Living life in FAITH

This time last year I was in the process of making a very important decision. I had to go on a metaphorical journey, and I had absolutely no idea where it was going to lead me. I had to trust God that He was going to show me the right way, and whatever the result of the decision I would be supported. Essentially, I had to have faith. That is what we’re thinking about this week, living life in FAITH. The parable that we’re considering is the parable of the mustard seed. This is a very short parable with a very important message, the mustard seed is the smallest of all the seeds, and yet when it grows, it is a tree and can hold the weight of birds. You only need the smallest amount of faith, and you can achieve amazing things.

As teachers we often tell pupils that they have to have faith in themselves. What do we mean by that? That even though they don’t think they’re going to be able to do something they have to believe that they actually can. There is a saying ‘faith can move mountains’ I’m not sure it actually can but to have faith in something can make a huge difference.

According to Wikipedia Faith is belief in God, and in the truth of His revelation as well as obedience to him

The thought for the week says it all – in a modern context

Faith is like wifi – you cannot see it but you know it has the power to connect you to what you need

I could not explain to you how wifi works, but I know what it allows me to do. I can buy things, I can contact friends around the world. Similarly I cannot describe what faith looks like but I can tell you that it has the power to allow me to do things beyond my imagination.

There are so many examples of people who had faith in the Bible. Abraham, had been told by God that he would have children, he had faith that that would happen. Moses, helped the Israelites to escape from Egypt he had to do some pretty scary things, but he had faith that God would provide. Noah built an ark!

With all of these examples, the people listened to God and were obedient to God. That is the key. We need to listen to what other people tell us, and listen to what God is saying. We then need to obey what we’re being told and have faith that it will work out. It won’t always be smooth, there may well be tears and tantrums on the way, people may think we’re crazy but that is a small price to pay for what it could lead to.

Challenge: what is on your heart to do to make a difference? Start a plan, what can you do?

Prayer: this is the prayer of st Brendan, I heard it for the first time yesterday and thought it was perfect for this topic

Help me to journey beyond the familiar

and into the unknown. 

Give me the faith to leave old ways

and break fresh ground with You.

Christ of the mysteries, I trust You

to be stronger than each storm within me.

I will trust in the darkness and know

that my times, even now, are in Your hand.

Tune my spirit to the music of heaven,

and somehow, make my obedience count for You

New School. New Friends?

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Hello, everybody!
I’m Masami and I’m in 8 Luke. Mrs Netherton has kindly let me write on this blog to share my thoughts!🙂
A new academic year can be exciting, overwhelming and daunting – all at the same time. Through the year, almost everyone will experience some kind of struggle, especially in year 7. Although there were so many things I enjoyed in year 7, there were also many difficult times for me. I’d like to share my experience with you and hope that it will help you whether you are going through a hard time or not.
When I started year 7, I liked my form, I had lovely teachers and I enjoyed the lessons! However, at first I didn’t realise how challenging the transition from Primary to Secondary was going to be; finding the right friendship group that I could fit into was really hard.
Making a few friends wasn’t too difficult, in my situation. But finding a friendship group that I could spend lots of time with and be myself in that group was a struggle. I didn’t want to pretend to be who I wasn’t just to fit in. I didn’t feel like being with people who didn’t seem to be interested in talking to me. I wanted to enjoy my lunchtime, but I couldn’t. I love being with people and making friends but I always went for the easy option – going to the library, as it was too hard trying to find friends who I could feel myself with. I didn’t know what to do at lunchtimes.
When I was asked things like: “How is secondary school? Have you made lots of friends?” I always hesitated in my answer. I said, “yes”, and smiled because I had made some friends. Deep inside, I knew this wasn’t a confident answer – I hadn’t found the right friendship group and I hadn’t made a lot of friends. I felt that I was being judged by how many friends I made and that the more friends I had, the more successful I would be. I didn’t want it to be like that. Now I understand that when I was asked that question, people didn’t mean it in that way, it was just how I interpreted it.
The hardest times were in the first two terms and by the end of year 7, I had more friends and had a group of friends who I usually spent most of my lunchtimes with and I was a lot more positive about my friendships at school. However, my real turning point was through the summer holidays.
At the beginning of August, I went to a Christian youth camp called Newday. I learnt a lot there from all the seminars, talks, worship and even from all the fun time I spent with my church friends! I felt a lot closer to God and learnt to involve Him in every aspect of my life. My Christian faith had been just something I understood in my head, but now it is something that is truly in my heart.
This has given me so much more confidence in everything I do as I know that God is with me always. It changed me and my mindset towards the struggles I had faced. Now looking back on year 7, I can see a lot of things that I could have done differently. If I had got out of my comfort zone, I would have been able to speak to more people and get to know them, rather than trying to run away from the opportunities to do so. I should have looked out for more opportunities and I should have had more confidence in myself. However, I don’t regret having those struggles because I have learnt so much from them and can now share this with other people who might be going through a similar difficulty.
Prayer: Lord God, thank you so much that you are always with us and we can trust in you. Thank you for all the opportunities you give us! We pray that we will have confidence through difficult times and will put all our trust in you. Please be with everyone who is struggling with friendships.
Challenge: Whether you are going through a hard time or not, I’d love it if you joined me in this challenge to get out of your comfort zone and seize opportunities to meet new people and make new friends.

