Spirituality and Values
Throughout a long and rich history, Christ's College has maintained its foundation in Christian values, insisting boys live lives underpinned by honesty, respect, spirituality, justice, compassion and stewardship.
These are timeless values which, once learned, serve each boy well throughout his life. Our chaplain guides the spiritual life of the school, following the broad ethos of Anglicanism, whilst recognising the multi-denominational environment that exists in the community. Our school welcomes boys of all religions and cultures.
At the heart of the school stands the Chapel. All boys attend Chapel services on Monday and Friday mornings, congregational singing practice on Wednesdays, and at least two Sunday services throughout the term. Parents and families are warmly welcomed at Sunday services.
Boys are invited to be baptised if they wish, and a Confirmation course is offered to Year 12 and 13 students.
In religious education classes, boys have the opportunity to learn about the great religions of the world, and to reflect on their on own beliefs. Knowing about religion, philosophy and ethics is not only valuable to finding meaning in life, it is also essential for any broad education and foundational for other subjects, from art to English and history.
We aim to help the boys develop a mature understanding of social and cultural differences and to meet the challenges of good citizenship.
Centre for Ethnics & Spirituality
Thomas Merton and Mindfulness - looking at the most influential spiritual writer of the 20th Century and his connection with the popular movement towards mindfulness - Presented by Rev. Bosco Peters and Helen Peters
Brief notes from this week's Chapel services
Monday 7 November
We are starting to look forward towards Advent preparing for Christmas.
Matthew regularly alludes back to well-known Old Testament stories & does so in the Joseph story where Joseph is a dreamer - just like the Old Testament Joseph.
We can look at our hopes/dreams/vision for life using four circles:
The outer circle is: "What?" (Programme) - What do you do?
The next circle in is: "How?" (Process) - How do we do things?
The next circle in is: "Why?" (Purpose) - Why do we do things?
The innermost circle is: "Why of Whys?" (Passion) - Why have we chosen our particular purpose in life?
Friday 28 October
I told the story of people being presented with a sheet of paper to describe. The sheet had a black dot on it. Everyone who looked at this sheet talked about the black dot. No one described the white sheet. I connected this with positive psychology and the message of Jesus that he came to bring life to the full.
Monday 17 October
There's much we can learn from the USA presidential race.
1) What is our attitude to other races? What is our attitude to other cultures? What is our attitude to people who hold different beliefs to you/me? What – and this is more an issue for guys: what is our attitude to girls/women?
From Frank Outlaw:
"Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Five of the key words in the saying: words, actions, thoughts, character, and habits. The initial letters can be arranged to spell the repeated focal term: w, a, t, c, h.
2) Are you able to separate people’s ideas and beliefs from the individuals who hold those ideas, those beliefs? Or is most of what you do putting down the individual rather than debating their ideas
3) Are you able to put yourself in the shoes of a person who disagrees with you. Are you able to understand why he or she thinks the way that they do?
Friday 16 September
Today we continued from Monday – focusing on the breath. In Genesis 2, the God whose name seems to sound like our breathing (Yahweh) breathes into us making us a human being (not just a human doing). We distinguished the Christian contemplative practices of Centering Prayer (returning gently to our word when needed – a focus on intention) and Christian Meditation (continuously repeating our word – often in time to our breathing – a focus on attention). Then we sat in silence for 60 seconds.
Monday 12 September
We are continuing sharing ideas and disciplines of Christian contemplative practice that parallel mindfulness. Today, we looked at the place of our body in this – both in our posture and in sensing, say, the seat against our thighs, the touch of our shirt on our shoulders. We live in a sacramental reality where the outward and physical affects the inward and spiritual – and vice versa.
