The Good Samaritan Luke 10 25-37
A story of Curiosity, Compassion, Courage and Commitment
The growing partnership between Benenden and Goudhurst & Kilndown Primary Schools has led to the development of a new shared vision underpinned by 4 values.
Our vision is to be learning communities that enable people to live life in all its fullness (John 10:10) in a changing world. The phrase ‘life in all its fullness’ was coined by Jesus to describe his mission - to bring wholeness of life in a world that is full of challenges and joys, opportunities and set backs. Wholeness of life means understanding that humans are complex beings, who have bodies and souls as well as minds and who therefore need opportunities to grow spiritually as well as intellectually, physically as well as mentally. It means understanding that we are most whole when we grow with others, with opportunities to give as well as receive, to serve as well as to be served. To bring this vision to life, we have discerned four values which will guide the way that we do things in our two schools. These are Courage, Compassion, Curiosity and Commitment.
In the gospel of Luke 10 25-37 Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan - one of the most famous stories ever told. It can help us connect the four values with the life and teaching of Jesus who, for Christians, is the definition of ‘life in all its fullness’, and who offers that same fullness of life to every person today.
The story is Jesus’ response to two questions; ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ and ‘Who is my neighbour?’ In the first question, ‘eternal life’ doesn’t mean ‘how do I get to heaven?’ but, how can I live in God’s never-ending (eternal) presence, here in the middle of life? Or, in other words, ‘how can I live in God, in the world?’ It’s a question about how we can know God’s wholeness of life in the middle of this beautiful, messy world. Jesus doesn’t answer by telling his questioner to tick everything off his bucket list, to get a better job or to pass his exams; he answers - ‘love God and love your neighbour’. ‘But’, his questioner replies, ‘who is my neighbour?’ And in response, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.
The story starts with a man lying, beaten up, in a ditch. A priest passes by, crossing to the other side to avoid him. A religious lawyer does the same. Then a Samaritan appears. Samaritans were the hated opponents of the Jewish people. Jesus’ listeners would have expected him to have walked on by too - but he doesn’t. He is more curious than the priest and the lawyer. He is willing to step outside the normal boundaries and expectations of his world, to cross the street to find out what he could do and how he could help.
And what compels this curiosity, Jesus says, is his compassion. That word literally means ‘to suffer with’. He sees the man in ditch and knows that their wellbeing is connected and that he has a responsibility to stand with him in his suffering. And so, setting aside his plans for the day, he is willing to let his ordinary life be disrupted, by finding out how he can help.
And that takes courage. The man in the ditch was his traditional enemy, and he had no idea what he would find when he got there. But still, he crossed over, figured what needed to be done, bound up the man’s wounds and got him the help he needed.
And having had compassion and acted courageously, he then made a commitment and, placing the man on his donkey, took him to an Inn where he could be cared for. The next day, having got the wounded man sorted, he remained committed to his care, offering to pay the Innkeeper whatever was needed to return the wonder man to health.
How do we live ‘in God, in the world?’ By being curious enough to question the assumptions of the world around us; by being compassionate to those around us, including those we wouldn’t ordinarily be drawn to; be being courageous in stepping out, ready to do unexpected things and to take risks and by being committed to the things that matter, knowing that there may not be easy answers or simple fixes, but that by faithful persistence, we can see change happen.
What does this story mean for us in our schools?
These kinds of values cannot simply be taught in a few lessons. Instead, this story encourages us to build a whole culture which encourages and builds the character of children and adults so that they can grow in curiosity, compassion, courage and commitment, confident that in doing so they will discover more of the fullness of life that Jesus offers.
And that means being consistently reflective and thoughtful about the whole school culture, including the quality of teaching, the curriculum content, the opportunities for service, the way we relate, the physical environment, the way we unpack the living wisdom of Jesus for todays world, the things we choose to reward and the way we use our time- - so that our values permeate everything we do.
Jesus said ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’
Our Christian values, Curiosity, Compassion, Courage and Commitment underpin our school vision and strongly inform our aim to develop every child as an individual, socially, spiritually, morally, physically and academically by providing a happy, secure and stimulating environment. These values are not simply a matter for RE lessons, but are the foundation for everything that we do together. We value our status as a Church of England (Controlled) School and the Christian values of our school underpin the daily life in the school and are interwoven into our curriculum. Indeed all stakeholders are made aware of these values through Collective Worship, RE teaching, induction, newsletters and the school website. Each term we focus on one value.
Our links with St George's Church in our community is strong and the Church Family works closely with the school and supports our staff both professionally and spiritually.
As a Church of England School we are inspected both by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) and the National Society for Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS). In the 2017 SIAS Inspection the school was judged to be “Good”. Comments from the inspection include:
"The commitment of the Headteacher and Governors in leading Benenden School as a church school promotes it standards of attainment and progress of all pupils well."
"The Christian ethos of the school centred on positive relationships with all stakeholders has established a caring community that is valed and respected by all."
"Benenden School is a welcoming and caring Christian school that serves its community well. Relationships between all stakeholders is positive."
"Every pupil is valued as a unique child of God and, as such is, worthy of support both academically, behaviourally, and emotionally. This has impacted on good attainmentand progress for all groups of pupils. "