Month: October 2016

King of Creation

I must apologise now as I am about to mention a word hitch brings excitement and dread, and probably shouldn’t be mentioned for a few more weeks but… as we approach Christmas, we are going to be considering the theme The king is coming. Jesus is often spoken about as a king, but not the kind of king we automatically think of. Over the next few weeks we are going to explore what we mean when we say Jesus is king, but also, how we can respond to that.

Our first idea is Jesus as King of creation. At university I studied Johns gospel, for those of you who have t read Johns Gospel I would recommend it, it is not like the other Gospels, there is a lot of symbolism and signs within it. It doesn’t start off with the traditional nativity story but talks about the word. We are told that in the beginning was the word, then skip forward a few sentences and the word became flesh and dwelt among us – John wrote it much better. The word is Jesus, Jesus has always existed. Jesus was there before time, with God, Jesus is God, Jesus then became flesh and came to earth, before returning to the father.

We don’t often associate Jesus with creation but he was there, he was a part of it, some have said that The father spoke the words, but Jesus was the words. Christians believe that God created the world, there may be disagreements about exactly how that happened, but there is the belief that God was there, and involved.

I don’t know about you, but I find that if someone has given me something that they have made, I am more likely to take much greater care of it, than if I just bought it from a shop. I don’t have children but I still have lots of pictures around my house drawn by children of friends or family. That is also the same with gifts that I have been given. I take more care of it.

However, I’m not sure my attitude to the world is the same? And yet, it was created… it was freely given… also God put humans in charge of it! I love this quote from Mary Angelou

“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realise and remember that everyone else and everything else are also Gods creation”

It is very easy for us to think of ourselves as Gods creation, but it is sometimes more difficult to think about other things and especially other people as Gods creation. Mary Angelou says that we are obligated to remember it. That suggests it isn’t our choice whether we want to recognise God’s creation, but that we should.

How does that live out in our lives?

Simple things such as not dropping litter, but also picking up litter that others have dropped. Treating other people the way you expect to be treated – not just your friends, but everyone. Thinking about recycling, encouraging others to do so as well. Thinking about people across the world who do not have as much as you, how can you help them?

Jesus is the king of creation, but he’s handed the baton of responsibility to us. How are we going to use that? Are we just going to look at the baton and think at that’s nice, or are we going to run with it, and pass on a more hopeful race.

Prayer: thank you God for your gift of creation, we pray that we recognise it is a gift, and treat it as such. We pray that E don’t only think of ourselves as your creation but recognise your creation all around us. Amen

Challenge: look for Gods creation around you, look for things which are ruining that creation and ry to make a difference. E.g. Pick up litter, say hello to someone who looks lonely, think anything it how much you are recycling or wasting

Living life in THE WORLD

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This half term we have been looking at what means to be at Archbishop’s School, thinking about the values that we hold as a school. The values of Love, Faith, Forgiveness, Service and Perseverance. It’s great to think about how we show those values at school, but we don’t live there (even if it might feel like it at times).

In Mark’s Gospel, after Jesus has resurrected and spent more time with the disciples, he then says to them…

, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”

This must have been really daunting for the disciples. Afterall, they had spent 3 years with him, recieving teaching from him, watching first hand the example that he was setting for them. What an awesome privilege. He then was crucified, but returned. They must have been ecstatic (probably very confused as well) but overjoyed. Then he says he is going again. I can’t imagine. But before he goes, he tells them to go into ALL THE WORLD and PREACH THE GOSPEL. Not much of a task then!

AND YET… this instruction was given to 12 people, and now 2000 years later, we are reading about it, and talking about it!

This is known as the great comissioning and it is still our comissioning today.  It isn’t saying that we have to stand on street corners reading from the Bible – although some people do enjoy that. The best way to spread the good news, is to live the good news. That’s where our school values come. We’ve seen over the past weeks how each value is important on it’s own. But imagine if everyone lived lives of love, faith, perseverance, forgivenss, and service.

It’s easy to show those values in a school, where everybody is living those values, but what about when we get into the outside world, where people don’t think the same as we do? That’s where it becomes difficult. As we so often say, life isn’t meant to be easy but… we are not alone. Jesus may not physically be by our side, but the Holy Spirit is with us always.

Over the last few weeks we’ve had the privilege of hearing from a variety of charities and organisations that are putting these values into practice. On Friday, in our dedication service, a former pupil is going to be talking about how she, in her work, is following this comission of going out and telling others.

We are not all called to tell the whole world, but if we each tell/show a couple, then imagine what a difference we could make.

Archbishop’s is a small part of your life, but it is one you will remember. What are you going to take from it?

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you have given us good news to share. We pray that you give us the courage to share the good news with those we are incontact with. Amen.

Challenge: Think about the 5 values, which do you think you demonstrate easiest, which do you think you might need to work on – to show the world?

Living life in Perserverance

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I went to King Edward VI Handsworth School for girls in Birmingham, this was one of only a handful of grammar schools in Birmingham (it’s a very different system there).

I didn’t find school easy, I wasn’t one of the brightest, and would often find myself at the bottom of the class…struggling to understand…frustrated that everyone else seemed to ‘get it’ a lot quicker and easier than me. Yes, I played music, but I had to work hard at it, and still, there were others for who, it came a lot easier than me. I was so happy at school, I had awesome friends, who are still friends now, but when it came to work, I found myself frustrated and miffed a lot of the time.

Then, of course, there was the diagnosis of epilepsy aged 11. Not only was I trying to cope with secondary school, but also trying to deal with coping with seizures, trying out different medications, finding concentration difficult because I kept having absences, having prolonged periods of time off school.

