Welcome to your Connect 'Thought of the Day'
Thursday 25th February
Lean In This Lent
This week we have been focusing on the importance of our decisions, what our purpose is and how we can find meaning in what we do. When we know and understand our purpose, it can lead us onto the greatest achievements.
Today, Mrs Bagdoniene is going to talk to us about one man we are all connected to and from whom we can draw much inspiration....
Let there be Light! By Mrs Bagdoniene - Head of Burrows House
Have you heard of Thomas Edison?
Thomas Edison invented thousands of things. Whenever you reach to turn on lights, which nowadays come in different forms and shapes, bear in mind, you can do this because of Thomas Edison, who invented the first light bulb. This was not the case for a long time, when people needed to get the candles and gas lanterns after the sunset.
Thomas Edison was praised everywhere and called a wizard and genius for his inventions. Far from basking in this limelight, he dismissed the notion of genius by saying:
‘Genius is 1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration.’
What did he mean by this?
Hard work! The importance of always trying to work hardest and doing your best possible.
So often other inventors and scientists scoffed and said it was not possible to create the ‘electric lightning’ in the form of the light bulb and that it went against all known rules of Physics. Edison paid no attention and plunged into the problem with real energy and commitment, and worked really hard. So why did he think that it was so important to try the hardest?
Because the fruits of his inventions due to his hard work made everyone’s lives easier and happier. So, when we switch on our lights tonight, we remember his hard work and dedication. More importantly, let his belief in genius being 99 per cent perspiration be inspiration for us to try our hardest to achieve our goals: to not be put off by other people’s scoffing nor by not succeeding at first.
Pause and Pray
Lord, help us to have the strength and perseverance to reach our goals.
Help us not to give up.
Let us remember the people who make our lives what they are today.
Wednesday 24th February
Lean In This Lent
Challenging the Inner Voice
At the beginning of this season of Lent we have been exploring what our purpose might be, how we find meaning in life and how important connection is.
Finding purpose, meaning and connection is a life long journey and a journey that changes over time as we travel through life and our circumstances change.
I said yesterday that at some point we all, by design or default, end up making decisions. By knowing what our values are, why we do what we do, and having a sense of purpose in our decision making, it can make the choices we make more manageable to navigate.
Here’s an example from my life…
I remember when I choose to take my education seriously (like really seriously, like my future depended on it) and value it. I was 20. I really struggled in school and sixth form with undiagnosed dyslexia. Everyone (ok, probably not everyone) was having an easier time than me in school at learning and being successful. But my brain was not playing ball. My brain simply didn’t like having to remember huge amounts of information and then having to write it down in coherent sentences in an exam.
But I realised, as I watched no less than 7 friends go off to medical school that if I sat around feeling sorry for myself I wasn’t going to get very far, personally or professionally.
So, I asked myself what am I good at? What do I enjoy, where is there a need and how can I help?
My answers where – being with young people, talking, schools, become a teacher
So, whilst thinking I would probably fail, I applied and got into university to study theology (sounds fancy right!). I knew it would be hard. I knew I would have to challenge my inner voice that said everyone else had it easier than me (they didn’t, but their difficult looked different to mine). I knew I would have to find my own strategies for getting through the course, like opting for coursework over exams so I could do 50 drafts before submitting an essay. I knew it would take me longer to read books, do research and write things down. But I valued what I was doing and what a degree would give me. My value in my education and the opportunities that would open up because of it gave me the energy to push on with purpose towards my goal. I connected with lecturers and my dyslexia tutor and with their help I gained a 2:1 degree in theology. Something that previously I thought was impossible.
I wonder if Jesus thought the wilderness would be impossible? I wonder what he thought going into that deserted place, did he wonder if he could do it? Did Jesus have to challenge his inner voice?
I take great inspiration from Jesus’ focus on his values, his purpose and how he remained connected to his father in heaven.
What do you need to value, find purpose in and connect to today?
Pause and Pray
Thank you that you connect with us through your Son Jesus Christ
Thank you that you bring life in all its fullness.
Help us today to connect to our values and our purpose and help us to use these to help us make wise decisions today and every day.
Tuesday 23rd February
Lean In This Lent
Decisions, decisions, oh what to choose!
We saw yesterday in Matthew 4:1-11 how Jesus had a choice in the wilderness. He could either take the easy choice and listen to the devil and be tempted by the riches of this world, or tell the devil to ‘get away’ and make the right choice to turn away from selfishness and worldly riches which wither and fade.
Selfishness doesn’t bring us the life we truly desire, a life of connection, meaningfulness and purpose.
Jesus understood that his true desire was to be connected to his father in heaven, to have a meaningful ministry once he left the wilderness which would bring people life in all it’s fullness, which would lead him to his purpose of bringing life to all of humanity through his sacrifice and resurrection at Easter.
Jesus knew and understood who he was connected too, what was worth fighting for and what his purpose was on earth. It helped him remain focused when the wilderness got hard.
I have noticed that as human beings we love to make our own decisions. We like the sense of purpose, control and freedom it gives us. It’s one of the reasons being young can be so hard, it can feel like everyone else is making your decisions for you.
At some point we all, but design or default, end up making decisions. By knowing what our values are, why we do what we do, and having a sense of purpose in our decision making, it can make the choices we make more manageable to navigate.
So what are your values? Have they changed during the pandemic? Do you need to make some decisions today on what your values and purpose are?
Here are some questions you may find helpful as you explore these questions…
What am I good at?
Where is there a need?
How can I help?
Pause and Pray
The Prayer of St Richard
Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given us, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us. Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day.
Monday 22nd February
Lean In This Lent
Do our choices really matter?
