Ben Page from Ipsos Mori recently did a poll and asked ‘to what extent, if at all, do you feel that today’s youth will have a better or worse life than their parents, or will it be about the same? In the Western world we didn’t fare too well when thinking about whether our children would have a better life…
This was in contrast to other areas of the world…
This itself is a dramatic change as in the past we dreamt of and pictured a better and more prosperous future for our children.
We also seemed to be surrounded by an ongoing uncertainty from Brexit to the multitude of candidates vying for position for the leadership of the Conservative party and by definition the role of Prime Minister. Perhaps it is some of this uncertainty and lack of inspiration that prompts distrust, division or people being swayed by celebrity style politics.
Put simply we need to be inspired by the spirit of London 2012. If you need 2 minutes to remember what this all felt like click on the link below!
Last week I was fortunate enough to hear Dame Katherine Grainger speak about her Olympic journey and what inspired her to achieve her dreams and potential. At the end of her talk she showed a short clip of London 2012. In a moment the audience of Headteachers were transported back to a world where we felt united and proud of what it meant to be British. It definitely feels like we need to revisit the spirit of 2012 and remember all that unites us and helps achieve amazing things, collectively and individually.
In school this week we have been marking the feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit inspired and invigorated the disciples and followers of Jesus to spread the Good News – to fulfil the potential and mission that they had been given. Sometimes in a Christian community it is worth us all remembering that God is by our sides in this journey.
If you find yourself watching the 10 o’clock news in the evening and feeling swamped by the challenges we face in the world or the state of the nation switch it off and watch the two minute clip of London 2012.
Put simply let’s be inspired and remember we can do great things when we do it together!
We currently have the opportunity this week to think about Christian unity. At the heart of it this has challenged me to think about what we are being asked to do in the way we act and treat one another.
St Paul was renowned for the vigour and dedication to how he persecuted the early Church and his conversion happened on the road to Damascus as he was enthusiastically setting off to attack the community establishing the Christian faith. He had to be transformed in his conversion and ended up spreading the message to all people with equal enthusiasm. In the this he had to do a full 180 degree change in his life.
When we think about unity in a wider sense we can see a world that feels at times very divided and narrow minded. In this country we have just had European elections during the uncertainty of Brexit and hosted a divisive visit by Trump and his entourage. These events seem to only polarise politics and divide people – but what can we do individually or collectively to make a difference?
What can you today to bring yourself closer to someone? It could be someone close to you that you’ve fallen out with…
Is there a way to do a random act of kindness to someone to encourage a bit more love and understanding?
How can we bring the world a little bit closer by showing love, understanding and patience even when we might be divided by politics, religion or different views.
Let’s all make an effort to build a bit of unity in our lives, our schools, our churches and our community – we all need it.
In this weeks Gospel account we hear about how we are known and loved as individuals by God. Jesus tells us about the love of the shepherd for his sheep. The sheep would listen to the voice of the shepherd and follow him, they will never be lost and never stolen.
Maybe we learn something about the simple life of the shepherds and their sheep, ironically in Luke’s Gospel they were the first who had the birth of Jesus revealed to them. What can we take from these accounts?
The sheep were loved and cared for by the Shepherd. Someone who would be with them and care for their needs.
The Shepherd would look after their sheep and guide them in the right direction.
The sheep at times may wander off and get distracted and lost but would listen to the voice of the Shepherd.
A few things strike me in this reflection.
To stay safe we need to listen for the voice of the Shepherd, living a life close to God.
We need to trust in the Shepherd and listen for His voice – even when we stray God wants the best for all of us and will seek us out.
We can be like the shepherd to those around us. As teachers and parents we have the opportunity to simply look out for our sons, daughters and students.
So let us all know, love and cherish those around us so that they live secure in God’s love.
This week our theme is “restored” in school and it is a real opportunity to think about how we can reconnect with our faith during this Easter season.
We hear in the Gospel account about how Jesus’ disciples returned to Galilee, to where they had come from, in order to process all that happened during their time with Jesus. They returned to their families and boats and once again are out fishing when Jesus appears to them on the shore cooking breakfast for them.
