These days, there are a multitude of wild stories doing the rounds on the internet and in emails. How do you know if a story is true or not? Many a preacher or public speaker has been caught out using one of these stories, only to find out it had no basis in truth. Fortunately, there are also on the internet websites such as Snopes (www.snopes.com), who look into the origins of some of these stories, so that you might know where the truth lies. I read a story the other day that had me turning to Snopes. Apparently, so the story goes, Charlie Chaplin, the great comedian, once entered a Charlie Chaplin look-alike competition – and came third! I looked it up on Snopes and, lo and behold, they say the story is true! It seems that, around 1915, as ‘Chaplinitis’ swept America, Charlie Chaplin look-alike contests became a popular form of entertainment. (Well, technically, it was Chaplin’s moustached, funnywalking, ‘tramp’ character that people were attempting to copy). And, apparently, Charlie Chaplin himself entered one of these contests, in a San Francisco theatre. Reports don’t record exactly where he finished, but they do confirm that he failed even to make the finals! It reminded me of that conversation that Jesus had with his disciples about what God was like. It comes at that moment when Jesus tells them that he is going to be leaving them – but only to prepare a place for them in his Father’s mansion. He then tells them that they know the way to where he is going ... Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” (John 14:5-9).
John Reed Chaplain
All they want is to see God. And Jesus tells them: ‘You know him - he’s right here in front of you!’ Jesus and the Father are one. Time and space don’t permit a complex analysis of what theologians have coined ‘The Trinity’, but Jesus is making it clear that he’s not just some imitator, or poor reflection, of God. He is ‘in the Father’, and vice-versa. To know Jesus is to know God. And yet, of course, like Charlie Chaplin, not everybody saw him for who he was ...
This week Mr Lanyon and I were reviewing last year’s HSC results and this week’s Assembly. We reflected on the fine students that we have and also we discussed the ‘good news stories’ of students who had ‘turned a corner’ and achieved academic, sporting, community or personal success after an inauspicious beginning to their school careers or after going through a stage of development where they were less than respectful of the rights of others. For most of these students this process had been one of regular and unspectacular setting of boundaries, imposing of sanctions, reconciliation and restitution, within the context of Christian love, justice and fairness. For a few students, though, there was a pivotal moment when they had committed a very serious breach of school rules and it was in the way that they and their parents had dealt with the issue, in close collaboration with the school’s Pastoral Care team, that had resulted in great outcomes for those students with benefits for everyone in the school community. The entire community, not just the errant student, was and has been enriched by their transformation.
Deputy Headmaster and Head of Senior School
What were the critical elements that led to such success? First, there was a real acknowledgement, by the student, that they had done the wrong thing. There was no shifting of blame, arguing about the involvement or influence of others or just plain lying. They had broken the rules and they accepted responsibility for that fact. After the initial distress on the part of the parent/s they too accepted and acknowledged that the rules had been broken. Depending on the breach, sanctions were imposed or a process of Restorative Justice undertaken. Parents worked with staff to support whatever sanctions had been imposed. Only the students themselves, their parents and the staff involved can know who they are but we can all rejoice in their personal achievement and the significant impact that has had on our school community and will have on society in the future.
Issue 5 Term I 2011