Things you’ll need:
- Items from the past, eg old vinyl records, Rubik’s Cube, large mobile phone, recordings of old songs to play.
- Items from their lives today, eg current CDs, the latest games console, small mobile phone.
- Equipment to play old songs, if using.
- Remembrance day ‘poppies’.
- Set up equipment for playing music, if using.
- Devise extra quiz questions, if needed.
- If you have enough poppies to give the students one each, get some volunteers to give them out as the students enter.
1 Show the students some of the items from the past you’ve brought in. You might like even to play an old song or two. Talk about how the items from the past have been surpassed by newer things.
2 Do this quiz, encouraging participation: ‘I remember when…’ The students have to tell you the year of the events. Below are some memorable events and their dates. Depending on time you have available, you might want to add some more notable dates.
You could do the quiz either by simply asking the audience, with hands up for answers; by dividing the audience in two, each section competing against each other; or having a competition between two teams of volunteers at the front.
Ask: In which year did the following events take place?
- JF Kennedy shot (1963)
- Man landed on the moon (1969)
- The Falklands war (1982)
- Bomb at the Atlanta Olympics (1996)
- Princess Diana died (1997)
- The World Trade Center destroyed by terrorist attack (2001)
3 Talk about the idea of history repeating itself, for example:
- Old fashions come back in to fashion, eg mini-skirts, flares;
- War re-occurs, eg Falklands War, Gulf War, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq.
- Violence and terrorism, eg September 11, suicide bombs in Israel.
4 Show the students a Remembrance Day poppy. Explain that these were first sold and worn as reminders of the fields of France covered in red poppies during World War I and also reminders of the bloodshed in wars since.
After the two major world wars in Europe in the first half of the last century, the British Legion wanted future generations never to forget the atrocities of war and to remember those who had died for their country.
5 Say that they might have heard these words, often spoken at this time of year, in remembrance of people who have given their lives in wars:
‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. They shall grow not old as we who are left grow old, age shall not weary them not the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them. When you go home, tell them of us and say, “For your tomorrow we gave our today”.’ Kohima Memorial in Burma
6 Explain that some Christians, who were pacifists, did not fight in the two World Wars, believing that, whatever the reasons, it is always wrong to kill others and that other ways of making peace should be found. Other Christians believed it was right to go to war and gave their lives to preserve freedom and peace for others.
7 Explain that, whether we believe war is right or wrong, the Bible talks about the importance of being willing to forgive, and about reconciliation and seeking peace wherever possible. That applies to every day quarrels between people too.
8 Read out some of these verse from the Bible: Matthew 5:9,38–48.
Ask the students:
- How would you like to be remembered?
- In what ways could you contribute to making peace (in school, your family, your community, the world)?
- Can you forgive others, when you need to, and not seek revenge or retribution?
1 Tell the students you are going to have a short time of quiet, when you want them to think honestly about the following:
• Are there people at home or school who they need to forgive?
Tell them they could ask God to help them forgive others.
• How could they help make peace between themselves and someone else, or even in the wider world?
Remind them they could ask God to help them do something about this today.
2 Finally, get them to look at their own poppy or the one you’re showing them. Encourage them, every time they see one of these at this time of year, to remember what it means and to let it challenge them to work for peace, in big and small ways.