Month: May 2017

I am part of His family

What role do you play in your family? Do you have things that you are in charge of? When we used to go camping as a family we each had different roles to play – especially when it came to putting up the tent. My role was sorting out the poles, and then putting them all together and pegs! My mum was definitely in charge and we knew we had to follow her instructions. There were often disagreements and frustrations but the tent always got put up!

Our final ‘I am’ statement that comes with our Easter identity is “I am part of His family”. Your response to this statement will be dependent upon your view of family. I definitely have gone through the frustrated and annoyed response to my family but on the whole I know that my family are people who I share a lot with who will be there to support me when I need it.

So… what does it mean to be a part of His family… God’s family?

Two weeks ago I had to actually pop back up to Birmingham to see my parents. When I was there I went to St. Giles Church on the Sunday. This was the church where I was baptised, where I attended junior church, went to confirmation classes, and actually worked for a year. It was so lovely to be able to go a place which really does feel like family. These were people who have been a part of my life, who have known me, loved me, supported me – I wouldn’t be the person I am now if it hadn’t been for St Giles Church.

I’ve also been to many churches in the country and around the world, and what I love, is the fact that we may have differences about the way in which we worship, and what biscuits we should have but there are many things which we share, especially the love of God and the love of others. This is what it means to be a part of God’s family.

As with all families there will be disagreements, there will be people who will drive us potty, there will be upset, there will be joy… but the love of God and the love of each other will be central. As with our own families each of us will have different roles but each of those are important. A couple of weeks ago Lou Funnell led worship at school and gave everyone a piece of jigsaw to demonstrate that we are all unique but fit together to make a fantastic picture. In a church we need people who can welcome, who can lead, who can sing, who can move furniture…. This is reflected in our thought of the week which says “We each belong to and are needed in the family of God”

Christianity is based on relationships. If we look at God, we have the trinity, each of whom have a role to play God the father – creator and sustainer. God the Son – example, teacher, saviour. God the Holy Spirit – guide and enabler. This is just to name a few. Relationships are essential in all aspects of life, they enable us to see what our role is but also to see that we need other people. Jesus was constantly in relationship as well, he had his 3 closest disciples who were part of the group of the 12 disciples, and we are also told that he sent out 72. The first thing he did after his baptism and time in the desert was to develop a group of people around him. You see his frustrations with them at times, and he still had times of solitude, but the main thing you see is a group of people who ate together (a very important part of being in God’s family) cried together, laughed together, learned together. Jesus’ ministry wouldn’t have worked if he hadn’t been in that relationship, and if he hadn’t shown how important it was.

We have already looked at what it means to be a child of God, and now to see that that means that we are part of a family as well – wow! Over the next week there is a global prayer movement entitled “thy kingdom come” this is one fantastic example of the family of God coming together to make a difference in the world! What part can you play?

Prayer: thank you God that we are adopted in to your family. May we know that we are not on our own but are part of a worldwide movement of people who all love you. Thank you that you demonstrate what it is to be in relationship, and may we learn the role we have to play and how we can rely on other people as well. Amen

Challenge: look into thy kingdom come and see what you can do as a family at home to join in with the family of God.

I am able to approach God

I find it quite amusing sometimes sitting in my office listening as pupils come in, and out, of the classroom. The walls are very thin so I can hear everything. Every now and again I hear pupils saying “just knock, it’s fine”. As I said I find it quite amusing but I imagine it can be quite daunting – having to go and speak to a teacher. Quite often if I ask someone why they haven’t completed something, or why they haven’t done their homelearning I am greeted with the response, “I didn’t understand” to which I respond “well why didn’t you come and ask me?” “I’m not sure”.

I think it is because people are worried that I’m going to get angry, or that I will think they are silly, it may well just be because I am an adult and am seen to have a position of authority at the school. I find it quite odd, but that’s because I don’t see myself as anything other than a human who quite often makes mistakes as well! But when I was at school… well yes… I probably did feel the same way.

So… we find it difficult to approach humans, especially certain ones, normally those older than us, or those in authority. However, within Christianity, because of the events celebrated at Easter, we are told that we can approach God. Yes God. This is the same God we believe created the world, who has always and will always exist, who is perfect, who is all-loving all-knowing, and all-powerful, and yet we can approach him! Now that is daunting!

We will explore what this means later but first let’s get a brief history

In Judaism, in the temple there was something known as the Holy of holies, this is where it was believed that God dwelt. The high priest was the only one allowed in there once a year. Sacrifices had to be made to appease God. God was seen as a distant character who was not available to the normal person.

