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The power of questions

This week our former Chaplain, the Reverend Canon Andrew Haviland, emphasises the importance of ensuring our young people are confident to continue questioning and searching for answers.

If you watched the Royal Wedding last weekend, you will have heard Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon about the power of love and how, if we could harness the power of love like we have harnessed the power of fire, the world could be transformed for the better. 

His sermon had a significant impact not only because of what he said, but also how he said it. Nobody was expecting to have such a charismatic preacher in the genteel and formal surroundings of St George’s Chapel at Windsor. It looked as if some members of the congregation were not expecting to be challenged and entertained at the same time and it was totally apparent that Bishop Curry enjoys not only preaching, but also engaging with his congregation. 

In recent weeks Bryanston has hosted two confirmation services where pupils and adults have stood up and decided that now is the time to say ‘yes’ to the message of the Christian faith. Both services, Anglican and Roman Catholic, were ones of real joy and happiness and celebrated the power of love that Bishop Curry spoke about at the Royal Wedding. The two bishops, the Bishop of Sherborne and the Bishop of Plymouth, were marvellous with the candidates both before and during the service. The church was packed with people supporting them, and the music department once again did an amazing job in providing stunning choirs to lead the service. 

Confirmation for these people, and for some of us here in the Bryanston community, is a time to celebrate and also to reflect. Those who had expressed an interest in being confirmed attended a series of confirmation preparation sessions. This was a time to meet in small supportive groups, in a relaxed setting with some hot chocolate and heaps of biscuits, which made it very different to a normal academic lesson. 

But, like any good academic lesson, the purpose of these sessions was to educate not indoctrinate. What we tried to do was empower the young people to not be content with trite or simple responses to the big questions of life. The purpose was to help them to continue questioning and searching for answers. We examined the life and effect of Jesus and how his life has inspired people. We also critically explored how Christians have got the message wrong and made massive errors in life. In my experience, religion goes wrong when some think they have all the answers and think that their way is the only way. 

Ensuring people are confident to question is vital and it is something that Bryanston aims to foster in all its young people. It is at the heart of our pastoral, academic, creative and spiritual curriculum and demonstrated through Bryanston’s Guiding Principles. The week after half term Bryanston is hosting its second Education Summit with the theme: “Where Next for Schools? Moving Education Up to the Next Level.” It should be a super event, empowering teachers and those interested in education to question and reflect on best practice. 

The power to question, like harnessing the power of fire and the power of love empowering those around us to continue to question, has the potential to transform the world for the better.