In JK Rowling’s book: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Albus Dumbledore says
“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”
Lent offers Christians a time to reflect on their behaviour and the choices they have made for example if they have been selfish or if they have taken time to think of others. It is a time to prepare, rethink and re-evaluate all aspects of their life and to look at the direction life is leading them.
Matthew 4: 1-11 New Revised Standard Version
Jesus in the Desert:4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ 4 Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ’ 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the highest point of the temple. 6 ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘“He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ 7 Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. 9 ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’10 Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” ’ 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
In the Bible reading from Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has been led into the wilderness at a pivotal moment in his life. He has just been baptised by John the Baptist and he is about to start his ministry. The wilderness is a place where ordinary life is suspended, very much like lockdown. The Wilderness is also a place of reflection, questioning and where place where new possibilities can emerge. It is also seen as a place of danger and temptation, a time when doubt and challenge creep in. Matthew’s account highlights this in the form of the devil offering an easy alternative. Jesus is challenged into making a decision between good and evil. One choice will be the more difficult but the result will be a life which is the one God has ordained Jesus to lead, or the easy one route which will lead Jesus away from God’s plans.
I was really struck that the wilderness is a place of questioning and new possibilities. Is it that only once everything has been stripped away can we see clearly what is really important? I think many people have found that during the pandemic, life's essentials have been brought into sharp focus, have you found that in the last year? Have you found what is really, truly important to you?
The Wilderness is also a time to question. Question God. Question ourselves. Question each other. Question what we want our future to look like. This pandemic has given us the challenge and the opportunity to not take the easy paths, but rather choose what is right, good and most loving.
I think are at a fork in the road as the glimmer of light starts to shine in this pandemic. So what next? Do we take the easy route and carry on as before slipping back into old habits? Or do we make brave decisions to move forward out of this pandemic and rebuild something stronger, more sustainable, more loving, fairer and focused on what is really important? What do you want for your future? Our future? The future of our planet?
This lent we are going to journey and lean into all of these questions and so much more.
Pause and Pray
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Friday 12th February
The Power of Words – By Mr Thomas
My Dad gave me 2021 calendar for Christmas, a funny gift offering daily ‘Trumpisms’, words spoken by the former President of the United States, over the course of this year. Donald Trump has never been short of things to say!
How President Trump used his many words during his Presidency and their effect was starkly revealed on 6th January as America’s equivalent to our Houses of Parliament were invaded by a violent mob, emboldened by years of Trump rhetoric and the specific, inflammatory language he used on that day. The words he has spoken have had consequences, serious consequences, for democracy in our world.
The Bible offers its readers wisdom and warnings about the power of the words that come out of our mouths. Here are a couple of examples:
‘The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.’ Proverbs 12:18
‘A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.’ Proverbs 15:1
We know what it feels like when someone says something to us that really hurts; it is like being physically struck by something sharp. We also know how good it is to hear helpful, wise words when we’re going through difficult times. How easy it is to create confrontation with what we say. How easy, too, to repeat factual inaccuracy and gossip.
Are we aware of the tremendous power we have when we speak? The power to build people up or to knock them down; the power to be kind or unkind; to encourage or undermine? Do we think about what we are going to say before the words leave our mouths?
Think about the difference you can make today to those you come into contact with by the words you choose to use. Ask God, by his Spirit, to give you control over the things that you say and to use words that help rather than hinder.
Pause and Pray
Make my words honest and true,
economical and few,
wise and well-chosen,
calm and kind.
Thursday 11th February
Memory Maker – By Mrs Faulkner - HOH and one half of the Otter dream team and currently top of the House points leader board!
When you meet people what is it that you remember about them? How do they make an impact on you?
For me it is the way a person makes me feel after I have seen them that I remember. Did they make me smile? Did they show me kindness? Did I leave feeling better for seeing them? It’s the people that do make me smile, encourage me and show me kindness that have an impact on me. I don’t think I am unique in feeling that way, I wonder if you are the same?
The media tries to tell us that it is external things make us popular and successful but when we look around us we see that it is the way people act and treat others that has the biggest impact on the world. If we look to the bible we can see countless examples of Jesus treating others with kindness and compassion and telling his followers to do the same.
SO my challenge to you today is to ask yourself the following questions:
How do you want people to remember you?
How can you make that happen today? This week? This year?
Pause and Pray
Thank you for giving us all the ability to show love and kindness to others.
May we be a community that builds each other up and leaves others feeling encouraged
and uplifted, even when our own circumstances are difficult.
In your name,
Wednesday 10th February
A CONNECT thought for the day from The Grassroots Trust
EMBRACE the WORLD
During lockdown we cannot go to the world. Even when we can travel again, it will not be appropriate to hug everyone you meet. So, that’s not what we mean…
In our hearts, in our attitudes and in our spirit …. we will be bigger people, better people if we EMBRACE the WORLD.
As many of you know many Bishop Luffa students have travelled to visit the Grassroots project in Tanzania. Sadly in 2020 the school was forced to cancel the trip, but we hope there will be future trips. For us, the best thing about the trips is introducing all of you to OUR FRIENDS! We went because of a dream… and we keep going because we are … well… family! God has put us together as neighbours, partners, friends….
We are on this planet together. We stand for each other. We know and love each other.
Jesus said in John 13 verse 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another”
There is a temptation to retreat into yourself and run away from the risk of being friends with people who are not like you, to pull up the drawbridge and fool yourself into thinking you are happy enough. But… life can be so much more than that if you…
EMBRACE the WORLD
What other thoughts do you have that are triggered off by the phrase “EMBRACE the WORLD”
How does idea change what we think of charity? How does it change the way we think about refugees … or migrants?
Pause and Pray
Please God, help us open our hearts to others even when we cannot be with them.