Friday 9 September
Those the age of the Chaplain will remember Mother Teresa of Calcutta visiting Christchurch. It was good to spend time with her individually when she was here. Later, Helen & I visited her Home for the Dying in Calcutta. In 2006, I set in motion the complex process of having her added to the Anglican Calendar. That took 5 years. For about 50 years she had no sense of the presence of God - that fits with our current focus on mindfulness/contemplative practice - which understands thoughts and feelings as creatures. I reminded all that if you are depressed, have doubts, no sense of God's presence, or find prayers aren't being answered you are not alone. This is the experience of many before you - including of Mother, since Sunday known as, Saint Teresa.
Friday 26 August
With only the Juniors at Chapel, I focused on thinking through the hymn, Psalm 23 - The Lord's my Shepherd (even "I'll not want" may be lost on some of our students). We thought through the difference from our regular NZ experience with large mobs of sheep driven from behind by dogs to the image overseas (and in the Bible) of a small flock, known individually to the shepherd, led from the front, trusted by the sheep. This included realising that we, on this planet, have enough - the issue is sharing this equitably.
Monday 22 August
With only the Juniors at Chapel, we looked at the hymn by Kiwi Felicia Edgecombe, Just a cup of water... thinking through Jesus' insight of imaging ourselves in another's place and caring for them as we would ourselves.
Friday 19 August - Grandaprents' Day
We thought about Jesus' extended family, including his siblings and grandparents. We were conscious of students whose grandparents have died or live very far away, and of older people who wish they were grandparents. We thought about the short period in human history, about half a century, during which the nuclear family was the norm in the West. Whanau, the extended family, was the norm before that, and an increasing variety of ways to live together is the majority experience now. Grandparents have, historically, brought richness to our human development.
Monday 15 August
I mentioned two useful (free) apps: (1) Insight Timer & (2) Centering PrayerThen we had 600 students sitting together in silence this morning trying this together!
Friday 12 August
Continuing teaching about Contemplative Prayer/Meditation/Mindfulness - particularly that, while at other times it is good and appropriate to follow our thoughts and reflect on our feelings, during the time you assign to this practice you don't follow any thoughts or feelings, however significant they appear.
Monday 8 August
The address this morning on mindfulness/meditation/
Friday 5 August
Today we began looking at different Christian contemplative practices – traditions that are being rediscovered through the current passion for “mindfulness” – BEING not just our obsession with DOING. Today we looked at using your imagination, a tradition usually associated with St Ignatius Loyola.
Friday 1 July
Reflecting on Beethoven's Creation Hymn. Just as the conviction that there is a "person" associated with that person's body is a belief - the body acting like a sacrament, an outward visible sign of an invisible reality - so the conviction that there is a God associated with the universe in a similar, sacramental, manner, is a belief. To hold the opposite in each case, is also not scientifically verifiable. It, too, is a belief. Just as accepting there is a person - not just a body - changes everything. So, seeing the universe, nature, every individual as sacred changes everything.
Monday 27 June
Reflecting on the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Lyrics by American writer Julia Ward Howe using the music from the song "John Brown's Body". Because we are surrounded by so many images of God that give a "nasty" impression of an almighty ogre, we can swing to the opposite extreme that God is not only nice but "dainty". This hymn, written in the midst of the bloodiest war on USA soil, combines images of war with strong images of a God who is good but not "safe" (as CS Lewis reminds us in the Narnia books). Without glorifying war and violence, how do we use the energy that drives that, within us all, positively?
Friday 24 June
Psalm 150 is prayed daily by pious Jews, and traditionally daily by monks, nuns, and others. The Psalms provide every human emotion: joy, despair, loneliness, thanks, praise, doubt... How much awe do we experience (the thread of this psalm)? At the existence of all things? At our own existence?
Monday 20 June
The Nunc Dimitis is used at the end of each day, and often at funerals - it is about the end. "End" in English is not just about last point, it is also about purpose. And those two are connected. Because our life on this earth is limited, we cannot go through every possible, variable option, but (have to) make choices. How do you conclude each day? What are your goals?
