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.


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  1. February 17, 2016 15:04

    by angela

    I have been reading your blogs on and off for many years now. I am always encouraged and inspired to see a leader in education who is promoting true and life-affirming values. Lead in love and let your light shine!

  2. January 3, 2016 23:19

    by Sionaidh Craigen

    What a wonderful blog.
    You say exactly what many of my friends have been commenting on at Christmas time. Indeed, your comments are positive and uplifting. I wish we had a 'St.Christophers' in St.Albans!
    I really love the fact way that you hold morning talks! ... and was moved by the way you describe the feeling of the hairs on the back of your neck at the silence of contemplation at the end. I truly believe there is a magic afoot at these times akin to the power of prayer. Regards, Sionaidh Craigen

  3. December 10, 2015 14:04

    by Dick Jones

    Just to be completely inclusive, let's not forget that the early Christians hijacked the last day of the week-long Roman festival of Saturnalia. Given that all the various activities that one associates with a 'saturnalia' today probably went on with a vengeance & then some, substituting a holy day have been a struggle to start with! But grumpy old unbeliever though I am, the 25th is my birthday too so I wish everyone a decidedly Cool Yule!