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Godspeed and Resurrection

April 10, 2024
By Roy Griffith, Headmaster

While all that borrows life from thee is ever in thy care, and everywhere that Man can be, thou God art present there.
I Sing the Almighty Power of God—Isaac Watts

In the opening week of school, we spread the word that the unifying theme for the year at Rockbridge Academy would be the simple salutation, Godspeed. In an essay about Godspeed written in early September, I challenged our community to ask God how to abide in Christ in the individual moments of life, to take each step under His lordship, and so to literally do life at God’s speed. Because He has seemingly hardwired a certain pace for most activities of daily life, we should find ourselves slowing down (or speeding up) to intentionally keep in step with His lordship over each task of our day.

From the setting aside of schole weeks throughout the year in upper school with extended time for meditation and discovery, to the weekly focus on theological truth in grammar school during Monday Morning Catechism, or even in our personal goals, like the challenge I made to myself to slow down enough to learn every child’s name by the end of October, Godspeed has been about a joyful and intentional stewardship of the minutes and hours granted us. As a result, I see the community of Rockbridge Academy loving God more worshipfully and loving neighbor more intentionally.

From the Moment to the Momentary
But alas, no sooner had the September leaves started changing, than the Lord began impressing on us an even more profound lesson of Godspeed. Having been around this community for many years, I can attest that there has never been a season so unspeakably tender, so poignantly Providential, and yet so exceedingly painful for Rockbridge families as the valley of tears we have experienced in recent months. Rockbridge Academy has had more dads inexplicably pass away than one can count on one hand. This has been as grueling as it has been mindboggling. Yet one thing we do know is that if Godspeed is about the reality of abiding in Christ’s lordship each moment, nothing reveals a sense of that lordship like the tragedies that show us how momentary this life can be.

In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis famously stated that, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Humbly, I would posit that our Father has been shouting love messages to us through this succession of recent calamities. Contrary to adding insult to injury, these multiplied losses within the Rockbridge community have somehow served to amplify the LORD’s love for His people …to a cosmic proportion. On one hand, such a deluge of events causes us to fall on our faces and cry out in holy disbelief, “The Lord Almighty! He reigns!” Yet at the same time, witnessing over and over the redemptive stories brought out at each funeral, seeing the fruit of the Gospel being celebrated, and repeatedly witnessing the people of God close ranks around hurting families in service, mourning, and generosity only confirms beyond doubt that we are held firmly by a loving Father.

Not One Drop Wasted 
Years ago, when my own dad, a very healthy sixty-year-old, died unexpectedly in his sleep, God met me through the book of Ecclesiastes and did battle with my throbbing disbelief. The words on the page did not remove the aching pain that ebbed and flowed in my heart, but relentless truth from God’s word galvanized an internal assurance that Christ has forever removed the sting of death. Regardless of whether we want to acknowledge it or not… Love wins. Joy conquers. Jesus reigns. In the same way, raw, unadulterated, industrial grade assurance is being poured out on our community through these tragedies, assurance that Jesus Christ rules over all. May the year of 2023-24 serve as a lasting witness to our children.

As we celebrated Easter, both mourning and celebrating over recent events, we are forced to the bold precipice of the resurrection and have to admit that it could not be with caprice or coldness that the Father offered up his own Son to death on a cross. Likewise, in the months ahead, we can be confident that our loving Father will not waste one drop of this year’s agony in His plans to bring the abiding good of His redemption to this community. 

Godspeed. He is Risen!

Posted in Worship

Faith in Action: Summer Missions with Mr. Swanson

March 20, 2024
By Matt Swanson, Upper School Theology Teacher

My passion and calling in life is to make disciples of Jesus, and part of how God has led me to do that is through leading mission trips with Royal Servants Mission Trips during my summers away from teaching Bible at Rockbridge Academy. Royal Servants is a division of Reign Ministries, an organization that exists to build and advance the kingdom of God by developing youth and youth leaders who have great commandment hearts and live great commission lifestyles. 

My first summer with Royal Servants was as a 17-year-old student. I loved the community of a Royal Servants team. It was a powerful experience to be a part of a team of my peers who were all focused on a unified mission for Christ as they worshiped and sought the LORD together in the Scriptures. Sharing the gospel was a really stretching experience for me, especially cross culturally. I loved every minute. I returned for a second and third year as a student and received leadership training and the opportunity to study the Bible in Israel. After I started teaching in 2008, it was a no-brainer to return to serve with Royal Servants during the summers and help provide that same discipleship experience for the next generation of students. 

We believe that this sort of training and mission experience can be an integral part of growing young people into what David Kinnaman calls “resilient Christians” who are able to sustain and live out their Christian faith in a post-Christian culture.

A Royal Servants Trip is different from many other mission trips. They are between 5 and 8 weeks long and start with intensive training at our camp prior to going overseas. As a part of the trip, there is an intensive discipleship training program that each middle school, high school, and college student goes through. We study and memorize the Scriptures together, talk about the Word in small groups, worship, and learn how to effectively share the Gospel in a cross-cultural setting. Our trips are not meant to be an end in and of themselves but are field experience and a part of the training to go, live out, and share the Gospel at home. It is a summer of service for a lifetime of ministry. 

We send teams all over the world each summer. Last summer (2023), my wife Stacey and I, along with our three children, led a trip to Costa Rica where Royal Servants has been partnering with a church for 20 years. Our ministry is focused on connecting our students with other teenagers and giving them the opportunity to share the Gospel. Most days we traveled to a nearby town and set up at the local soccer field. We would play pickup games of soccer along with other games and activities. We also used dance, drama, and puppets (for little kids) to build a crowd and share the Gospel. Members of the youth group from our church partner joined us as interpreters since most of our students did not speak much Spanish. On our last day of ministry, we had been invited to the local elementary school to serve in the classrooms during the morning. During recess, we played and shared the Gospel. After lunch, Pastor Alfonso, the Costa Rican pastor with whom we partner, had the chance to do a special assembly with 5th and 6th grade students. During that time, 15 students prayed to put their faith in Christ. It was an awesome way to end our ministry in Costa Rica. 

We continue to find that spending five weeks away from the routines and distractions at home and moving into an intentional community focused on seeking and serving Jesus continues to be a profound and life changing experience for many students.

We continue to find that spending five weeks away from the routines and distractions at home and moving into an intentional community focused on seeking and serving Jesus continues to be a profound and life-changing experience for many students. We believe that this sort of training and mission experience can be an integral part of growing young people into what David Kinnaman calls “resilient Christians” who are able to sustain and live out their Christian faith in a post-Christian culture. We had one Rockbridge student join us last summer. We plan to continue to serve in Costa Rica this summer (2024) and, LORD willing, for years to come. We would love to have more Rockbridge students join us in serving Christ around the world this summer. Would you or your student be willing to join us in a life-changing summer of seeking Jesus together?

Please contact me at mswanson@rockbridge.org for more information. 

CLICK HERE to read the final update from our summer 2023 trip. 

 

Matt Swanson, a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has served as an upper school Bible teacher for 16 years and has been leading Royal Servants Missions Trips for 14 years. He joined Rockbridge Academy in 2022. Matt and his wife, Stacey, have three children.

Posted in Upper School

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