Lent Week 2
My emotions have been further tested by events over the last few weeks. As a staff community, we have been praying for a member where circumstances are very difficult at present and there are students who have lost close family. We have all seen the newsreel of the Ethiopian air disaster. Then last Thursday evening, the news broke describing the shooting in New Zealand and this morning news of shooting in the Dutch city of Utrecht.
I have listened and spoken to a number of children and staff about their understanding of these events and it is difficult to find answers. Questions and confusion are normal feelings to have in times like these. When the clarity of all that is good becomes clouded, God can be difficult to find. In times of tragedy when we’re overcome with anguish, it’s understandable to feel God has forsaken us. But God doesn’t operate within the limits of our understandings. God doesn’t stop existing just because of disaster or human failings.
So where is God for the left-behind ones or those who bear witness to pain and tragedy? He is present at all times; we just have to retrain our eyes to see Him (Easy to say I know!). He is in medical practitioners at QA, in the emergency services on the ground in Ethiopia. He was in the spirits of the first responders in New Zealand and Utrecht who were on the scene in record-time, saving as many lives as they could and He’s especially there in the hearts of those suffering whether that be an adult or a new born baby. No matter the tragedy, the beauty of God remains, surviving and thriving in the face of adversity.
We cannot stand in the shoes of God and give a complete answer to that question ‘why?’ We don’t have God’s mind. We don’t see with God’s eyes. All that we know now is partial and incomplete. We can’t understand everything because we try and see it from a human perspective. And frankly the families impacted by recent events probably don’t need a big theological exposition right now; any intellectual response is going to seem trite and inadequate. What they desperately need now is the very real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. Christian communities like ours can help them feel this through prayerful support.
Lent: End of week 2
I think it was last year that as part of my lent offering I attempted to write something for my blog every week. I thought I would attempt to do the same this year.
In school last week we held our Ash Wednesday services. All of our students were given the opportunity to receive ashes. For the self-conscious teenager, walking around school with a ‘daub ’ of ash on your forehead can be a big deal. However, as a watched student leave school I was pleased to see a significant number of students who had not removed this visible sign of our relationship with God. “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” Were the words that we heard as the ashes were administered on our foreheads. It seems very obvious command, especially for those of us who have been Catholics all of our lives. Being human means we often get it wrong, so we need to repent. Jesus is God, so we need to believe. The task appears to be so obvious that it almost does not need to be said…but why is that? The answer is that we take the task for granted–we disconnect ourselves from Christ’s real message, a message of embracing unconditional love.
For our Year 11 and 13 this time of year is important period of preparation for exams. Lent provides us with an opportunity to prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. Over this period we are encouraged to do something different and refocus. It is a forty-day opportunity for spiritual renewal. Some of us may give something up or do something extra. All of these practices assist us in getting closer to Christ. However, a deep spiritual renewal also comes from listening to Christ during those holy moments. This is why the message of “repent and believe in the Gospel” becomes even more important at this time.
I hope I can keep this up for the next 6 weeks.
End of Lent Week 1
A very warm welcome to the Spring term. Returning to school after the Christmas break on January 7th was certainly a shock to the system for students and staff alike! I hope that you all had a relaxing and inspiring holiday period. This is traditionally the time of year when we can all look forward to lengthening days, shortening nights and the promise of slightly more warmth, although as I write this I can see the mercury dropping.
For students in Year 11 and Year 13 this term is critical. It is the last full term before the final public examinations so revision is key to success. Year 9 students will be working with staff and their parents to make crucial decisions regarding their GCSE subject choices for next academic year. Year 11 students will also continue to consider their chosen pathways post-16. It is always an absolute pleasure to support and guide students through these critical decisions and, as always, students have demonstrated a mature and thoughtful approach as they embark upon the decisions for the next phase of their educational career. A number of our Year 13 students have already received their university offers. Again this year we have a crop of successful Oxbridge candidates.
My key message to students in the exam years is about the importance of hard work. I believe that success is earned not in a dash to the line but in ‘everyday’ lessons and positive study habits. Our most successful students don’t view May/June as a ‘sprint finish’ but as the natural culmination of lots of high quality learning and consistent effort.
The fundamental truth is that every lesson and revision session counts. Developing and sustaining positive learning habits and being organised is the key to having a (relatively) low stress exam period. For students with the right study habits the outcomes will be predictably positive, whilst for those with poor habits the outcomes can be equally predictably disappointing for them. So, let’s all work together to make sure that ‘every opportunity counts’ and we make the most of learning opportunities presented to students every day.
Have a great start to the Spring term and thanks for your continuing support.