The Christmas season is a time to celebrate the Incarnation, God taking on flesh in Jesus.
It is our annual reminder of the Christ-child coming down in the most vulnerable form possible to save downtrodden humanity from the power and condemnation of sin. Advent transforms everything.
Including how we view education.
To understand why, we must consider the reality of His Coming. Divinity is embodied in human flesh and now before us is the reason for existence. Advent inspires us to take new heart, Walter A. Elwell writes in Christianity Today, “and live while life’s short candle burns as those who once had God among us, sharing our life with us.” We are now empowered to listen, explore, and understand, knowing that all truth finds its culmination in Him. The Incarnation sets ablaze a new vision.
Contemporary discussions on education often wrestle with the question of telos. What is the purpose behind learning? The answer inevitably affects pedagogy and educational outcomes. After all, if the sole reason we learn is to find a job, participate in society, or become a better person, learning will be confined only to those things. As a result, our direction will be horizontal.
But for the Christian, learning happens in a world filled with the promise of eternity. Advent reminds us to behold.
“Behold,” writes the prophet Isaiah, “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”
Immanuel means God with us. Jesus descended into our temporal horizon. As Elwell notes, “He ate as we eat, he walked as we walk, he lived as we live, he wept as we weep, and he died as we must die.” Jesus learned too. He grew in stature, wisdom, and maturity. With divine purpose, He participated in our earthly exercises. Learning and later teaching, were both things Jesus lived in anticipation of a greater reality – the Resurrection.
Part of what it means to behold is to understand everything in light of what Advent has come to change. Jesus transforms our hearts, and His Kingdom has come to transform the world.
Learning is thus an inherently hopeful venture. It is animated with purpose. A purpose that prompts love for the people around us, just as God loved sinful humanity through the Incarnation.
As we learn in a world anxious to understand the truth, we can be secure knowing that the truth came down in the form of a baby. He is why we learn.