Here we are some 25 weeks into the school year, Easter is upon us and it all appears to have gone in a blur. The Easter story brings many challenges to our door relating to faith and the attitudes with which we face our lives. Perhaps one or two of you are ‘mature’ enough to remember a Pepsi ad’ with the tag line; ‘Come Alive with Pepsi!’ Rumour has it that when translated into Chinese the interpretation came out as ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead!’ I wonder how the people in Beijing, passing the billboards with this ad’ on, reacted. Presumably, they had to decide whether the claim was true or not. Our Heads of House recently learnt the hard way (in a school assembly) that it’s impossible to eat 6 cream crackers in a minute with no water; yet in our final assembly of term we will learn that it is possible to step through a playing card. Some things that seem possible are impossible and, likewise, some things that seem impossible are possible but unless we witness them first hand we have to decide whether to have the FAITH in what we’re told about them. Over Easter Christians celebrate the belief that Jesus died and rose from the dead (without the aid of Pepsi!). Over two billion people on our planet choose to believe this, despite the fact that none of them were there at the time. How far you each believe this is your choice… but if we do have faith in the resurrection of Christ, what does it mean for the way we live our lives?
Back to Pepsi… if a Pepsi bottle is full to the half-way point is it half-full or half-empty? Of course, it depends on how you look at it. This is a good image, I think, for how people look at life: some focus on all the things that are going wrong and wake each day with a sense of dread, while others focus on the things that are going right and give thanks for the things that they are grateful for. It was like this for the characters in the Easter story; as the disciples and followers of Jesus lost hope and saw their world crashing down around them only Jesus could see the positive side of events as they unfolded. He faced his death with serenity because he knew that his suffering was part of a bigger plan and that he would rise again.
Christians believe that on the first Easter Sunday, Jesus rose again. He came back to life, defying the expectations of his friends and his enemies. We also believe that that in this event good overcame evil, life is stronger than death, light shines through the darkness and the half-full bottle is superior to the half-empty bottle.
And that’s the challenge for us: if we believe in the resurrection we need to take the half-full approach to life. Life undoubtedly has its challenges for each and every one of us but with a belief that the bottle is at least half-full we can tackle those challenges head on and overcome them.
At All Saints we have been working on developing positive attitudes to learning in all our students. We do not accept that our children cannot do things; instead, we prefer to think that they cannot do them YET (and that they will be able to do them in time). We are actively aiming to teach not just content in our lessons but we are striving to encourage the positive mind-sets and characteristics that we associate with people that are successful in life (and not just exams): resilience, curiosity, empathy, openness to experience, attentiveness, perseverance, self-control and tolerance of diverse opinions. As this approach to teaching embeds itself we believe that we will be turning out students who are: academically agile, independent, resourceful, able to transfer skills to different situations, bold, brave and responsive to feedback. Essentially, well equipped to be successful learners and successful in life.
And so for us the Easter story is deeply meaningful. It provides us with the hope and inspiration to take a half-full approach to the teaching of your/our children. For me, it is significant that the Easter story has the backdrop of Jerusalem – a normal city. I wonder if it was really so different from Weymouth: Jesus would have been interrogated in the equivalent places to the police station and the local government offices, he would have dragged his cross through the busy shopping streets to a patch of high ground overlooking the city and he would have been buried in the local cemetery. In our final assembly two students will sing the Joan Osborne track: ‘What if God was one of us’. In Jesus, he was and this Easter I hope we can all take inspiration from that.
I wish you all the love, hope and inspiration of the season…. And we give special thoughts and prayers to our Year 11’s as they prepare for their exams.
PS: Other colas are available