God does in fact work quite powerfully in people’s lives! Earlier this year I had the joy and privilege of baptising two babies in our school chapel. As we are celebrating the Centenary of Chapel this year I was also delighted to bless and use a new baptismal font made specially by Mr Ben Drew (Ceramics) and which is inscribed with the words of Galatians 3:26 ‘you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus’ (see photograph). Baby Lucca, the grandson of our school caretaker, is continuing in a strong family tradition. Tony Davis was himself baptised in the Chapel, as were both his sons, Craig and Carl. You can still see the kneeler (shown top right) in Chapel from when Craig was baptised! Baby Maisie is the daughter of an alumna, Ruth Jackson (2009), and the family (shown bottom right with permission) were delighted to be back in Chapel again having had brother Alfie baptised here a few years ago too!
Plans are already underway for our joint service of Baptism and Confirmation with Abingdon School. Next year it will be held on Monday 29 April 2024 in St Helen’s school Chapel of the Holy Cross. If any students or staff are interested in being baptised and/or exploring confirmation please do ask me for more details … Have you noticed something deeper in life and want to explore more? Do the stories you hear in Chapel give you hope and encouragement? Has your faith been rekindled and you’d like to go a bit deeper? What might God be saying in your heart and doing in this place? Baptism and confirmation preparation will take place during Lent term – so come and see, all are welcome!
2. Open Day
For Open Day 2023 we created a ‘Chain of Blessing’ in Chapel. Prospective students were invited to add a link to the paperchain to represent how we are all connected to one another and to God. Based on God’s blessing to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3) we considered the question ‘how might we each be a blessing to others today?’.
God said to Abram
“From you a great nation will come, and I will bless you. Your name will be known – you’ll be a blessing to others”. Genesis 12:1-3
Current students were also invited to join a link in the chain with those from Open Day; and the Juniors also took part in their Chapel lessons as they explored the Bible story in more depth, and considered what it means to join in with God at work in the world.
3. Harvest Festival
In our Chapel services this term we’ve been considering the stories of some Old Testament women and the choices they made from a book entitled ‘Unveiled’; and how their choices are still relevant for our lives today. For Harvest week we explored the story of Ruth and Naomi: two women, from different backgrounds and faiths, who form a strong and faithful friendship. The story begins in tragedy – with famine, and the death of both Ruth and Naomi’s husbands – so Naomi decides to return from Moab to her home in Israel, and one of her daughters-in-law called Ruth chooses to go with her. They arrived in Bethlehem just as the barley harvest was beginning.
Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favour.” Ruth 2:2
So Ruth goes out into the fields of a man named Boaz (who was a relative of Naomi) and begins to glean behind the harvesters. Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested and is a practice that became a legally enforced entitlement of the poor. In Ruth and Naomi’s lifetimes, the Israelites looked down upon the Moabites, considering them to be an inferior people. However, in selecting Ruth, God chose one of the “least of these” as the basis for the lineage of not only the future king of Israel (as an ancestor of David), but for the Messiah who would save the world. God’s choice to include Ruth in the story of divine redemption shows that his grace is for all people, and that no person is too insignificant to be used for his glory.
A massive thank you to all who donated to our harvest collection this year and we were able to deliver a very generous collection to the Abingdon Foodbank just before half-term. They were delighted with the gifts of support and we were thrilled to smash last year’s total with a whopping 215kg of food – the equivalent of an adult pygmy hippo! They were particularly pleased with the large box of cooking oils as this is apparently harder to source. So, we continue to pray for all those in Abingdon who are worried about tomorrow and facing difficulties today, and that those who need to use the foodbank would receive our harvest collection with love and with God’s blessing. Thank you.