All posts by robcarter2012

What do you really treasure?

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When we think about our faith we are challenged to reflect on how it has an impact in our lives. Where do we place the most value or importance?

It is easy to fall into a trap of thinking of the things that we really need… a bigger house, a nicer holiday, some new clothes. These things can be alluring to us and tempt us to think that they are truly what we need rather than simply what we want. It is a really good challenge to put things back in perspective in the week ahead.

In the Gospel reading this week we hear about a man who asks Jesus – “what do I need to do to get to have eternal life?” He says that he simply needs to lead a good life and follow the commandments. The man seemed pretty chuffed by this as he seemed to tick the boxes and do what was expected.

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I imagine, it what may well be a Columbo moment, Jesus says one more thing “go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor”. He goes away crestfallen as Jesus has just asked him to do the one thing he would find impossible as a rich man. His money and possessions were his “true treasure”.

We can sometimes get hung up on the things we have and it’s fine to like some things that are precious to us. But we can’t become obsessed with our material things – perhaps our houses, cars, holidays, clothes… if we start putting these before the people we love and before God then we must have really lost the treasure right in front of our eyes.

A few thoughts for the week ahead.

  • What can we do to catch ourselves when we get the balance wrong?
  • How can we treasure and value what is most important to us and show it? Friends, Family, Faith…
  • What can we do to try and not always want more for ourselves?
  • Is there a way we can give something to those who have nothing? Time, support, care or money…

Let’s treasure what we have and use our blessings to benefit the world around us in some small way.

God bless.

 

 

 

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We are family…

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to listen again to the Sister Sledge magic… you can’t fail to sing along or have a bit of a groove!

In the readings this week there are several references to the importance of marriage, children and family life. I know that there is so much we can take from this.

I am really blessed by being part of a big family as I grew up as one of 5 children. There was always plenty going on and someone to play with or wind up! As we have grown up to being adults this has extended to our own children and the close knit relationships they have.

I have also just celebrated twenty years of married life. In the Gospel reading there was a discussion on the place of marriage – was it just a legal arrangement or something deeper and Jesus said “What God has united, man must not divide”. My mum always said that the best relationships made you better and improved you and I can definitely say that is the case for me! You need someone who knows you, warts and all, and can challenge and support you even when the going gets tough.

Jesus also talks about how special children are – they show a innocent faith and trust. Rather than excluding them as unimportant in society He said “let the little children come to me” and challenges us not to lose our child-like attributes.

Ultimately we belong to our own families and are challenged to think about how we build our Christian community and  God’s family. What can we do to build up this unconditional love, understanding and support for those around us?

This morning  I made the most of the Sussex countryside by doing the Angus Rowland Forget Me Not Walk and Run.  I normally saunter around the 6+ mile course and chat to old friends and new. This year I had to be at Church to support the Childrens’ liturgy so had to run it.

At the start I was about to plug in and bring my phone to listen to music on the way around but decided it would be better to savour the peace and tranquility without it. In the hour it took to run around the route I hardly met a person and enjoyed the bright and crisp weather. It also got me thinking about two students from school.

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The first person I was thinking of was one of our ex-students who recently lost his life in tragic circumstances and I will be attending the funeral this week. I am sure that this will be really tough for the family and friends and everyone there. It is a challenge to make sense of why this has all happened. I think the biggest challenge is to make sure that we all leave a legacy in some way, how can we ensure that good comes from the toughest times.

The charity run today was in memory of Angus, a student from St Paul’s, who died from Leukaemia when he was in Year 9 at school, aged 14. As you can see his family have used this to bring great good. They have gone on to raise nearly £200,000 for Bloodwise and I am sure the impact of this money will make such a difference in the research on blood cancer. I have a great admiration for Angus’s loving family and all they have done, it not only raises money each year but simply brings “our family” closer together in supporting one another. This truly is a legacy for a life that was cut too short but brought great happiness to his family, friends, school and all who knew him – a true legacy.

So in the week ahead a few thoughts;

  • Let us give thanks for the gift of family around us and all that they bring us.
  • Let us learn from the faith and trust of children and open our hearts in the same way to God.
  • Let us hope to live a life ourselves that leaves a true legacy,  leaves the world in a better place in some small way.

God bless.

Donate to the Angus Rowland Forget Me Not Fund here.

Finding God’s message for us

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In the Gospel reading last week we were challenged to think that we can all play a part in building up the Kingdom of God.

Jesus and His disciples were a pretty close knit group and they liked being “part of the action”.  They liked, like all of us at times, to be at the centre of things and this made them suspicious of people stealing their thunder and working in Jesus’ name.

Jesus taught not to stop anyone from working a miracle in His name – in other words doing God’s work, spreading faith or acting in a loving way. He goes on to say that you should challenge anyone who is an obstacle to living this out.

Ultimately we can find God in unlikely places. When we find ourselves most isolated, more desperate or lost we can find that someone reaches out to us and can actually offer us support and care, the presence of God.

All of us are simply called to be “unlikely prophets” – to do good, to do God’s work.

A few questions to think of;

  • What can we do to look out for God’s message, even from unlikely sources?
  • How can we open our arms and welcome people to be part of our community rather than judging or excluding others which we are sometimes tempted to do?

I hope we can help build the Kingdom of God in small ways each day, if we can do this we can try our best at being disciples in the modern world.

