Homily – Sunday, the 11th September 2022
Sunday after the Homegoing of Her Majesty the Queen
Sunday for the Blessing of School Bags.
Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is not with us today. As I was commissioned as Chaplain of ACF I was asked to make an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty and her successors according to law as she was the Supreme Governor of the Church. That made me ponder deeper about her as a person and I was marvelled. She was the monarch all the days of our life till she passed on and as we mourn her death I join you in letting the world know what this moment means for each one of us.
Her late Majesty the Queen attended church service regularly, read the Bible and lived according to the principles of the Bible and Christian faith. She attended the General Synod of the Church of England in person and appointed archbishops, bishops and deans. She was rightly called the Defender of Faith through her time in office
The Church’s tribute is best summarised by
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who said: “It is with profound sadness that I join the nation, the Commonwealth and the world in mourning the death of Her Late Majesty The Queen. My prayers are with The King and the Royal Family. May God draw near them and comfort them in the days, weeks and months ahead.
“As we grieve together, we know that, in losing our beloved Queen, we have lost the person whose steadfast loyalty, service and humility has helped us make sense of who we are through decades of extraordinary change in our world, nation and society.
“As deep as our grief runs, even deeper is our gratitude for Her Late Majesty’s extraordinary dedication to the United Kingdom, her Realms and the Commonwealth. Through times of war and hardship, through seasons of upheaval and change, and through moments of joy and celebration, we have been sustained by Her Late Majesty’s faith in what and who we are called to be.
“In the darkest days of the Coronavirus pandemic, The Late Queen spoke powerfully of the light that no darkness can overcome. As she had done before, she reminded us of a deep truth about ourselves – we are a people of hope who care for one another. Even as The Late Queen mourned the loss of her beloved husband, Prince Philip, we saw once again evidence of her courage, resilience and instinct for putting the needs of others first – all signs of a deeply rooted Christian faith.
“As we sustain one another in the face of this challenge, our shared grieving will also be a work of shared reimagining. I pray that we commence this journey with a sense of Her Late Majesty’s faith and confidence in the future.
“As a faithful Christian disciple, and also Supreme Governor of the Church of England, she lived out her faith every day of her life. Her trust in God and profound love for God was foundational in how she led her life – hour by hour, day by day.
“In The Late Queen’s life, we saw what it means to receive the gift of life we have been given by God and – through patient, humble, selfless service – share it as a gift to others.
“Her Late Majesty found great joy and fulfilment in the service of her people and her God, “whose service is perfect freedom” (BCP). For giving her whole life to us, and allowing her life of service to be an instrument of God’s peace among us, we owe her a debt of gratitude beyond measure.
“The Late Queen leaves behind a truly extraordinary legacy: one that is found in almost every corner of our national life, as well as the lives of so many nations around the world, and especially in the Commonwealth.
“It was my great privilege to meet Her Late Majesty on many occasions. Her clarity of thinking, capacity for careful listening, inquiring mind, humour, remarkable memory and extraordinary kindness invariably left me conscious of the blessing that she has been to us all.
“In my prayers at this time I also give thanks for the marriage of The Late Queen and His Late Royal Highness Prince Philip. Theirs was an inspirational example of Christian marriage – rooted in friendship, nourished by shared faith, and turned outwards in service to others.
“May Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II rest in peace and rise in glory.”
Blessing of the School Bags
The new academic year begins tomorrow and all our students, teachers and staff are excited and so are our parents.
Amidst all the expectations of the new academic year the fact remains that about 72 million children around the world remain unschooled today. We remember them.
There are several single teacher schools across the world- We salute those teachers. I specifically remember one near Chittagong where a dedicated teacher single handily managed a school from Class 1 to Class 12.
There are several children who travel miles together to get to school. We remember them.
The opportunity to be at school or university is a great blessing that we many a times take for granted. Today we thank God for this great opportunity to go to school, to have different teachers to teach us different subjects and for the opportunities for higher education in a context where several children drop out from school to work to complement the income of the family. Child labour and Exploitative labour is a harsh reality all over the world. While all these should help us think further of justice we primarily ought to be thankful.
