john davies
notes from a small curate

updated regularly
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Blue Coat School Leavers' Service

    Blue Coat School 17/05/2002

    Some days are bigger than others. I suspect that in the scheme of things, today might seem to you like one of the more significant ones.

    This special occasion is about an ending - your imminent leaving of Blue Coat School; itıs also about new beginnings - as you walk through the gates to embrace the future.

    There is a time for everything, under heaven: and this is your time, here in this chapel, a time apart, a time suspended between now and then, a time for you to make your peace with the past, to celebrate the present, to gather yourself before the future.

    I chose the text from the book of Ecclesiastes (chapter 3) because itıs neutral - it could be either a celebration, a call to action, or it could be a dismissive negation of life. To one person it may say, thereıs no point in life, what goes around comes around; to another it may underline the completeness of creation and how we are wonderfully wrapped up in it.

    Now is a time to either build up, or a time to break down, says the writer. Of course breaking down, being cruel and cynical can be great fun, as Nigel Molesworth demonstrates in the classic book Down With Skool, the memoirs of an underachieving public schoolboy, which I loved reading when was 17, and still chuckle at now: on his last day at school he reflects:

    I look around me at my fellow weeds. All these oiks, tuoughs, weeds, wets, bulies, snekes, cads, dolts and knaves - what will become of them? Have they tried their best? No. Hav they put the Subjekt in the Nom? No! Hav they kept their eye on the pill at criket? No! Have they been well-mannered and respecktful to the masters? No! Have they heeded warnings and discipline? Absolutely not! Wot is to become of them?

    The jaded Molesworth gleefully anticipates the head of the school experiencing a demise too sordid to repeat here, which lands him fourteen years in Wormwood Scrubs, and he fanatasises about the school weed Fotherington-Thomas becoming a brave space traveller. His reverie is only broken when the picture emerges in his mindıs eye of himself becoming a designer of upmarket frocks.

    There is a time to kill, and a time to heal, says Ecclesiastes. I donıt think Molesworth was a happy boy as he joined the rush to leave his school that day. He probably got his timing wrong.

    Will you take these moments as a time to build, to reflect back on your days at Blue Coat, on all the valuable things youıve gained, in learning, in friendships, in confidence and responsibility?

    Will you take these moments as a time to heal, to confront those things which may distress you about your time here, to give them up to God for healing, maybe to offer a hand of kindness to another to make up for past disputes?

    Will you take these moments as a time to weep and to laugh, about the things you have shared, good, bad and ugly?

    Will you take these moments as a time to love, not necessarily in a maudlin, sentimental way, but to allow yourself strong feelings about the good things that you have shared here, about an institution that has helped you to grow?

    A famous bible passage which is often used on big occasions says:

    When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became fully grown, I put childish ways behind me. (1 Corinthians 13)

    Picture for a moment an old school photo in your mindıs eye. Try to remember the person you were when that was taken; when you first came here.

    How you have changed - how you have grown! May God bless you now, as you take one further step towards being fully grown.

    Will you take the next few moments, at this pivotal point of this big day, to quietly reflect on your Blue Coat experience; and especially on the good things which you have gained from being here.

    (Let us pray....)

    Prayers of Commendation
    Let us pause, think respectfully about ourselves and each other. In the silence, decide what it is that you celebrate in yourself - a quality, gift, or talent.

    Think about those around you, those you have learned with, those you have learned from, what you value and respect in those people.

    Living God,
    thank you that you see us as people of great worth.
    Together we are enough to transform the world!
    Thank you for the qualities, gifts and talents we have discovered among us here.
    We carry them with us as we leave
    And commend them to your service. Amen