Hello everybody, good morning, it’s great to be back here with you......
and so ends another amazing term for us at Spinnaker Eastbourne – with these same words that I've had such pleasure in speaking in schools again and again since September!
Here is a quick update to give you a taste of what your prayers, support and encouragement, along with God’s goodness and grace have allowed us to do over the last six weeks.
Eastbourne Hub’s Term in numbers
- 6 weeks
- 12 Easter lessons across 5 schools
- 26 Easter Assemblies in 13 schools
- 56 visits in total this term across 14 schools
- Approximately 3720 children from 5-11, plus staff discovering who Jesus is, what he said and did.
We started this term by delving into the parable of the sower where we saw that the difference between hearing and listening is often a choice. We thought about what it is that makes a good listener (pay attention, ask questions, act…)? We found out that following Jesus’ teachings can help us grow.
We chose to deliver two Easter assemblies this year and started by looking at Good Friday. Using Sarah Horne’s amazing artwork, pupils pondered Jesus on the cross and reflected on the goodness found in his last words. Using the image of a plaster being removed, we saw the cross as exposing our hidden hurt, shame, guilt and fear so that the wounds may be cleaned and heal.
With Passion Praise (Resurrection Sunday), we spoke about leaving all our hurt, disappointment and unanswered questions in the tomb and thought about the unexpected joy of finding it empty. After whispering into cupped hands, we opened our hands to reflect the great joy, hope and new life that emerged when the tomb was found empty. I have been impressed by how the children responded, taking on the message quite deeply and a couple were moved to tears. Chrissie, who has been working with Spinnaker for just over a year now (whoop whoop) said:
“Passion pain (Good Friday) was the hardest assembly so far because I really felt the responsibility of telling the story of the gospel well and getting it right. I was so aware of what I wanted them to take away. I leaned on the Holy Spirit more than for any other assembly. I know that it was also his responsibility, and the promise that he is with us.
After delivering the assembly in one school, a girl in year 1 came over to me and asked to pray - she whispered a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus in my ear!"
We wanted to make the most of the opportunity offered by Easter being a focal point for most RE curricula this term and so designed an interactive, drama based RE lesson to give children the chance to think deeply and respond to the events of Holy Week, while supporting teachers in delivering the curriculum.
We offered the lessons to 2 church and 3 state schools and all 5 enthusiastically welcomed us in, one of them rearranging the timetable to accommodate more lessons. I have no doubt that if we had been able to offer lessons to 8 or 10 schools we would have been taken up on the offer.
We asked the children to put on the hat of investigative journalists tasked with writing up a draft report on the unfolding events of Holy Week. This gave the children (and staff) the opportunity to delve into the Easter story asking deep, probing and sometimes personal questions. Bringing drama into the learning and RE gave the children permission to be as imaginative and creative as they wanted.
For Chrissie, a particular highlight was when they interviewed John (played by Sam) to hear eyewitness accounts of Jesus arrest and crucifixion:
'The journalists/children asked insightful and thoughtful questions that showed how they were engaging with John’s account and the empathy they felt for him. They asked lots of questions about feelings, getting into the human side of Jesus and quite a few by the end of the lessons were asking “is this real, is it true?”'
Looking at the picture of the cross, some comments from children were: "It makes me feel sad that they did this to such a kind person", "The flowers give me the feeling of peace and hope."
A sample of some of the questions children asked during RE lessons were: "So why did Jesus have to die?" "Could Jesus have stopped the guards arresting him if he wanted to?" "Was Jesus magic?" "Did Jesus turn into an angel when he came back to life?" "Is this a true story?" "Where is Jesus now?" It was a welcome challenge when one RE co-ordinator asked us to explain the doctrine of the Atonement to the children as “some of the teachers would find it tricky.” (Several teachers wanted to follow up on the work by writing out a full report.)
The opportunities and response from schools this term have been so exciting. To paraphrase what John wrote at the end of his Gospel: these things are written so that you may be encouraged and put your trust in the Lord who is doing amazing things in our schools, town, and beyond. If I were to write all that has been done and said, you would probably run out of time to finish reading this update!
Thank you once again for your prayers and support. If you would like to further contribute to what we do and help us to respond to even more opportunities you can:
Follow and share @spinnakersam on Instagram. Please get in touch if you would like specific prayer points, or for one of us to visit your church/meeting. If you have any time available, there are lots of ways you can join in. Last but not least, do please consider making either a one off or regular gift to help support the production, promotion and delivery of ‘It’s Jesus’ in our local schools.
Thank you for your support.
Sam Oakes, Spinnaker Eastbourne Hub Leader