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Thought For The Week - 26-06-23

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about sacrifice.

As a diocesan education team, we always send someone to be alongside you when you have an Ofsted or SIAMS inspection and my goodness, there’s been a few taking place around the region over the past few weeks! It requires small sacrifices on our part – finding time in an already jam-packed diary to speak to an inspector or travel to your school. It is always a privilege to be present when an inspector is sharing what they have found – to celebrate your strengths and be there to support you with your next steps forward. I have been struck, when listening to inspectors, by the huge sacrifices that have been made by everyone in school in preparation for these inspections – the social events rearranged, the sleep lost, the children’s school presentations missed and so on.

This week, Muslims in our region and across the world will celebrate the festival of Eid ul-Adha. This festival remembers the story of the Prophet Ibrahim, pbuh (also known as Avraham to Jewish people and Abraham to Christians). This Prophet is honoured across the three traditions as the first to teach that there is one God. Eid ul-Adha remembers the story of Allah asking the Prophet to sacrifice his only son, Ishmael (in the Jewish and Christian scriptures, it is Isaac whom God asks Abraham to sacrifice). Spoiler alert: the boy survives.

The Arabic adha is a word that is used by Arabic-speaking Christians to refer to Holy Communion or, more specifically, the bread that is shared as part of Holy Communion. In so doing, they show their understanding of Jesus’ death as a sacrifice, one made for all of creation.

I’m a bit of an etymology geek (as many of you know), so I went off to hunt for the roots of our English word, ‘sacrifice’. Like so many of our words, it derives from Latin: sacer, which means ‘holy’ – it links to our word ‘sacred’. To ‘sacrifice’ is to make something holy. This, I think, gives our many sacrifices a much greater meaning – the time we sacrifice, the effort we sacrifice, the other opportunities we sacrifice, all these things contribute to something holy that goes beyond the visit of an inspector for a short period of time.

For those of you who have experienced inspection so far this academic year, thank you for your sacrifices. For those still awaiting the call – just remember, the sacrifices to come are not ends in themselves, but part of a bigger picture in which all things will be made holy.

from Gillian Georgiou, RE & SIAMS Advisor

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