Help us find a way to “embrace” people, particularly those who are not like us or are living on different bits of the planet in very different situations.
Show us how to enjoy them and build genuine friendship with them.
Tuesday 9th February
Overcome – By Ella Saxton Year 10
Everyone has goals, everyone hopes for a bright future, everyone at some point will have daydreamed about what their life is going to look like in 2, 5, even 10 years. I myself hope to one day be living in a luxury apartment with robots as my staff and a swimming pool!!
Unfortunately, due to lockdown, many people have been forced to put their dreams on hold; pupils taking A-levels and GCSEs have had to accommodate to the changing times as the exams are cancelled and switched to teacher assessments; university students are having to take online courses after so much time spent studying to get where they are; and others have had to give up plans for 2020 and 2021. Right now, it is difficult to imagine a good future when the world has been affected so drastically by this virus. It may seem like there is no point in putting in any effort when everything is such a disaster. But this is far from true.
Does anybody know the story Little Women? In that book, the protagonist Jo March must overcome the social injustices of the time in order to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a writer, something she, after several years of effort and struggle, deservedly achieves. It's always very inspiring to hear when others manage to achieve their dreams after so much hard work but some problems we just can't overcome (a global pandemic for instance). However, that doesn't mean we're useless. Plenty of new opportunities may have opened up to us that may never have happened without the pandemic e.g. becoming closer to family as you are stuck at home almost 24/7, developing new skills to pass the time, discovering passions you have that you never even considered before.
There is a quote in the Bible: 'I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.' - Philippians 4:13.
Christians might find their inner strength through their faith and trust in Jesus but I think that, even if you aren't a Christian, you can take something away from this quote: we find the motivation to pursue our goals and keep pushing forward through each other. Who or what do you think has been your biggest motivator during lockdown? Your parents? A sibling? A close friend? It doesn't even have to be a person. Maybe it's a song, a quote, even something you saw on the news.
This is a dark time for humanity but there is hope and just because circumstances have changed more than anyone could've ever predicted, that should not stop you from trying to be the best person you can.
Pause and Pray
Please give us all the courage to stay safe and happy during this difficult time when we are restricted so much in our daily lives. Thank you for the continued resilience of the NHS and give strength to those who are struggling to achieve their goals right now.
Monday 8th February
Hope in times of trouble – By Tom Vosper Year 7 and Delivered in Today’s Live Assembly
Job 1 : 18-19
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!
In times like this, we can all seem to feel like Job. Even though it might not be as severe as what happened to Job, some of us have lost loved ones or have had their parents lose their jobs. And we all want things to get back to normal.
In times like this, it can be easy to blame others and to blame God. Throughout the book of Job, Jobs friends were saying that he should blame God and die. However Job still trusted God, and things got better for him. With the vaccine being rolled out, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Things haven't been easy, and for now things aren't getting any easier. But we can trust God and have hope for the future.
Pause and Pray
Please help us to be like Job and have hope for the future.
Please help us to trust you in these challenging times.
In Jesus name,
Thursday 4th February
Smile and the world smiles with you – By Aimee Fordyce (10 Story)
In lockdown, it's hard not seeing anyone. I don't know about the rest of you but I find I stop showing any emotions on my face, as the need for body language is eradicated by the ever-present keyboards and screens that fill our days. We stop laughing out loud, instead typing lol, maybe with a little smirk if the joke was hilarious.
When we finally see our friends, it's almost as if seeing a screen again, the emotionless faces, and overly emotional voices from endless calls and digital classes.
The bible says “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” (Proverbs 15:13)
So what happens when a glad heart stops making a cheerful face? We still feel the very same happiness, but the smile stays inside where it can’t light up someone's day. By just giving someone a smile when they make you feel happy, you can change their whole outlook on that day.
So why not try it?
Video call a friend, someone you talk to or someone you don’t, or call a family you can't see, and smile, because it could change a bad day.
Pause and Pray
Please help us to find our smiles again, in this hard time when we are all struggling.
Please fill our hearts with joy, so we can share it with others.
Thank you for giving us the power to change someone’s life even for a day.
We thank you.
Wednesday 3rd February
United by Love- By Ethan Storey School Captain
We often find ourselves united by different things. This may be the country we live in, the school we go to or the football team we support. Friends, family, school and clubs - these are things we each hold in our heart that bring us together in life. At times during the last year we have all felt distanced and remote from each other and the precious things that unite us. Even when these things feel so far away, there is one thing that unites us all, no matter where we are, what we’ve done, or how we feel.
Not just our love for family, our love for one another, our love for going on holiday or our love for school. God’s love. The bible tells us that God’s love has no limits, no matter our race or our gender. John 3:16 tells us ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son’. This shows that God’s love is so powerful that there is nothing he would not do for humankind. God’s love is an unwavering force that unites all his creation.
Pause and Pray
Thank you for blessing us with your love,
We pray for all those in our hearts,
May you ever continue to unite us in your eternal love,
Thank you for never failing to love us no matter what,
Tuesday 2nd February
Steadfast – By Manka Vecsei (10Wilson)
As we are at the point of our second lockdown, motivation, the energy to wake up in the morning, and to wear something other than our permanent pyjamas are all very difficult tasks. It has been established that it is not easy, not easy at all. However, despite the challenges that face us in this time, we are able to find hope in the fact that we will adapt yet again to this way of life – our species share this incredible ability to adapt quickly to changing environments.
Hope doesn’t have to be this huge feeling of happiness or overwhelming joy: it can simply be plans for the next day. Here is a very inspirational quote from Hebrews 6:19:
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil”
This not only demonstrates the true power of hope, but the joy from stability and ‘steadfast’ routines. If life is too routine you often find yourself in a rut; however, many articles show that having something to rely on every day brings stability into your daily life. Something as simple as going outside for just 15 minutes a day, in between classes or in the afternoon, can make you feel happier and lighter.
