Hand-Me-Down Browns

When I was small, my mother used to buy me and my older brother the same back-to-school clothes: size small in blue for me and size medium in brown for my brother.  Blue clothing became part of identity.  Until I reached the fourth grade.  Suddenly, hand-me-down browns began to appear in my dresser.  It was a difficult year.

A pastor friend often compares the process of sanctification to receiving hand-me-down clothes.  Jesus, as older brother, presents us with the clothing of righteousness.  It’s much too large for us to begin with, and we need to roll the pant bottoms way up and make a bunch of new notches in the belt.  But he encourages us to grow into them as he sanctifies us into a life of holiness.  “Be perfect,” Jesus says, “just like my Heavenly Father is perfect.”

To those of us who embrace grace as a defining characteristic of what it means to be God’s people, we can have a tin ear to this call to perfection.  But being graceful is an exercise in elegance, not sloth or sloppiness.  Jesus calls us to grace-filled excellence.  Not as a command so much as a gift and an invitation.  He offers us his own excellence and perfection: “Here you go!  Merry Christmas!  It’s yours!  Try it on and see how it fits.”

As a school community, we need to respond to this invitation as well.  And that means some hand-me-down browns need to start appearing in our school wardrobe.  There are parts of Jesus’ perfection that perhaps haven’t always been in our life as an organization before, or new ways of being perfect that God is calling us to grow into.  I’m still pretty new to the school community, but I guess that a few of these might be:  a deep engagement with the neighbourhoods and city in which God has placed us, a dedication of our best resources to the “least of those” that God has placed in our care, inviting individuals whom God has specially gifted in the arts, and finance, and technology to participate in the teaching spaces of our school.  Can you add to this list?  We’d love to hear from you.  We need to know what other hand-me-down browns Jesus is calling us to get out of the dresser and onto this part of his living, breathing body we call HDCH.  There can be pain and loss and in giving up blue clothes that we feel are deeply a part of our identity.  My wife delights in telling the story of how long I held on to a sweater that a girl in high school once told me I looked good in.  Thankfully, Jesus sometimes also invites us into his perfection by taking the very best things about us, patching the holes in the elbows, letting out the length in the pant legs, and handing-us-back a few of our favourite blue clothes to keep wearing for a very long time.  At HDCH, I would say some of these new-again-blues would be:  an incredibly dedicated and loving staff, an abiding commitment to being shaped by God’s Word as an organization, a concerned and incredibly generous support community.

As a board of directors, we have been mandated with carrying out the schools’ mission and vision.  That can sometimes look like handing down clothes that we ask others (students, faculty, membership) to wear.  Sometimes we decide to get rid of clothes that we believe don’t fit the school anymore or are just too worn out to wear.  We’re convicted that God wants us to do that, but we’re also certain that we haven’t always done that well.  God always take the time to explain to us exactly which way is to the left and which way is to the right and that is also a perfection that he calls us to live into.  And there are times when we lay out clothes that are just way too big for the school to fit right now.   As a board, we definitely still have some blue clothes that need to be purged from our closet.  But what we always want most of all is for this school to be clothed in its very own, Jesus’ brand, hand-me-down-browns and hand-me-back blues.  We want to be and look just perfect, as our Jesus is perfect.



Allan Buist
HDCH Board Chair