What are we thirsting for?

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We have all felt the feeling of being desperate for the opportunity to quench our thirst. In an attempt to live a more healthy lifestyle I do not drink (well an alcoholic drink to be more precise!) during the week. In a very basic way this has been a good discipline but I also find that I appreciate it more when I can indulge a little… 

In the theme of this week we look at the theme of thirst. In the Gospel reading we hear the account of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well. The story is significant on a number of levels.

  • It would be socially unacceptable for a man to speak to an unaccompanied woman at the Well.
  • The woman was a Samaritan who were the enemies of the Jewish race.
  • Jesus was directly challenging these assumptions and prejudices.
  • Jesus could see the true person and had the ability to really know the depths of her life story, warts and all.
  • This brief interaction inspired her faith and drew people to follow Jesus.

The deeper meaning of the story is actually asking us about what we really thirst and strive for. We can be satisfied in a very basic way by fulfilling our needs but the joy isn’t very long lasting unless it means something deeper.

So what may we be thirsting for?

  • I thirst for tolerance and understanding – this week we had a great opportunity to do just this by supporting Downs Syndrome Awareness where our school community, staff and students, wore odd socks to celebrate difference and simply raise awareness. Another inspiring example was Mélainie in France as she presented the weather to fulfil her dream.
  • I thirst for justice and peace – this afternoon in London it is emerging that an awful terrorist attack has taken place at the heart of our capital city. This only causes fear and division. We need to use the power of education to transform the divisions, hatred and violence we find in the world.
  • I thirst for faith – if we are truly to allow our faith to flourish we need to nourish it to the full. This takes time, energy and needs light and water.

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So let us walk together to have a shared thirst to seek out faith, hope in love in our lives and inspire this in those we meet. As a community of faith we are challenged to  become a beacon of life, light and hope. What will you do this week to live this out in a small way?

God bless.

Are you listening carefully?

listen.jpgSometimes we fill our lives with noise, conversation and action. I enjoy the vibrancy of a “bit of chat” and like being part of a school community and a big family which always have plenty going on.

When I was growing up I had to learn to be “comfortable” in my own company. When my wife or children were away I’d fill the time with socialising and spending time being fed by and catching up with friends. I now have learnt to cherish the opportunity to just simply stop and “be”…

In the Gospel reading this week we hear about the account of the Transfiguration where Jesus is revealed to a few of His disciples as they prayed on the mountain top with Him. They suddenly saw Jesus in a new light… transformed in some way. They heard the voice of God saying, “This is my Son, listen to Him!”.

Was Jesus changing how He looked or appeared to them or in essence was it rooted in their ability “to see” His true identity and listen to God’s voice speak to them in a meaningful way?

Maybe in Lent this is where the challenge lies for us. Can we find the time to stop and really listen to the “still small voice of calm” that can help us hear God’s call and plan to us? Sometimes we need to declutter our lives enough from the noise around us to be able to really hear in a deeper and truer way.

A few thoughts for the week ahead.

  • Can you find a short moment each day to find a sense of peace and tranquility?
  • Could this become a habit to give you time to think and pray in some way?
  • How can we hear God’s call to us and respond in some way?

So I give thanks for the opportunity to listen attentively and I promise to look to practice it in my relationships and to try to be more prayerful in what I do each day.

A special prayer of gratitude for the gifts and talents of our wonderful students and staff as we celebrate our school production of Billy Elliot. I am sure it will be fantastic and I will enjoy the privilege of being there each night. I know you will do us all proud!

God bless.

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Temptation and love of others…

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The theme of this week for us in school is temptation…. it builds on the Gospel of Jesus in the desert and wilderness. We of course are all tempted to live in the moment or act in a way that is in our self-interest and feed our “basic instinct” in some way.

Do we hold back and appreciate what we really have? The clip below may put you off your favourite Italian dish for a while…

Ultimately we, as humans, have the ability to make decisions informed by our conscience. We can aspire to look to act in a less selfish way. For me sin is really a distance from God or making a choice that is selfish rather than selfless.

This Lent we can challenge ourselves to “go into the desert” and look to reconnect with our faith. We can take the journey back to God by taking the time to think about how we can feed and nurture our faith.

We are called to do three things;

  • Find time for prayer
  • Look to focus on almsgiving where we commit to charity and care of others
  • Being able to “fast” and deny our own needs to care for others

Tomorrow is CAFOD Fast Day so let us pray for a world of justice, hope and solidarity with those in need. Let’s keep the faith…

God Bless.

Are you ready for a journey?

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I cannot quite believe that we have only 18 weeks left in the school year… is it just as we get older that time seems to speed away? It seems like yesterday that we were just gathering back to school once again in September with the eager anticipation of all that a new year holds. The joy of being reunited as colleagues, with friends and with our pupils who are such a big part of lives.

It only seems like yesterday that in family life we were gathered around the Christmas tree and eagerly wrapping presents only for them to be unwrapped in the frenzy of excitement the next day!

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And yet now we are ready to embark on the next season of change in the year of the Church as we await the start of the journey for Lent. We have a choice to make about how we approach it this year. Do we let it drift by or will we embrace opportunities to change and grow in some way?

