Devotions in schools

St. Jago High School Student during Devotion

Standing together as a school family, usually on a Monday morning has been part of the Jamaican landscape for over a century. General Assembly of which devotions are a part of the agenda for that event, is designed to bring the school community together and make them become aware of the values that inform us as a community, as the Jamaican people and indeed the world. Devotions are an essential part of the process as they make us aware of the spiritual component of our existence, which ultimately becomes the core of our being.  In being made aware of this reality, there is a further introduction to the Source, that alone can fulfil our spiritual self, and that is God.   God is described in the Christian Scripture, the Holy Bible,  as follows – God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth ( John 4:24)

Therefore devotions demand a particular attitude and perspective that is described as reverence for which individuals open themselves to receiving certain truths about God. Hence an important task of worship is to move the focus from ourselves and place it on to God.  In so doing the way we look at life is changed from an individualistic perspective to a community perspective.  Accompanying this is a change from a materialistic to a spiritual perspective on life.   This means that the school community places a great priority on becoming a space that trains us how to live in community.  This is best done by adopting the mantra Service in love to build a community in Christ.

Therefore devotions are a-time and space to hear God speaking to us, as the Scripture is proclaimed. It is an occasion when we are exhorted to look at life from another perspective other than the way the prevailing culture sees it. It is a time to pray for the world, the local community and for each other and so appreciate that we are called to be each other’s sibling in the human family.  It is a time for becoming familiar with Biblical stories which contain some timeless truths about the meaning and purpose of life. It is a call to action, to practice Roman’s 12:21 in our lives,- ” do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.

Over the years they have been articles in our newspapers and commentary on the electronic media that devotions are no more than Christian propaganda, proselytizing and cruel punishment as children have to stand long hours in the sun.  It is unfortunate that most of our schools do not have an auditorium large enough to accommodate the school population, however, most school authorities are sensitive to the well being of the children and therefore General Assembly is kept to a manageable time limit.  That aside Devotions form a memorable part of our development and often provide a rich memory bank of gems for character development and spiritual formation.  May we hear some positive testimonies about Devotions so that the practice may long continue and be improved.

Contributed by Canon Michael Allen