I write this, I can hear our elementary students practicing for Thursday evening’s elementary Christmas program….I couldn’t resist. I had to go to the multi-purpose room to check it out. The primary and grade one students were up on the risers. Groups of three children were taking turns singing into the microphones while the rest of the students sang along, as well. What stood out to me were the numerous personalities that were so obvious, even at this young age. There were the leaders – those telling the other students when it was their turn and when they were to step back from the mics. There were the outgoing students – those that sang with abandon into the microphones, enjoying the sound of their own voices. Then there were the shy ones – they quietly sang and did exactly as they were told. I noticed those that could barely contain their excitement. Their arms waved around in the air or they jumped up and down. One little girl sang with her eyes closed. Another little boy had a crazy Christmas hat on, a quiet leader standing in the back row. What fun to see all the different personalities of our youngest students!

As we take a break from our regular schedules and have more time to spend with our families, I encourage you to really enjoy your kids. These little ones will be taller than you in no time at all (my baby has been towering over me for years!). Encourage them to grow this year, using their gifts and talents for God’s glory. Nudge them on when they have to work hard at something, for they will feel the satisfaction from having put in their very best effort. Forgive them when they mess up, and apologize when you do, too. And above all, love them…just because. We can do all of these things because we have been given God’s most amazing gift of grace – His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ.

I will close this year by sharing with you the lyrics from a much-loved Christmas carol written in 1754 by Charles Wesley. The salvation message is packed into this song of hope, love, and peace. I wish you and yours a most blessed Christmas season. I look forward to spending 2017 with you and your family.

Because of His Faithfulness,

Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.
Director

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Mountains or No Mountains!

I took my husband, Greg, to the French Alps over the long weekend. You see, I had worked at a small mission station in the Haute-Savoie 40 years ago when I was studying French as a college student. I’ve been telling him about the beauty of the Alps region for almost as many years, and this was the first time we had a chance to go there to experience them together.

When we arrived it was completely clouded over. The Alps were all around us, but we couldn’t see them at all. We were staying at a small apartment just down the road from Chamonix, but still we couldn’t see even a glimpse of the mountains. The next morning we awoke and still there was fog everywhere. We drove down to Annecy, a beautiful Alpine town, but still no mountains. The next day we awoke to more clouds. We were running out of time. We decided to drive over to Chamonix and take the cable car up the mountain. We stopped in a church where the organist was playing a number by Beethoven. We sat and listened to the entire song, and then walked outside. Where there had been nothing but clouds when we went into the cathedral, there was a tiny break in the clouds and a small glimmer of mountains. We decided to go up the mountain. Maybe we could get above the clouds. Nothing! We were surrounded by white clouds! We walked around in the snow and then ate lunch, still hoping that the clouds would part. Just as we were about to give up, there they were! The clouds began to lift and the mountains were all around us! How could they have been there all the time, and yet we had no view of them at all? Greg was in awe. I told him there were mountains!

The next morning it was time to pack up to leave. Greg walked outside. Right there staring him in the face was Mont Blanc! Our apartment was up in the mountains, and we were surrounded by the most amazing view we had ever seen! How could it have been right there but we walked below without having any idea.

This reminded me of I Corinthians 13:12 where the Bible says, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” As human beings, we are so limited in our understanding of God and His plan for this world. We can barely understand just how big God is, and we definitely cannot understand all of His ways. It’s like we are walking around with clouds blocking our view of what is true and real.

In Philippians 2, it says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

This Christmas season, I encourage you to ask God to make the story of Jesus Christ’s birth come alive for you. I pray that you would experience sheer awe as you realize that God sent His one and only Son to become a man knowing that He would be sacrificed for your sins. I have known of the Christmas story for over 50 years, and yet I am still amazed by the immense implications of what God did. I acknowledge that I don’t understand it all, but I can’t wait until I get to see God face to face and all of my questions will be answered. I kind of think that those questions won’t even matter anymore, for then I will “know just as I also am known.”

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.
Director

Spiritual Emphasis Week

The week of November 14 through 18 was ICSV’s Fall Spiritual Emphasis Week. A group from Bethlehem Church in Georgia came and ministered to all three divisions of the school: elementary, middle school, and high school. The secondary chaplain, Christian Pana, worked with the school principals and Brian and Pearl Williams to organize the week. There were daily chapels with special music and speakers. Thursday evening was the secondary Praise Night, which is always a highlight for the students. On Wednesday, the middle school students stayed for a fun time of getting to know the people from the US. Feedback from staff and students has been extremely positive.

The elementary school students had several chapels with the church group this year. Our third graders said that they loved the singing, especially learning new songs. They enjoyed the games that were played during chapel, and they loved having lunch with Mr. Joel because he was so funny. Joel Goddard is the worship pastor from Bethlehem Church that led the team this year.

Here are a few comments that the middle school students made about their experience:

“A special moment was when we were learning about forgiving others and being merciful. I loved it when we talked about not holding grudges and caring for one another. Our group leader told us to give people compliments and smile and make people happy. I liked talking about choosing good friends.”

“The groups were fun because I got to know more about each other and learn new things. The songs were also special because they talk a lot about God and what He did for us.”

“Something special to me is when we pray and we get to connect to God. Also, when we sing and praise the Lord is also something very special to me. I really enjoyed SEW week and having chapel every day.”

The high school students were given the chance to share their ideas in Bible class. A common topic that came up several times was that they were encouraged to hear that it is difficult for all of us to forgive those who have hurt us, because they found it difficult for themselves, as well. They also stated that they enjoyed encouraging each other and telling each other what they are thankful for. Many mentioned that they really enjoyed having time in small groups to discuss what they were learning.

I hope that your students came home and shared their thoughts with you about Spiritual Emphasis Week. ICSV is truly blessed to have a partnership with the Bethlehem Church.

I think the best quote that we received from a middle school student that summed up how the week went is: “I enjoyed every second with them and appreciated what they did.”

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.
Director