Take a break, have a…

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We’ve made it! It’s been a long year, a busy year, a good year, but we have made it. That can mean only one thing, taking a break. We all need to have a rest, afterall, after God created the world we are told that he rested. What a great example to follow! The thought for the week comes from Anne Lamott who said…

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes … including you

A rest is necessary to enable us to regain energy and be fully functioning. If we just keep going at the same pace, eventually it will lead to a burnout.

I used to think that having a rest meant doing nothing, and would use that idea to justify lying on the sofa, watching tv, endless tv. But a rest doesn’t actually mean doing nothing, it just means taking a break. Afterall, there is that saying ‘a change is as good as a rest’ and I would agree with that. A rest for you may be sport, hanging out with friends, playing on the computer, sitting quietly listening to music. For Jewish people the sabbath is taken very seriously and no work should be done. Jesus got told off for picking corn on a sabbath day. His response was that it was needed. The sabbath isn’t about doing nothing, it is about enjoying and refreshing.

It doesn’t matter what you do to recharge, the important thing is that you do recharge. Take a break, have a rest, come back in September, fully replenished and ready to go.

Challenge: no challenge just rest

Prayer. Father God we thank you for your example of resting to enjoy your work. We pray that as we take a break from school, that we are able to enjoy our successes and refresh for the next academic year. Amen

One more step along the world I go…

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With only two weeks to go we are rapidly approaching the end of the school year. This can often bring a variety of emotions: exhaustion after a long year of work; excitement about having 7 weeks off; but also anxiety for the year ahead. By the time you get to July you are used to the year group that you are in, and there can be a sense of the unknown ahead. Year 10 will be entering their final year of school, thinking about what they are going to be doing after. Year 9 will be entering their GCSE study. Year 8 will be having to think about what GCSEs they are going to take. Year 7 are no longer the youngest in the school. Then, of course there is the issue of “I’ve just remembered my timetable, and got used to my teachers and now…”
Change can be daunting and it can be exciting, but whatever way we look at it, we must accept it is necessary. The thought for the week is an anonymous quote which says
You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one
I’m part of a book group – it is actually a lot more fun that it sounds, and you are able to go even if you haven’t finished the book! This is often what I do but a miracle has happened recently and I have read the last two books. I’ve realised that I can read a book if it has short chapters. I don’t like to put a book down mid-chapter so I quite often don’t read if I know it is a long chapter because I’m worried I won’t finish it! The ironic thing is that I will quite often the read the same amount in lots of short chapters because I want to find out what happens next. I will admit that I’ve never done what a friend does, which is read the first and final chapters – I need to know it in its entirety and experience the journey.
Sometimes life can seem like that hard slog of a long chapter, it just never seems like it’s going to end. But when you make it to the end you’re not going to read it again, you are going to want to move on to the next chapter. You’re going to want to find out what happens next.
I get frustrated when it comes to TV shows that start with “previously in…” Just focus on the story at hand, if it’s a good programme we will be able to work out what has happened previously. Our lives are going to be impacted by what has happened before, that is inevitable. Thing is…. It’s happened, there is nothing that can be changed about that specific incident now. But you can take that experience to help you in your new chapter. You don’t need to keep reminding yourself of what was, but focus on what is, and what is to come.
This week is sports week at Archbishops, let’s think ant those sprinters on Friday, they need to be focused on the finish line, there is no point them looking at their starting point. This would be even worse for the hurdles – ouch! The Bible talks about not looking back but keeping your eyes on the goal. Having a focus.
Yes it is daunting when you are looking ahead and having to experience change, when you are moving on to the next chapter. But you need to look forward, focus on a goal, and use your experience and new experiences to help you get there. What’s exciting is that we we promised that God is with us every step of the way, through the high and the low, God is there.
Prayer: Thank you father that you are with us on this journey. We pray that we will look ahead with joy, to whatever lies ahead, using our experiences, but drawing strength from you especially when we are daunted. Amen
Challenge: think back over the last year (not necessarily just at school) what has gone well, what hasn’t been so great? What are your feelings about next year. What can you take from this year, to help you with the next part of the journey?

