As a Church of England School, our Christian Values underpin all that we do. Each half term we focus on a particular value. We then display this value in all of our classrooms using images and quotes, from the Bible and elsewhere, to help the children fully understand what they mean and how they link to their own lives. We have a launch collective worship session for each value to bring it into sharp focus for the half term. These are often led by visitors from St Matthews Church in Eye.
Our values are the foundations of our behaviour policy, and we use them to talk to the children about their actions, to help them understand consequences. This then helps them to make changes and choices to ensure they are following our values within school and in their own lives at home.
Our Calendar of Christian Values
Spring 1: Compassion
Summer 1: Service
Sumer 2: Justice
Our value for the first half of the autumn term is Thankfulness- this links well with the time of year. Harvest is a festival we celebrate annually at St Matthew’s Church where we give thanks for the food God has provided for us. We take the opportunity to collect donations for our local food bank as we recognise that some families in Peterborough are not always as fortunate as us.
Thankfulness has always been at the centre of the life and worship of God’s people. Under the Law of Moses, there were ‘thanks offerings’. Thankfulness is directed towards God who gives and sustains life. Seeing the world as God’s creation underpins the way we approach everything in life, seeing it as a gift and not as a right.
Thankfulness is important. Luke tells the story of the ten lepers who were healed and is probably challenging his readers to examine themselves when he tells of the amazement of Jesus that only one, a Samaritan, came back to thank him. (Luke 17:11-19).
Jesus gave thanks to God (Matthew 11.25) and although the word ‘thankfulness’ is not common in the Gospels, recognition of his dependence on the Father infuses the whole life of Jesus. Thankfulness is a wholehearted response. It stems from a consciousness of God’s gifts and blessings. It is a joyfulness that erupts into praise. Paul frequently encourages us to ‘be thankful’ (Colossians 3:15), to ‘give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and says that our lives should ‘overflow with thankfulness’ (Colossians 2:7).
For Christians the greatest of all acts of worship is simply called ‘thanksgiving’ - eucharistia in Greek - thanksgiving for the death and resurrection of God’s Son and the way of forgiveness that is opened up.
How can we demonstrate our value of thankfulness?
2 Chronicles 5:13 The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: ‘He is good; his love endures forever.’
Luke 17:15-16 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him - and he was a Samaritan.
For the second half term of Autumn, we focus on ‘Peace’ as this is the time of year when ‘Peace on Earth’ is a message heard around the world as we head towards Christmas.
The Hebrew term for peace, ‘shalom’, has a deep and complex meaning, encompassing much more than simply the absence of hostility or war. Shalom includes ideas of healing and health, wholeness and well-being. It means harmony, stability and security within a community. It refers to relationships based on truth and righteousness, where people flourish because they are nurtured.
During this term, we take part in the Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child campaign. Classes work collaboratively to pack shoeboxes for children in need around the world. The shoeboxes include small toys but also soap, brushes and clothing such as socks. We use this as an opportunity to promote peace by nurturing the health and wellbeing of those less fortunate than ourselves.
The Biblical picture of the age to come is one of Shalom. ‘Swords will be beaten into ploughshares’ … ‘the wolf shall live with the lamb… no-one shall hurt or destroy…’ (Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:1-9). Traditional enemies will live together contentedly and the people will be governed with wisdom, understanding and justice.
In Jesus’ message, peace is an almost tangible element. It is his gift to his disciples. Paul describes God as the God of peace; the Christian message is called the ’gospel of peace’ and peace is one of the ‘fruits of the Spirit’.
Peter, quoting the Psalms, says we must ‘seek peace and pursue it’ (1 Peter 3:11). Jesus blesses those who are ‘peacemakers’ and calls them ‘sons of God’.
How can we demonstrate our value of Peace?
Psalm 34:14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
Matthew 5:19 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.’
Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
The Spring Term begins with ‘Compassion’.
‘Compassion’ and ‘sympathy’ have much in common and both are stronger in meaning than simply ‘feeling sorry for’ someone. The words have their roots in the idea of ‘suffering with’ someone, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and experiencing what they experience. This leads to a desire to act, to do something.
It is not about ‘doing good’ from a position of strength or ‘remembering those less fortunate than ourselves’. Compassion requires an act of imagination and humility to share in the lives of others. Notice the qualities that Paul links together. He says ‘clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ (Colossians 3:12)
Jesus showed compassion towards the ‘harassed and helpless’ crowds (Matthew 9.36) and his works of healing were always prompted by compassion for people’s suffering. He wept at the death of Lazarus and was moved to act.