After 7 years I left Handsworth with amazing experiences, the most awesome group of friends, GCSEs, A-levels, a place to study Religious Studies and music at university, and grades 8&6 in clarinet and piano. Not bad, considering how difficult I found it.

Every year there are prizes given at Handsworth, the majority of which are for academic excellence, or excellence in music, drama, sport etc… But there is also the Helen Bagnall (maiden name) prize for perseverance. In my first year of university I got a phone call from my dad, who said that he contacted the school, to see if he could donate a prize, in my name. So he did. This was his way of telling me how proud he was of the way I dealt with everything that life threw at me at school, but also to encourage other girls not to give up.

Why am I telling you all this? Our final value as a school is perseverance. All of the values are important, but I think this one is possibly the most difficult to master. The idea that when we face adversity, that we don’t give up. We need to keep trying.

I am a massive fan of friends, and I can remember what happens in most episodes, and the one that fits in here is ‘the one with the ultimate fighting champion’. One of the character’s boyfriends is a millionaire after he created a computer programme called Moss 865. He then decides he wants to be an ultimate fighting champion, so he has his first fight, and is pulverised within seconds. He then has a second fight and is left for dead. His girlfriend says something along the lines of ‘well you gave it a go, but now let’s stop’ to which Pete says ‘I’m not going to stop until I am the ultimate fighting champion, why do you think Moss 865 is called Moss 865? It’s because there were Moss1-864 which didn’t work”

This character knew about perseverance, he had a goal, he wasn’t going to give up, he learned from his mistakes. We never find out if he became the ultimate fighting champion, but we know that he was going to persevere.

When we get things wrong, when we struggle with things, it is so easy to just give up, but perseverance is about getting back up again, and giving it another go. We are not going to become experts at everything, but we can learn and develop from those adversities.

The parable linked with this value is the parable of the widow and the judge. Jesus told this parable to encourage his disciples to persevere in prayer. Essentially, we have a widow who keeps seeking justice from a judge, who keeps turning her away, until he eventually grants her what she was asking for, because she was so persistent. This isn’t to suggest that we will always get whatever we want, but that we should keep trying, because we never know what we might achieve.

I know I say this most weeks, but things aren’t going to be plain sailing for any of us, we are all going to come across problems, and they are all going to be different. We won’t all respond in the same way. What might be a problem for one person, may not be for someone else. That’s fine, that’s one of the joys of being human. The question is, how will you deal with it? Will you get knocked down and stay down? Or will you be like the lyrics of tubthumping, by chumbawumba “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you ain’t never gonna keep me down?’

I wouldn’t have got through school without some amazing teachers who would spend extra time with me; my friends who would help me to understand some of the difficult concepts in Philosophy, Theology, and Music; my epilepsy sister who helped me learn to deal with the illness; and of course my parents who supported me, tirelessly throughout. Perseverance isn’t something we should do on our own. Sometimes the only way we can persevere is by accepting that we are stuck, and asking people to help us.

Sometimes, it may take us longer to get back up than others, sometimes we will need more support to get up again than at other points, but the parable teaches us that we should keep persevering, both physically and in prayer, trusting that it is part of God’s plan for our lives.

Challenge: is there something that you tried once, but gave up quickly because it was difficult? Give it another go. (I’m going to find my guitar out again – and persevere with not being so good, and with the pain on my fingers – you can keep me accountable to it as well)

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you are with us in the good times, and the tough times. Help us not to give up, but to persevere in all aspects of our life as we learn and grow in you Amen.

Living Life in SERVICE

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The school’s motto is…

ENTER TO LEARN. GO FORTH TO SERVE.

Service has played a huge part in the life of the school, whether that is helping out each other on a daily basis, opening doors, carrying books, helping someone who is upset. But also in serving the larger community and the world as well. Just last week some of our sixthformers went to the hospital to act out scenarios for GP training; we also had a group of year 8 students putting on a cake sale to raise money for Macmillian Cancer care. We are a caring community.

However, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder what is it that I can give. If someone is asking for help, I think “well I couldn’t do that, so I’m going to look somewhere else, and hope that they don’t ask me directly”. We can think that we don’t have anything to offer, so we hide away.

The parable this week is the Parable of the Talents, where different servants are given different amounts of money to look after whilst their boss goes away. Two of them double the amount of money, whereas the one who is given the least, buries it and then gives it back.

I have just got back from a harvest service at church. Harvest is a time when we give thanks for the produce of the land, and often a time where we make donations to give to others who are more in need. I always get amazed at these services because you look at what you’ve bought and maybe think ‘that’s not much, what difference is it going to make?’ but then when everybody brings forward their gifts, there is an overwhelming amount.

We have all been given different gifts by God, some of us are good at writing; others telling jokes; running; music; art… I’m not going to list any more in case I offend somebody by not listing their talent! The question is, how can that skill benefit other people? The cake sale that took place on Friday, was organised by some girls in year 8, they would have done a great job by themselves, but they used their skills of organisation and persuasion to get a load of teachers to donate cakes as well. This meant that were able to raise more money. The cake sale would not have been beneficial if it didn’t have cakes, but it would have been even worse, of there weren’t people to buy the cakes as well.

Jesus came to serve and not to be served. This is the example we should follow. We may not be able to do everything, but we should ask the question, what skills do we have, and how can those skills be used to serve other people – that may just be a parent or a friend, it may be a larger group of people. A gift or talent is much better if it is used, rather than hidden. By using your gifts/talents you may even encourage others to use theirs.

Imagine what a difference the school could make, if everyone used their gifts to serve others. WOW!

Challenge: Make a list of all the things you are good at. How can those things be used to serve others?

Prayer: Father God, thank you for giving us all gifts and talents, help us to recognise those gifts and how we can use those to bless others. Amen