When I was thirsty…

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I’ve never been a huge fan of water. I couldn’t understand why people would drink water, when they could drink squash. In fact, after I had my tonsils out, I had to stay in an extra night because my mum gave me Ribena to drink rather than water. At first I thought this was an over-exaggeration, until they explained that they weren’t able to tell if I was throwing up blood or Ribena!!!! At that point it was necessary that I drank water, I didn’t like it, I definitely preferred Ribena, but I had to drink water.

It is only in the last year that I have started to regularly drink water, and I am not really seen around school without my pink water bottle. In the staff room, the place I mainly reside is by the water cooler. What was the turning point? I’m competitive!!!!!! Last year I got myself a fitbit, and as well as counting steps, telling you how active you’ve been, how much sleep you’ve had, and most importantly how many calories you’ve burned off; it also measures how much water you’ve drunk – you have to tell it, but it tells you whether you’ve drank enough. What has this got to do with being competitive? I like to get a green water bottle!!!!! When I first started, I couldn’t believe how much I was meant to drink. But I have to admit, I have felt so much better since I have started to drink water. I’m still rubbish at drinking water when I’m not at school. But I am drinking a lot of water every day and feeling better for it.

Water is a necessity in life. It makes up the majority of our body. It makes up the majority of the Earth’s surface. It is essential for growth. Yet do we appreciate it? As with so many things, we don’t appreciate it, until we no longer have it. We have Muslim pupils at the school who are currently observing Ramadan, and are not drinking water in daylight hours – I know that they appreciate water.

There are scary statistics about the world and the amount of people who do not have access to clean water. We take it for granted. I know that I can be a bit of a water snob –  I’m not a fan of drinking water from a tap, I prefer it to be cold and filtered. I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t care, if that was the only water I had access to.

The thought for the week comes from an ancient Greek Sophocles who said

If you were to offer a thirsty man all wisdom, you would not please him more than if you gave him a drink.

What do we want? What do we need? Do we give people what they need, or do we give them what we want to give them. There are many verses in the Bible which talk about water, we are told that Jesus gives us the water of life. There is a Psalm which says “As the Deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you”. This is referring to our necessity for God in our lives. This is true, but the thought for the week challenges us… Do we focus on telling people about God, and what God can do in their lives? Or do we look for what people need, and provide help, showing what God can do in their lives?

Think about those statistics of people in the world who do not have access to clean water, who have to travel miles in order to get any water to drink. What would make a bigger difference? Telling them that God is good, or giving them some water?

Worldwide Challenge: Find out about charities that provide water for those who do not have access. Is there anything you could do to raise awareness, or raise money to support that work?

Personal Challenge: Have a think about those you spend time with. Is there something that someone needs that you could provide and show God’s love for them? A listening ear? A cup of tea?

Prayer: We thank you God that you are the living water. That you provide for our needs. We pray that we will be able to see the needs of others to be able to show your love to them. Amen

When I was homeless…

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I have a confession to make. Most days as soon as I get home, I put on my pyjamas! It doesn’t matter what time it is, I put on my pyjamas. Recently, I decided I should put on a time limit the pyjama thing, and vowed that I would not put my pyjamas on until 9:00 – as that seemed like a decent pyjama time. I’ve got no idea who I was kidding – I still got changed as soon as I got in, I just put comfies on instead – jogging bottoms, a vest and a hoody – essentially, pyjamas! I’m not sure what it is about pyjamas, I think I just love the comfort of them. You know that you are safe in, you don’t have to go out again, you don’t have to put on a show for anyone. You’re home in your PJ’s – there is no better feeling!

Imagine if you didn’t have that home… Imagine if you didn’t have that comfort…

It is difficult to imagine… especially if you’ve never been there, or experienced anything like it. But for some people, that is the challenge every day. Trying to find somewhere that they can call home. We can walk through Canterbury in the evening and see people sleeping in the parks, in shop entrances, because they have nowhere to call home. A lot of the time, this is not their fault, but it is a situation that they have found themselves in.

