We are now in the middle of Thanksgiving week, perhaps the greatest of purely American holidays. And it is a holiday born of good intention in that it is noble to set aside a whole day for giving thanks to God for His provision for us. As Christians, we would do well to remember that we should be thankful every day, should live lives of thanksgiving before God, for every breath we take comes to us as a providence of our good and loving God.
Last week Trinitas Christian School held its “Love Thy Neighbor – Great Day of Giving” event. It was only our second year for this event, but I hope it is one that Trinitas will continue and even build upon long after I am gone. About 250 students, teachers, parents, and alumni descended on the Pensacola community to tackle service projects that ranged from stocking food pantries and soup kitchens, to performing maintenance tasks at foster care facilities, to cleaning up neglected yards for the elderly. It was a great day, and Trinitas folks returned to school at the end of the day happy and blessed.
When asked which is the “great commandment?” Jesus tells those gathered to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Then he says the second, which is like it, is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Astonishing the hearers, Jesus confirms that all the law and the prophets can be summed up in those two commandments (Matt 22:36-40).
We Americans are pretty independent people. In fact, independence is often considered a hallmark of Americanness, a particular American virtue if you will. For the next few minutes, however, please allow me to celebrate the antithesis to personal independence, that is, the virtue of community. I have been inspired recently to extol the virtues of community by the many parents and students at Trinitas who work behind the scenes to support each other and the school.
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
At Trinitas, we ask students to complete a minimum of 160 hours of service during their high school years. This amounts to forty hours each year—more is okay, less is not an option. In fact, to say that we “ask” students to complete 160 servant hours is an understatement; rather, it is a requirement of graduation. Completing 150 servant hours instead of the 160 disqualifies even the would-be valedictorian from graduating—the same as failing Traditio or failing to write and defend a senior thesis would keep one from graduating.