Yet in Christianity we are told that we can approach God. Our thought this week comes from John’s Gospel and says

This is the confidence we have when approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

We can approach God in prayer, and we can ask for things, and he will hear us – important to note that he won’t always say yes! But prayer doesn’t have to mean asking for things, it can just mean spending time with God. One of the greatest privileges as a teacher is when pupils come and see me, not because they need help, but because they want to tell me about something exciting that has happened to them, an achievement they have had, or because they are upset about something and they just need some space, and normally a hot chocolate! This is because they’ve seen past the scary teacher persona and have seen that actually I interested in their whole life not just their work.

Imagine how frustrating it must be for God (except he doesn’t get frustrated) to only hear from people in prayer when they are desperate or when they are in need. God wants to hear everything, yes he already knows it has happened, but he wants us, to want to tell him. That might mean being highly excitable and thankful, or it might mean sitting in tears not actually able to talk.

I’ve probably mentioned before that I love the Chronicles of Narnia, and one of my favourite parts during the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, is when Lucy and Susan approach Asian as he is walking to the stone table. He doesn’t have a go at them for spying on him, but he allows them to put their hands in his mane. No words are spoken, but it is a very special moment, we are told it is something they had always wanted to do but never dreamt they had been able to. We possibly think it would be great to sit in the presence of God but there is no way we would ever be able to.

The great thing is that because of the cross, we no longer have to wait for someone special to go to God on our behalf, we can approach him ourselves. When I talk about sin I often use an image of two cliffs, man on one cliff, God on the other, with sin separating the two. But then the cross goes in the middle, sin is taken away and man can walk across the bridge to God. Daunting yes, but amazing as well! God wants us to approach him, not because he wants us to be a part of his life (we already are) but because he wants to be a part of ours!

Prayer: thank you God that you sent Jesus to live on earth and to die on the cross, so that we may approach you with confidence. Help us to share all of our life with you not just the rubbish! Amen

Challenge: spend 5 minutes each day chatting with each other about your day, thanking God for the good, and praying for your concerns.

I am not afraid

Do you have a fear? Last year I saw a few people on social media answering quizzes about themselves ‘just for a bit of fun’ – I considered giving it a go. But one of the questions was what are your fears. I couldn’t think of anything. That sounds really big headed but I really don’t think there is anything. There are things I don’t like – I don’t like spiders, but I definitely wouldn’t say I’m afraid of them. I love scary rides at theme parks, and I laugh through horror movies.

The more I think about it, I guess I’m not afraid of specific things, but I do worry about upsetting people, letting down people, and what people think of me.

I have worries. I imagine we all do. All of our worries are going to be different. But we all have them.

This week is our year 11s last week before they start their GCSE exams, and for some it’s going to be their last week in lessons at Archbishop’s. They are going to be worried about exams, but possibly also anxious about how life is going to change for them after 5 years at the school. New challenges ahead of them. For the year 8s some of them might be anxious about going away from home for the first time when they go to France.

I think I’ve made the point, we ALL have worries. BUT part of our Easter identity is that we can say “I am not afraid”. In fact our thought for the week shows that it is actually a commandment! In Joshua 1:9 it says “have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged; for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”.

The commandment seems quite harsh; after all, we have already realised that we all have fears and worries – how can we not? But the verse also gives us an answer – we don’t need to be afraid because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Therefore, we are never alone, there is always someone holding our hand, walking with us, giving us the strength when we don’t feel we have it.

A few years ago when I was having anxieties a friend gave me something to go on my desk that says “let go and let God”. This has been the reminder I have needed regularly. I still come across issues, things that I worry about, but I try to hand it over to God. This doesn’t mean I give the job to God and use that as an excuse not to do it. But it does mean that when things start getting on top of me I go to God and ask for help. I ask God to walk with me through it. That might mean that God provides someone to walk alongside me, or that I suddenly get inspiration for how to get through it, or it might even mean that I have a good cry on God. But by acknowledging that there is something worrying me, I’m suddenly not dealing with it on my own. And sometimes that knowledge is enough.

So… as we approach the final term of the school year with changes ahead for us all, may we all let go and let God. Remembering we don’t need to be anxious because God is with us wherever we go.

Challenge: is there anything you are worried about that is taking over, that you need to hand over to God and ask him to walk with you?

Prayer: father God, we thank you that you have promised to always be with us, which means we do not need to be anxious or try to do anything in our own strength. Help us all to remember this promise, and to let you help us. Amen