A good example of humanity’s unwavering hope is portrayed through the Hill of Crosses, a place in the city of Siauliai in Lithuania, which is covered with over 100,000 crucifixes and other religious icons. There are many legends of how this place came to be; however, the most renowned story of the hill’s creation is the tale of a desperate father whose daughter suddenly fell gravely ill. Through placing a wooden cross on this hill, the father’s prayers were answered, and his daughter got better. Ever since, people have been leaving crosses in hope that their prayers will be answered.
In an effort to stamp out Christianity, the Soviet government attempted to level the hill numerous times during the 1960s and ‘70s: they bulldozed it, burned the wooden crosses and removed the metal and stone ones for scrap and construction. Despite this, the crosses on the mound just kept multiplying, left in the dead of night as an act of defiance against religious oppression. Today, the Hill of Crosses is a symbol of unshakable faith, of suffering, and of hope.
Let us now pause and reflect through prayer:
Although our faith may have wavered,
Thank you for your unwavering love,
And that we are able to find hope within it.
Help us to find hope in the little things,
So that we can go on smiling.
Monday 1st February
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – By Joe Clines King House Captain – Year 12
The year before last, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a production of The Wizard of Oz at Chichester Festival Theatre where I played the role of the Tin man. It was a very surreal and magical experience.
Now, you’re probably wondering what relevance this has to my thought of the day and I promise there is a very good link. Since performing in that show I’ve taken a lot of thematic responses and messages from the musical that I can implement in my life everyday.
I’m sure the majority of you will know the story well. Dorothy, a young girl from Kansas in 1939 (and her very adorable dog) wake up in Munchkin City and embark upon a magical journey along the yellow brick road seeking the wizard to send her back home. Along the way she meets three melodramatic characters who are also seeking the wizard for help in different areas.
The Scarecrow wants a brain. He thinks that because he’s stuffed and made of straw that he’s dumb and unintelligent.
The Tin Man seeks a heart, since he’s made of hollow metal, he’s convinced he doesn’t have a loving part in him.
And finally, the Lion seeks courage as he demonstrates his cowardly behaviour.
So, Dorothy, Toto and her three new besties finally arrive in the merry old land of Oz where they meet the all mighty Wizard of Oz. But, what they all fail to realise is that they had what they wanted all along. Dorothy had a loving home, the scarecrow didn’t realise just how smart he was, the tin man was the most loving and emotional character throughout and the lion simply needed to believe in himself. No tangible object could give them what they needed.
In today’s climate we are faced with a daily mental struggle to keep positive and believe that we will make it. It’s easy to constantly wish for more, but just like Dorothy we need to remember ‘there’s no place like home’. For most of us home is a safe and secure environment where we’re free to be us and we know we’re protecting ourselves from the dangers of COVID - 19. Just like the scarecrow we need to think and look after our brain and mental health so that we can be open and honest with each other in this challenging time. Just like the Tin man, we need to open our hearts, be compassionate towards one another and show only love. And finally, just like the Lion, we must be courageous and know that we will get through this together.
Linking well to this is a verse from Psalm 31:24 ‘Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!’.
If you remember anything today, remember those four characters and what you can take from them to strive to be a positive light we all need!
Pause and Pray
Thank you for giving us the strength to know we have courage in us, to know that we can be loving and intelligent beings.
We pray that you will help those who are struggling to reach out to us and allow us to support one another as we push through this challenging time.
Friday 29th January
Light in the Darkness – By Mrs Smith, Assistant Head
Were you or are you afraid of the dark? Many young children need the light left on nearby at their bedtime or a night light to help them sleep.
We sometimes learn that darkness is something to overcome or endure.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Bible is full of accounts of ways God is at work in the dark. He can transform our nights. The dark can be a place of deep peace and safety where we rest in the trust of who God is and what he is doing. As you go to bed you can tell God honestly what is causing you concern and what needs you have. Then thank him for the ways he is going to be working while you sleep.
In Psalm 24 it says:
“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me- a prayer to the God of my life.”
Pause and Pray
Thank you that you promise to be with us always.
May we know your presence especially at times when we feel anxious and afraid.
Thank you that you work both in the day and the night,
Thursday 28th January
Looking to the Future by Reverend Jo King, Year 10 Clergy
"Blessed are those who trust in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit."
Jeremiah 17 7-8
These verses from Jeremiah are understandably popular. They are worth committing to memory. They remind us to think about where our focus lies, if we spend our time looking at our feet and our immediate difficulty we can forget to look up and see the horizon, to see the sun, to look to the future.
I love this picture below, by taking a moment to look up or climb a tree we can see further and better, we can see over the obstacles to the things that are far ahead. It is easy to focus on what is difficult and hard on the moment but life is always better when we take a moment to alter our perspective and look forward.
How can you take a moment today to look up and look to the future?
Where does your trust for the future lie?
Pause and Pray
I take time today to lift my eyes to you and look to the future.
I put my trust again in you and draw on the deep wells of your love to sustain me.
Be with me today as I look up and know your presence in my life.
Wednesday 27th January
Holocaust Memorial Day- By Mr Barnett, Head of Humanities
Each year British society is invited to observe 27 January as Holocaust Memorial Day.
This date is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz camp by the Soviet Army on 27 January 1945.
During the Second World War it is estimated that 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis in all. Millions more Gypsies, Slavs, Russian POW's, the physically and mentally disabled, homosexuals and others in minority groups perished. We also remember other attempts to wipe out whole groups of people (genocide), such as more recently in Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia.
