Respect your community

Over the last terms we’ve been looking at equality and respect, we’ve looked at many different aspects with both these themes and I think this week’s theme really brings them together. Nelson Mandela said

“The challenge for each one of you is take these ideals of tolerance and respect for others and put them to practical use in your schools, your communities and throughout your lives”

It is all very well for us to know that people have equal rights, but the challenge really is to put that teaching in to practice, in all aspects of life, but especially in our communities as that is when communities grow.

Recently you may have heard the stories of Wainfleet in Lincolnshire, a village that has been flooded and people have had to leave to their homes. In all of the reports when they spoke to the people affected they spoke of the community pulling together.

In fact that is often when the word community comes up, when there are difficult times, but is that the only time it is important?

I’m going to say NO!

Yes, community. Is great when things are difficult, but should we wait until then? How much better if we took the time to develop community in all circumstances, so that when things are difficult it’s not such a big deal. In the letter to the Hebrews it says

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”

Meeting together, encouraging each other, fantastic examples of the importance of community. Jesus didn’t work on his own but he lived in community with his twelve disciples along with other close companions as well. The Christian idea of God is also a community of The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Humans are made to be in relationship with one another, we are good for one another, not just in who groups and chats on social media, but in person. What can you do to develop the relationships in communities that you are part of?

Prayer: father God we thank you that you have made us to be in relationship with one another, thank you for the example of community that you demonstrate. Help us to appreciate the communities that we are part of and develop them to help others. Amen

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Respect your environment

Does it annoy you when you go somewhere and it isn’t clean? If there is rubbish all over the place or horrible marks on walls, floors, ceilings?

I imagine it does with most people, but when it’s somewhere we use everyday we don’t seem to mind as much, but in a way, it is those places we should care more about.

People often also think that with public place especially, that someone else will clean it up, so it’s not our responsibility. But imagine how much more those people who do get paid to clean could do if they didn’t have to pick up litter, or remove marks.

We don’t like it if places are messy but we also don’t seem to be willing to take the responsibility for those places we use.

As we continue on our road of respect we are considering respecting the environment. It would be easy to go down the route of climate change, and that is an important topic, but I want to focus on things a bit closer to home. Our thought for the week comes from Lady Bird Johnson who says

The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share

The environment isn’t just a global thing, each day we are in different environments, whether that is your home, the classroom, school field, toilets, the bus, town centres. We may not own any of these things but we use them. We share these environments with other people. We probably wouldn’t be happy if they were not in a good state when we wanted to use them, so we should try and make sure we leave them in a good state as well. This isn’t just NOT dropping litter, but picking up litter when we see it.

In the same way that Christians believe in the idea of stewardship and caring for the environment, because it has been placed into our care by God, we should think the same when it comes to the environments that are a part of our lives each day

Respect Yourself

We live at a time when there seems to be a lot of blame. If things don’t go right then we work out who is to blame, and don’t always take the responsibility for ourselves. Similarly we can be very good for looking after other people but not so much when it comes to looking after ourselves.

When we think about respect we often think about respecting others, and expecting respect, but don’t necessarily consider whether we are respecting ourselves. I think there are lots of reasons why this might be but that isn’t what we’re going to focus on, we’re going to try to answer the questions why should we respect ourselves and how should we respect ourselves.

Our thought for the week comes Lao Tzu and says

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”

Everyday we are faced with expectations, from society, from friends, from family and then this leads to expectations of ourselves. However, what our thought for the week suggests is that we should be happy with who we are, not comparing or competing. Within Christianity there is the belief that life is a gift from God, that we are all unique individuals, and when God creates he creates that things that are good. Psalm 139:13-14 says

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.”

Because we are each created by God, we should appreciate who we are, and thank God for that. How can we do that? Taking care of ourselves physically and mentally. Recognising our abilities, as they have been given to us by God, and making the most of them. If we show respect for ourselves, we are more likely to respect others and more likely to receive respect as well.

As with so many things, to see a change in the world, we often have to change ourselves.

Challenge: write a list of things that you consider to be strengths and abilities of yours

Prayer: Father God, thank you that you made each of us individually. Help us to recognise that, so that we can be content with who we are and what we can achieve. Amen

Respect

Do you remember that period of time when people would knock their fists together whilst saying “respect”? I never did and still don’t really understand it. I may not have understood it but it was there and the word was said A LOT. However, the more I think about it the more I realise people only seemed to do this when they agreed with something that someone said or did, which gives the wrong sense of what respect is, in my opinion.

Over this final term we will be looking at respect, what respect is and why it is important in different areas of our lives. We are starting off with asking the question – what is respect?

The dictionary definitions are

a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

And

due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others.

As these definitions show, respect is appreciating something that has been achieved by someone, something they are able to do, but also recognising others as fellow humans. It is probably the second definition that we use the most and warranted the fist bump. But my question is, do we expect respect and should that be the case? Our thought for the week comes from Hussein Nishah who says

“Treat people the way you want to be treated. Talk to people the way you want to be talked to. Respect is earned, not given.”

How often have you heard the statement “people today show no respect”? Why is that? Should it be an expectation? Is it because they haven’t been shown respect? Is it because they don’t understand?

