Welcome back Warriors! It’s good to see so many new and returning faces. I hope you had a wonderful summer and are rested up for all the great things in store for this new year. I am super excited to have students back on campus. It’s been WAY too quiet on campus over the summer. Honestly it felt kind of weird and sad, like being in a church on Tuesday.
Remember that game kids play with their hands where they clasp them together to form a church and a steeple and then quote: “Here is the church, and here is the steeple, open the doors and where are the people?”
Isn’t that the saddest game ever? The church is empty! That’s about how I felt working in an empty school campus all summer long. Schools are built for students and if feels wrong when they aren’t there.
Today marks our 7th Annual Convocation Ceremony (Can you believe we’ve done this every year for the past seven years)! This is perhaps my favorite time of the school year. You know the old saying (I think it’s by Aristotle!): “Well begun is half done!” Well, after today we might as well break for Christmas! But seriously, what exactly have we done today? What is a “Convocation” anyway? Why do we have one?”
What is Convocation?
The word “Convocation” comes from a conjunction of two Latin words: the prefix “con” and the verb “Voco, Vocare.” Anyone here want to take a guess what those Latin words mean? In its most general sense, a convocation is a calling together of people for a formal academic assembly. This can happen anytime of course, but usually it occurs at the beginning of the school year.
You might be thinking: “Gee that sounds kind of boring and uninteresting.” And your right! It doesn’t seem to get at the essence of what a convocation event actually represents (especially at Annapolis!).
This reminds me a little bit of the animated television special “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Throughout the episode, the Peanuts characters complain about the over-commercialization of Christmas and at one point Charlie Brown blurts out: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
To which Linus replies by reciting (from memory!) the “Good News of Great Joy for all People” …. The story of the birth of Jesus found in Luke 2. (I wonder if Linus had a Classical Christian education?).
So, we know what a Convocation IS … but we don’t yet know WHY it is.
Why is Convocation?
So here I am like Charlie Brown blurting out: “DOESN”T ANYONE KNOW WHAT CONVOCATION IS ALL ABOUT!”
And here I am like Linus, quoting Luke 2: “Convocation is a way for us to come together and celebrate and announce the ‘glad tidings of great joy which shall be for all people” which the new school year brings.
What? You might be thinking: “What glad tidings? What joy?” Well, in one sense, the glad tidings of great joy surround the GREAT BIG WELCOME we give to our newest students: the Kindergarten class of 2028! This is the beginning of their academic journey and we want to make sure they get off to a great start. It also involves a capstone celebration of our seniors who will be completing their academic journey with us this year and moving onward and upward to higher things.
So, in one sense, convocation is about our recognition of the scholarly “circle of life” (I’ll refrain from singing the song from the Lion King but you can probably hear it in your head right now). Kindergarteners come in, seniors go out. We celebrate these entrances and exits because students are the lifeblood of our academic community. The incoming Kindergartners come in with great potential to learn and to grow, to expand their horizons through a set of experiences unique to Annapolis. In turn, the graduating seniors go out with great potential to demonstrate the wisdom and skill they have developed to impact the world in positive ways.
As members of the Annapolis Academic community, we stand in awe of this process and that is one of the central meanings of Convocation, Charlie Brown! But this isn’t all. There is yet a larger and more important meaning for us and it hearkens back to Luke 2.
For us, the birth of Jesus changes everything, Even our coming to and going from school. Jesus is Lord, and now everything we do in life has new meaning and new purpose. We are here in this school, in this sanctuary hall, each and every one of us for one reason above all others: To Glorify God. That is the true meaning of our convocation. That is the true meaning of going to school. That is the true meaning of our lives.