Posted on: 10th September 2018
“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’””
At the start of a new school year it is a good time to consider the early account of things going wrong for Adam and Eve. It remind me of a story I once heard at Sunday school that went like this…
A gardener was weeding his garden on a hot summer’s day. A church leader walked passed to hear the gardener ranting to himself, “If I were them, I wouldn’t have done it. If I were them I wouldn’t have done it!” The church leader couldn’t help himself, so he enquired as to what the man was referring to. The gardener was citing the account of Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden, which resulted in the ground being cursed and producing thorn and thistle (Genesis 3 v 17-19).
The church leader listened with interest and at the end invited the gardener to tea. The gardener, never wishing to turn down an invite for food, agreed.
When the gardener arrived, the food was laid out on the table. The spread was lavish and in the centre of the table there was a silver platter, covered with a silver dome. The church leader said that he had to just nip out to prepare something else, but the gardener could begin to eat whatever he chose, apart from the special surprise that lay under on the silver platter.
Question – What would you do in this moment? Would you respect the wish of the host and choose only from the vast array of delicacies that you could see? If you would like to know what happened in the story, please come and ask!
Maybe part of showing respect is sacrificing your desires and submitting to authority. Maybe it is trusting that someone else has a better understanding of a situation than you. Maybe respect comes easier from a humble attitude, like the Apostle Paul mentions in Philippians 2 v 3:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
Posted on: 4th June 2018
“‘Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant’”
In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Malvolio has the line,
“In my stars I am above thee, but be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em. Thy Fates open their hands. Let thy blood and spirit embrace them.”
Let us embrace our opportunities as part of the Saint Wilfrid’s community to take those opportunities we have to be great. We have recently celebrated the Sports Award’s where many students were recognised for their achievements. We look forward to Sports Day too where students have the chance to show their talents and achieve greatness. With seven school records broken last year, we are excited to see if these students have stepped up to the next level and can emulate last year’s achievements.
However, chasing fame has its warning signs. We can enter into competition with a ‘win at all costs’ mentality. How easy is it to elevate yourself by lowering others with our words and actions? We must remember the challenge in Philippians 2:3 to ‘consider others better than ourselves.’ Is this a challenge for you today?
In Matthew 20, Jesus is confronted by a parent who wanted greatness for her children. Her request was simply for her children to be given the seats of ultimate honour in the kingdom of heaven! Jesus told her that what she was asking was for God alone to grant.
Jesus then went on to talk about how to be great in God’s kingdom. His answer was culture changing then and the challenge still cuts against the flow now. How can lowering yourself to serve others, result in elevation to greatness?
At the start of a new half term, I pray that you will find your opportunities this week to serve. I also pray that your service brings a confidence that you are great in God’s eyes.
Posted on: 21st May 2018
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Discontentment. It’s something that can stop us from feeling joy and living life to the full.
The Bible says we must learn to be content ‘whatever the circumstances.’ That can be hard.
We see what other people have and we want the same. We see what other people have achieved, and we want to do that too. Once we start comparing our lives to other people’s, discontentment can find its way in and we begin to forget all the blessings and gifts that God has given us.
Discontentment clouds all the good and makes us think our lives are not alright as they are. Instead, contentment recognises all the good in our lives and doesn’t want what other people have. There’ll always be people who have more than us, but there’ll also be people who have less. What you choose to focus on will determine how contented you feel.
Our security and self-worth should be based on who we are in Christ, not what we have. Our possessions, achievements and relationships shouldn’t define who we are. Paul wrote: ‘I’ve learned…to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am’ (Philippians 4 v 11-13).
When we’re focused on our identity in Christ, rather than what we do or don’t have, we leave no room for discontentment in our lives.
Posted on: 15th January 2018
“Do not be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
We have considered and thought about our pebble Koinonia many times in the past, it comes up so often, that sense of community, fellowship, thinking of one another, praying for one another. Therefore, what else can we consider when we think of Koinonia?
Well in Philippians 2 v 1-4 from the message version Paul says this:
If you have gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favour: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Do not push your way to the front; do not sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Do not be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Let us apply that to our Academy:
If you take anything away from hearing about God, sitting in worship, listening to different speakers, if His love that you have felt or heard of from others has made a difference, if being a Wilfridian and living with Christian values and God’s spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – then do each other a favour: Agree with one another, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Do not push your way to the front; do not sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Do not be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Kononia is something we can all embody if we take what Paul says and apply it to where we are at BUT let us not forget Koinonia to Christians means going beyond just what we do and what we say. One theologian translates it as “praying and living in one accord with each other,” meaning aligning ourselves with those around us but continuously facing Jesus.
What does Koinonia mean to you? What changes do you need to make to demonstrate Koinonia in your day-to-day life?