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Devotions

Thursday, 21 May

Today is Ascension Day, an all too often-neglected feast in many Christian circles.

On Ascension Day, we are called to “go up”—to find higher ground—not to escape Earth’s crises, but to gain a vision and mission that is larger than ourselves or our communities. We don’t need to look to the heavens to find inspiration. The ever-present God is right here, giving us all the guidance and inspiration, we need, if we but look beyond ourselves. Our mission is here—to heal, to embrace, to welcome, and to love. We don’t need to wait for a far-off day of perfection and rapture. If God is always with us, then right here and now can be the day of transformation and fulfilment.

As the restrictions begin to be rolled back and as we again begin to venture further into our communities, may all of us seek to be raised up through the Holy Spirit to continue God’s mission as our mission in the world, bringing healing, comfort, hospitality and love to those who are in need in any way. (Of course, maintaining all current restrictions as responsible citizens would do).

Let us continue to keep all those in need in our prayers and let us give thanks in prayer and praise for all those children who will be returning to in classroom schooling next week.

Tuesday, 19 May

By Nigel Grant (Executive Director of Faith & Community)

COVID-19 has, among other things, made us all more interested in statistics and probability. We are surrounded by graphs, tables and infographics. “About time, too”, I hear, from the general direction of the Maths department!

Some interesting statistics have come out of the UK …

A quarter of the adult population in the UK have watched or listened to a religious service since the coronavirus lockdown began. One in 20 have even started praying. It’s as if people are recognizing their helplessness and looking to faith to make sense of things.

Perhaps you’re a prayer novice (or are returning to prayer after a long break)? Perhaps you are wondering if it works, how it works (me too!), and whether God listens to someone as doubting or unfaithful as you? If so, this quote is for you –

Thursday, 14 May

Like many of the staff who have been at school almost every day since St Paul’s shifted to online learning, something as mundane as going from the carpark to our offices has looked and felt different. When I found out the majority of staff, and then students, would be returning it was quite uplifting.

I was doing a few things around the chapel area on Monday morning and as I watched more staff and students begin to arrive, I noticed something. Staff appeared to be moving a little more resolutely. There were little children making their way from the YMCA OSHC in a line of excited chattering voices. Some older students arrived at Tooth carpark and made their way in, while others from Strathpine Rd rounded the chapel and still more from the roundabout were coming up past the tuckshop.

And then it struck me. It was as if a drought had broken and little streams were beginning to flow back into a weir.

Thursday, 7 May

Over the last couple of months there have been many fun and innovative ways people have responded to the physical distancing and isolation regulations.

As our isolation restrictions begin to ease, although we can’t meet with others in groups for prayer and worship yet, I was thinking the other day about how to engage children and adults with prayer and reflection as we walk and exercise.

The idea struck me of going on a ‘Prayer Hunt’. While out walking I began to look for spots that spoke to me in different ways to shape my prayers.

Tuesday, 5 May

We are reminded by Luke in the book of Acts that it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. Apparently, it was an insult or an offensive name. The name ‘Christian’ stuck and it came to mean follower of Christ, which is what those who proclaim Jesus as Lord are supposed to be.

For many of us, our baptismal records are the only written thing that might allow us to verify that we are Christians by name. But, how do we know that we are indeed followers of Christ? Imagine for a moment that being a Christian was again declared a crime as it was at times in the past (and is still in some places) and that baptismal records had been hidden to protect us from persecution. If accused of being Christian, could we be convicted on the evidence of our lives? Would our way of living give us away as Christians?

Thursday, 30 April

As I write this reflection it is Thursday morning and from Saturday there will be an easing of some of the Covid-19 restrictions in Queensland.

I envisage, if the downward trend of infections continues, we will see further winding back of restrictions in coming weeks. It is wonderful that there is public recognition by our leaders that most people are playing their part and acting responsibly in the current situation. That said, I am sure many of us have experienced those who don’t seem to accept their communal responsibilities.

All of this has made me wonder how children interpret adults’ actions, position or attitude towards the recent and ongoing restrictions or guidelines?

Tuesday, 28 April

Today I am continuing our Easter theme and sharing a passage that picks up from where I finished last week.

If you recall, we ended the reading with Mary Magdalene and another women also called Mary meeting the resurrected Jesus at the tomb and running off in fear and awe to share their experience with other disciples.

Today’s reading from Luke is a classic Easter reading of two disheartened followers of Jesus returning home from Jerusalem to the small village of Emmaus at the end of the same day as the women’s account we heard last week.

On the road to Emmaus, two sad and frightened disciples met the risen Jesus. At first they do not recognise him, but as they opened their hearts in faith – to the scriptures, to community and the breaking of the bread – Jesus is revealed!

Their sadness is transformed into Easter joy. The same joy we are all invited to know when we believe that Christ is Risen and choose to live our lives with him as our Lord and saviour. Christ is Risen: He is Risen indeed. Hallelujah.

Thursday, 23 April

During the morning and evening office there is space for one’s own prayers and intercessions, but I find bracketing of the day with these two prayers is both comforting and inviting.

I try to carry on in the knowledge that at the end of the day I can hand all this day back to God; the successes, the failures and the challenges. In this knowledge I know God will be with me in the night preparing a new day for me as I sleep and rest in God’s care. I know I may wake in the morning and rejoice again at another new day and face all that lays before me in the knowledge I am always in the presence of God. As the old song we learn as children says; This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 April

In the midst of the Covid-19 restrictions, in was interesting to read some media headlines with phrases such as, “Churches Closed – Easter Cancelled”. Similarly, after the announcement that schools would shift to online learning using there were tags such as, “Term 2 School Cancelled”. Yet here we are, all ready to start a new term and continue learning. Although I am in my office and you are in your home, we are still a school. Although the atmosphere and structure is different to what we are used to, we are still coming together to learn and to grow, to share and to be community all be it online for the time being.

School is not cancelled, and neither was Easter. Easter cannot be cancelled, and although churches may not have been filled with people as per usual, they still came together sharing prayer and worship. Online, congregations acknowledged that the promises of God, made complete through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, still go on and are alive and well in these difficult times.

Thursday, 2 April

In the opening pages of our student diary we find our school’s Statement of Purpose: St Paul’s School develops resilient, global citizens who are innovative thinkers with a heart for servant leadership.

In recent times this statement has been referred to as our students have shifted to learning online and other remote platforms. Students appear to have accepted the challenge well, demonstrating their resilience and a willingness to embrace change within the current environment. I am gladdened also by the innovative ways I have heard students, parents and staff overcome some of the challenges associated with all the recent need for change.

Obviously, there will be ongoing change and challenges, but I am sure the way forward will see our students, staff and families continue to demonstrate St Paul’s Statement of Purpose in more than just words.

Tuesday, 31 March

I am aware many of us are probably spending more time with those in our households than perhaps we usually do. I know this may be an opportunity for us to reconnect, but there is also the potential for tensions to arise.

Recognising the tensions that may start coming into play and thinking about things I enjoy doing, I decided to put the two together and came up with the idea of ‘virtual gardening’ to try and help us combat potential issues. This is not an app or game but the deliberate act of planting seeds of positive behaviours and good character and growing them into our interactions with colleagues, friends and family through these times.

The bible tells us: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NRSV)

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