Well, we have a date! It’s official, March 8th is the big day, and we can begin to plan with some degree of certainty, albeit with a few caveats to consider.
However, it’s extremely unlikely schools will feel confident enough to simply open the doors and let us back in, and we will be liaising closely with all our contacts to find out what each individual school would like to arrange. It’s pretty certain we will not be in at all for at least 2 weeks, and, seeing as that brings us to the last week of term, we may find that no school actually engages us face to face at all.
But, we have a God who does amazing things, and, as that song reminds us, ‘our God is a great big God’. He will find a way for us, as He has done on so many occasions. And, as many of you have prayed over the last few weeks, we have continued to engage with many schools through our videos, and will keep these up for some time to come.
The really good news to announce is that we have launched our Easter videos! All credit is due to Sarah Skinner and her trusted team of helpers, as they have produced something we are really proud of, and rightly so. We have already released it on our Youtube channel, and will be pushing it out to all of our primary schools this week, encouraging the teachers to find ways of bringing this gospel story to their children. It cannot ‘replace’ Easter Experience, but we believe it has the opportunity to reach even more children than in previous years. It takes the form of 4 clips, each around 5-8 minutes long, that tell the story of the final week of the life of Jesus through video logs, with each central character of that week giving their own, eye-witness, personal thoughts and feelings as the events unfold. After watching a clip, the children would have a short worksheet to go through, and will be invited to consider the situation that each person faced, and how they might have reacted in the same position. It concludes with the marvel of the resurrection, and how Jesus appeared to some of those same people, and we invite the children to respond to what has been presented. Each stage is designed to allow the teacher to fully engage with the story, and to encourage the children to examine it in stages, and to do it at the pace they feel matches the needs of their particular class.
We would really encourage you all to view them yourselves, and then to tell as many others as you can about it. The power of social media may make the breakthrough here, so I would ask all of you to watch them, and then, if you are able, to communicate through your own contacts the good news that can be shared in this way. Those of you who have children or grandchildren in other areas of the country are very welcome to spread these videos wide and far. One of the highlights of this period has been the impact SSW have had around the whole UK.
You can find the videos through our Youtube channel, or by simply clicking on this link… In the meantime, Abby has produced assembly videos for the rest of this term, and we have maintained our contact with those schools that are regularly using them, and appear to appreciate them!
Secondary schools are not expected to have any intention of inviting us back in, so Kate and Beca are continuing to provide their ‘thought for the week’ presentations, and have also created an Easter lesson that we hope some schools may find useful. We were intending to engage in person with Year 7s this Easter for the first time for some years, but obviously this has proved impossible, but we believe this online lesson will give some of our RE teacher contacts material they will find helpful.
And finally, we prepare for Sarah’s departure (temporary, we hope) as she leaves in mid-April for the birth of her first child. She will be very much missed, but we know God, who always seems to be one step ahead, has prepared Abby for her new role, and plans are already well established for the summer term. We anticipate that we may need to consider changing some arrangements this September and I would specifically ask for your prayers in our thoughts and preparations over the next 2 months as we seek God’s will in this area.
And finally again (Paul gets away with multiple ‘finally’ mentions in a couple of his letters, so I think I can claim at least one!), we continue to ask for your prayers and support in our engagement with churches. Not all churches have been able to gather in the formats that others have, and we have all found it difficult to ‘meet’, and consequently nobody can quite predict what church is going to look like over the next few months, and when we might gather in person again. This has affected our relationship with all our partner churches, as communication channels have had to be very different. Please lift up our church leaders, and pray that the links we had previously will remain strong, and we will be able to be the voice of the church in our schools across the borough, bringing the light of Jesus into the hearts and minds of thousands of children each term.
Thank you all so much for your prayers. We have been sustained throughout this period, financially and spiritually, and we thank God for His people in the borough of Sutton, who have refused to let this pandemic halt the work.
In closing, I was searching for the ‘right’ thing to say. My mind was taken back to the time just after the first lockdown commenced, and a video song went viral. You may recall ‘The Blessing’, and I felt that the words simply said what I wanted to say.
The Lord bless you, and keep you, make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face toward you, and give you peace……
Online Resources - Please pray for our primary schools, that they would remain safe and healthy, as all the children return this month. Also, pray that our online resources would continue to bless and serve the children in Sutton.
Easter Resource - Pray for our new resource The Easter Diaries, that is it well used and helps children engage with the Easter story.
Secondary Prayer Requests
1) RE Lessons Online - Please pray for the RE Lessons that have recently gone live on our YouTube Channel. Particularly an Easter session with particular focus on The Resurrection. (Aimed for Years 7-9) Please pray this is well received by Schools and will help them to see the true meaning of Easter.
2) Kintsugi Hope - We are currently working and gauging interest with our Schools offering them a 6-week programme all about emotional well-being. Please pray Schools will get in contact with us and will take up this opportunity.