Friday 17 June
This morning we looked at Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1). I proposed that we humans are "yearning enfleshed." The Magnificat speaks about our desire for pride, power, wealth, etc. and reversing these situations - the proud to be scattered, the mighty cast down, the rich sent empty away,... The problem is that if, for example, the mighty are dethroned and the lowly enthroned, no sooner are these lowly enthroned but they are also abusing their power and needing dethroning...
The Bible story, Jesus, and the summary in the Magnificat highlights that our human yearning is a shadow, a mirror, of God's yearning for us - so we no longer need to live in the model of thinking that, for example, we can only be wealthy if others are poor, we can only be significant if others are put down.
Monday 13 June
I am working through some loved hymns. Jerusalem, by William Blake, is based on the legend that Jesus may have come to England in the unrecorded years between being 12 and 30. Blake uses this to challenge the effects of the Industrial Revolution which had begun about 40 years earlier - the rich were getting richer; the poor poorer; the landscape was becoming more ugly by the dark satanic mills. We are sining a protest song which challenges economic practices that put money and profit above people and nature. Just as relevant today as we rebuild Christchurch in Aotearoa-New Zealand's green and pleasant land.
Friday 10 June
In this series on much-loved pieces we sing at our school, we looked at Psalm 8. Hebrew poetry (the psalm’s original) works by rhythm rather than rhyme. This is a prayer that starts with God’s handiwork in the universe, through making us individually, to our responsibility as stewards (stewardship). It challenges us: what are the “gods” in my life (money, power, being important,…) and what does that say about us? It also encourages us: insignificant as you or I might feel, God is delighted with you, with me (individually) as if you are the only one. You get God’s total interest – not one seven-billionth of God’s attention.
Friday 3 June
Ka waiata is a himene by Richard Puanaki (he wrote this in the 1980s). It focuses on Mary, the mother of Jesus. I underscored the dangers of sexist, male-dominated religion and the need, for us males too, to balance with feminine images. I looked especially at Richard Puanaki's words "Te whare tangata" (house of the people) which many wanted him to change to the more traditional "Te whare atua" (house of God). But he kept his concept which draws on traditional Maori understanding of (women) holding the future within. We (the young men here), like Mary, (like women), hold the future within us as we (like Mary) say "Yes" to the One we call "God."
Monday 30 May - Hymns
I began working through some of the students' favourite hymns. "Hail, gladdening light" is one of two oldest hymns we have outside the Bible (the other being the Gloria that we sing at the Eucharist). It is a hymn that was sung in the early church as Christians gathered (in secret because of persecution) and lit the lamps. So the words tie together these lights, Christ our light, and gratitude for all that we have been given (this day). The complexity of the words (it is not an easy hymn to translate) is due to holding these several themes together.
Friday 27 May - Making good choices
We reflected on the recent major production, Our House. In many ways this was a sermon on making good choices - set as a musical. The address looked at philosophical issues of freedom and determinism, and concluded with taking care with decisions not to be impulsive (influenced by other people, alcohol, or...) The individual choices we make lead to habits.
Mahatma Gandhi said it well:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Monday 23 May - School Value: stewardship continued...
In continuation of our reflection on the school value of stewardship, we looked particularly at our stewardship of nature. We looked particularly at the Bible's teaching to subdue and have dominion over creation to realise that this doesn't mean doing with it whatever we like. This is ruling as equals - like a king wandering among his subjects as an equal.
Friday 20 May - School Value: stewardship
In Chapel this morning the Chaplain connected stewardship and tradition (and the school motto) - receiving a gift, enhancing it, handing it on. I contrasted this with the concept of "owning" something so that we could do with it whatever we like. We are stewards of so many things - all we do in this school, family farms, knowledge, even the gifts given to us individually.
Friday 13 May - Compassion continued...
We continued reflecting on the school value of compassion, using the metaphor of salt. In Jesus’s time, as now, salt was used in food. It was used as a preservative (enhancing good) and to reduce the effects of the bad, which would have to be discarded. We can co-operate with others who are compassionate (enhancing the good; reducing the bad). We do not need to do everything alone. We are like salt.
