Living life in THE WORLD


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


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


The school’s motto is…


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

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?


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


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


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!