Christians have always had to wrestle with the problem of how a loving God could allow there to be evil and suffering in the world. There is no simple answer to this but we make the first step towards understanding when we grasp the idea that God the Father is not passively observing the suffering of the world from the outside. God fully identified with human suffering in the life and death of Jesus and continues to work to transform the sufferings of the world through the work of the Holy Spirit.
How can we demonstrate our value of compassion?
Psalm 145: 8-9 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger in rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
As the second part of Spring Term coincides with Lent and Easter, we now turn to ‘Forgiveness’ which is at the heart of the Passion story.
Forgiveness is fundamental to the character of God. Throughout the Bible, God is described as slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin (Numbers 14:18).
Jesus was uncompromising in his command to forgive. Forgive, he said, ‘seventy times seven’ (Matthew 18:21). In other words, forgive and keep on forgiving without limit. Forgiveness was at the heart of everything he did and is at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer. When Jesus declared a person’s sins to be forgiven, it often aroused the anger of those who were less willing to forgive than he was and yet a prayer for the forgiveness of his persecutors was on Jesus’ lips as he died. Christian preaching has always put forgiveness at the centre.
We forgive because we are forgiven. Paul says: ‘Be compassionate and kind to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (Ephesians 4:32)
The parable of the Unjust Steward tells of a servant who was forgiven his large debt only to be condemned because he refused to forgive a small debt owed to him. Forgiveness cannot be given or received unless it is asked for, and the asking must be genuine and from the heart. Too often ‘sorry’ is said very easily, implying: ‘All I need to do is say I’m sorry and everything will be OK’. Real repentance demands that we take what we have done wrong with the utmost seriousness and have a deep desire not to do it again.
How can we demonstrate our value of forgiveness?
Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times (or seventy times seven times).’
Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
The first half of the Summer Term focusses on ‘Service’.
Words relating to ‘servant’ and ‘service’ are central in Christian theology. Some of the most important prophecies in Isaiah speak of the coming of the ‘Servant of the Lord’ and his role as a ‘suffering servant.’ That is why Jesus said that he ‘came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. This turned upside down the normal relationship between master and disciple, leader and follower. In many ways, this astonishing action symbolizes the essence of the Incarnation: God stooping to share the human condition. Jesus is very clear about the meaning of his action: ‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done.’
The parable of the Good Samaritan shows we should serve those in need whoever they are. Such service is not offered to gain some advantage for ourselves. ‘Going the extra mile’ involves sacrifice, putting ourselves out for someone else’s benefit.
Serving God means serving others. It also means that we cannot serve other masters as well - such as money. However, the Christian message is equally clear that service is not all about restrictions. It is precisely in a life of service that we become most truly free.
How can we demonstrate our value of Service?
Galatians 5:13-14 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself”.
Luke 10:33-34 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.
The final value of the school year is ‘Justice’.
When thinking about ‘justice’, some people think first about giving wrongdoers the punishment they deserve. ‘Justice’ evokes ideas of ‘just deserts’, ’the punishment fitting the crime’, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. However, justice also means giving all people - particularly the poor and oppressed - what it is right and fair for them to have: life, health, freedom and dignity. It is about acting out of a concern for what is right and seeing right prevail. It is about social justice, especially for those who suffer most and are least able to protect themselves.
In Exodus, the people are instructed to deal with everyone fairly and never to show partiality to one group above another (Exodus 23:2,6).
The Bible emphasises that ‘The righteous care about justice for the poor’ (Proverbs 29:7). Isaiah says: ‘Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow’ (Isaiah 1:17). Justice is the ‘plumb line’ by which society is measured (Isaiah 29:17).
Throughout the Bible, it is emphasised that justice is immensely important to God. It is fundamental to God’s character. ‘For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.’ (Psalm 11:7)
Justice is not about a culture which encourages everyone to insist on their own rights at the expense of others. It is about a community that knows that everyone’s well-being is bound up with that of everyone else.
A commitment to justice leads to fierce opposition to injustice in whatever form it may be found. Justice is a pre-requisite of peace: without justice there can be no peace.
How can we show our value of Justice?
Deuteronomy 16:20 Follow justice and justice alone.
Proverbs 29:7 The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.
Amos 5:24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.