This has been a season of lasts. God has been speaking to me since January about doors closing to Canterbury, it’s taken me a year to see the full picture and I’m sure that there is more to come. Over the years I have had the privilege of building relationships with many schools, and many wonderful people have entered my life through this work. I am very thankful to Jesus for this. I thought I”d leave my last post, as my last assembly, taken on 29th Nov at Kent College, to the full school, in their new Great Hall.
Good morning and welcome to (almost) advent!
Yesterday or at least until a few hours ago Pacific Standard Time, people across the USA were celebrating Thanksgiving. Now I’m all for an excuse for a good roast dinner, but I was never a fan of pumpkin pie, until my friend from Maine made her families recipe and then, well, I’m converted and I’m very thankful for that.
How often do we pause to be thankful? When I was younger, there was always a set of writing notepaper in my stocking. I am sure it was meant a helpful reminder that being thankful is both something that needs time and something which takes intention. Every year I would write my letters of thanks to family and friends.
In the religious, psychological, and philosophical world we see thanksgiving or gratitude is a virtue to be cultivated. All agree it is good for our well being. Thankfulness changes our posture and our perspective. It is
Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other. True, unforced, unconditional, overflowing thankfulness changes us and only for the good. But it takes time and it takes intention.
This may be my last time speaking at chapel (and possibly some will be thankful for that!). It will certainly be the last time I speak in the role I am in. For the last thirteen years I have worked as a Christian Schools worker and at the end of December, I will move on to a new role for another organisation. One thing I have learnt is that ending well is important to me. As I’ve have looked to end well I have been led to choose thankfulness.
In stolen moments of time, I am giving myself a reminder to pause, to reflect, to intentionally make note
I’ve started a list, because thankfulness needs to be intentional. I’ve thought about the story and the thread lines of the last 13 years; the people, the places, to stories. The ventures that had been successful, the ones I have learnt from, the ones I have had to let go of and the God who has led me through it all.
I am thankful to your chaplain, who invited me to speak once and then continued to invite me in. I am thankful to all the teachers and students who have made time to thank me and to speak to me, when I have been in school or after speaking. I am thankful for your receptionists, for your catering staff, for being allowed to add to your Remembrance Day Poppy, to see the vision of this building come into fruition. And I am thankful for the school partnering with me for the last six years in the privilege in transforming the chapel into an advent prayer room.
From the famous prayer wall of 2014, the journey of 2015, Fishing peace form a paddling pool in 2016, the joyful bubbles of 2017 and last year’s Christmas Carol extravaganza. From the fairy light to the mirrors to the tents canopies cushions and paddling pools, each has had its own story and each has inspired and overwhelmed thankfulness in me. Today there will once again be an opportunity.
Advent always seems a rush, but it was created as the perfect time to pause, reflect and intentionally take time to be thankful through the actions of giving cards, presents and time. This advent I am making time to end well at work, but I am also making time to end the year well and to take time to intentionally be thankful. Would you join me in an advent experiment of 24 days of intentional thankfulness? 10-15 minutes a day, to pause and be thankful for the people and situations that have occurred that day.
When we look at the advent story, we see Mary overwhelmed with thankfulness. She took time out, went to her cousins, reflected on what was happening and overflowed in a song of praise.
As those who love Jesus we are called to be thankful, to recall and count blessings; that we are forgiven, healed redeemed, crowned with steadfast love and mercy. Sometimes we forget these benefits, because it takes time and intention to be thankful.
The chapel today will be a space where you can choose to press pause and intentionally cultivate thankfulness. It will be a place of peace, fully of lights and creative activities to help you to pause and reflect on the year that is drawing to an end.
Thank you for your time, both now, later and over the many years you have had me to speak at chapel.