December 21, 2023

Dean’s Christmas Message

Dear members of the St. Andrew’s Hall community,

I write today at the end of the autumn term to wish you and your loved ones a blessed Christmas.  I pray that this fall has been a time of rich learning in the classroom, library and laboratory, as well as an opportunity to grow as a whole person through your discernment of vocation and the development of meaningful friendships here on campus.  Thank you for being with us at St. Andrew’s Hall.  Since 1955, the Hall has been a theological college of The Presbyterian Church in Canada and a “home away from home” for students studying in all disciplines at UBC.  Higher education is a privilege, and it is also an opportunity to be renewed not only in mind, but also in body and spirit.  Thanks to all who have helped nurture our sense of community and belonging this fall including our Housing Office Staff, Community Co-ordinators and Chaplain.  For those who have left residence to go home for the holidays, we look forward to seeing you back in January.  For those who remain, you will find the Hall a bit quieter these days and many staff will be on vacation over the next two weeks.

This weekend, Christians around the world gather to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.  For Christians, this is the celebration of God’s covenant promises to Israel in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the coming of God on earth in the frail and fragile presence of a baby in Bethlehem.  This year, our hearts are heavy with the violence and death in Israel/Palestine.  I invite you to pray for that region and for all impacted by the violence.

Here in Canada, as you move through shopping malls and listen to your latest Spotify Christmas playlist, at some point you will hear in various carols the word “Emmanuel” used.  Emmanuel means “God-with-us.”  A celebration that at Christmas, and indeed throughout the year, Christians affirm that we are not alone in this world, but that the God of love we know in Jesus is with humanity, and for humanity.  May you know the comfort and joy of this presence throughout the holiday season as you relax and recharge for a new term of study beginning in January 2024.  I leave you with words of my favourite Christian poet – Malcolm Guite – a Church of England Chaplain at Cambridge University – who shares more on what it means to know the power, presence and purpose of Emmanuel – God-with-us:


O Emmanuel

by Malcolm Guite


O come, O come, and be our God-with-us

O long-sought With-ness for a world without,

O secret seed, O hidden spring of light.

Come to us Wisdom, come unspoken Name,

Come Root, and Key, and King, and holy Flame.

O quickened little wick so tightly curled,

Be folded with us into time and place,

Unfold for us the mystery of grace

And make a womb of all this wounded world.

O heart of heaven beating in the earth,

O tiny hope within our hopelessness

Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,

To touch a dying world with new-made hands

And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.


Wishing you a blessed Christmas,

The Reverend Ross A. Lockhart, PhD

Dean of St. Andrew’s Hall