Southfields’ Sketches: Reflections from the Senior Chaplain

Happy St. David’s Day to the Welsh and to those Welsh in heart!

St. David is thought to have died on March 1, 589. During his last sermon, his words to his followers were: “Be joyful and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us.”

Over the last few weeks, Chapel has provided a variety of offerings to pupils and numerous guests have been involved in visiting and delivering messages. The Rev. Dr. Colin Heber-Percy spoke at the 10.15 service on Sunday 3rd February. He highlighted the idea that who we are is very much a reflection of how other people reflect back to us who we are. Insisting we spend a few seconds simply looking at the person to our left and right in Chapel, his point was an inspiration for numerous conversations on into the week. In the evening, we heard from Malcolm Harper who advocated our participation in his charity in India entitled, ‘Friends of the Children of Orissa’.

In midweek Chapel, two brave Housemasters shared important messages about stillness and prayer. Special thanks to Dr. Swift and Mr. Lyon-Taylor, who spoke so well and engagingly. I spoke to the Shell in their Chapel service on the Wednesday about being in the ‘now’, as an antidote to shame over the past and anxiety about the future. This highlights the very practical role that Chapel provides in promoting the well-being of our pupils.

The following Sunday, 10 February, our own Mrs. Debbie Harris offered a very humorous and engaging sermon at 10.15am. Very much reflective of the points made by Colin, Debbie gave us the task of asking a loved one to use three adjectives to describe us, to see how closely they came to who we think we are. It is amazing when such themes naturally follow one upon the other.

The new Votive Stand for Candles has arrived and we look forward to its installation. The Friday just before the February Break, five pupils met with me in Chapel to offer special prayers for a pastoral situation in which they are involved, and they deeply appreciated the chance to light some candles. Such a simple act, but it has enormous spiritual impact. The Votive Stand will be valued by the community I am sure.

The Vestry refurbishment is coming along, although electrical snags with the new fuse and lighting board meant that there was no power in Chapel all this week, which meant we had no mid-week services. It was heartening to hear numerous pupils and Beaks say how much they missed being in Chapel, and of the profound part it plays in the fabric of our College.
On Wednesday evening I preached at the Evensong service at Caldicott School. They continue to be an important ‘feeder’ and they deeply value their relationship with us. I explained to the boys the importance of the Transfiguration of Christ, the Feast Day we celebrate this upcoming Sunday when the Rev. Roger Powell, Rural Dean of Marlborough and father of Sophie (IH L6), is our guest preacher.

Lisa Farrell, our Hospitality Manager and Mayor of Marlborough is the speaker in the Sunday Night Speaker series in the Garnett Room at 6.30pm. All are welcome to hear her speak of the work of a Town Mayor.

Next week the Charity Think Tank will be selling crazy socks for World Down Syndrome Day on Thursday 21st March. I will be speaking in Chapel in the midweek services about my experiences with my own daughter, and I have been heartened by initial pupil response to the really fun socks they can purchase for only £3/pair, with all proceeds benefiting the Swindon Downs Group.

Reverend Tim Novis
Senior Chaplain
Twitter: @MCol_Chapel

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