to the Anglican Schools Office
The Anglican Schools Office exists to support, resource, provide training opportunities and build fellowship between the Chaplains and Religious Education teachers working in its associated schools in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and encourage interaction between the schools and the church.
Heading into Term 3 with a story, an icon, and an arm around your shoulder!
There is a legend from the Desert Fathers in Egypt concerning a man called Minas. He was a very bad man who burned and murdered, and stole and pillaged many villagers in a particular region. When Minas came to town, people brought their children inside and locked the doors. He wreaked terror.
Now one day, so the story goes, Minas was out and about doing what what he liked doing best – creating mayhem; hurting, pillaging, stealing… – when he came across a Christian hermit living in a cave. And there was something about the hermit that made Minas not want to kill him; and he asked him what he was and what he was doing. The hermit told him of Christ who calls all people to him and gives them a new start in life no matter what they have done.
Something began to sing in the heart of Minas, but he said, “I can never be a follower of that man – I have done so much wrong.”
The hermit said, “Of course you can. Go into the village over there, and go into the church and ask to be baptised.”
So the next scene is Minas walking into a church. It is a Sunday, and the priest is preaching as Minas walks in. He falls silent; heads turn; people look scared. Then the priest says, “What do you want?”
Minas replies, “I want to be baptised.”
The priest says – “You – a man who has killed and robbed and put fear into the hearts of so many people – you don’t belong here. Get out!”
A dejected Minas turns and leaves the church.
The final scene is this: two figures enter the Church. One, dressed in the whites robes of the newly baptised is Minas. The other, with his arm around his shoulder, is Jesus.
Jesus looks up to the priest and says – “I am with Minas!”
And with this they both walk out.
This is the icon.
It has been adopted by the Taize community, and it says, “everyone is welcome!”
This could be a picture of us – Jesus has his arm around us and says – “you are mine.”
Jesus carries with him the big book of the Scriptures. But if you look carefully, Minas is given a tiny part of those scriptures to go and proclaim. I like this! We are called by God, but we are not called to understand everything. But the part that we do understand, the part that speaks to our heart is the part we must share with others.
I use this icon with our Yr 7’s, and try to get the students to see themselves in this icon with the arm of Jesus around them. We must see ourselves and our students as greatly loved. And I think we need to define ourselves not by our successes and what we have done, but by the one who puts his arms around us. Each one of us needs to see ourselves look in the mirror and say, “I am the one Jesus loves. And he has called me to this ministry.”
I wish you well for Term 3!
Chaplain, King’s School, Auckland
Some images from the Radical Peacemakers conference