An issue we hear about on the news a lot is the issue of immigration, migration, and refugees. They are used as the basis of political arguments; at the moment they are being used as a basis for whether people should vote to remain or leave the EU. People seem to forget that we are talking about Human Beings, not commodities. Our thought for the week this week, continues to look at Acts of Mercy, from the parable of the sheep and the goats, “When I was homeless, you made me welcome”

The thought for the week comes from Pope Francis who says:

Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity

This is exactly what I am talking about, they are Human Beings, and that is how they should be treated. There are two things that come to mind here:

Firstly, the word refugee, means that the person is seeking refuge, they are seeking safety. They have had to leave the place they call home because it is unsafe, that may be for many reasons. But they are still having to leave the place they know as home, the people they love. We hear stories of people squeezing on to boats, risking their lives, because it seems to be the only option available to them. Imagine, if risking your life and those you love, was better than staying in your home.

Secondly, there has been a story in the news recently about one of the Barracks in Canterbury being developed to house homeless families from London. There has been some upset over this as people say that the land should be developed for homeless families in Canterbury. I understand the argument, but these people are still homeless.

In both these situations the choice lies with higher authorities, not with the people themselves. There is not a huge amount that we can do, in order to stop these decisions being made in the first place. However, we can show love, compassion, mercy, to those who are made homeless. If you had to leave everyone and everything you knew, and move somewhere completely different, how would you want to be treated? Would you want to be welcomed or turned away?

How can we do this? We can raise money to help those who are directly helping refugees. We can welcome those who move to Canterbury, and make them feel at home. One of the things I love about The Archbishop’s School, is that it is so welcoming to anyone who comes in… the question is… do we do that outside of the school as well? Have a look at the challenges below.

We are so fortunate to have somewhere to call home, we go home to a roof over our heads, so many in this world don’t have that. Let us reach out an open arm to make everyone feel welcome, and to help them feel that this could be home.

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you provide for us. We thank you that Archbishop’s school is a welcoming school. We pray that you may show us, how we can help those who are less fortunate than ourselves that they may feel welcome and at home. Amen

Challenge 1. This week is refugee week. Can you go without a luxury for a week? And donate the money to charity to support refugees? Take a look at this website http://www.allwecan.org.uk/current-appeals/lose-a-luxury-

Challenge 2. Think about the families that are moving from London to Canterbury. If that were you, what would find helpful in a welcome pack? I think I’d like some pyjamas!  Any ideas let Mrs Netherton know!

When I was sick you visited me

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Growing up I was very aware that if I had a day off school ill, then I was not able to do any of the things that I used to do outside of school, whether that was Brownies/Guides, Swimming, Music lessons or Church Youth group. It’s still something I struggle with today – especially if I have a day off on a Friday – does that mean I’m not allowed to do anything over the weekend?

This all changed when I was in year 11, I was very ill at the beginning of the year, and had to have nearly an entire term off school. I was receiving lessons at home, but I wasn’t actually going to school. However, my mum forced me to go out. She arranged things with my friends, and told me what I was doing! Why did she do this? She was worried that if I stayed at home on my own, that I would just get worse, and recognised the importance of keeping up my relationships with my friends. I think there was also the recognition that by spending time with my friends I could ‘escape’ the illness. When I was with my friends we would spend time talking about the silliness that was happening at school, I would be finding out about all the gossip, I definitely wasn’t thinking about being ill.

The thought this week carries on looking at acts of mercy “When I was sick you visited me” with the quote coming from an anonymous source

“When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘we’, even illness becomes wellness”

I know that I always felt a lot better after I had spent time with my friends. It didn’t cure me, I still needed the medical advice and support, but I did feel better. Illness can be a very solitary thing, and to know that there is love and support from friends and family makes all the differences. This is why the work of hospital Chaplains is so important, they are able to visit those who do not have anyone to visit them.

Afterall, sickness isn’t always visible, there are many who are unwell, but they don’t have a plaster cast or crutches to show everyone else that they are unwell. We cannot make assumptions about people. Everyone deserves to have someone around them.

So what can we do? We can show love and compassion. Even if there is no way to visit those who are ill, we can send a text to show that we are thinking of them. It’s about being aware, and reacting to the need that is there. Sometimes just knowing that you haven’t been forgotten is enough to keep you going when things seem tough. I have learnt how important it is to have people around you when you are ill. Think about how you would want to be treated if you were in that situation.

Challenge: Think about someone you know who has a long term illness, think about a way in which you can show them that you are thinking of them.

