Dear children of St Margaret,
Welcome back to school after months of lockdown due to the virus. It is great to start the school year as a school community and enjoy each other’s presence and learn together once again. I can imagine how much you have been missing each other. We give thanks to God for his protection, love and care in the last few months of the pandemic. Think of all the good things you have received in the past few months from God through others.
In the Gospel of this weekend Jesus talks about forgiveness – Let us read Matthew 18:21-35
‘Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times I have to forgive him? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven, because the Kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a king who decided to check on his servants' accounts. He had just begun to do so when one of them was brought in who owed him millions of pounds. The servant did not have enough to pay his debt, so the king ordered him to be sold as a slave, with his wife and his children and all that he had, in order to pay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before the king. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay you everything!’ The king felt sorry for him, so he forgave him the debt and let him go.
“Then the man went out and met one of his fellow servants who owed him a few pounds. He grabbed him and started choking him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he said. His fellow-servant fell down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back!’ But he refused; instead, he had him thrown into jail until he should pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were very upset and went to the king and told him everything. So he called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said. ‘I forgave you the whole amount you owed me, just because you asked me to. You should have had mercy on your fellow-servant, just as I had mercy on you.’ The king was very angry, and he sent the servant to jail to be punished until he should pay back the whole amount.”
The king is God, who is always merciful and forgiving with us if we ask, and if we try to change our ways. The servant is us. We sometimes find it hard to change our ways, to stop doing what we know is wrong.
Jesus tells Peter that he should forgive not just seven times, but seventy-seven times. Jesus is saying that there should be no limit to our forgiveness, just like there is no limit to God’s forgiveness. Think of the times when you have been forgiven. How did you feel?
Can you think of a time when someone has said sorry and tried to change and you did forgive them? How did you feel then?
This week let’s try our best to make a change in the way we treat other people, to say sorry when we have done something wrong, and to forgive and help others make a change in the way they behave.
Prayer: Merciful God, we are very sorry for all the things that we have done wrong. Forgive us and help us to try to forgive others as your son Jesus taught us. Thank you Lord, for bringing us together to start this new school year. Through your grace help us to treat each other with kindness, respect and love. Amen.
Learning from Lockdown
At this time of the year, we usually ask the children what they have learnt from the past year; what has gone well, what would they like to improve? This year, of course, the unusual circumstances of lockdown have been to the fore of most people's experience, so we asked, "What have you learnt? What is important to you?" The children produced the following responses, amongst others.
I’ve learnt to skip!
I’ve learnt to juggle
I’ve learnt how long 2m actually is
I’ve learnt that eating our lunch outside is really fun.
I’ve learnt about how important my friends are to me.
I’ve learnt about other ways to stay in touch with people.
I’ve learnt that having a daily routine is important
I’ve been more involved in family life
I’ve learnt to be more independent
I’ve learnt how to entertain myself
Let us hope that we all retain these lessons from lockdown, so that it becomes a valuable experience for us all.
The Seven "I am" sayings of Jesus
In John's gospel, Jesus describes himself in seven different ways:
“I am the bread of life” – John 6:35,
“I am the light of the world” – John 8:12, 9:5
“I am the door of the sheep” – John 10:7, 9
“I am the good shepherd” – John 10:11, 14
“I am the resurrection and the life” – John 11:25
“I am the way, the truth and the life” – John 14:6
“I am the true vine” – John 15:1
Together we talked about how each saying shows some aspect of Jesus and his mission amongst us. We then chose one saying which particularly appealed to us to focus on. How does this apply to us, what does it mean for us?
Today we talked about how we feel if we do not know where we are going; we are lost physically and emotionally, it is a very scary feeling.
But in this passage, Jesus tells us not to worry: he has taught us everything we need to know. So we know where we are going, "No one goes to the Father except through Me"; we know how to get there because Jesus reveals the truth to us and the truth is eternal life.
What would we do to show that we are followers of the Way? Do we always show our love by our actions, or have we let our hearts be afraid? Now is the time to think of what we can do, even the smallest thing to start with.
I loved reading the children's comments on Seesaw and hearing their resolutions.
Thank you for joining me for assembly this morning and see you next week.
The Good Shepherd
This has links with Sunday's readings, but really springs from a meditation written by a Year 6 child. Please visit the class pages for the full text.
"Jesus has overcome death, torture and betrayal. Even though he knew they were going to happen and he still sacrificed himself to redeem all of our sins so we could know we would always be forgiven by God no matter what the circumstances. When things are not going well, you need to keep hope in God because no-one but God knows what is coming next."
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15
In all the world faiths there is an idea of pilgrimage. The children looked at images from around the world, and discussed what they showed.
They then thought about what a pilgrimage actually is for: to move out of everyday routine, to travel far, perhaps to test yourself physically and mentally, to discover what is really important. They ended up by saying that if you wanted to meet God, then you could do this without needing to leave home.
They were obviously seeing into the future, as we carried out this assembly at exactly this time last year.
Just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus, what are we discussing as we walk along?
St George's feast day falls this week, so this seems to be a good moment to think about saints.
When talking about saints with the children, we often start by discussing saints from the past. They notice that many of the saints were very ordinary people who made mistakes and yet did something extraordinary for God. The children always conclude by agreeing that they, too, could be saints; that we are all called to sainthood through baptism.
At this time of coronavirus we are acutely aware of those who do something extraordinary every day for those in need. There are many saints among us, known only to God.
"Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me."
This meditation was based on Psalm 91:
Together with the children, we thought about what it feels like to be lifted up, how our hearts can soar and what makes us feel that huge rush of joy. They had many moments to share - mostly based upon family experiences and wonder at the natural world. These are their words:
It feels like the right thing to be sharing again in these times when we all need to feel lifted up.