There have been times in my own life when I have needed support and guidance of God and the church. A particular time for me, was when my mum passed away. I found myself, on the day of her passing, standing in the grounds of St Margaret’s church. This was the church that my mum said she would return to if she ever came out of hospital. Sadly, it was never to be for my mum. However, I did return, many times during my saddest and loneliest moments to find comfort and support. The poem ‘Footprints in the Sand’ reminds me of these testing times and I still picture, in my mind, the poem on my mum’s fridge door.
At Sunday school, as a child, I loved to listen to the Old Testament stories - especially the story of ‘David and Goliath’. I loved to think that someone as small as David could achieve amazing things because God was on his side. But perhaps one of the most significant verses from the Bible that stood out to me, even as a young child was, John Chapter 3, verse 16
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’
I first read this verse not in the Bible but on the number 2 bus, whilst travelling in to town with my Mum. I remember asking her why God would give his Son away. When my Mum explained to me how God had sent his Son to earth so that he could die to save us all I was amazed to think that God would do that for me. As I have grown up I have come to realise the true significance of this Bible verse and the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us when he died on the cross.
As a Head Teacher of a church school I feel very privileged to be able to share this ‘Good News’ with children that come to our school. I hope that as they hear the stories about Jesus and his life that they too will begin to understand what an amazing gift God gave us when he sent his Son to live on earth.
As a little boy, my sister and I attended St.Mark’s Sunday School (on City Road) each week. On the wall, as you entered the building, was a quote from 1 Corinthians 13 which must have ‘struck a chord’ with me, as I have always remembered it:
''f I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.'
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
This is probably my favourite quotation in the Bible. I like the quote because it is poetic and eloquently mocks the idea of ‘false-prophets’ dictating to people what they should think and feel, before they then disappear into obscurity. Paul thought differently to others.
This quote resonates with me. I believe that no matter where you are in your life, and what has happened before, does not stop you from changing your destiny and forging a new path. Sometimes things don’t work out, for whatever reason, and rather than just dwell on what we cannot change, we should get up, dust ourselves off, and try again.
In my opinion, kindness is one of the most important Christian values. In the bible, a quote from Ephesians Chapter 4 Verse 32 states:
‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’
Throughout my life I have always believed that kindness costs nothing yet it is one of the most precious things that you can give to a person. This was mainly instilled in me by my family but also by my teachers at school. Something as simple as smiling at somebody could really make a difference to their day.
One of my favourite quotes from the Bible comes in Philippians Chapter 4, Verse 13. Here it says:
‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’
Throughout my life when I have faced challenges both personally and in a work capacity, I have used this quote to find strength. For me it is a reminder that however difficult and ‘hopeless’ a situation or task may seem, Christ will ensure that he provides me with the strength of will and mind to make it through. All I need to do is trust in his guidance and love; with that there is nothing that I cannot achieve. As a Year 6 teacher, I often share this quote with my class. When the challenge of SATs seems overwhelming and the children begin to doubt whether they will be able to ‘cope’ with the tests, they must remember that Christ will give them all the strength they need to succeed.
Where there’s tea, there’s hope.
Tea has always played a prominent role in my life. From being a young child, I always remember playing and having a tea party with my mum, cousins and dolls. I also used to love when aunties, grandmas and mum’s friends used to visit and the grown-ups would share their news over a cup of tea. Some of my early memories of books included ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea.’ One of my favourite scenes from Mary Poppins was when they drank tea while floating in the air, not to mention the tea parties in ‘Alice in Wonderland.’
Tea defines us as a nation. Tea time, tea and biscuits, tea and sympathy; conjures a very British sense of cosiness, security and homeliness. In an article by George Orwell, ‘A Nice Cup Of Tea,’ he noted that, “tea is one of the mainstays of civilisation in this country.” Whenever someone is delivered bad news, something to celebrate or even just in need of a quiet moment, a cup of tea offers a comforting sanctuary of reflection.
The bible shows us on many occasions, the importance of breaking bread and sharing drink in many great feasts, stories and parables. One that stands out prominently for me is the miracle at the wedding in a village called Cana, Galilee. This was one of Jesus’s most famous miracles and it recognises the significance in sharing food and drink in that it brings families, friends and strangers closer together.
John the Apostle wrote:
"What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him" (John 2:11).
I believe that God can be an ever-present strength in our lives during times of trouble and uncertainty. This is why I look to Psalm 46, verse 1-3
‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.’
This quote reminds us of God’s everlasting love for us and the support he gives us throughout our lives. Psalm 46 shows that even ‘though the earth give way’ God can be our refuge and strength through it all. This resonates with me as I know that when I have been through tough times turning to God through prayer has helped support me when I felt like there was no-one else to turn to. Through life’s ups and downs we must remember that God is there and watching over us. God is our eternal strength.
One of my favourite and most thought provoking bible stories is the story of The Good Samaritan. This story is one of hope and having a true faith in God, knowing that you have to do the right thing; it is part of what makes us human.
Within this story it also shows us how we may never understand or second guess what a person is thinking or feeling. This is demonstrated by the Levite and the Priest who fail to stop and help the badly beaten Jewish man who has been left for dead.
However, faith is soon restored when the most unlikely of all saviours, a Samaritan, stops to help the Jewish man. The Samaritan also shows just how selfless and compassionate he is by ensuring, at all costs, that the injured man is lead to safety, and nursed back to good health.
This reminds and reassures me that there is good and bad in everyone, and that good shines through in the most unlikely of situations. Re-telling this story to the children in my class is always a very special time, where we get to empathise, reflect and discuss the varied elements within the story. A true inspiration!
‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.’ (Matthew 7:1)
I believe that it is essential in life, not to judge a person before you have got to know them. I have lived by this principal and this quote from Matthew 7:1 certainly emphasises this.
This is a concept that I promote within the classroom, not only amongst children and their peers, but also in relation to books- something I am extremely passionate about. I encourage the children in my class to give a book a try, even if it is not appealing from the cover, as there is always a chance they will miss out on reading a classic text. This was evident in my life when I was at University and I read the classic novel ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ by Mark Twain. Reading this book completely changed my life. It developed my love for writing and the dull, dreary front cover took away from the sombre undercurrent that flowed through the high humour and unabashed nostalgia of the novel.