By Anne Armstrong, Religious Education Curriculum Coordinator
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 New International Version (NIV))
In schools and streets across Australia, jacarandas are blooming and the agapanthus are just about the burst forth. These are the floral signs that this is the season of last things, last lessons, last weeks, last times. The last time of getting up and putting on a uniform, the last time of signing in at the student office, the last signature on a clearance form. There is sadness, but there is also optimism. We look forward to a future filled with hope; that dreams will be fulfilled; the lives will be transformed; that all the learning and relationship building will sustain us in our quest.
In our RE classes we attempt to offer assessments that encourage students to reflect on the role of Christian hope in their lives. A hope that is grounded in Jesus’ victory over death. A hope that believes in the presence of Christ in the world, in us. A hope that offers transformation, a message of Good News that will sustain us where ever we go in life.
Year 9s have been exploring the incarnation, life and resurrection of Jesus as part of their exploration of identity and vocation. They have explored the vocations of sports people who have lived their lives for Christ. They have taken on the challenges of witnessing the love of Jesus to others. They have investigated the deeper meanings of Gospel stories expressed through art, drama and media and applied these meanings to their own lives.
Year 10 have just written creative pieces reflecting on the role of grief, suffering, hope and transformation in their lives. The last task in High School RE is one which gives students the opportunity to realise that no matter how difficult their circumstances, how great the challenges, how deep the grief, the Resurrection of Jesus gives us hope. We are redeemed through love and we are summoned by love to share that Good News of Redemption with others.,
Year 11 have deeply explored Social Justice; learning the process of “See, Judge, Act”, when investigating what causes injustice. Religion and Politics students have considered the way in which peace is possible through various political processes. Science and Religion students have been challenged by the way STEM can be used to promote human flourishing, alleviate poverty, injustice, disease. They have been encouraged by the call of “Laudato Si'” to promote sustainability and love of the created world. Religion and the Media. students investigated ways in which the Church can express its mission in the modern world, despite the negative representations of religion in the secular press.
Year 12 have explored the role of faith, belief, resilience and hope in their lives in the media and art works they have been investigating. In Religion and Psychology classes students have reflected on the faith journey they have experienced and the spiritual and psychological values that contribute to their well being.
Year 12 RE students undertaking Independent Studies have impressed me with the depth of research into areas of interest. I have been amazed at the theological insight and depth revealed in essays which have explored the nature of Eucharist; the role of architecture in promoting spirituality; the need for the Australian Church to take liturgical music more seriously; the spirituality of home and homelessness; the problems with Mega Churches, to name a few of the topics chosen.
In the Sunday readings for the last two Sundays of the Church’s liturgical year Jesus has finally made it to Jerusalem. Near to His passion and death, in his last days, He gives us a teaching of hope—telling us how it will be when He returns in glory.
He reminds us that the world as we know it will pass away, but we are not to be anxious or fearful. God is with us and God’s love for us will sustain and transform us.
Father Gerard McCormick MSC wrote in the recent St John’s Kippax Parish bulletin:
Rather than instil fear in us, it is a liberating message. It is a vision that offers great hope and consolation. It means that we have a destiny; and that destiny is to share in the victory of Christ.
Today, when we too experience so much uncertainty in our world, we need to embrace the vision of eternity. To know that in God’s plan of salvation there will be a renewal of heaven and earth when Christ comes in glory and the end of time.
This revelatory vision of the future orientates us to live differently in the present. We seek Christ in the present so that we may know and love him more fully in the future. How do we seek Christ now? Perhaps the following proverb may help.
I sought my God; my God I could not see.
I sought my soul; my soul eluded me.
I sought my neighbour, and I found all three.
May all our students find God in their neighbour, in their relationships, in their soul and may the love of Christ inspire their hopes, dreams and actions. In the last days of this school year, may we look forward to a future filled with hope, trusting in the plans God has for us.