Tuesday, 14 December 2021
Robyn teaches at Bingham Academy in Ethiopia, serving missionary families and children from the wider expatriate community. She is the Assistant Elementary Principal and Acting Librarian, and also teaches English. She loves bringing a Biblical Worldview to students as they engage with literature, language and research.
Teaching at Bingham Academy has thrown some delightful celebrations my way. I have embraced both American and Canadian Thanksgiving, Guy Fawkes Day, Independence Day of Finland, and the odd Fourth of July barbeque, along with the many Ethiopian holidays. The Ethiopian calendar not only makes me feel seven years younger, I now celebrate both Christmas and New Year twice every twelve months, and when you love Christmas as much as Wombat from Mem Fox’s Wombat Divine
, this is a genuine delight.
While my first “end of academic year” in June was a crushing blow because the school year ended without Christmas, my love for this particular holiday has come to embrace some new traditions: things that were traditions to others but I’d never done before, or things begun recently that I hope will endure. The Advent of our Lord is a time for family celebrations, but what do you do when your family is on the other side of the world?
At school we celebrate with concerts, and craft, and water fights, and food and movies in class, the same as we do at home: it’s just in the middle of the school year. The first time we did our Christmas Carols concert out on Ricker Field in the evening, a huge proportion of our school community were having their first experience of what schools, churches and local governments organise in Australia every year – Carols in the Park! – complete with camel and donkey rides and a few sheep and goats to pet. I felt like I’d come home. A giant tree is unearthed from the basement and decorated by campus residents beside the fireplace in the Teachers’ Lounge; our home-school community have an extra Carols event in there.
Back home, we would often have some “new friend” my dad had found at church that morning, whose Christmas plans had fallen through or whose family was elsewhere, join us for Christmas lunch, and we’d make them part of the family for the day. At Bingham, I have become that person. I love being invited to Christmas Eve brunch with one family, or rocking up to a Christmas Day potluck with my colleagues. The single girls often do a “scarf swap” with games and treats, and I love a Christmas movie too. Covid makes a difference, but we make it work.
However, my favourite new tradition is actually celebrating the season of Advent. It’s probably odd for someone who grew up in an Anglican church, but until I joined the St Matt’s family in Addis Ababa, I don’t remember ever lighting an Advent candle, or participating in services that use the liturgical calendar to highlight the promises of God and their fulfillment in Christ in a traditional way. My various church families over the years always emphasised similar Biblical events and connections, but it all seemed to be part of Christmas, and Advent slipped under my radar. So, as you wait in anticipation of Christmas this year, I wish you all joy in the fulfilment of what was awaited for so long.
Many you have heard of the fighting in the North of Ethiopia far from where Bingham is located. Please join with us in praying for cessation of hostilities and lasting peace as we remember the Advent of the Prince of Peace.
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