Dear all,

It has been a joy and a privilege to serve as Chaplain at Redeemer’s Parish Day School for the past four years. During  my first year, we met for chapel every week on the lawn between the garden and the third grade learning cottage, outside like the rest of PDS classes and activities to try and keep one another safe as we navigated the pandemic. Even in that new and different space, we held on to some of the parts of chapel the students identified as important: lighting candles, receiving and blessing chapel food, and telling stories about God. “Give a big wave around chapel,” I said every week at the beginning of the service, “because it is so good to be here together.” Any time where we could all be together was a gift.

Now it is the spring of 2024 and the class of Pre-First graders I met in 2020 are graduating from third grade. Chapel has moved inside and we now have two services, one for our 2/3s-Pre First graders on Wednesdays and one for elementary schoolers on Mondays. During Wednesday chapel we still light candles (much more easily without wind); we still receive and bless chapel food; and we still tell stories about God together. During Monday chapel, students serve as acolytes, we have an order of service, and each class takes turns writing and sharing prayers for the week. On Mondays the older children pass the Peace to one another, but on Wednesdays I open our service with the same phrase:  “Give a big wave around chapel, because it is so good to be here together.” It is still so true.

Gathering each week of the school year with PDS students has been a gift. Learning from their questions about God and faith, their wonder, and the empathy and feeling they share with characters in our sacred stories has made me a better priest, a more curious and thoughtful person. Whatever I go on to do, our prayer and laughter and curiosity and praise will always be a foundational part of my ministry, and I could not be more grateful. And it’s not just me. Our entire community is enlivened and enriched by our relationship with PDS, their staff, students, and families: new voices in the building, new relationships beyond our campus. We have been and continue to be blessed (by God and by the hard work of many people over the last 70+ years) to have a school as a part of our parish community. It is so good to be here together.

PDS is on my mind this week because Wednesday was our last chapel of the year. On Monday, our very first class of third graders will graduate, with Pomp and Circumstance on the organ and an entire community changed by the experience. Please keep these 11 members of our Redeemer community in your prayers on Monday, over the summer, and in the fall: Miranda, Joaquin, Ben, Maddie, Sam, Blythe, Leland, Nathan, Emily, Will, and Jack. As they set out to new schools and new adventures, may they continue to grow and bless their new communities the way they have blessed ours. May they remember that they will always have a home here at Redeemer. And may they carry our love with them, surrounded by the love of God, the friendship of Jesus, and the wisdom of the Spirit everywhere they go.