Count your blessings, name them one by one and it will surprice you what the Lord has done.
Education, it is said, is what remains even after one forgets everything they learnt at school. It is bringing out the real self.
The way we look at things
Let us take a close look at the Lukan text that we read as the Gospel lesson today, Tax Collectors and Sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him.
On the other hand the Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered this man welcomes sinners and eats with them.
When the anticipated Messiah is by their side- still they are muttering and complaining and that takes away the joy of comprehending the beauty of the Messiah.
Seizing the Sunshine Moments in Life and Being Thankful is important. It requires humility and wisdom.
Murmuring, Muttering, Complaining- all these are possible as we start the new year but remember the sunshine is too big for us to complain. Let us make the best of the opportunity for education
This also calls us for a reflection on trivialising the opportunities In life. Back to School is an unfulfilled dream of millions and you and I have the privilege to be back into the world of academics.
Why was one sheep lost?
- Left behind by entanglements
- Left behind In the crevices
- Left behind by ailment or infirmity
- Left behind by being lured by the predators
- Left behind by losing touch with community
We must remind ourselves that the reason for lostness of several children in the academic journey is not always their fault.
Entanglements in life including poverty, migration
Crevices they fall into including being orphaned and abandoned.
Infirmities that hold them back including physical, mental and emotional challenges, Visible and invisible wounds.
Luring of the predators including drugs, alcohol and licentiousness
Losing touch with the community through forced migration, abduction, trafficking
A reflection on lost generations is important for each of us to be alert of the challenges on the way and to be committed to justice ad restoration.
The essence of the finding
There are a few words here that all teachers should closely look at and take heed.
Leaving behind the 99. When we prioritise it is important to understand the preciousness of each. While together the sheep are comparatively safe, the one who is lost is vulnerable and a good teacher should have a heart for the vulnerable.
Each of our students are unique. Each of them are very special and if we can we should not allow one to be devoured by the prowling predators. And I intentionally use the word “predators”.
Going after the lost sheep reveals the heart of a good teacher. As a good shepherd they immediately realise that one is lost and the lost one is at the risk of being devoured. The shepherd cannot but get going seeking.
The text also mentions about the diligence in seeking. There is no quitting, there is no giving up. Till the lost one is found the search goes on. This determination that I would not allow anyone entrusted to my care to go awry is key to being teachers.
The Joy of Celebration: Four words for students
As soon as the lost one was found, the shepherd joyfully put it in his shoulder, went home, called together his friends and neighbours and invited them to rejoice with him
My dear students at the beginning of the new academic year I would want to give heed to these five words
The shoulder of the shepherd is a symbol of an inexplicable relationship. Cherish your relationship with your teachers. It is very special.
Home is a very important word- and all those who have a home to go back to be thankful for that great gift.
Friends. What remains in life would be only good friends. Make good friends and be good friends.
Remember what Shakespeare said- Words are easy like the wind, faithful friends are hard to find.
And always be a good neighbour and cherish the joy of having good neighbours
How can you have dreams when your neighbours have nightmares. He who neglects his neighbour is the most selfish of all not the one who just thinks of oneself.
The last is the possibility of rejoicing with others. Life is not a island to be spent I virtual experiences. Rejoicing in flesh and blood with our dear ones and creating moments to cherish and celebrate are very important.
The Lost Coin and Lessons for the Parents and Faith community
When one of the ten was lost, the lady did not sit back and say- afterall I have nine left. She realised that her ornament was incomplete without the one. A family is joyful when each lives for all and all lives for each. Each one is precious
I the quest to find the lost the woman did three things which are acknowledgements of three realities that all parents should be aware of
First, she lit a lamp- She acknowledged darkness
Second, she swept the floor- She acknowledged dust
Third, she searched carefully- She acknowledged the need of diligence.
May I wish all who are going to the new academic year God’s choicest blessings
11th September 2022