Cranbrook School

Headmaster’s Assembly Address, Week 7 Term 4 2023

Headmaster’s Assembly Address, Week 7 Term 4 2023

Today, after listening to Reverend Farraway’s address, I should like to focus on three aspects of civilisation: law, grace and truth, and to unpack the magic of this triangle. Law of course is necessary and crucial, but it is grace and truth that are harder to comprehend and to live out … dare I say that they are more uplifting, more transformative.

Firstly, the idea of law. The law gives us a framework, it tells us what is acceptable, it sets boundaries. It can feel harsh or rather cold but what it gives us is a solid understanding of the structures in which we must operate. In this way, the law is an essential  thing …it’s vital. 

But what about grace? Grace is harder to define but it reflects the spark of the divine that is within us all. What does it mean? And where does it fit? Grace gives us a glimpse of a wider world, a wider universe that is more expansive. From grace we receive a sense of community, a sense of kindness and kin. We have to work to elevate grace. Grace is given to us, but we can ignore it, we could be grace-less. Yet grace is made available as an invitation to echo the teachings of Christ, of all the great religions, which call us to respect each other and to elevate society.

Thirdly, truth. The search for truth used to be a given; a resolution that bound all of society and almost everybody together. It was our duty as human beings to investigate the truth and to establish the truth as far as we could. Our understanding, our wisdom and our relationships were based upon the search for truth. Yet, in today’s world the search for truth is often distorted, or diminished by distraction. Rather than searching for truth we’re searching for a comfortable truth. A truth that fits with our own idea of truth, a truth that encapsulates our own beliefs. This is not healthy or progressive, nor is it wise.

Think about our use, or rather misuse, of technology. We are all encouraged to use technology to connect with those who are like-minded, whereas what we really need to do is to connect with those who have different opinions from ourselves. Truth builds on an understanding of the law. The law, without grace and truth, is merely writing on a page or a stone. As many wise people have observed, ‘the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life.’

In a world where light is dimming, where around the world the acts of humans are creating small hells, we must reject selfishness, and the self-obsession that demands an endorsement of our own views.

We must remember the law, pursue the truth, and search for and recognise the grace that is all around us.

Nicholas Sampson