Holocaust Memorial Day is when we stop to reflect on these terrible events, and commit to doing what we can to avoid such terrible events in the future.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is to be a ‘light in the darkness’. Make sure you are that light, that shines out for freedom, and against discrimination. It isn’t always easy to do the right thing, but it is the right thing to do. Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, of the person who made a stand and helped somebody in need, even though it was unexpected. Everyone can be a Good Samaritan – it might just take a little effort.
Pause and Pray
We remember all those who experienced the Holocaust and other genocides around the World, both those that died and those that survived.
Help them all find peace.
And help us to always be ready to stand up to cruelty.
Help us to be strong and brave and kind, so such things cannot happen again.
You can find out more about Holocaust memorial day at https://www.hmd.org.uk/
Thank you to Mr Evans for this excellent link to an article about how film can help us understand the importance of this day:
Thank you to Mrs Regan (& Mrs Syms-Evans) for this link to an author’s page devoted to the day: https://tompalmer.co.uk/holocaust-memorial-day-resources-and-competition/
Tuesday 26th January
Being the Light - by Mr Goldsmith Head of Andrewes House
I loved the thought from Abi Hughes in 7Sherborne the other day, where she talked about God being the light at the end of the Covid lockdown tunnel. We don’t know when this tunnel will end, but we do know that God can light the way for us. We are called to be like Him and so I tried to think what this would look like in this situation.
I think that if we were to do acts of kindness for others, this would be like a light - something that lifts one’s spirit. This could be in a number of different ways.
• Sending someone a letter to remind them that you are thinking of them. Everyone likes to get something in the mail.
• Do something unexpected for your parents like make the tea or wash up!
• Phoning a neighbour who is on their own, or unable to leave the house.
• Phone a friend and make plans to do something when lockdown ends.
• Collecting shopping for someone who can't get to the shops.
• Walking a neighbour’s dog.
• Sharing something that you have but your friend doesn’t have.
• Turning on your mic’ or camera to wave or say hi to a teacher in your lessons.
There must be countless ways in which you could be the light in the tunnel for someone.
We have a lot of produce from our greenhouse and so I have been putting it in bags and putting it outside neighbours’ doors. I hope they like Kiwi fruit!
Make it your mission this week to shed some light into the life of someone else this week.
Pause and Pray
Thank you for lighting the way ahead for us
Help us today to continue spreading kindness to others in practical ways.
Monday 25th January
Stress - From Today’s Online Assembly
Today’s thought has been adapted from a blog post by Nir and Far, if you’d like to read the whole blog post you can here https://www.nirandfar.com/handling-stress/
Let’s play a game of “would you rather.”
- Would you rather speak in front of 500 people for an hour or be stuck in a lift with someone you arguing with?
- Would you rather get a cavity drilled at the dentist or be forced to take a four-hour Zumba class?
- Would you rather lose your phone before leaving for school or lose your wallet before going to the shop?
None of these options are good, but they all have something in common: they can al causes stress!
What stresses you out? There’s a lot going on right, when will we be back in school? When will I get my vaccine or when will someone I love who is venerable get their vaccine? Will it be ok this month for food and bills? When will I see my friends again? There are so many unknowns at the moment.
How do you deal with that sometimes, overwhelming feeling of stress?
Stress is defined as “mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” We’ve all felt it, but where does stress come from?
Stress comes from the future, but not in the Marty McFly way.
As humans we are unique in our capacity to predict what might happen next. We rely on our amazing ability to anticipate the future better than any other animal, and this ability is a feature of our intelligence.
Unlike other animals, which (as far as we know) react solely to what’s going on in their environment, humans can imagine entire realities in our heads.
Trying to work out what is going to happen next and predicting the future make us act in all sorts of strange ways. For instance, while zebras will run from the sound of a lion in the brush, humans will stampede at the start of a Black Friday sale, imagining the deals we’ll miss if we don’t elbow our way through.
While imagining the future motivates us to pursue what we want, it also comes with a cost. All that thinking about what might happen next is stressful.
Does that mean humans are doomed to lives of constant stress? Does our ability to imagine many futures mean we’re destined to feel constant emotional strain?
This week we mark holocaust memorial day on Wednesday. You may have heard the story of Viktor Frankl, the inspiring psychiatrist who survived imprisonment in Auschwitz , a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust.
He observed first-hand the profound difference between his fellow prisoners who lost hope—and soon died—compared with those who found a purpose. Focusing on that purpose allowed them to take back some measure of psychological control. The difference was literally life and death.
What if I told you that same powerful difference in focus and mindset is impacting you right now?
Viktor Frankl knew something science would later verify: perception can mediate the effects of stress. In other words, two people faced with exactly the same stressful situation can have very different physical and emotional reactions.
The stress we experience is based on our perception of what’s going to happen next. If we anticipate a threatening situation, our body releases stress hormones to prepare us to face the threat.
But if we believe we have control over a threatening stimulus, then we don’t need to prepare for that threat in the same way. We don’t need to be on full alert with the fight-or-flight response gearing us up for survival. How can we regain a sense of control when faced with stress and uncertainty?
Let’s return to the story of Viktor Frankl. Faced with unimaginable hardship, he had no idea how long the torment would continue. There was no guarantee of rescue, and many of his companions died of starvation, illness, or worse.
What did he do differently to cope with the stress?
He changed the focus of his attention. Frankl searched for meaning and purpose in the smallest daily actions, like caring for a friend or saving a scrap of string that might be useful later. He also found long-term meaning and purpose in the idea of survival itself. He reminded himself continuously that surviving this hardship would be meaningful to his family and friends. They needed him to come back to them alive.
