Some of you will know that I as well as being the Rector here I am also Chaplain
(or Padre) to the Sea Cadet Unit and the Air Cadets Squadron in Crewe. I enjoy helping
these young people to grow and achieve all that they are capable of, and hope to
provide a bit of moral advice and guidance.
Part of what Chaplains do with cadets is to teach Core Values. These are values
and principles that inform and underpin all of our armed forces and public services
– they include Respect, Integrity, Honesty, Responsibility, Service, Loyalty, Commitment,
Teamwork, Excellence, Discipline and Pride. Of course, as a Christian I can see
that these values stem from our Christian heritage, and as I talk about them I make
the connection with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.
In July and August each year I like to join in the cadets summer camps. With the
Sea Cadets I go sailing and develop my own skills, and help young people to sail
too. We went to Barrow in Furness, and used the Royal Navy sailing centre there
to go sailing, rowing, kayaking and wind-surfing. While I am comfortable in the
water, and love to sail, I’m still not brave enough to get in a kayak or on a surf-board.
With the Air Cadets we went to a summer camp at RAF High Wycombe – which was very
good. The cadets were outstanding as usual, and had a great time. Sadly we were
not able to go flying this year, but we made up for it climbing on the high ropes
and having fun with the fire station hoses getting everyone wet.
At the RAF station I was reminded again of the Core Values – unusually it wasn’t
in a talk from the Station Padre, but from a Corporal with the RAF Regiment. If
you don’t know, the RAF Regiment are soldiers serving within the Royal Air Force,
who are tasked with protecting airfields against enemy action. The Corporal spoke
a little about the action he’d seen around the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq,
in many dangerous operations.
He asked the cadets what it takes to be a member of the armed forces today, and it
was good to see how all the cadets responded with personal characteristics like Respect,
Integrity, Honesty, Responsibility, Service, Loyalty, Commitment, Teamwork, Excellence,
Discipline and Pride. It's not about what you know, it's about what kind of person
you are. Clearly they’d been awake in some of my lessons on Core Values!
The Corporal spoke about these values were really important for him and his section
in operations – they’re not just theories. He brought it down to earth, saying how
it comes down to basic things like cleanliness – if you can’t keep yourself and your
kit clean and tidy on the base, then how can you do it out in the field? If you
and your equipment are in a mess back on base, then how can you keep it together
under enemy action, far from home?
Then he extended this attitude to the whole of life – his own personal rule of life:
it's important to live clean lives – doing the right things, living the right way:
at home, at work and at play. As a Christian I immediately thought of so many passages
in the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament that call us to be clean, inside as
well as outside.
I was really struck by these words from a hardened soldier, who’d been on operations
putting his life on the line, that these values are not only important to know, but
also to put into action.
It contrasts with some church members I’ve met over the years, who think that Jesus’
teaching on love, forgiveness and service is all very inspiring, but actually not
very realistic in today’s world.
It's so easy to hear sermons on Christian values, but then leave them behind and
forget them as you go out of church. The challenge for all of us is to put our faith
into action – not just on a Sunday – but in the everyday things we do from Monday