By FRANKLIN NORTON
The gifts are unwrapped and the Christmas lights have faded, the end of a turbulent year marked by the silent drop of the Times Square crystal-studded ball—this time with no crowded cheering or packed-in parties. The month of January always arrives with a new wave of hope and expectation, often coupled with a skeptical cynicism. But this year our cynicism resounds with a heavy, collective groan (Rom. 8:22) sighing:“What comes next?”
It’s a new year yet our world is still struggling through a pandemic, political turmoil, and personal grief. Logically we know that nothing but the time changed at 12:01 a.m. on January 1.
Our world remains stained by isolation, fear, anxiety, and restlessness. Cynicism feels more like instinct than a choice.
Covenant has been blessed to be one of few schools to continue full-time, in-person education, but we all know it’s still not the same. Although we enter 2021 with the good news of a vaccine, seemingly a light at the end of the tunnel, our rational minds know we still have a long way to go, and our cynical minds remind us that our current challenges won’t disappear overnight.
As Christians, however, we have a hope that tramples cynicism. We know that there really is a Light at the end of the tunnel, and this Light is Christ, and the promised Kingdom to come. Scripture warns us that on earth we will have trouble; it should be no surprise, then, when these trials arise. We ought to acknowledge ourselves, says St. Cyprian of Carthage in his Treatise on the plague that bears his name, as ones who, “already hope for divine things, so that we may have no trembling at the storms and whirlwinds of the world, and no disturbance” (Cyprian, 7.2).
What makes Covenant School special is our commitment to telling, and living in light of, this redemptive story. We teach our students to think both logically and hopefully, looking to the past as reminder that we, just like all those before us, live in the “not yet.” We continually remind and encourage our students through the eternally relevant stories of scripture, the prescient writings of church fathers and great minds across history, and the enduring truth that we are all tied together as characters in this story of all stories written by the Creator of the universe, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2).
This is the distinctive quality of classical Christian Education. In fact, a recent study completed by the Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS) and the University of Notre Dame found that graduates of classical Christian schools are much more likely than those from other education backgrounds to believe that their lives have purpose, and that even suffering is a part of God’s plan, leading classical Christian school alumni to be more hopeful and thankful in their lives (Cardus Education Survey, 2020).
All of us at Covenant are a people seeking to live a better story. That’s how we got here. We read great books and memorize scripture and study the stars because we know that these things show us the way home, pointing us in the direction of the Light at the end of the tunnel.
In light of this, our prayer is that those of us at Covenant would resolve to buck the trends of the skeptics and cynics, much like the heroes and the saints who have come before us, that we would be marked by our commitment to enduring hope and eternal truth regardless of present circumstance.
St. Cyprian wrote these words as an encouragement to the believers during an especially dark time in human history, and even still this reminder rings true:
“The kingdom of God, beloved brethren, is beginning to be at hand; the reward of life, and the rejoicing of eternal salvation, and the perpetual gladness and possession lately lost of paradise, are now coming, with the passing away of the world; already heavenly things are taking the place of earthly, and great things of small, and eternal things of things that fade away.” (Cyprian, Treatise VII).