Keep Christ in Christmas: Update from OLA

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone in of our learning community!  I hope everybody will have a safe and restful Christmas 021break.  I would like to thank you for all the Christmas and New Year’s wishes we received this season.  Also, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who volunteered to support the many activities throughout the month of December: our weekly Advent celebrations, Turkey Dinner, Santa’s Workshop, Christmas Concert, and the various social justice projects including Mission Mexico and Sock Drive.

christ in christmas2Earlier this month I challenged everyone to Keep Christ in Christmas: Feed, Clothe, Forgive, Welcome, Care & Love.  During this advent season I have truly seen these acts of mercy.  Our community is building ‘A Horizon of Hope’.  Although not an inclusive list, here are some ways OLA kept Christ in Christmas:


  • Feed – some of our students do not have a daily lunch, yet they do not go hungry.  I’ve witnessed students giving up their food for others.  Also, OLA provides students with snacks and lunches every day.  As a community, we all enjoyed our annual Turkey Dinner;
  • Clothe – our Sock Drive was the most successful ever.  This year the campaign brought in 937 pairs of socks, an increase of over 200 from last year.  Before we packed up the socks for charity, we put some aside for our own families in need;
  • Forgive – More often than before, I am witnessing students forgiving other students.  This is powerful.  Often we are quick to say sorry, but we do not forgive.  I am seeing forgiveness;
  • Welcome – Although we do not have a lot of new students at this time of year, I do see students being welcoming.  Often, students welcome students into new peer groups.  As a staff we have had some staff changes and I see how the existing staff welcomes new staff in a very caring manner;
  • Care – When I think of caring I think of community.  This fall OLA as a community has had some ups and downs, especially we respect to the health of some students and staff (or their extended families).  Throughout it all I have been impressed with our caring community;
  • Love – As the Beatles wrote, “All you need is love.”  I see members of a community that not only cares for one another, but loves one another.  Earlier this year, I wrote Don’t Be Nice.  Christ calls us to love each other, not to be nice to each other.  I see acts of love more and more.

OLA is not a perfect community, but this Advent I’ve witnessed ‘A Horizon of Hope’ building built at OLA.  As we bring 2015 to a close and welcome 2016 may we count our many blessings and pray that we continue to build ‘A Horizon of Hope’ throughout 2016.

Blessings to everyone in our learning community as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Greg Kostiuk

christ in christmas

Keep Christ in Christmas: Feed, Clothe, Forgive, Welcome, Care & Love

This joyous season of Advent is certainly one to look forward to.  Our staff and students will be working hard with preparations for our Christmas Concert.  We also have classes preparing for some Advent celebrations.  Please try to attend one of our Advent celebrations if you have the chance.  They are a good reminder of the purpose of the season.

AdventSpeaking of the purpose of the season; I have always tried to uphold the idea of ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’.  I do this by focusing on the Advent themes of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.  This year, our faith plan of ‘A Horizon of Hope’ is challenging me to deliver hope.  Recently, I saw this pic on social media:


This quote truly encapsulates the message of ‘Keep Christ in Christmas.’  This Advent and Christmas season I am challenging all the members of our learning community, including myself, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.

Have a blessed Advent and Christmas season,

Greg Kostiuk

ukr christmas2PS – If you see me after Christmas time give me a Ukrainian Christmas greeting.  In the Ukrainian culture during the Christmas season you say, “Khristos rodyvsya!” (Christ is born!) This is answered by “Slavite Yoho!” (Let Us Glorify Him!).