The thought for the week suggests we shouldn’t just expect respect, but that we will see respect given when we too, have shown respect. Maybe people are less respectful, but because they haven’t been shown respect themselves. I think this is probably our biggest challenge, to demonstrate respect to all, which will then result in respect for all, but someone needs to start it off.

When Paul was writing to the early Church of Rome he said

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”

Again showing we shouldn’t wait to be respected or honoured, we should respect and honour others first.

Challenge: Is there an area of your life where you see a lack of respect? How can you start the respect ball rolling?

Prayer: father God thank you that you love each and everyone of us unconditionally. Help us to see everyone else through your eyes and love others, even if that isn’t being shown to us. Amen

Accepting Race

If you see a red light on the road, you stop; if you see a green light on the road, you go; if you look at books in my classroom you know that blue or black writing is from pupils class work, green pen is pupils improvement work, and pink is my marking. Colour, in these situations is important, and we know what that colour means because we have been told… it is based on information we have been given.

People have been known to make certain assumptions based on the colour of people’s skin, however, although this may be down to information they have been told, or experiences they may have had, it doesn’t actually tell you anything about the person involved at the time.

In our final week looking at the equality act, we are looking at the characteristic of race. I have mentioned this before but I do tapestry, for the tapestry to work I need to use different colours, different shades. It is only by using different colours and shades that I am able to create a picture. It’s the same in the world, we need people of different races to create the society we are in now, blessed by so many different cultures and backgrounds. Growing up, I loved going to my friends house who lived up the road because she was my friend, I also enjoyed the games console she had, and also her family came from India, and I loved the India snacks that they had!

Many of you will enjoy foods, music, art which have all been influenced by, or come directly from other cultures. And yet… we still hear about racist comments being used in football matches, inequality about employment based on race, as well as general racism in the day to day.

William Faulkner says “To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or colour is like living in Alaska and being against snow”

There are times when colour and origin is important and tell us something about the situation, however with people that is not the case. That isn’t to say that colour and origin are not important for people, and it will have an impact on who they are BUT we should take the time to get to know them as a whole person before assuming that know everything about them by looking at their skin, or based on where they come from.

In the book of acts it says

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. Acts 10:34-35

If God doesn’t show favouritism then we should not know favouritism. We should accept people no matter where they come from, and consider the actions they do rather than something they are not in control of.

Challenge: how can we celebrate the diversity amongst us, rather than criticising it?

Prayer: thank you God that you created us all, that we aren’t all the same. Help to see others through your eyes, rather than the eyes of others. Amen

Accepting religion

Are you religious?

A question which, as a religious studies teacher, I get asked a lot. My answer, is always… No! I am a Christian, and I go to Church, but I am not religious.

Personally, I associate the term religious with following lots of rules. There are a LOT of rules in the Old Testament, but Jesus summarises them by saying Love your God and love your neighbour. At no point does Jesus belittle the rules of the Old Testament, but he recognised that people were getting caught up in the rules, as opposed to why the rules were given in the first place.

After summarising the law, he then tells the story of the Good Samaritan to emphasise that someone who follows the rules doesn’t necessarily do the right thing, and the person was a neighbour, the person whose example Jesus told them to follow was the Samaritan. The Samaritan was considered an enemy to the Jews and the Samaritan would not have been following the Jewish law. However, those who were considered high up in Jewish law did not act like neighbours.

Mahatma Gandhi famously said “God has no religion”

I imagine over time that this has caused a lot of upset, however, a religion is a belief system followed by people. For most religions it is a belief in God that is followed, that manifests itself in different ways but there are also a lot of similarities.

It is easy for people to make assumptions about people based on their religion. It is harder to have a conversation and find out what a persons beliefs are and how that affects their life. But which would bring love in to the world?

Accepting Disability

As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Galatians 4:13-14

So often we find it easier to focus on the things that we are unable to do, than those things we are able to do. We may often do that with other people as well, focus on what consider to be weaknesses rather than what they do well and what they bring to us.

This week, we are focussing on the equality act’s protected characteristic of disability. There are so many issues surrounding this that it may be difficult to focus – but I shall try. Firstly, I think that there can be automatic assumptions that people make. If they SEE someone with a disability, they may focus on what they assume they can’t do. Unfortunately people can also assume that a disability is something that should be seen, and can make assumptions about people who seemingly don’t have disability but may be using disabled systems.

Martina Navratalova said “disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing we’ll you are needed”

Absolutely everyone has something that they can do that others can’t. Everyone has abilities that are a blessing to other people.

As with all of the protected characteristics, a lot of the time all it would take is a bit of time to get to know other people to see what their situation is, and to know how they can be helped to be able to reach their full potential.

Another issue, that possibly doesn’t help perception, is the word itself – disability. It automatically suggests it’s a bad thing, that that person is at a disadvantage. However, is that always the case? In Galatians Paul writes

As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Galatians 4:13-14

This shows us two things, good things can come out of what we call a disability, but also we should welcome, embrace, encourage those with disabilities, as if they are Christ.

Prayer: thank you Lord that you made us individually and that you love us. Thank you that we can all bring something to society, and help us to see that everyone has a part to play. Amen

Challenge: encourage those around you by telling them their abilities and what they bring to your life