Monday 9 May - Compassion
We reflected on the school value of compassion. Many world religions have what is frequently called the “Silver Rule” – that is, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” (Udana-Varga 5.1). Jesus taught the same message, turned into a positive (often called the “Golden Rule”): “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” We can be compassionate in many different ways: in the way we treat our mates, others in our House or in our family; in the way we raise funds – in collections taken up in Chapel, on mufti days or by supporting the work of the humanitarian committee; in our attitudes – in the way we do not stand for racist, sexist or other put-downs, in how we stand up for people who may not be able to stand up for themselves; in how we use the power we may have for good.
Thursday 5 May - Ascension Day
It is common for people to try to escape from reality. Escaping temporarily may have its value, but having an approach to life that sees escape as the goal is inappropriate. Christianity offers a down-to-earth God, who, in the Resurrection does not discard creation, and in the Ascension proclaims the eternal uniting of creation into the mystery of God. So, let us learn the opposite of escaping and practice being here now, in our classes, sport, culture, with our friends and family, and with nature.
Monday 2 May - Anzac Day recognition
We reflected on the sacrifices people make in war and how we need to examine within ourselves, consider the choices we make, and what leads to the destruction of peace, put downs, violence, murder and war. We also looked at examples of people who always strived for a peaceful solution and cared for the innocent victims of war.
Friday 8 April - So what?
The question we need to dwell on, which is really important is "So what?" Not just about Easter, Jesus, the resurrection, God – but about ALL we do, including the term we have just concluded.
Monday 4 April - Resurrection is transformation not resuscitation
Jesus is not a zombie. In the Resurrection Jesus is not recognised at first. Jesus has not died and come back to life. Jesus has taken on death – has taken death on – and has gone through death and come out the other side transformed.
Saturday 26 March - Friday's Chapel address on "Holy Saturday"
Holy Saturday is the day between Good Friday and Easter Day. It seems like a day when nothing appears to be happening, often like our training for a sport, learning a language, rehearsing for drama, learning an instrument or going over maths problems. We have to learn to live our Holy Saturdays in life. The promise is that there will be a surprise; the seed sprouts to become a plant, the butterfly emerges. This is not just the hope for us as individuals, but for the human race, in fact for the universe.
Maundy Thursday 24 March - Love others
When Jesus said "this is my body... this is my blood" it refers to himself and his life. We are called to do this with bread and wine in memory of Christ. He also calls us to give ourselves and our life for the service of others as he did, in memory of him. Christ's mandates this day ("maundy") are to break bread, wash feet, and love. We do the first faithfully across more than 100,000 Sundays. The second is done faithfully, at least around the world this day. The third still needs a lot of work.
Friday 21 March - Christ breaks down the walls that divide
We humans have a tendency to form an "us" by dehumanising and putting down a "them" (this is mimetic theory). This applies to, for example, male-female, heterosexual-homosexual, rich-poor, and put-downs and bullying. Standing by and doing nothing is part of trying to be part of the "us". Christ's suffering and death means this is no longer necessary.
Friday 18 March - Inivtation to be baptised (christened)
Two important quotes from the Matrix:
"I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it."
"There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path."
The Chaplain extended an invitation to find out if they are baptised (christened) and to consider being baptised on 1 April if they are not. This is one explicit way of becoming more consciously part of being Christ's hands, feet, eyes, or speech serving in the world.
Monday 14 March - The school's value of "justice"
We too quickly assume that the way we do things is a good/better/best way to do things. Here are two examples of doing things differently. Since 1921, Finland has been fining people in proportion to their income. Ontario will trial a universal basic income. What might we do?
Sunday Chapel Service Times
Anyone, including visitors, are always very welcome to attend a Sunday service in our Chapel
7pm Choral Eucharist (Years 11,12 & 13 compulsory)
7pm Advent Carol Service (Year 9 & 10 compulsory)
6pm Carols on the Quad