Identity encompasses the memories, experiences, relationships, and values that create one’s sense of self. This amalgamation creates a steady sense of who one is over time, even as new facets are developed and incorporated into one’s identity.
Over the last weekend as a country we celebrated Australia Day. It is not my intention to enter a discussion on the appropriateness of the celebration of Australia Day at this particular time of the year or make commentary on the rationale for the celebration. I rather want to focus on the unifying aspect of the celebration, that being the coming together and identification as members of the Australian community.
So, what is recognised, valued and appreciated by those who are not ‘Australian’, about Australians?
Colloquially this is often referenced as ‘mateship’, looking out for each other and ‘giving others a fair go’. The response of the Australian community to those impacted by the recent Bushfires exemplifies this generosity of spirit and looking out for others and providing tangible support through donating goods, money and giving of time to serve recovery programs through organisations such as BlazeAid.
As a new school year begins, I ponder to consider what shapes the identity of Lutheran Learning Communities?
Growing deep – The Leadership and Formation Framework for leaders (all staff) and Learning Communities, provides clarity to this question.
Lutheran schools and early childhood services, as agencies of the Lutheran Church of Australia, share a recognisable Lutheran identity in which the gospel of Jesus Christ informs all learning and teaching, all human relationships, and all activities in the school. The rituals, symbols, visual displays and practices convey its Christ-centred identity. The school/early childhood service community is regularly involved in Christian worship which includes daily devotions. Christian Studies is an essential and distinctive part of the formal curriculum. Lutheran schools and early childhood services deliberately and intentionally share and live the good news of Jesus Christ with students, families, staff and the broader community. Opportunities for faith nurture are actively promoted and maintained.
As the foundation of Lutheran education is the gospel of Jesus Christ (which) informs all learning and teaching, all human relationships, and all activities, then Lutheran schools and early childhood services, as part of the mission of the Lutheran church are communities:
- of worship and service, sharing and living the good news of Jesus Christ
- which acknowledge God as creator and join in the ongoing creation and care of the world and all people.
- that recognise that God has intentionally created each person and that each person is uniquely gifted to live in relationship with God and others.
- where grace abounds. While recognising the brokenness of humanity, they reflect the unconditional love of the Father, revealed through the saving work of his Son, Jesus.
- open to the influence of the Holy Spirit, who invites and equips for a life of worship, learning and service.
- that value learning as God’s gift to people for their wonder, growth, and to inspire them to respond to the needs of the world.
- of hope, nurtured by the promises of God’s word, love and forgiveness which empower staff and students to embrace the future with confidence.
I encouraged you as a staff member within a LESNW Lutheran Learning Community, to reflect on the rituals, experiences, relationships and gospel of Jesus Christ that shape the identity of your learning community and the contribution you make towards this.
St Paul to the Colossians 3: 12-15 gave some kindly words of encouragement and advice to the people of Colossae.
‘12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.’
May these words speak to you as you commence the 2020 school year, reflect on your purpose and your learning community’s identity, and serve your fellow colleagues, the students and families within your community.