This change in focus—from the many uncontrollable aspects of life to the few controllable ones—can have a profound effect. That’s because our perception of reality is, to a large extent, created by the focus of our attention.
Are you facing the stress of an uncertain future? If so, it helps to focus on what you can control. Sometimes that means bringing the finish line closer by setting goals for today or this week instead of trying to figure out what you’ll do three months from now. Sometimes, it means making a list of 10 ways you can stay connected with friends and choosing the best one to put into action now, rather than worrying about when you’ll see them face to face again.
Our school verse from John 10:10 is ‘I have come so that they may have life, life in all its fullness’
Part of the fullness of life is learning how to deal with the stress that will and does come our way.
If you are feeling stressed right now, you are not alone. I feel it too. Life is not meant to be this hard. One step at a time is ok right now, be kind to yourself.
Let us pause and pray that God will help us in the fullness of life, helping us to not get overwhelmed with stress.
Pause and Pray
Thank you that you are ultimately in control and that you work for our benefit. Thank you that you have come so that we may have life in all its fullness.
Help us today to not worry about the future, but rather, fix our eyes on the small things we can do today that will bring purpose, meaning and joy to others and ourselves.
Friday 22nd January
Did you Notice? By Mrs Smith Assistant Head
What did you notice more? The one bird? Or the many?
A while ago a missing person’s charity used an awareness raising campaign, where they posted a person’s picture in a newspaper or a billboard and then a bit further on in the paper or the street had another board asking if you’d noticed the image of that person.
We can sometimes be so caught up in our own thoughts and concerns that we miss people or images around us.
In Luke 15:4 it describes how a shepherd, at the time of Jesus would leave the flock of 99 to go looking for a missing sheep, with no one left behind or unnoticed.
“Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?“
We can also sometimes feel like lost sheep ourselves. Maybe we need to be reminded today that we are precious enough for God to ‘look’ for us. Or perhaps there are people we know who are feeling lost or unnoticed. Perhaps today is a day to pray for them and maybe send them a message to say you are thinking of them.
Pause and Pray
Thank you that you care for each of us as individuals and we are always noticed by you.
Lord, help us to notice those who might be feeling lost or lonely today and find ways to connect with them.
Thursday 21st January
Be Still - By Emma Ham-Riche Year 8 Clergy
During the first lockdown, on Radio 4 Today some of BBC News' best known voices offered favourite poems of #comfortandhope and talked about the importance of the words in their lives. Fergal Keane, one of the BBC’s Foreign Correspondents, read a poem from Benedictus: Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue, called This is the Time to be Slow
These are the opening lines:
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Whatever today holds for you, find some time to be slow.
Find some time to lie low to the wall.
Psalm 46:10 says ‘Be still and know that I am God.’
Find some time today to be still.
Pause and Pray
Find a quiet place, gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Prepare to pray these words in 5 consecutively diminishing sentences.
1. Either aloud or quietly to yourself, pray the words: “Be still and know that I am God.”
2. Pause, then pray: “Be still and know that I am.”
3. Pause, then pray: “Be still and know.”
4. Pause, then pray: “Be still.”
5. Pause, then pray: “Be.”
6. Pause, then pray: “Amen.”
The poem that Fergal Keane read continues like this:
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
Whenever you can feel that happening, find some time to be slow.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Wednesday 20th January
By Abi Hughes - 7Sherborne
So, we are now in Lockdown, I don’t think this is what anyone wants. We all want to be back in school with face-to-face learning and friends right?
No one is liking being in the situation we're in. We are all at home by ourselves, but we are not alone, everyone is at home the same as our friends and family, all doing the same.
But someone we can still see is God, he is with us all the time, so when the clouds are grey he will be our sunshine, shining in our hearts all the way to the end.
Pause and Pray
Thank you for standing by us each day, every day.
Thank you for being our sunshine and the light at the end of the tunnel to help guide us.
In the name of the father, son and the holy spirit.
Tuesday 19th January 2021
The unexpected - By Rev. Jo King - Year 10 Clergy
"Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to join him in his chariot.”
Acts 8 26-31
So I was out walking the puppy one day when I looked down and saw a fork in the path.
Not a fork, like a junction, an actual fork! In the middle of the path far into the woods, where we had been walking for half an hour and not seen a soul.
A literal fork in the road. A common item in an unexpected place. It made me stop, and take a picture, it made me wonder why it was there and how on earth it got there. We need these moment of the unexpected to help us to notice one day from another, when each day feels the same, stuck behind a computer screen time can fly by without us really taking a moment to notice. The bible is full of unexpected encounters that changed people, their life and their circumstances dramatically, like the story of Philip and the Eunuch seen above. We might not be able to have a life changing encounter every day but by taking time to notice the unexpected we can have an encounter with God.
Today look out for the unexpected, for something that makes today different from the other days. Maybe you need to take a fork in the road, in a metaphorical sense rather than literal, to turn off the main path and take an unexpected way. Ask God to speak to you through the things you see.
How can you look for the unexpected today?
What is God saying to you through the things that you see?
Pause and Pray
thank you for the many ways you break into our lives and speak to us.
Today help me to encounter you in the unexpected and unusual.
Be known to me today.