Prayer: We thank you God, that you are a God of love and compassion. Help us to show that love and compassion to those around us. Amen

When I was hungry, you fed me

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I’ve just been on holiday to Scotland with friends, and there was one phrase which I heard more than any other… “I’m hungry, I’m just so hungry” this came not from one of my friends but from her 6 year old son! He was always hungry, and yet when he was offered a rice cake, or fruit, or an oatcake, he wasn’t THAT hungry after all – shocking!

This week we start looking at acts of mercy, those suggested by Jesus in the parable of the sheep and the goats. Given at a time when people felt that following God was about saying certain things, doing certain things, and yet Jesus tells them it’s about showing mercy to others.

 Jesus says ‘when I was hungry you fed me’ with all of these acts of mercy that we will be looking at over the coming weeks, Jesus makes it very clear that what we do for others we do for him. This is quite a powerful idea.

I often think that we don’t really know what it is to be hungry, not to be properly hungry. If my friends son had actually been hungry, then he would have quite happily eaten the rice cake, oat cake, fruit. He had the option to choose not to eat those things, and to hold out for the chocolate, sweets or ice cream.

Unfortunately there are many in this world who do not have that option, who are starving, who will eat anything that can to try and get some nutrition. There are people in this area as well.

But what can we do?

Our quote this week comes from Mother Theresa who says

If you can’t feed a hundred People , then feed just one.

 It is difficult to know what to do or how to help, afterall, you wouldn’t want to go up to somebody and just say “would you like some food, you look hungry”

But there are organisations who can do this, who help those who need help. At school we have a yellow bin which supports Foodbank, an organisation that provides food parcels for this who need them. They also work with those Pepe, so that they won’t need food parcels again. By giving to Foodbank and to other charities, you may not physically be feeding someone else, but you are feeding the hungry.

Prayer- father God we thank you that provide for us, that you give us, our daily bread. We pray that you will help us to provide for other people, and show love to them through acts of mercy. Amen

Challenge: find out what can be donated to Canterbury Foodbank and make a donation this week. Encourage others to do the same.

Give me strength

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You can’t beat a good children’s song with actions, and one of the ones I remember the most from when I was little was ‘the wise man built his house upon the rock’ – in fact I am singing it now, and will continue to sing for the remainder of the time writing this blog, and quite possibly the remainder of the day!

The song is from on of Jesus’ easiest parables to understand. Wise man built his house upon the rock, whilst the foolish man built his house upon the sand. The rain came down and the floods came up. The rain came down and the floods came up. The rain came down and the floods came up… The house on the rock stood firm, whilst the house on the sand fell flat.

The theme for this week is ‘give me strength’, and you may be struggling to wonder what this has got to do  with the parable of the builders. Our quote comes from C S Wade who says…

Your source of strength comes from your foundation. Stay grounded, focused and believe in God.

 What is the foundation in your life? Jesus makes it all sound incredibly simple, saying that our foundations should be built on God. If our foundations are built on God, then no matter what life throws at us, whatever silly decisions we make, we will have strength to carry on, and to not lose everything of importance. We are also told that we do not need to do anything in our strength, but can rely on God.

I often wonder how this can possibly be, even though I have experienced it myself many times. Although I know it is mainly about our personal relationship with God, I think it is also about being part of that larger community of the Church. Last Sunday evening I went to the service at Canterbury Cathedral with the Archbishop of Canterbury, bringing together  the week of prayer leading up to Pentecost. It was a fantastic service, it was great to see so many people that I knew, including so many Archbishop’s pupils as well. It is services like these that remind me, being a Christian is not something you do on your own, yes, you always have God with you, but also you share foundations of faith with millions across the world.

We need to have our own foundations in God, and that is where our strength will come from. But what a blessing to know that we are stronger together, and that although we may have differing ideas on some things. The fundamentals are shared. The Church has amazing foundations that we share. We cannot be shaken.

Challenge: find other examples from the Bible that talk about buildings as metaphors for our relationship with God – there are lots

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that we do not need to do anything in our strength, but that our strength is found in you. Help us to strengthen our foundations in you, so that we cannot be shaken when tough times come. Amen