No time for doubting!

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We have just celebrated the London Marathon at the weekend and for those of you looking forward to more sporting heroics with many staff teams at school preparing for the elite Hedgehogtri team triathlon this weekend… I am sure we will see some great performances.

The stand out story of the London Marathon was the story of two strangers who were fated to steal the show. Matthew Rees, ironically who was disappointed with his time (sub 3 hours!), stopped to help a fellow runner David Wyeth. You can see his complete exhaustion and disorientation. Even though he was so close to the finish he had no clue how he would make it without the selfies support of a fellow competitor.

They now look like friends for life!

Perhaps this heartwarming story has a link to the Gospel account of this week… we are in the midst of celebrating the Easter season, a joyous celebration of 50 days celebrating Jesus’ resurrection and appearances to His followers.

In this Gospel account we hear of the disciples locked away in a room fearful of those around them without Jesus  being there to lead them. Jesus appears amongst them and proclaims “peace be with you”. One of the disciples, Thomas, had gone out and missed this moment of revelation! I am sure we could all relate to feeling like we had popped out at the one moment when something really interesting happened. Thomas goes on to say that he wouldn’t believe unless Jesus stood amongst them once again. 8 days later this was to happen and Jesus said, “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe” – this is a message directly to us! Maybe Thomas represents the frailties of our faith at times of challenge or disbelief. In essence he may have had a bad press as he is asking the questions that all of us would ask – we would want proof.

Our proof of Jesus’ resurrection lies in our faith and belief in God’s power to transform even the most desolate and hopeless situation, in Jesus’ crucifixion, to the most inspiring triumph, in His resurrection.

As Christian’s we must be full of “light, life and hope” and especially in education and schools. This term is very full with revision, exams and times of change and transition. We need to deal in hope and good news and never doubt the blessings that God will give us all to be able to achieve great things together.

So whether it is running a marathon, completing a triathlon or just simply putting our arm around someone else to get them across the line let’s remember that we need to show faith and see Jesus walking amongst us.

Have a great term and week ahead.

God bless.

Learning to love and forgive

Forgive.pngIn one of the recent Gospel readings this week we hear of the account of how a crowd had gathered to condemn a woman accused of adultery. The crowd were demanding “instant justice” and were planning to stone her. Jesus challenged whoever was without sin to cast the first stone. Slowly one by one the crowd dispersed and the stones dropped to the ground. He gently offered his forgiveness and told her to turn away from the areas of her life that led her in the wrong direction.

This is a great message for us. Put simply we need to learn to love and forgive.

A few questions for the week ahead…

  • What can you do to use the power of forgiveness to rebuild relationships?
  • How can we stop ourselves from being too quick to judge?
  • What is it we can ask God (or others…) to forgive us of?

If we can take this small step, to drop the stone, say sorry or move on in our lives surely it can be good for us all too.

Have a happy and liberating journey this week as we prepare for the celebration of Holy Week.

God bless.

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Witness – a living faith

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We continue to hear about how Jesus seeks outs opportunities to heal those left marginalised in society. In society at the time there was a direct correlation between suffering and sin. When Jesus heals the blind man this week we can see he makes him “whole again” by healing him and challenging the suffering and prejudices he faced. Once he is healed the blind man is summoned back to bear witness to what Jesus had done ending in him being driven away by the authorities. You can feel the rising pressure and plotting for Jesus’ downfall during this time getting us ready for His entry into Jerusalem and the sacrifice of his crucifixion.

We at times can fall into a trap where we are quick to judge others and cast them aside. We can be tempted to ignore the needs of others, particularly when we are under pressure from others.

A few thoughts for this week…

  • How can you offer an unconditional love, forgiveness and support of others?
  • What do we find difficult to bear witness to in our lives?
  • How would we have responded to the blind man? Would we have walked towards him or away from him?
  • Do we have a heart for justice, peace and equality?

For me in a basic and simple way my faith is about the challenge to live it out in the everyday moments and interactions each day. We need to ask God to give us the wisdom and bravery to do the right thing, even if it is not the popular thing, even if it goes unnoticed or is un-popular.

So stand strong, stand proud and ask God to give us the bravery and confidence to bear witness in the world today.

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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.