I have been taught something special by a friend of mine recently. Deborah is a fantastic Deputy Head in a school in Surrey, super-Mum of two and general fire-cracker and I have known her since she was an NQT. She has never lacked confidence or the ability to get things done, in fact she could sell ice to Eskimos! She is now 35 and has been diagnosed with bowel cancer but is approaching it with her normal verve for life and commitment ranging from starting a great blog as bowelbabe, appearing in The Sun to raise awareness and becoming a fantastic ambassador for Bowel Cancer UK. She isn’t doing it to get sympathy or attention but in essence to share her story, in graphic detail at times, to help others benefit from her journey. She is also embracing the treatment, and life itself, one day at a time to make the most of every opportunity.

So I think it is in this that we have found the answer for Lent this year. Live life to the full and cherish every opportunity each day provides for us all. I will try and do this especially in the next 40 days. Each day I will try and do a few basic things;

  • Be grateful for all the blessings in my life – my family, children, a wonderful wife, a job I love, a roof over my head and plentiful food on the table.
  • Stop to pray and reflect at some point each day – even for a short moment in dedicating the day to God in some way or giving thanks for what we have experienced at the end of the day.
  • Take time to think of someone beyond myself – if we can all find a way to make someone’s life better in a small way then I think it makes us intrinsically happy too.
  • To stop myself from letting life drift by and to make sure that we cherish and value every moment and opportunity we are given.

I hope that the journey this Lent is good for you too.

Keep the faith Deborah – I know so many people are keeping you in their thoughts and prayers. You have inspired so many people already in your honesty, bravery and unrelenting sense of humour – just as you have in your life so far as a teacher and school leader too.

God bless.

 

How can we be more loving?

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A challenge in life for all of us is to think about we can be more loving in our thoughts and actions. It is so easy for all of us to get frustrated or intolerant of others when things don’t go our way. The challenge for us all in a Christian community is simply to just “love one another”.

The model for this is Jesus himself who was the physical manifestation of God’s love for us, perhaps most ably demonstrated in His sacrifice for us. In the Gospel reading at Church this week we heard it is not just about doing the wrong thing but actually about the negative thoughts or temptations we face. Of course these temptations to do wrong, or act solely in our self interest, are natural and normal but we have a choice to make about how we respond to them. Jesus challenges us to cut anything out of our lives that leads us in the wrong direction – good advice indeed as we aim to refocus on what matters most to act with loving kindness in all we do.

So on this Valentine’s day don’t be too distracted by the love hearts and helium balloons, even if there is time for a little romance, but let’s all make a commitment to simply live our lives guided by God’s unconditional love for us. It is a love that knows us simply for who we truly are and there is something wonderful about this alone.

A few questions for this week;

  • How can we act with loving kindness in all we do even if love sometimes means making difficult decisions?
  • What areas of your life would you cut out to be happier and more loving?
  • What can you do to show patience, love and understanding to each other?
  • How can you stop for a moment to appreciate God’s unconditional love for all us?

Remember all we need to do is just love one another…

God bless.

 

Will you make your mark on the world?

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In education we are challenged to never give up and offer hope in even the most challenging situations. We are also given wonderful opportunities to let every students’ light shine.

The most rewarding part of working with young people is the vitality, energy and progress you can see. We have an opportunity to transform a person’s life by showing belief, inspiration, love and care. We have been given the enormous responsibility of having the power of words to build someone up or knock them down – we remember to use these words preciously.

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In a world with challenges and uncertainty education can be “the glue that holds” society together. I once taught a boy, George, who was in foster care and had been placed in over 14 families – they ran out of placements in the city when each came off the rails and were looking to move him to a residential school in a different part of the country. I urged us to find any way to keep the one part of his life consistent whatever challenges were there outside of school. We needed to be the family he never had.

 

This week in the Gospel we hear how Jesus says we are “the salt of the earth… and light of the world”. So what does this challenge us to think about?

  • How can we add flavour to life? Without salt our food would be without variety and taste. There is a great joy in the variety to life, our God-given talents and gifts bring joy to life. Let’s celerate this diversity and difference as well as cherishing all that binds us together.
  • Let our light shine… we need to find ways to be full of light, life and hope. We should find ways to ensure faith can shine out and bring light in times of darkness.

I am proud to say that in our school community this challenge lies at the heart of what we look to achieve each and every day. Thank you for being a part of it in whatever you do.

God bless.

 

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What are you called to B?

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It feels like a return to my childhood and the joys of Sesame Street (if you want a 3 minute reminder click here!) when the letter for today is B

It seems that there are some troubling times in the world with uncertainty, division and mistrust. Maybe it is an ideal time to reconnect with the heart of Jesus’ teaching when we look at the Beattitudes which Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mount. What are they all about?

A few thoughts…

  • Beatitudes – means the beautiful attitudes. They are teachings which challenge us to recognise how God can make us happy or blessed even in the most difficult times in our lives. They can also teach us how to how to live our lives or how to Be..
  • Be Blessed
  • Be Happy
  • Be Faithful
  • Be Fulfilled
  • Be Loving
  • Be Still

So maybe we have a chance to reconnect with God, even when we are troubled in our lives or lost in the turbulence of the world we live in at the moment. Faith for me still is about a thirst for justice, showing loving kindness and being at peace with ourselves, God and the world around us.

So a few questions as food for thought;

  • What can you do to “Be” this week or in the longer term in our lives?
  • How can we find the space to Be still and reconnect with God?
  • How can we fall into God’s loving arms when things get tough?

Lastly can I ask you to say a prayer for a friend of mine Deborah, who is a great teacher and school leader + supermum, who has been diagnosed with bowel cancer just prior to Christmas. She has always been so full of vitality and energy and I am sure her determination will keep her strong. You can follow her blog and support her https://bowelbabe.wordpress.com.

Keep the faith.

God bless.