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As you leave school, what are you planning to wear?

Principal Mrs Maryanne Davis addressed our students at the Year 12 Valedictory Assembly at the end of Term 3.

After so many assemblies, so many chapels, this is the last time you will gather together with your friends in the PAC.

Throughout this year you have remembered, and at times celebrated, with a smile and a tear the “last times” - the last swimming carnival, the last Autumn Fair, the last Showcase assembly, the last chapel, the last English lesson, the last Maths test, the last House Festival day. All of the things you are celebrating the end of, you may miss in the future.

Everything about school, from the carnivals to the bell times that signal it is time for you to eat lunch, are predictable and repetitive. No choices.

So now the really BIG post school question remains: forget “What are you going to do next year?” ... The big question is, with no school uniform ... “What are you going to wear?”

School Uniform

You are no doubt desperate to get away from some things like the school uniform. In your minds this may be perhaps the BEST part, for others this might be the most challenging part of finishing school – a daily decision about what to wear…..

So I thought that this would be a good thing for us to think about this morning. What are you going to wear when you no longer wear a school uniform?

Now, you may have a couple of problems with this idea. You may think that I have bought into the superficial, celebrity-driven mentality of our society which celebrates style over substances and encourages everyone to express their individuality by dressing like everyone else.

Secondly, it might be difficult to be taking fashion tips from someone who wears clothes you would never be caught dead in and puts on an academic gown to cover up all those clothes on every special occasion.

But I am sure that some of you have been thinking about it. From Prep and Kinder you have been told what to wear - from the art smock in Kindergarten to the pink shirt in middle school. But from now on, you never need to wear green stockings again.

Toothpaste or a watermelon

From now on, you don’t have to wear black school shoes each day or sports shirts with red panels in strange places. From now on, you can wear a jumper without a blazer and you can wander the streets without a being seen as toothpaste or a watermelon.

Some of you might now be going into a bit of a panic and think you have nothing to wear and that there is serious shopping to be done – your parents will no doubt disagree and say that you have a mountain of clothes on your bedroom floor if not in your cupboard.

However, now that there is no school uniform, the fact remains that you will choose how you dress. And with this comes responsibility. From now on you need to choose how you dress and you personally are responsible for it, because this is what you chose to wear.

Not everyone will agree with your choices. You may hear your mum say “You’re not going out wearing that are you?” and you’re never quite sure if it is really a question.  So you spend some time with the mirror making your choice … what is the right thing to wear?

Attitudes 

This is not only true of the clothes that you wear, but also of the attitudes you put on. Last year I heard the Dean of St David’s Cathedral in Hobart speaking about the way that Paul, in his letter to the Colossian Christians, uses the images of clothes as a series of attitudes that they should wear.

He encourages them to get rid of their old clothes of anger, bad talk and discrimination and try on a whole new outfit.

He says: “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, forgiveness and patience and regardless of what else you put on wear love – it is your best all purpose garment. Never be without it.”

Let’s have a look at this wardrobe Paul recommends which, as one writer puts it, “is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it” (Eugene Peterson, The Message).

As we go through we will notice that some of these attitudinal garments may clash with others that we sometimes like to wear.

Compassion

This is genuine sympathy and empathy for people who are in circumstances that are difficult. Too often we choose not to put on compassion because we can’t be bothered with the needs of others, and instead we pull on coldness, callousness and apathy because they can seem easier to wear. I would say to you girls that you need to wear compassion – without it, the world will never be a better place for you and for those around you.

Kindness 

Kindness is the new black – it looks great on everyone. Kindness includes the practical acts of care for others. It may be a kind word, an affirming hug, a generous gift. This garment will clash with many things, but most obviously with cruelty, indifference and selfishness – garments that are so popular among so many people.

Humility

When CS Lewis was describing this garment, he said it was not putting yourself first, but putting the needs of others before your own. This clashes with the brash and loud, “look at me” attitude that is worn by so many.

Gentleness

This garment can be seen as weak and flimsy – not strong enough for the tough days ahead, but it really is one of the strongest and most hard-wearing garments in your wardrobe. When you look at this garment, you will see someone who doesn’t judge others, someone who looks to serve those around them, someone who displays a tenderness in the way they deal others: a much more beautiful adornment than the popular ones of putting others down, and being arrogant and overbearing.

