Joy to the World

A reflection on Bishop’s annual Christmas Chapel

Crystal Li, Editor-in-Chief

The morning was gray and cold on December 3 as students and faculty members gathered for the Christmas Chapel during the first enrichment block. As you look across the Quad, lines of white chairs were filled by advisories in front of a leveled podium for speakers. However, despite the seemingly below-zero temperature, opening hymns and musical offerings soon warmed everyone’s hearts. 

Welcomed by Head of School Mr. Ron Kim, students stood for the opening hymn. The Christmas Bidding Prayer followed as Reverend Nicole Simopoulos-Pigato alluded to the biblical story surrounding Bethlehem, saying, “On that first Christmas, God’s liberation became incarnate in Jesus… he came into the world to show us how to pursue justice and peace through the way of love.” Echoing this sentiment of gratitude and celebration, the Bishop’s Singers performed “Pengyou, Ting!” (“Listen, Friend!”), a traditional Chinese Melody. They had also performed two other songs, “Candlelight Carol” and “The Work of Christmas,” throughout the service. For the singers, this chapel allowed them to express their appreciation for the holiday and demonstrate their musical abilities. “I think [this chapel] was especially meaningful for us because we got to perform a lot of songs we had worked on,” explained singer Maya Buckley (‘22). “Even though it was inherently religious, everyone could extract a lesson from the speakers and readings—hopefully, there was something in the chapel for everyone even if they don’t celebrate Christmas.” 

Following the biblical readings of Colossians and Luke, the Right Reverend Susan Brown Snook delivered a beautiful speech about her appreciation for her father. Subsequently, Sophia Bartolo (‘22), Lily Gover (‘24), and Bella Gallus (‘24) led the prayers of the people. “In our prayers today, we will pray for light, and for all those who suffer and mourn,” said Sophia. Lily and Bella continued, “We remember especially in our prayers today the victims of the shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan. We hold in our hearts the Oxford community and all those affected by this and other shootings in our nation.” After the honoring of each victim, a candle was lit on the table placed next to the podium. In stark contrast with the cloudy mesmerism of the sky, the flames danced with hope as the crowd paid their respects quietly. “The most meaningful thing to me during the chapel was the memorial for those from Oxford High School,” reflected Paulina Ai (‘24). “As a senior, it was meaningful to be able to offer a prayer to the entire Bishop’s community for my last Christmas Chapel,” said Sophia. 

Thanking the contribution of community members, Rev. Simopoulos-Pigato highlighted the accomplishments of the Bishop’s Giving Tree program. Standing for the closing hymn and blessing, students and faculty were left in awe of the serene beauty that the chapel instilled. Just a week or so before winter break, the event reminded us to be thankful and moral as we go on to anticipate Christmas.