Morning Meeting: A Reflection by Dean of Academics Robyn Burlew

Morning Meeting: A Reflection by Dean of Academics Robyn Burlew

You are a great God and a great King and a great King above all gods. In your hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

May the mind of Christ my Savior live in me from day to day, by his love and pow’r controlling all I do and say.

Make us witnesses to Your goodness—full of love, full of strength, and full of faith—for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world.

These scriptures, lyrics and prayers are a sample of the way our Upper School students and faculty begin each school day in our Morning Meeting. Gathering in the Virginia Auditorium at eight o’clock, we corporately read, sing and pray as a reminder that our life as a learning community is more than academics, athletics, the arts and our friends. We learn and run, chat and draw under the lordship of Christ and for his glory, and we all need regular reminders that this is true.

Our Upper School students are divided into four Houses, each named to remember heroes of the faith: Bonhoeffer, Beckett, D’Albret and Kuyper. These Houses provide a place to build relationships beyond each student’s grade level.  When students arrive each morning, they sit with their Houses for announcements — what clubs are meeting at lunch, which college representatives are coming soon, how the latest athletic competitions ended, and which House is the current leader in the uniform competition. Birthdays of students and faculty are announced each day. We celebrate the activities of our student body and prepare for upcoming events.

Following announcements, we open the Morning Meeting booklet, a guide selected by our faculty, comprised of fifteen days of readings and hymns, giving us a three week rotation during ordinary time. Several days focus on this year’s theme of stewardship and include reading the parable of the talents. “Take My Life and Let It Be” is one of the chosen hymns that gives voice to our theme of stewardship.

Over the course of a year, by daily reciting Scripture and singing some of the greatest hymns of our faith, including “All Creatures of Our God and King”, “Come Thou Fount”, “It is Well with My Soul” and “Jesus Shall Reign”, we pray these truths will be etched on our hearts and minds.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we will use a set of Advent scriptures, carols and prayers; we are also working to build a Lent and Easter booklet. Older students and faculty members take turns leading the gathering. At the conclusion of each Morning Meeting, we exit the room in silence, giving everyone a few extra moments to contemplate and to practice self-control over our tongues as we head to class.

Throughout the national classical and Christian education movement, schools are exploring the ways in which our daily routines and practices shape culture and affections. Much conversation has been sparked by the writings of James K.A. Smith, who reminds us that community practices are powerful in forming students’ loves and thinking—much more powerful than cerebral information on what to love and what to think. We are becoming more mindful, as a community, that the rhythms of our school day and the traditions we establish are an important part of the curriculum at Veritas; they teach students what is truly important and what a humane education should be. While gardens and factories are both productive places, we want our students’ fruitfulness to be nurtured and cultivated rather than manufactured in assembly line fashion.

By setting aside the first minutes of each day to worship, pray, and highlight our life as a community, we are reminded that all else we do flows out from there. Christ is not the veneer on our classroom work; He is the beginning and the end of all we do at Veritas. We give our first minutes not to math or humanities, but to corporately declaring why we are here on this campus together.

We invite any Veritas parent to join us for Morning Meeting, and together, to continue to pray that God will conform us more and more to the likeness of his Son.

As you have taught us to love one another, let us abound in love more and more. As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men. As much as it is possible for us, let us live in peace with everyone. Help us to follow after the things that make for peace, and that edify one another. Amen. — Matthew Henry