As they return to shore they have caught nothing and Jesus calls out and tells them to caste out their nets once again and “there were so many fish that they could not haul it.” At this point Simon Peter recognises Jesus and jumps out of the boat and wades into shore. Jesus goes on to tell him to “feed my lambs and feed my sheep”. As the risen Christ He challenges Peter to take the Christian message into the world.
Sometimes we need to revisit our past if we are serious about moving forward in the future. At times this can be challenging but also richly rewarding. At the weekend I was lucky enough to revisit the City that I went to University in, the wonderful East Anglian city of Norwich (equally matched by the Championship winning Norwich City!). In this journey and visit it made me think about the experiences and joyful times I had there – learning, growing up, meeting great friends and the finding a wonderful wife… all these things have become significant parts of my life story and I am sure everyone has their own.
The disciples needed to restore their faith and energy prior to the challenge of taking the Gospel, or Good News, throughout the world. They would face challenges but would be sustained by their experiences and faith in Jesus, able to be witnesses for his death and resurrection. We need to embrace this challenge as well in our lives and in education – the Easter season is a time for renewal and rediscovering our faith and having a positive impact on those around us.
A few final thoughts…
When have you faced times that you need to renew and restore your faith?
What can you do to try and live out discipleship day to day?
How can we use our past experiences to influence and energise us for the future?
I look back and give thanks for all that is good in my life and the opportunities I’ve had, I feel really blessed. This in itself challenges me to try in a small way to offer this to others – as a community of faith we can achieve great things together one small step at a time.
Happy Easter! In the Gospel account this week we continue to hear about the resurrection appearances and how Jesus reveals himself to His disciples.
As the disciples gathered together in a room with closed doors as they still lived in fear. This isn’t an image of strength or hope but in fact one where the disciples seemed to have lost the strength of their faith and be hiding away in some way.
Jesus came appeared among them and showed them the wounds of His Crucifixion to confirm to them that He had risen. As we know one of the disciples, Thomas, wasn’t with them at the time and could not believe what they said saying “Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes that they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.”
Jesus made them, and Thomas, wait 8 days until appearing to them again and said “You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
In the most basic way this Gospel account is a witness statement of having seen Jesus risen from the dead. The first time He appeared to all his followers but in essence it feels written for us, happy are we who have not seen and yet believe.
A few questions to reflect on for the week ahead:
What can we do to notice “Jesus amongst” us day to day in our lives? Maybe like Thomas we can miss opportunities to see Him.
How can we show faith and trust in God and the message of the resurrection?
What can do in this Easter season to transform doubt into faith and hope?
I hope and pray that you have a great Easter season – a chance for our faith, energy, life and hope to be resurrected in a new and vibrant way.
This weekend I think I have found my favourite reading in the Bible in the Parable of the Lost or Prodigal Son. It is probably one of the best known stories that Jesus told but one that teaches us so much about God’s love for us and how to love one another.
In essence we can all relate to the story’s main characters…
The younger son – at times we can become too focussed on ourselves and our own very basic needs. We can at time lose sight of anything beyond our own wants. We manage to convince ourselves that we need to be richer, more attractive, more popular. We can lose sight of getting the right balance in life and stray far from what God wants for us.
The longing Father – as parents especially we can share the pain of separation experienced by the loving father. When our children make mistakes or find it difficult to accept our guidance or love we can struggle to bring them close to us. Ultimately we try to offer our children unconditional love and forgiveness but in reality it is challenging to live this out. God is this loving father waiting for our return.
The jealous brother – we can sometimes feel resentful of the celebrations happening on the return of our brother. We can feel frustrated that there is a celebration when we have been loyal for all of the time. The father reassures us that we will always be close to him – God tells us simply that we must celebrate the return and forgiveness of others.
So a few questions for the week ahead.
If you took some time to think about it which of the characters would you be?
What can we learn from this account about how to love and forgive one another?
How can we ask God, and one another, for forgiveness when things go wrong?
Jesus’ teaching in its simplest forms can be summarised by two words – love and forgiveness. It is this which teaches us how to live and love one another just as God loves us.
Have a good week ahead and journey this Lent as we prepare for the Easter season.