The Diocese of Southwark of which I am privileged to be a priest is currently engaged in Bishop Christopher's Call to Mission: Faith, Hope and Love. It is refreshing that our bishop has chosen to encourage us to work with these fundamentals rather than with structural change, management systems or even a 'fresh expression' which, like the phrase 'motivational speaker' sends a chill up my spine. FHL is being used in a number of phases. One of the most important things for me as a diocesan Head teacher is that at every stage schools have been invited to and part of every element of FHL. This reflects Bishop Christopher's commitment to schools as 'at the heart of the church's mission to the nation' and the very real commitment of time he gives to schools - it is the first diocese I have served in where every child in our school would not only be able to name the diocesan bishop but where he could name and recognise numbers of children.
Lest I be suspected of seeking promotion (which I am not) I had better confess that we haven't so far made a great deal of the FHL material at Trinity - because we had a significant number of staff new to the school in September and we needed to provide appropriate induction for them. However, the senior staff and I had a quiet day at the monastery at Crawley Down at the very beginning of term and we recognised that the next phase of the school's life was very much about deepening the school's life and really embedding the many changes made over the last few years. We have talked about this as becoming 'more contemplative', and in particular my moving to a more contemplative and less operational role in the school's life, thinking of my role as Executive Head not just strategically, but as resident storyteller and theologian.
At half term I am going to make my annual retreat (in one of the hermitages at Crawley Down). As the root text of that retreat I intend to use the prayer provided by the diocese for the Faith, Hope, Love call to mission. I don't know who wrote it but I think it works well:
God of faith, deepen our faith
so we may bear witness to Christ in the world;
God of hope, strengthen our hope
so we may be signposts to your transforming presence;
God of love, kindle our love
so that in a fragile and divided world,
we may be signs of the faith, hope, love
which we share in Jesus Christ.
Starting at the end this is clearly a Jesus centred prayer. It is Jesus who is the source of our faith, hope and love; it is participating in his life that we share them, not as individuals but in common (in communion) with others. Working backwards, the prayer acknowledges the reality of our world as fragile and divided. 'Fragile' is a good word because what is fragile can so often be precious and beautiful, as our world is, but is always in danger of being damaged or broken.
I particularly like the use of nouns and verbs in the text:
I have tried to think of a way of making a short chant of this combination of verbs and nouns:
I'd gladly receive any suggestions for reading around these ideas as I prepare for my retreat. I hope that it will bear fruit for the school in enabling us to engage more deeply with this after half term when we launch FHL substantially to children through handing out the FHL wrist bands and using material provided in staff meetings and tutor times.