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Friday, 11 May 2012

Leaver's Assembly: Talk and Blessing

This is the talk and blessing that I gave today at the leaver's assembly for Year 11 at St Edward's Church of England School:
Proverbs 3:1-5: My child, don't forget what I teach you. Always remember what I tell you to do. My teaching will give you a long and prosperous life. Never let go of loyalty and faithfulness. Tie them around your neck; write them on your heart. If you do this, both God and people will be pleased with you. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know.

John 14:12: I am telling you the truth: those who believe in me will do what I do—yes, they will do even greater things, because I am going to the Father.

John 16:13-14: When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own authority, but he will speak of what he hears and will tell you of things to come. He will give me glory, because he will take what I say and tell it to you. 

Jesus said many amazing things that people still repeat regardless of whether they follow him or not. But the words we have just listened to must be among the most amazing because Jesus says that those who follow him will do greater things than him and will be led into all truth. When you think how amazing Jesus’ own actions were, it is hard to imagine how people like us could do greater things than that, and, when you think how profound his teaching was, how could we be led into deeper or greater truth than that?

But Jesus was articulating something that all good teachers think and feel; the sense that all the time he had spent with them and invested in them was not so they would be clones of him, simply repeating the things he did and said, but instead he had equipped, empowered and enabled his followers to follow him by using their own gifts and abilities and initiative which would inevitably mean that they would do and say different things from him but still with his Spirit and based on all they had learnt from him.

He was saying that each one of us is a unique combination of personality, abilities and potential and, therefore, each of us can make a unique mark on the world. His followers can do greater things than Jesus because they will do different things from him in his name and Spirit – things that only they can do for him because they are that unique package of personality, ability and potential.

That is also what your teachers here wish for you. That you will use what you have learnt here and the abilities you have developed here to make your own mark on the world and to continue learning, particularly about the meaning of life itself.

What that mark will be we can’t predict, although you hopefully have plans in place for the next stage in your learning, growth and development. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that making your mark on the world and doing great things means becoming famous or making pots of money. Many of the most significant things that people do in the course of their lives don’t make the headlines and don’t build our bank balances! For example, forming faithful, committed relationships is one of the most challenging but meaningful things we can do in life but that won’t feature in the press and media or usually impact on our bank balance. Many of you, later in life, are likely to become parents and will know the joys and struggles of supporting your own children in their development and growth. That is one of the most significant things we can do over the course of our lives; something that is both extraordinary and profoundly ordinary at one and the same time.

Leaving secondary education though is the point at which your choices and decisions about the future begin to come into play and begin to be followed through. Our prayer for you therefore is what Jesus prayed for his disciples that you will go on to do greater things than your teachers by making your unique mark on the world and that you will go ever deeper into truth by continuing learn throughout your life.

Let us pray for God’s blessing on your leaving, your doing, and your learning:

We thank you, Lord, for each one of these your people - for their unique combination of personality, abilities and potential, for all they have learnt while here and for all the friendships they have formed. We pray for your blessing on them as they leave this place and for you to be with them in revision, exams, results and future plans. We pray for your guidance as they seek to make their mark on the world by using all they have learnt here together with their unique combination of personality, abilities and potential. We pray that they might do great things, things that we cannot do and cannot yet predict. We pray for them the blessing of committed, sustained friendships and relationships and the blessing of ongoing, lifelong learning. Most of all we pray that the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit will rest upon and remain with each one of you now and forever. Amen.  


 The Bluebells with Bobby Valentino - Young At Heart

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