Exploring core values in church schools.
(Information has been collated from a variety of sources.)
The Hebrew term for peace, ‘shalom’, has a deep and complex meaning, encompassing much more than simply the absence of hostility or war.
Shalom includes ideas of healing and health, wholeness and well-being. It means harmony, stability and security within a community. It refers to relationships based on truth and righteousness, where people flourish because they are nurtured.
The Biblical picture of the age to come is one of Shalom. ‘Swords will be beaten into ploughshares’ … ‘the wolf shall live with the lamb… no-one shall hurt or destroy…’
(Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:1-9).
Traditional enemies will live together contentedly and the people will be governed with wisdom, understanding and justice.
In Jesus’ message, peace is an almost tangible element. It is his gift to his disciples. Paul describes God as the God of peace, the Christian message is called the ’gospel of peace’ and peace is one of the ‘fruits of the Spirit’.
It seems that humankind has to learn and re-learn the message of peace. It does not come easily or automatically. We constantly fall back into hostility and suspicion. Peter, quoting the Psalms, says we must ‘seek peace and pursue it’ (1 Peter 3:11). Jesus blesses those who are ‘peacemakers’ and calls them ‘sons of God’.
It is noteworthy how often the word peace is used in parallel with the word ‘righteousness’. Peace cannot come by simply wishing it to be the case. Peace is founded on righteousness and justice.
Christians are called to share in Christ’s work of restoring wholeness. The Christian vision in this respect is far-reaching and challenging: harmony between people, harmony between people and God, and harmony between humans and the whole created order.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.
This is what the LORD says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.’
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.’
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
What does this mean for church schools?
• How would you define a ‘peaceful school’ or a ‘peaceful classroom’?
What contribution does your Christian ethos make to this?
• How are conflicts resolved in ways that are fair? What training is given to help this to happen skilfully and consistently?
• How are pupils encouraged to be peacemakers and how are they equipped to do this?
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
• In what ways are pupils enabled to experience peace during worship?
• What do you think is meant when the Biblical writers tell us to ‘seek peace and pursue it’? What part does the daily act of worship play in helping you to do this?
• What exactly is meant by the greeting: ‘The peace of the Lord be always with you’? How are pupils helped to reach an understanding of this?
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
• How does each curriculum area create opportunities to foster co-operation?
• In which areas of the curriculum do pupils learn about those who have promoted peace by their life, work and teaching? Does this include those who have used science and technology for peaceful means?
• How are pupils given a balanced understanding of both ‘just war’ and ‘pacifism’?
“Peace begins with a smile..”
― Mother Teresa
• What strategies do you use to promote a peaceful and harmonious community in your school?
• Christians are called to share in Christ’s work of restoring wholeness. How are you helping to restore ‘wholeness’ in your school and in your local community?
• Isaiah speaks of ‘peace like a river’ and ‘righteousness like the waves of the sea’. What do these images mean to you? How far does your leadership promote this vision within your school?
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
― Mahatma Gandhi