According to tradition, the day before Ash Wednesday - the start of Lent is ‘Shrove Tuesday’. Shrove is not a word we tend to use much – it has fallen out of common usage. It comes from a base word shrive which means to confess and be forgiven. We do find an echo in the phrase ‘to give short shrift’ which originally referred to only being given a brief amount of time (for confession) before execution. Now it means to give little time or attention to something – to respond curtly or abruptly.
So prior to refrigeration, as Christians approached the 40 days leading up to Easter, they were preparing for lent – a time of deliberate leanness and self denial as a way of identifying with the self denial of Jesus going to the Cross. They wanted to use up their eggs and milk, and so arose a tradition of having pancakes the day before Ash Wednesday – a day on which we deliberately remember that we were made from dust and we will one day return to dust. We are mortal, and we will one day return to face our maker.
Now all of us have a conscience. We all experience guilt. This fact alone is something that social scientists and psychologists understand, but find difficult to explain from an evolutionary stand point. Where do we get our awareness that there is such thing as good and bad, right and wrong?
While I leave you pondering that thought, let me return to the pancakes.
They remind us that there are times when it is good to go without, to deny oneself. To reflect on the journey so far, and to what extent we have lived for self or lived for others; and to what extent we live our lives ‘before the face of God’ (in latin Coram Deo) or to what extent we live seeking to avoid the face of God.
Jesus went to the Cross, knowing he had to endure terrible things, for the purpose of making hope possible for us who would place our trust in him.
“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6–11 NLT-SE)
As we progress through this season of Lent leading up to Easter, I pray we would all come to appreciate and respond both soberly and with joy the Good News – Jesus died for us, and was raised up again – resurrected! In doing this, we might say he has shriven for us. He intercedes on behalf of those who put their faith in him, so that when our bodies return to dust we too may have confidence that we will be resurrected and raised up with him to eternal life!
As a Christian College, we aspire to uphold the values, principles, truth and character of God, as revealed in the Bible.
For many people, faith is considered to be a private thing, something you keep reasonably quiet about.
I would like to respectfully challenge that idea – and here’s why: because the beliefs of faith influence the passions of the heart, the decisions of will, and actions of life. Beliefs have effects that are lived out through our words, our habits, our actions; the way we use our time, and the way we treat people.
We seek to love others, because God loves us; to forgive, because Christ has forgiven us; to value life, because we each reflect the image of God. We work because God designed us to be productive; we tell the truth, because in Him there is no shadow of a lie; we respect property because God commands us not to steal. We honour our father and mother, because God reveals himself as our Father in Heaven. He requires us to honour our authorities and to hold the office of authority as one who serves.
Further, faith is not just about what some would call religion – it is about ultimate things. All of us – each one, believes in something that is ultimate – a thing beyond which there is no greater truth. We all believe in some ultimate reality – beyond ourselves; an ultimate ultimate.
For some it’s a force or essence. For others it’s science and facts. For some it’s matter – the atoms and molecules that make up all things. For some it’s just the existence of the ‘here and now’ – living in the moment.
For Christians, what is ultimate is the Creator God who is not bound by space, time or matter; yet is deeply interested in the world He has made, and has entered in to history, into this material realm as Jesus.
The truth that Jesus teaches, the purposeful way that he shows us, and the resurrection life he brings are profoundly transformative – not just to be ‘saved’ but to live freely, to love truly, and to walk humbly in communities of kindness and grace.
Horace Greeley, founder of the New York Tribune once said “It is impossible to enslave, mentally or socially, a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.”
Yes, Christianity promotes freedom – and so much more: equality, human rights, orderliness, justice, lawfulness, honesty, charity, and peace.
Because of Christ, we are free – but not to live lawlessly, rebelliously, or loosely. We are free to live according the good, honourable pattern for which we were designed by our loving God.
We are intentionally a Christian College, and while we do not claim to be perfect, we do seek to be faithful to the God who is.
What a terrific start we have had to the year! We have had strong enrolments, our TV ad has generated a lot of great feedback, and people are still talking about the musical and how good it was. We expect to have the DVD’s available late February – there is still time to get your orders in if you forgot last year.
We have decided to return to weekly newsletters, and these will usually be issued on Thursdays.
Last week the teachers were busy making preparations for the start of the year. We had a day at the golf club where I shared some vision and plans for the year, and some teaching to give shape to the year ahead.
A key idea
was from Titus 2:6-8, which says to encourage the young to
live wisely, to be an example
to them by doing good works of every kind, and to let everything you do reflect
the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized.
Our leadership have been extremely busy setting up the details for the smooth start of the year. Mr Roger Moreton’s title is now Deputy Principal Secondary, and Mrs Sylvia Skinner’s title is now Deputy Principal Primary. Together we spent significant time reflecting on the past year, and have begun implementing plans to develop continuous improvement processes with our teaching staff. This involves teachers meeting in teams to review each other’s planning, and consider which best practice approaches they will use to refine and enhance the quality of teaching and learning.
The information nights we are conducting are intended to replace the interviews we normally have later in Term 1, however we also want to emphasise that we will be moving to different ways of reporting and relating to families through our online SEQTA system, and through regular contact.
We have made a surprising number of changes this year.
We relocated many lockers, especially away from the office admin area, and have ordered some new lockers with swipe card access – the Year 12’s will be able to use them soon. We mounted a large colourful work of art on the wall which was painted by a previous art teacher Mr Greg Judd. Mrs Skinner is already enlisting our senior art students to begin add artistic flair to other parts of the College too.
The year 12’s have a new, much bigger ‘common room’ space in the Language Centre, and to make way for the second Foundation class the Learning Support staff and services have been relocated to Room 4 – right near the front entry. Room 11 (ICT room) has been completely overhauled to be a brighter, better laid out and more flexible learning space.
We have purchased an 11 seater bus, which will be used to shuttle students from the southern routes between bus stops, and installed monitoring cameras to keep an eye on the grounds after hours.
The ICT portable device plan is definitely going ahead, but we will use this year as an evaluation year. Year 3 students will be issued with a class set of iPads, and year 11 and 12 students will be able to use a College supplied laptop for classes at school. Families will not be expected to contribute to the cost of devices. Additional Wifi points are being installed around the College, and we have improved the quality of internet service.
The College Board have received the report summary from the Endeavour consultation surveys conducted late last year, and are extremely encouraged by the survey results. They have also short listed architects to partner with us to prepare our Master site plan, and inform our strategic planning.
We have also implemented tighter expectations for quality of assignments, and in keeping with SACE requirements High School students have been told that they will receive a ‘0’ for late assignments. This may seem harsh, but we do need to draw a line to develop a culture in our students that takes deadlines seriously, and plans responsibly.
Respected academic researcher John Hattie has identified ‘Visible Learning’ as a key element of high performing schools. This approach is all about making sure that students and families are clearly informed as to what is expected for effective learning. You will see we are providing clear information about our learning, routines and expectations now, and throughout the year.
We are having a ‘dedication service’ on Sunday 12th February, 2pm at the New Life Church, 162 Three Chain Road.The year has started exceptionally well. The new students have transitioned smoothly, there is a positive and productive ‘buzz’ of activity, and the changes have translated into strong improvements. Very exciting!