Headmaster Blog for April 21, 2014

Greetings Summit Family!

Items for Action:

  • Please, get your tickets to the Summit Benefit/Auction! This is going to be a great night out, but the deadline is May 2. This event is a great way for all of us at Summit to be pontifex (see below), building bridges with each other and with the community. The key phrase from Tammy McCabe is, “INVITE, INVITE, INVITE!”
  • Teacher Appreciation is coming up (week of May 12-16). More details on how to express gratitude to our teachers coming soon.
  • Triona Anderson has asked for the following assistance in preparing the Summit Yearbook (trionaanderson@summitclassical.org):
    • Submission of photos for Yearbook.
    • Volunteer(s) are needed to help with Yearbook.
  • The next Headmaster Coffee with be Friday morning, April 25th at 9:00AM.
  • Our teachers need to create an inventory of all books for each classroom. If you are able to help list the books in a classroom, that would really help the teachers.
  • Please feel free to join those who gather together Friday mornings after assembly to pray for our school; staff, leadership, students, and parents.


Ideas for Reflection:  Why Redemptive Relationships Matter

I love bridges. With some notable exceptions, I find these structures fascinating. There is almost always some element of geometric elegance in a bridge that catches my eye, and I am in awe of the engineering challenges posed by their design and construction. When they are in good order, bridges serve us wonderfully; they get us from one side to the other. However, when bridges are not in good order, the outcome can be disastrous. I’m sure that most of you remember the ugly scenes when the I-35 bridge spanning the Mississippi River collapsed in Minneapolis in August, 2007. In that tragic event 145 people were injured and 13 people died.

Death has many faces. Perhaps the most common—but equally tragic—manifestation of death is what happens in relationships between people. Relationships are like bridges, and communication, whether good or bad, is the traffic that defines the integrity of the bridge. Sadly, our fallen world is littered with relationships as broken as the I-35 bridge with communication at a standstill. These relationships need redemption.

Perhaps the most fundamental way to describe our Christian faith is that it is about radical, redemptive relationships. Jesus underscored this when asked about the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” He said in Matthew 22:37 (cf. Deut. 6:5). If being in a loving and peaceful relationship with the God of the Cosmos isn’t radical, I don’t know what is. Jesus hastened to add that there is another commandment as great as the greatest: He continued, “Love you neighbor as yourself,” (Matthew 22:39; cf. Lev. 19:18).

What makes these [godly] relationships radical is that they are redemptive. You may have heard me use the phrase, redemptive relationship, and wondered what that means. At the very least, a redemptive relationship is one in which, either someone is drawn more closely to the Lord, or they are drawn more closely to others, for their having been in a relationship with me. A redemptive relationship is one that builds bridges and fosters reconciliation. One of the principle causes of the failure of the I-35 bridge was the corrosive effect of the salt they spread on the roads to melt the pervasive ice in a Minnesota winter. Interesting how James warns us about the corrosive effects of “salt” in our communication; “out of the same mouth come praise and cursing” (cf. Jas. 3:9- 11). The relational bridges I build won’t last under the strain of salty communication.

One of the titles of the Pope is Pontifex. This is interesting because the title was not originally a holy word to be used for an exclusively holy man. Rather, it is a word that comes from that legion of the ancient Roman army called the Corps of Engineers, certain members of which were called pontifex, which means, “bridge builders.” Unlike the I-35 bridge which only lasted 40 years, many of the bridges built by the Roman pontifex in Europe are still standing.

So, what does this have to do with you and me? It turns out that the title pontifex is appropriate for any follower of Jesus. The Apostle Peter said that we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” (cf. 1 Pet. 2:9). What does a priest do? A priest is an intercessor between one side and the other. A priest builds and strengthens a relationship, either between God and man, or man and man. A priest builds bridges. This begs the question: If our relationships are like bridges, what kind of a bridge do I want my relationships to be?

Why does this matter at Summit? A school like ours is all about relationships; faculty and staff, student, parents all in a dynamic partnership. When I speak with people interested in our school, I usually describe Summit, not so much as a place, but as a fabric of relationships; a group of families coming together to provide a distinctive—and redemptive—education for their children. As Jesus pointed out, our relationships, whether with God or with each other, are the greatest and most precious of all that we possess (a notion sadly lost on much of our consumerist culture). It is upon the integrity of these relationships that any organization stands or falls. The beautiful Pont du Gard (pictured above), is an ancient Roman bridge in the south of France. Apart from being a bridge, the Pont du Gard is also an aqueduct that carried life-giving fresh water—no salt water on this bridge—and it’s still standing 2,000 years later.

It may be that I’m writing these thoughts more for me than for you. In no way am I one who has mastered the art of building, let alone maintaining, redemptive relationships. It was just last week when I was reminded (again) that there are relationships in my life that need more careful and redemptive attention. I so want the relationships in my life to be like the Pont du Gard; life-giving, and long-lasting. I hope you do too.


God bless you all,

Dr. Timothy Orton


Summit Classical Christian School

Headmaster Blog for April 21, 2014