Living Life in FORGIVENESS

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This morning I was listening to a daily devotional, and it was looking at the story of Simeon and Anna, when Jesus was tiny, and they recognised how amazing he was, and the difference he was going to make in the world. Then, there was the question, “Do you still recognise how amazing Jesus is? Or do you just take it for granted?” I have to admit the question hit me like a bolt out of the blue. That happens though doesn’t it? Things that we are so fortunate to have, and we don’t acknowledge them, but just take them for granted.  Parents, houses, food, education!

Last week I was teaching about forgiveness to the year 11 full course RS group. I always forget how difficult it is to talk about forgiveness, and to explain it. I fear I may have sometimes got to the point where I take forgiveness for granted.

The parable that we have chosen to talk about forgiveness is the parable of the prodigal son.  The son asked for his money, pretty much suggesting he wished his father was dead. The Father allowed it. The son went away, spent it all, and came back once it had all gone and he had nothing else to do, and realised how good he had it at home. The Father welcomed him back with open arms.

In the same way the Father gave his son what he asked for; God has given us freedom. We have been given freedom to make our own decisions, which more often than not, will lead to mistakes. But when we realise we have made mistakes we can go back to God, we can say sorry and we are forgiven. We are welcome with open arms.

I know a lot of people who really do not like the idea that God will forgive all mistakes, if someone is truly sorry for what they have done. Murderers, bullies, thieves. I understand where they are coming from, it seems as though someone is being rewarded for doing something horrible.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you are saying an act is OK. Forgiveness is accepting that someone made a mistake and not holding it against them.  It isn’t easy, as it involves letting go of things and not wanting to take revenge.

Gee Walker’s son Anthony was murdered, by boys he’d grown up with. Gee forgave the boys who murdered him, and she said it was because she needed to grieve and that was a big enough burden without worrying about revenge as well. That was beyond her control, and that was under God’s control.

Why do we forgive? CS Lewis said “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in us”. We have been forgiven, therefore we should forgive. How do we do that in our daily lives? Pass it on to the appropriate person to deal with. Don’t hold a grudge. By holding a grudge, it weighs you down, and can be detrimental to your health!

I know there are no real answers here, but, hopefully it has set some cogs turning! Don’t allow forgiveness to be taken for granted, recognise it for the gift that it is.

Prayer: Father God we thank you that Jesus died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. Allow us the strength to forgive those who hurt us.

Challenge: If there is something that someone has done that is still playing on your mind and causing upset/anger. Write it on a piece of paper and put it in a Bible/screw it up/ throw it away. Give it to God. Let Go and let God!

Living life in LOVE

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This week my husband has been working half-days so has been arriving home before me. I would always let him know when I was leaving the school building, and every time I arrived home there was a cup of tea waiting for me – it was just what I needed – it was Love.

A lot of people associate Christianity with RULES, that there are certain things you MUST do, but unfortunately they think more about the things that you must NEVER do. When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was he said TWO things:

  1. To Love the Lord your God
  2. To Love your neighbour as yourself

For Jesus, all you needed to do was to Love. There was no question that Love should be the first of the School’s Values. But what does it mean to Love? The people at the time when Jesus said this didn’t know either, they specifically wanted to know who their neighbour was, so he told them the parable of the Good Samaritan.

This is quite a familiar parable, and it tells us so easily what it means to live a life in Love.

