Hello is my Name
by Pamela Weeden
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Hello is my Name.
I am a Church of England Primary School head teacher and Christian Values underpin the life and learning of our school. Worship in varying forms is a key part of everyday and whilst we choose many prayers, both published and created by the children themselves, The Lord’s Prayer is spoken the most. And the second line always makes me smile. The children never manage to say “Hallowed by your name”; they always say “Hello is your name”. A childish error a few practices would correct but I find that I don’t want it to change. You see, in that one small line, I think there is so much to be understood about God, our relationship with him and how much we can learn from the simple, powerful way children relate to their beliefs. Let me explain.
What is the purpose of saying ‘hello?’ It is to greet someone, to invite communication, to welcome a person. It is simple, informal, everyday language that is understood and used by everyone. It is one of the first words we learn to say and perhaps one of the words we will use the most in our lifetimes. It seems to me that this is a perfect depiction of God; he welcomes us all, excludes no one and invites communication in the most open of ways. He enters our lives from our very beginnings and stays with us throughout all of our time on earth. ‘Hello is my name’: the result of an accidental mispronunciation that caught on but every time I hear it, I cannot help but feel that the children have innocently found a brilliant way of explaining what can, at times, be difficult to understand.
During a recent Religious Education lesson, we discussed as a class the children’s own personal view of God. This followed on from a few weeks of work in which the children had explored the Old Testament, considered how Jesus helped us to understand God through his life, works and stories and discussed concepts such as the Holy Trinity. I asked the class to use art to show their view of God; the result was 23 very different pieces - and not one white beard in sight! As we discussed each piece of work, I was enormously impressed by the depth of thought put into the images. One child had drawn God as wearing a dress or robe that looked like a globe. Her reasoning for this was that she felt God was always there for everyone, no matter where in the world they might be. Another child portrayed God as half colour and half black and white; she explained that this was because to her God was concrete in nature, people we love, the actions that people do and that He was also an abstract presence in our thoughts and dreams. Overall, the children showed a great deal of respect for the fact that everyone saw God differently and that the important thing is to find a way of understanding God that they will always be able to relate to, so keeping Him close to their hearts.
Why it then that young children can so easily grasp what seems to defeat so many in our world today? Why is it that so much harm, murder, persecution and terror is committed in the name of God or Religion or in trying to force a point of view? Why is it that sometimes we are so uncomfortable with the fact that others see things differently? I sometimes feel that if we listened to our children more, if we paid more attention to the simple and yet so very powerful ways they reflect their understandings, we may find we are closer to finding what we seek. It is privilege of the job that I do to work with children and I have so many opportunities to hear what they have to say. A belief in God and Christian Values are very much alive in our school. This is partly because they are taught and reinforced in the way staff conduct themselves and model Christian Values at work. It is also kept alive, however, in the way the children so readily share what they believe and listen with dignity and respect to the beliefs of others.
“Hello is my name: I welcome you. I am right here with you. I want to talk to you. I love you”
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