Monday 18th January - Freedom - by Mr Barnett, Head of Humanities
In these strange times what we really miss is freedom. The freedom to choose. The freedom to feel safe. The freedom to shake hands, or meet friends. The freedom to be ourselves and live life in all its fullness. This is harder at the moment, but things will improve. 18th January is a day that, in the USA, they really think carefully about freedom. Martin Luther King was born on the 18th January, and it is a national holiday (what we’d call a Bank Holiday!). However, what makes it special is that people are encouraged not to see it as a day OFF, but a day ON. It’s a day to help out in your local community, for example, to go out there, and do some good. Martin Luther King spent much of his life going out there, and putting his community first. He knew how much their freedom mattered. He knew that the law discriminated against African-Americans, and restricted their freedom. Our freedom will return. Without people like Martin Luther King, the freedom of many Americans would not have been possible. His faith guided him in his struggle for freedom. He organised peaceful marches to help people be kinder and fairer to each other. He wanted people to treat each other well, no matter what they looked like. He wanted people to speak up against unfairness of any kind, but never to be violent against others, even when they faced others who were very violent. He really believed in following the principle of ‘love thy neighbour’. The Bible helped guide what he wanted, and how went about trying to obtain it.
We don’t mark the 18th January here as a special day, but why not ask yourself what you can do to make a difference. Maybe, like Mr Hindman mentioned earlier this term you could send a letter, via him, to people who are in care homes and miss the freedom to see relatives, for example. Freedom matters, and we mustn’t take it for granted.
Pause and Pray
God, give us strength of body to keep walking for freedom.
God, give us strength to remain nonviolent.
Today, we pray that we have the courage to stand up for what is right, even when others make it difficult for us.
Friday 15th January - Two Words
Have you ever replied, when asked how you are, with one of the following...
"yeah, ok thanks"
You may remember in Monday's assembly I invited you to pause and reflect on how you are feeling. I asked you to name two emotions that best described how you were feeling in that moment. Do you remember the words you choose? What were they?
Being able to identify how you are feeling is crucial to your emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. But it takes practice, lots of it! The more you are able to recognise and name how you are feeling the more you will understand yourself and others.
How are you feeling now as we approach the end of the week? Are your two words exactly the same or have they changed?
They have probably changed. Emotions, like waves, come and go. Sometimes they come crashing down on us and at other times we can enjoy their rhythm and motion with peace and ease.
The reason for a two word check in, rather than one word, is that our emotions are far more complex than one or even two words. But to keep it simple, two is a great place to start. Two words also allows you to have two equally valid but contrasting emotions. It's normal to feel a mixture of emotions that may appear to be in conflict with each other.
For example, during the pandemic I have heard lots of people say they are scared and grateful. Two emotions that seem to be in conflict with each other, but given the context, make complete sense. Scared of potentially catching a nasty virus, but also grateful for this day, for being healthy and having food, for example.
You may find the emotion wheel below useful to help you identify which emotions you may be feeling.
What are your two words for the end of the week?
Whatever you are feeling, it's ok. All emotions are valid.
Pause and Pray
Thank you that you know us and love us.
Help me today to identify how I am feeling.
Thank you that you are with me through all of the emotions I may be feeling, that nothing needs to be hidden from you.
Thursday 14th January - Lockdown Fatigue
Lockdown Fatigue - By Emma Ham-Riche Year 8 Clergy
‘Lockdown fatigue’ is how someone described to me what we’re probably all feeling at the moment.
Fatigue is ‘extreme tiredness.’ That feeling that you’re in need of rest or sleep, more so than usual. In engineering terms, it means a weakness.
Tired. In need of rest or sleep. Weak.
There can not be many who haven’t experienced at least one of those recently.
So, take a moment to rest, and reflect on this image.
What do you see?
When I saw this for the first time a few years ago, painted on a wall, I didn’t see anything at all. And it made me feel anxious and frustrated. But gradually, this jumble of letters began to make sense.
Look again. Read the letters in black. Then read the letters in red.
In the midst of our fatigue, our tiredness, our need to sleep or rest, our weakness, it can be hard to see things clearly. But then Jesus breaks through.
Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.
Jesus said Come.
Pause and Pray
Jesus invites us to place our burdens on to him. Close your eyes and imagine yourself coming to Jesus and placing those things that make you tired, in need of sleep or rest, those things that make you weak, onto his shoulders.
Pray these words of Jesus:
‘Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.’
Jesus said ‘Come.’
And let Jesus break through.
Wednesday 13th January - Lean on Me
Lean on Me - By Mrs Gibson
Do you know a friend who is struggling at the moment?
Are you finding things difficult and challenging?
What can we do?
It’s not always easy to acknowledge that we might need help or support, we may think it is a sign of failure, of weakness.
Asking for help takes strength, self-awareness and courage.
It’s one of the bravest things you can do.
You might know this Bill Wither’s song “Lean on me” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOZ-MySzAac
Thessalonians 5:11 says...
Today send a text or make a phone call to check how a friend is doing, or too let someone know how you are feeling right now.
Pause and Pray
help us today to think of a friend who we can check in with, who may need our help
or a listening ear.
Help us to listen without judging,
offer words of comfort and encouragement
and be a good friend today.
Tuesday 12th January - Alarm Clock
Alarm Clock - By Andy Morgan - Year 9 Clergy
The alarm goes off again, and I switch it to snooze for the third time and think why get up? Why bother? Another day of not being able to see my friends, of online work / learning and restrictions. Do I have the strength and resilience to keep going, or shall I roll over and go back to sleep? We’ve all had moments like that in the last 10 months (teachers included!).
At the burning bush in Exodus 3 The Lord appears to Moses and calls him to do something very challenging, and as someone who fled his people 40 years previously after making a terrible choice, he is very reluctant to step up to the challenge. The challenge of leading his people out of slavery. The obstacles were massive for him. Who was he, a murderer who had deserted his people, to do this job? How could he free them from such a powerful regime and a fierce Pharoah?
Moses gives 5 excuses as to why he can’t do it. (Go see if you can find them in Exodus 3 and 4). Today we might not feel up to it, unmotivated and ill-equipped for the challenges you face. Well for Moses God promised to provide all that needed: His presence, His Name, His Signs, His Help and His Helper – his brother Aaron. With God’s provision Moses did go on to face these challenges.