The first thing I want to think about is our expectations. Why are we so shocked in the story when the Priest, and the Levite walk by? Why are we so shocked when the Samaritan helps? It is because we all have expectations of people. The Priest and the Levite were both ‘Holy’ people, surely they should automatically help out someone who was injured? The Samaritans and the Jews hated each other, so surely the Samaritan should just walk by if he sees a Jew in trouble?

Why should that be the case? Why should it only be only the ‘holy’ people that should be expected to help? Why shouldn’t we expect that any person should try to help. We should have been equally as shocked for a Samaritan to walk past and not help, and yet, we possibly wouldn’t.

This takes us on to the second point which is acting in love to our neighbour. The point of Jesus’ parable is not that we should help our enemies, but that actually we shouldn’t have enemies, but we should love All people, as they are ALL our neighbour.

The Samaritan helped the Jew because he could see that he was in pain, that he had been left for dead. He knew that if he was in that position he would want to be helped. It didn’t matter that he was politically considered and ‘enemy’ it mattered that he needed help.

That is how we should approach life. Living a life in love doesn’t have to be extravangant, it is thinking about how you would like to be treated and treating others in the same way – no matter who they are. Making a cup of tea, holding a door open, helping a new pupil who looks lots, saying hello, asking if someone is OK, helping to spell a word, helping to find a lost book/tie/kit…

The Archbishop’s school is SO good at this already. Over the last 3 days I have seen so many pupils helping out others. A few who have been late to my lessons, because they’ve been taking pupils to their lessons. Since last September we have sent numerous donations to Canterbury Foodbank, to help those who need food. The Bin is still in in the foyer, if you are able to give. As a school we give a lot of money to charity, and to a range of charities. The challenge is to see what more we can do, we may not think it a lot, but to someone it can make a huge difference.

The two commandments from Jesus are inter-linked. As we love God, we will automatically love others.

Love, is a small word, it can be very very daunting, but it is actually very simple…

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you loved us so much that you sent your son Jesus to live among us and die on the cross, in place of us. We pray that we can show that Love to those around us, in school, in Canterbury, in the world. Amen

Challenge: Each day, show love to someone who you don’t know! There doesn’t need to be a reason, other than to show love!

Living life to the full

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It’s September, and it’s the start of a new school year, so let’s start as we mean to go on, with a blog!

I’ve had a fantastic summer, possibly the best to date. Previously, I am ashamed to say, the majority of my summer holiday would have been spent on the sofa watching box sets. This summer, I have made it through the first season of a new box set, but I have also done a lot of things including: going to 3 castles, going to the theatre twice, spending time with family and friends, going on a bouncy castle, singing in front of family and friends, playing football, going for lots of walks, and driving a speedboat. My husband works shifts so we made the decision, that when he was at work I would do school work, and when he was off We would do things together. And it worked. You could say that I well and truly took advantage of the spare time this holiday. I lived my holiday to the full.

This term in our worship we are going to be looking at who we are as a Church school, what values do we hold and how do those values live out in our everyday lives? All of the values we hold can be summed up by this statement and our thought for the week from John 10:10 when Jesus says “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.

What does it mean to live life to the full? In the secular world it may mean YOLO, or having a bucket list, maybe performing death defying stunts. But I don’t think that is what Jesus was talking about when he said that he came that people may have life to the full.

The Christian life is not an easy life, in fact, at times it can be very difficult. In many countries people are persecuted for saying that they are Christian. Yet, they would say that they have a full life, in Christ. They mean that they recognise the life they have been given because Jesus died on a cross for them. They recognise the gifts that they have been given by God, and they want to use those gifts to bless God, and bless others.

We are told in the Bible that God provides what we need; we are told that we have new life in Christ because he died on the cross and defeated death by rising again. This belief shapes our lives so that we can be grateful for what we have, and share what we have with others, and therefore share God with others.

This summer, me and my husband recognised that we had limited time together but the time we had together we made the most of, and it’s been awesome. We may not think we have a lot, but we have we can use and we can give. So what does this Full life look like? What values define it? You’ll have to tune in over the next few eels to find out!

Prayer: thank you God for what you have done for us, and that you sent Jesus to die on the cross, in our place, that we may have life to its fullest. Help us to learn what that means and how we can live that life this term. Amen

Challenge: start to think about what defines you. What do others see about you? Do you take advantage of situations you are placed in? Write it down, keep it in a safe place, and let’s see if that changes over the next term/year

 

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?