Patience

Patience is the next item in our wardrobe and it is a superpower for life ahead: working hard to achieve your goals regardless of the effort and difficulty, and taking time to do a task well rather than being satisfied with close enough is good enough. This is an attitude that is designed to last rather than the pretty little numbers that barely survive a season.

Forgiveness

Always being willing to forget the wrongs that others do to us, not seeking revenge or holding a grudge … this garment will be the lightest of all! When you wear it, you will feel the weight simply fall off your shoulders.

Paul spends a lot of time talking about forgiveness and it is perhaps the most difficult attitude to cultivate. It is so easy to have an attitude of revenge, of getting your own back, that the idea of forgiveness can seem unnatural, but it is a fundamental part of this outfit with God’s label on it. We need to get used to it and walk in it.

Love and Faithfulness

Today and tonight you sit with your friends and family members who are special to you – these people have worn the final two items of clothing every day they have been part of your life – these items are love and faithfulness. Our Proverbs passage said these were so important, they should be bound around your neck so that you never forgot them.

The people who sit beside you and who join to celebrate with you today have sacrificed much as a result of the love and faithfulness they have shown you and I am sure, the love and faithfulness you have shown them.

Look around you and be thankful: I hope that today you give them a hug and thank them – friends, family members and teachers. Today is a day when we celebrate the end of your schooling and, more importantly, it is a day when we celebrate what love and faithfulness in action looks like.

Let this be your outfit 

So this is the outfit that I want to encourage you to wear:  compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, faithfulness and love. And you’ll notice that spells CKHGPFFL which is a pity really. It would have been so much more memorable if it had spelt “Great Gear” or “High Fashion”.

But Paul doesn’t need such teaching aids because all he really needs to do, is point to both the designer and model of this outfit; he wants us to remember God and Jesus.

Jesus the Divine Model

For in Jesus we see true compassion in the way that He went to the outcasts, the way He was moved by those in grief and whose lives were blighted by illness.

In Jesus we see kindness in the way He freely brought healing and hope to so many people, and feed those in need.

In Jesus we see humility as He chose the path of service despite being God’s Son.

In Jesus we see gentleness as He welcomed everyone into God’s kingdom.

In Jesus we see patience as He dealt with His disciples who never seemed to understand.

In Jesus we see forgiveness writ large as He offered forgiveness to those who were crucifying Him.

And in Jesus we see love and faithfulness, for greater love has no man than He who gives His life for His friends.

Jesus is the great model - the supermodel - of this divine outfit. But this is not just an example, because He demonstrates these things to us. He has compassion for our need of God’s salvation and so kindly has done all that is necessary for us at His expense to know God as our Father.

He humbly served us by dying for us … for our benefit. He is gentle with us, calling us His friends and God’s dearly-loved children, and He is patient with us, promising to never leave us of forsake us. Of course, in his death and resurrection we are offered forgiveness and all this shows God’s great love for the world that He gave His Son.

In Jesus, God has shown us saving compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love. We should accept these gifts of God, trusting in what Jesus has done for us and then try on these beautiful and wonderful attitudes and model them to others.

Time for you to choose

So as you leave Danebank, it is time for you to choose what to wear and on whom will you model yourself.

While some may look on these attitudes Paul points us to, as out-dated or weak, and the world may parade before us a whole array of superficially glittering outfits, the resurrection of Jesus shows that these attitudes are truly the design of heaven and are glorious.

No matter what the story of your life from this point on, when you are clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, faithfulness and love, spiritually you will be absolutely fabulous because you will look like Jesus.

Keep on shining like stars 

And so my final words Year 12 as you move beyond the green tunic, beyond school blazers, beyond green school swimmers and baggy green school jumpers into a whole new world: the world outside Danebank is not predictable – it is volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous, but you must take with you all you learned here so:

Let them judge you…

Let them misunderstand you…

Let them gossip about you…

Their opinions aren’t your problem.

You stay kind, committed to love and strong in your beliefs and authenticity.

No matter what they do or say … don’t you dare doubt your worth or the breadth of the truth especially the truth of the love and forgiveness of Christ.

Above all Year 12 2017 as you move through your lives after Danebank, just keep on shining like stars as you always do.

Mrs Maryanne Davis, Principal

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