Tuesday 01 December 2015
Morning Talks are a wonderful way to start the day.......
Morning Talks are a central part of life at St Chris. On Mondays and Fridays the whole Senior School and staff gather in the Theatre. On Mondays we are always treated to live music and I give a talk about whatever happens to be occupying my mind at the time. On Fridays staff and students give the talk on whatever they feel moved to share. The diversity of talks and presenters is what makes them so rich, interesting and thought provoking. The silence at the end is always a time when the hairs on the back of my neck start to rise – the power of collective community silence is significant.
This Monday was an opportunity for me to talk about Advent. I gave my usual moan about chocolate advent calendars not really being in the spirit as they empty and become nothing as we move though Advent; whereas a traditional advent calendar builds as we move through Advent to provide the full picture on the 24th. Interestingly I tried on Sunday to but a traditional Advent calendar and there was more choice of calendars for pets containing treats than there was of nativity scenes.
I was also able to talk more generally about the place of Christmas within a secular community. At St Chris we have a long and proud tradition of welcoming people of all faiths and those of none. This does not mean though that we do not celebrate specific times of the year such as Christmas.
Christmas is an important part of our cultural tradition. Although secular the St Chris community has always celebrated it as such. The children in the Early Years Centre put on a Nativity play. The halls are well and truly decked, a delicious vegetarian Christmas lunch will be enjoyed by all. We will sing carols in the Christmas concerts next week and the Staff and Sixth Form will put on a Christmas Panto on the last day of term (Oh yes they will…..).
For some they may well be celebrating the birth of Christ and of course we respect this. For others it will simply be an opportunity to have a good time, and that’s fine by me.
The message of Christmas to me of goodwill towards others seems entirely appropriate, particularly at the moment.
It is argued by some that in celebrating Christmas without being Christian we are hypocritical or cynical and that our celebrations might offend those of other religions. I sincerely hope that this is not the case. A few weeks ago I was in Mumbai for the weekend and it was Diwali. The celebrations were wonderful and everywhere I went I was adorned with flowers and wished a ‘Happy Diwali’. I was not offended, quite the opposite and the joy and goodwill that were evidently part of the celebrations were uplifting.
So as we enter Advent I wish you joy, happiness and goodwill and hope that you are blessed with the opportunity to share these with others.