Suggestion for collective worship in a secondary school
|Few of us are ever alone for very long. Here you are surrounded by other people. When you go home there will be people in the streets and on the bus or train. Even if there is no one else there when you reach home, other people will soon come in. You can switch the radio or television on, and hear and see other people.
|But do you remember hearing about Tony Bullimore? He was one of those who set out alone in a yacht - the Exide Challenger - in 1996 to take part in the Vendee Globe, a 25,000 mile yacht race. It is regarded as the toughest race in the world; each competitor is sailing solo. And then, at the beginning of January 1997, in a violent storm, Tony Bullimore's yacht capsized. He was more than a thousand miles from any shipping route and was fifteen-hundred miles south west of Australia. He was then truly alone.
|Why do people choose to go out alone to sail long distances at sea, or to cross deserts, or to climb mountains, or to reach the North Pole? Perhaps it is for the adventure? But isn't it partly, at least, to test themselves? To see what they are made of?
|Being truly alone is a great test of character. It can be a test of your physical stamina, but it is also a testing time for your mind, and for your soul. You must discover what you are like, deep down inside, and what sort of things matter to you. You are likely to ask yourself what life is really all about. It must bring out the best in you and also show you the worst in yourself.
|Some of the world's greatest spiritual leaders have chosen deliberately to be alone in wild places. Their time in the wilderness has been a time of spiritual preparation. The Buddha, the founder in the sixth century BCE of Buddhism, chose to leave a life of comfort and ease, to spend years wandering and fasting. Mohammed, the founder of Islam, in the seventh century of the Common Era, also spent time in the wilderness where he encountered the Angel Gabriel.
|At this time of year, which Christians call Lent, Christians mark the period of forty days and nights which Jesus spent alone in the wilderness, after His baptism. This was a time of physical and spiritual trial. Jesus had nothing to eat, and He was tempted to try to do things which He knew God would not approve. He resisted temptation. After His time in the wilderness, He emerged as the great teacher who preached a gospel of caring and of love and whose teaching all Christians try to follow.
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