God bless.

Faith in Action

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“Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead” James 2:14-18

“If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:30-37

Put simply we are called to find ways to put our faith into action. Faith can’t be a theoretical reflection or debate but needs to be something that challenges and changes our lifestyle and decisions in a significant way.

As a teenager growing up I found that the most meaningful part of my time at school was having the opportunity to do voluntary service – a homeless project in London and supporting at a special school in Crawley. I later went on to do “cross walks” at Easter exploring faith and then volunteer in Lourdes each summer. The more I did this the more I felt compelled to find something that would live out my faith and vocation in a meaningful way – teaching was the perfect fit!

A great example of encouraging young people to do this is through Youth SVP. At the heart of these projects lies a commitment to walk alongside the people you serve rather than a fleeting relationship or doing a quick good deed. Well worth a look for young people (there is an adult version too if you fancy it!)

A few thoughts for the week ahead.

  • How can we look do small things each day to put others first?
  • In what ways do you bring your faith to life through action?
  • How can we give something deeper than a quick kind act?
  • How can we reach out to the vulnerable or isolated in society? The homeless, lonely or those on the margins?

So in the week ahead let us all try and put faith into action in some way and serving one another is a great way to do it. By trying it once we can make it a habit that will make the world a better place – simply one step at a time.

God bless.

 

Time to speak out…!

IMG_1599.jpgWelcome back to a new school year… when we begin anything there is always a sense of anticipation of what the year may hold but we are also jolted back into the routine of our lives, both as teachers and students.

In the Gospel this week we hear of how Jesus healed a deaf man, not spectacularly as a show in front of the crowd but quietly in private telling him to say nothing to anyone about it. The Gospel says “He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak” and our theme this week has been on equality.

We are called to hear and also to speak out in our lives individually and as part of a Christian community.

This summer I had the privilege of going with fifteen of our students to Uganda and working with two great charities in Kampala. One was Cricket Without Boundaries which uses Cricket to teach young people about HIV and AIDS awareness and health care. The other charity was Uganda Hands for Hope which is a charity that provides food, health care and education for the most vulnerable in Namuwongo slum. To see the transformational effect of the power of education is simply inspirational and I hope in some small way we contributed to their work in some small way.
Having had this experience we are compelled to speak out and strive for equality and be a voice for the most vulnerable. For the first time we have seen with our own eyes and listened with our own ears, just as we heard in the Gospel account. We need to “loosen our tongues” as the man healed did and speak out.

So at the start of our term let’s remember a few things;

  • We are truly blessed to have the most basic things in our lives – a home, food and family. Let us gives thanks for this each day as we wake up in this privileged position.
  • Education transforms people’s lives and having opportunities for this can help us cherish this. Working in education has a deeper moral purpose than just doing “the job at hand”. Could you be the person to make this transformation by sponsoring a child to go to school and have this opportunity?
  • We are compelled to speak out and make a difference in the world in some small way.

I hope you have a year that is enriching in every way.

God bless,

Rob

On a mission…

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Mark 6:7-13

In the Gospel account this week Jesus gives his Jesus gives the disciples some advice about how to go about their mission in the world – in essence He tells them to travel light and trust in God.

 

As we approach the end of a really busy and challenging year we can take a lot from this. You could argue that our theme would be better suited for the start of the school year but perhaps it challenges us to remember that discipleship and faith don’t have time off for the school holidays!

I am sure that many people are looking forward to a well earned break. There is a deep-rooted satisfaction when we have given everything to something and I hope you can feel this in whatever you have been doing – learning, teaching or leading.

We are called and challenged to build up the “Kingdom of God” each and every day. Jesus said to his disciples “Go out and spread the Good News” and at the end of Mass we hear the priest say “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”. This should resonate as a challenge and inspiration to us to take our faith into the world.

We are really proud of our students who left for Uganda yesterday to volunteer with two great charities;

Cricket Without Boundaries

Uganda Hands for Hope

They truly will come back challenged, changed and inspired to find ways to live out their lives to benefit others.

 

At the end of the school year we give thanks especially for the students and staff who are leaving us and are grateful for their part of being in the St Paul’s family.

A few questions for us at the end of the year…

  • How have I helped others get closer to God this year?
  • What have I been most grateful for this year?
  • For those who are returning: What will I strive to do better when I get back in September?
  • For those who are moving on: How will I take what I have experienced at St Paul’s to do good elsewhere?

God bless.

Finding your unique purpose

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In the Gospel account this week we hear about the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus. We know that he was to go on to prophesy the life of Jesus and “prepare the way” for his life. He was chosen in his mother’s womb for this unique ministry, life and ultimately his sacrifice.

This challenges us to reflect on what we are called “to be”.
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One of the joys of life may well be discovering the person we can become – not merely the job we want to do – but the quest to find fulfilment and happiness. I have long believed that we are happiest when we do something that intrinsically benefits others.

So what can we learn from this in the coming week?

  • Take the time to listen to God’s call for you.
  • Reflect on the direction life takes us and how we can live out and discover our purpose.
  • Look at how we can live out our faith in a meaningful way.

In the busy lives we live it is easy to miss the point or to forget the reasons we do what we do or feel the pressure to go with the crowd. We should stop and listen to God and as Saint Theresa of Calcutta says just “do it anyway”.

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