Today’s middle and upper school daily worship services included two special features: the annual building of the school’s nativity crèche and a homily by Bishop James Stanton, ESD grandfather and retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. Stanton highlighted that December 6 is known throughout the world as St. Nicholas Day or the Feast of St. Nicholas.
Keeping with ESD’s tradition, middle school faculty and staff and upper school student Vestry members “built” the crèche manger scene, carefully carrying pieces to the altar while others read passages from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Twenty-five faculty and staff volunteers participated in the middle school service; 26 student Vestry members played a part in the upper school service. “In this holy season, we pause to hear the story of a baby’s birth long ago,” said The Rev. Tim Kennedy, Middle and Upper School Chaplain. “We hope that by hearing how Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels tell the story and by seeing each piece, you will understand that the Christmas story is, at its core, a simple story of a family welcoming their first child and a reminder of God’s love for all.”
Bishop Stanton, who also spoke in the lower school daily worship service, shared the history of St. Nicholas, the fourth century bishop of Myra (modern day Turkey) who dedicated his life in service to those suffering. Stanton offered long-standing St. Nicholas traditions beyond Santa Claus: The candy cane resembling a bishop’s crosier, gold chocolate coins honoring St. Nicholas’ custom of leaving gifts for poor children, and the Christmas cookie representing St. Nicholas’s efforts to feed the hungry. Even the bishop’s pointed mitre may have been the origin of Santa’s hat! Bishop Stanton also noted that the choices St. Nicholas made were not always easy, but were for the betterment of those around him.
During their service, upper school French students also performed for their peers. They sang "Il Est Ne, Le Divin Enfant" (He Is Born, the Divine Child) while being accompanied on the violin.
“We hope our community feels the joy of this holy season each time they give and receive a gift,” said Father Nate Bostian, Stemmons Family Senior Chaplain. “It is because of God’s generous gift of love that Christians find their salvation and are called to be givers of God’s love to all.”
In addition to being a long-time ESD grandparent and a trusted friend to Father Swann, Bishop Stanton also ordained both Father Bostian and Chaplain Kennedy to the priesthood. We very much appreciate him joining us today!