The Rev. Timothy J.S. Seamans, Priest and Chaplain at the Cathedral School for Boys in San Francisco, of the invites us to “Begin with goodness. This is something of a mantra I use at the start of something new—a new morning, a new school year, a new class or faculty meeting, a new encounter with a colleague, student or stranger. Begin with goodness.
The idea is simple, but ideas by themselves are incomplete. To come alive and reach their fullness, Episcopal schools are centered in the conviction that ideas and ideals like goodness must take on flesh and become part of our everyday lives and practices. In the language of faith, goodness must become incarnational.
One of my favorite things about the start of each school year in Episcopal schools is the opportunity to unabashedly celebrate goodness and inaugurate habits of goodness that the entire community can participate in.”
Of course all Episcopal Schools to “inaugurate habits of goodness” in the coming school year must also enable students to develop practices to overcome the new delta virus. The Oregon Episcopal Schools and Episcopal Schools all over the nation have developed sophisticated practices to protect the young.
Also as the October 2021 new school year begins, Episcopal Schools, their students, and their staff are fortunate to have the Most Reverend Michael Curry presiding Bishop and Primate to offer a prayer for not only the well-being of our young, but also their families and the larger society as we race into the turbulent 2020s. He writes:
“September 1, 2021
For Episcopal Schools Celebration 2021-2022
My dear friends in Christ,
God’s peace and blessings to you as you join with NAES and the thousands of students, faculty, and administrators around the country to celebrate this year’s Episcopal Schools Celebration. As a former school chaplain, I remember well the energy and excitement building around campus at this time of year. Just as the new year — and this year in particular — grants us a fresh start and a renewed energy, Episcopal Schools Celebration provides us with an opportunity to pause and reflect on our priorities.
And what a theme we have this year! Our passage from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 58, proclaims something for which many of us have been yearning for nearly two years now: “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily.” Since March of 2020, many of us have indeed been praying for healing — for our individual bodies, but also for our communities, as collective members of the body of Christ.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about countless challenges, and the world has seen much suffering. Families have lost loved ones; people have lost their jobs, their homes, and their businesses; and the homeless, the lonely, those suffering from addiction, have fallen even further through the cracks.
The past eighteen months have also done much to expose the systemic inequities besetting our country. The pandemic has had a far more severe impact along racial and economic lines. The murder of George Floyd shone a fresh light on the grave injustices people of color experience at the hands of law enforcement. And a chronic lack of secure access to healthcare and housing among many of our communities has become starkly apparent.
In the passage in Isaiah immediately preceding our theme, the prophet provides some context that will prove useful to understanding not only the Biblical text itself but also, perhaps, the lessons we can learn from our time of pandemic. In drawing a distinction between true and false worship, Isaiah describes an ‘acceptable fast’ as the following:
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily.”
Submitted by Dr. Tom Sine, Author with Dwight J. Friesen of 2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change www.newchangemakers.com