This time of the school year we are all have a range of feelings: anticipation for the holidays, celebration of a year of learning and reflection on the experiences of this year. Thankfully this year is ending very differently compared to this time last year.
The most notable difference was the opportunity to celebrate as a community last Friday with the Carey Christmas Carols evening. If you were there you would know what a delightful time it was. We had over 1500 people in attendance, with great music, atmosphere, food and fun to celebrate Christ’s birth as a community.
Like all our community events, it is only possible due to the passion of those who led the planning and running of the evening and the hard work of those who support them. I would like to particularly thank Jo Barden and Ashley Gow who saw the opportunity to celebrate as a community and worked consistently through the year to realise the concept. While many school staff worked to make the night possible, a distinctive of this event was the high level of parent and community support. It was so encouraging to have so many people volunteering to lend a helping hand. This community effort made the evening possible – so thank you!
I would like to share one personal experience that made the evening particularly memorable. With so many people attending, our food suppliers were kept very busy. I was keen to enjoy some pizza with those I was sitting and joined the line to place an order. After standing in line for what felt like a ‘lifetime’, I finally got close to the front of the line, to be told that the customers immediately in front of me would be the last orders. The pizzas had run out. This news left me with feelings of surprise and disappointment, not to mention hunger!
As I turned to figure out what to do for dinner, one family who were waiting for their order to be cooked offered to share their meal with me. This generous offer was my highlight of the night. This moment has played in my mind repeatedly over this week and keeps bringing me back to the birth of Jesus Christ. To be specific, by sending Jesus, God extends generosity to us.
If asked to define generosity, I would say that it involves a gift of some kind, as an expression of care or love, it benefits others, and comes at a cost.
Generosity is an act, freely undertaken without compulsion or force. A generous gift exceeds the expectations of the recipient or comes as a complete surprise. It is motivated by attitudes of love and care, having a concern for others which results in beneficial action. Generosity seeks to meet a need that exists, so that the recipient is better off as a result. Its focus should be on benefiting the recipient, not making the giver look good. Finally, true generosity costs the giver. This may be in terms of time, energy, goods or money.
Often it is easier to be generous when we have these resources to spare, however, genuine generosity comes at a real cost to the giver.
I’m sure you can think of examples where you have experienced the generosity of others and there are certainly lots of recent examples of generosity in communities where people have been impacted by fires and floods. I’ve also been privileged to witness the generosity of our community members who have supported other families who are experiencing tragedy or crisis.
The carols we sang or listened to last Friday celebrate God’s radical generosity to us. This is what Christmas is about and why we give presents to one another. The gifts we give are an echo of the greatest gift that has ever been given.
Christmas is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth. He came to earth freely because God saw our need to be in a restored relationship with him. God saw our great need, however the solution to this need came at immense cost to him. God’s gift of a restored relationship was accomplished through Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is God’s radical generosity, his actions are motivated by his great love for us. John 3:16-17 encapsulates this so well:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
I give thanks for this year and the wonderful work of the staff who serve in this school. I also want to express what a privilege it is to be part of this school community, being in a position to witness the generosity and support shown by so many. I pray that this holiday season will provide refreshment and many opportunities for fun as we celebrate Christmas. We look forward to the safe return of current students and welcome families who are joining us, as we await what 2023 has in store for William Carey Christian School.
Mr Keith McMullen