We too can face the challenges today brings, because when we pray ‘Give us today our daily bread” God provides what we need. Like Moses we can know God with us, we can know his help and the help of those he has placed around us (online or in person).
Pause and Pray
May you face today and all that it brings knowing God with you, God equipping you and God helping you.
Monday 11th January - Blinding Light
What do you think was the biggest song of 2020?
One chart list says it was-Blinding Lights by Weekend. https://www.officialcharts.com/chart-news/the-official-top-40-biggest-songs-of-2020__29264/
What have you been listening to during lock down? Any new favourite songs? Songs have a way of sticking in our minds and can even take us back to a different time and place when we hear them again years later. I wonder if you'll have a lock down song? One you played so much that when you hear it again you'll remember what life was like when you were at home or in key worker school?
Did you know that there are 185 songs in the Bible?
God is creative after all, so we shouldn't be surprised that songs are a way that many people use to talk about Him.
Lots of them are found in a book of the Bible called The Psalms.
The red Gideon Bible you were given in Year 7 has all the Psalms, you might want to look some up.
Many people find them helpful.
Here's some interesting facts on songs in the Bible:
What songs will you listen to today?
This prayer of praise which would have been sung is based on a famous psalm, Psalm 23
Pause and Pray
Father of all grace and mercy,
I praise Your name for Your wonderful words of comfort and Your promise that nothing can ever pluck me out of Your hand.
Thank You that no matter what I do, You will restore me and lead me along life’s path, for the honour of Your name.
Keep me, I pray, from wandering far from You and may all I do, from this day forward, be to Your honour and glory.
In Jesus' name I pray,
Friday 8th January - Bubbles
Being in a bubble is one of the strange turns of phrase we've all gotten used to during the pandemic. People often asking "who's in your bubble", "are our bubbles allowed to mix?", "they've just gone from one bubble to another, that's not allowed".
Did you know that today is national 'Bubble bath day'?
But which would you choose- a bath or a shower? What are your reasons?
Do you remember the bubble wands people sometimes had at parties?
Why do so many of us try to burst bubbles, while others try to keep them going?
Which would you do? Burst or keep?
Keeping to our bubbles is really important right now to keep us all as safe. God also promises in the book of Psalms to keep us safe too.
Psalm 27:5 says this...
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
Pause and Pray
Today and over this weekend ahead
as we reflect on bubbles and the joy and relaxation such simple things can represent-
please help us to see beauty around us and take time to pause and be refreshed.
Help us to keep safe in our bubbles at home and at school.
PS - Perhaps if you can, take some time out this weekend to enjoy a bubble bath (or a refreshing shower)- let the bubbles remind you of prayers you may want to speak out to God at the moment.
Thursday 7th January - The Clock Strikes Midnight
The clock strikes midnight...
New year often brings with it hope for the year ahead, a time to make plans and dream. It also has the pressure to start over, be a new healthier, fitter, more focused individual. Too somehow be a whole new you because you crossed over from 2020 into 2021.
Often the clock striking midnight doesn't bring with it the change we imagined it might.
I feel a little like Cinderella at the moment, I had a wonderful Christmas, but I lost track of time and now the clock has struck midnight. I've lost one of my favourite shoes and my ride home has turned into a pumpkin and now I am stuck wandering home in the dark with some mice for company. It's natural to feel a bit lost.
We have all started 2021 in way that none of us wanted, back in lockdown. So it's really important now to focus on how we can look after ourselves as we continue to settle into life under lockdown rules.
Here are some thoughts on self care from illustrator Katie Green...
One of the most well known Bible verses is "Love your neighbour" but the verses says "Love your neighbour as you love yourself"
Loving others first starts by loving and taking care of yourself. We need to be well, in mind, body and spirit to be able to give the very best we can to others.
What can you do today to look after yourself?
Pause and Pray
Father God, thank you that you first loved us.
Help is to love and care for ourselves so that we can then do our best to help and care for those around us.
Wednesday 6th January - Kindness Online
By School Captain Freya Jones
After the news we received on Monday, it was very easy to feel saddened and discouraged about the future. However, after going onto social media, many people were posting uplifting messages of encouragement and support. This positivity was very reassuring and reminded me that everyone is going through similar experiences. This situation is out of our control; however, what we can control is how we respond and act to it. Therefore, uplifting others and spreading kindness is something everyone can do – and this passage from Proverbs 12:25 perfectly sums up the importance of kindness:
What can you do today to life someone up online?
How can you spread some kindness to your family, friends and teachers today?
Pause and Pray:
Dear God help us to spread words of kindness to each other today, help me to find the best in my family, my friends and my teachers as we continue to settle into this time of working from home or in key worker school.
Tuesday 5th January - Again and Again
One of the hidden treasures I discovered in Lockdown 1 was the joy of reading. The opportunity to escape into the pages of a book is now so exciting I currently have three new books sitting on my bedside table.
In one of my books the author had chosen this quote to place on the dedication page:
'In times of crisis,
we must all decide
again and again
whom we love'
Notice how the author of the quote has said that love is a decision. We must decide who we love. Love is often seen as something soft and cute, when it is anything but soft and cute. Love is hardcore, often requiring the highest level of commitment and devotion.
Here is a well know passage from the Bible that tells what love should look like...
Love never fails. And again today, as we head into lockdown 3, we can choose to decide again to love. Decide again to be patient with each other. Decide again to hold on to hope. Decide again to be kind. Decide again to keep on going.
Pause and Pray
Thank you God that you first loved us.
Help us again to decide to continue loving each other, being kind to everyone that we meet.