Skip to content ↓

Thought For The Week - 15-01-24

Being Invited...

Last year I got a save the date for a wedding for some friends of mine. It may not yet be the official invitation, but I was still excited when I got it. I’m looking forward to celebrating with my friends and loved ones for the day, all dressed up having fun.

It got me thinking about what it means to be invitational.

We talk about being invitational a lot in regards to Collective Worship. What does it mean to be invitational in Collective Worship? Well, like a wedding invitation, an invitation to participate in collective worship should be offered to everyone loved and valued by the hosts; in fact, it should encourage everyone to join in because they matter. My friends are inviting everyone they care for, even though some of their invited guests might not approve of the idea of marriage, or might not love the idea of a church wedding, or might feel horrified at the idea of having to join in the dancing at the reception afterwards: they are invited because they matter. My friends will then do whatever they can to make sure that the wedding is something everyone can enjoy and participate in honestly and authentically.

In the same way, collective worship in schools is an invitation for everyone because everyone matters. It is invitation that draws on our relationships with each other as members of the school community and reassures each person that they can join in exactly as they are. I’m sure that when I go to my friend’s wedding, there will be parts that I choose to participate in and parts that either I choose not to be involved in or are not specifically for me.  Collective worship is the same: some of the adults and pupils may not feel comfortable praying or perhaps don’t believe in what is being shared; however, there should be a place for everyone to be involved in some way. Indeed, it is important that they are there because they are part of the collective whole of the school community; if they were not there, their voice would be missing and the whole school community would lose out. Collective worship in our schools should be an opportunity for each person – adult and pupil – to explore something bigger than themselves, to have an opportunity to consider Christian teachings and the relevance they may or may not hold to our lives, and to bring with them their own beliefs, values and lived experience as part of their spiritual growth. No assumptions, just invitations because each person matters.

I’d love to challenge you this week to think about how your Collective Worship can be truly invitational, so that everyone can be there and receive something from the worship: so that those of all faiths and none feel they are refreshed and have had that moment to breathe, that moment to learn from one another, to engage with something greater than themselves and to have some fun.

In my own spiritual journey, I think the greatest invitation of all time is the one to walk with Jesus in my life.  Throughout the gospels we see many invitations from Jesus:

1.  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest! - Matthew 11:28 

2.  Jesus stood and cried, saying, ‘... if any man is thirsty let him come unto me, and drink...’ -John 7:37 

3.  Jesus said unto them, "Come and Dine!" -  John 21:12 

4.  Come and See -  John 1:39

5.  Come and take up your cross  - Mark 10:21

6.  Come away to a secluded place and rest  - Mark 6:31

7. Come, you blessed of my father and inherit the Kingdom - Matthew 25:34

It is Jesus’ final invitation that has been most powerful in my own life: ‘Come follow me’ (Matthew 4:19). I wonder if any of these resonate with you today? Which of Jesus’ invitations speaks most into your context? Is it rest you need or is it just some peace? Maybe it’s about having the time to pray, spend time with God and reflect or maybe it’s about trying to find answers in life. Whatever it may be, Jesus invites everyone to do it alongside him and he promises he will be with us.

So, from being invitational in worship and exploring the invitations Jesus extends to all people, I have one more invitation for you. On the 21st March we have our Leadership Conference – Flourishing for All. This is a great time to be together as the family of church schools and to be inspired and refreshed in your role.  We have a variety of keynote speakers including The Rt Revd Bishop Stephen, Bishop of Lincoln, Andy Wolfe, Executive Director of Education, Church of England and Vic Goddard Principal of Passmores Academy and star of the Bafta nominated Channel 4 documentary ‘Educating Essex’.  Keep an eye out for more announcements of speakers in the coming weeks, I would really love to see you there.  To book click here

from Lynsey Norris, Assistant Diocesan Director of Education

Find the rest of our Bulletin to download below -