Check it out!

Aim:

To encourage pupils to check things out for themselves before making a judgement about God, the Bible and Christianity

Bible Base:

Psalm 34:8

You will need:

A tin of (fake) dog food (see preparation); 3 plastic spoons

Preparation:

For your fake dog food, you will need the label from one tin of dog food; another tin of food of the same size as the dog food (ideally with a ring pull at the top); enough chocolate muffin to fill the tin; orange jelly; and, sellotape.

Carefully take the bottom off your tin of food.  Empty the tin of its contents and wash it out.  Make the jelly (ideally slightly thicker than the instructions) and cut up the muffins.  Place the muffins into the upturned tin until full, and pour in the jelly to fill up any spaces.  Leave the tin in a fridge over night to set.  When set, carefully place the bottom of the tin back in place, and use sellotape to keep it in place.  Now carefully remove the label from the tin of dog food and attach it around your tin of fake dog food with the sellotape.  Try to do this as carefully as possible so people won’t notice the join.  You should now have what looks like a sealed tin of dog food with a sealed lid and ring pull intact!
*Please note, this is not an original illustration, but has been used in many situations.

Presentation

Introduce yourself and thank the school for having you.  Then look at your watch before pretending to panic a little.  Try to look a little embarrassed as you explain that you’re on a new diet and it’s important that you eat at certain times.  Look apologetically at the staff as you take your pre-prepared tin of ‘dog food’ out of the bag. Hold the tin at the bottom with the seam of the label towards you. Make sure the label is clear for the pupils to see, but the false bottom is covered by your hands.

Talk as you slowly open the dog food.  Comment on the fact that you’ve seen the adverts and the dogs always look so fit and strong; that they never seem to be carrying extra weight. Mention how shiny their hair is and how healthy their teeth look.  Include something about how there must be something good about it.  Over sell it! You can even add a comment about trying cat food, but it being too fishy for your tastes.

Now start to open the tin and take your time as you put the fork in a lift the food out, ready to eat.  Have a little sniff of the food – and comment on how appetising it smells.  Savour a mouthful.  Comment on things like the contrast between the jelly that just slips down the throat and the meat which is so satisfying a chewy.

By this stage you will be getting a lot of odd looks and sounds of disapproval.  Be aware of keeping the place calm! Pretend to notice their disgust for the first time.  Ask them what’s wrong and comment on how they shouldn’t judge without having tried it.  See if there are a couple of pupils who want to give it a go… There are usually a one or two. Check they don’t have any food allergies or religious restrictions, because you can’t guarantee what’s in the dog food! Using the spare forks, give them a mouthful and just ask them if they like it – try not to give them a chance to say what it is.

Now explain to the pupils what is really in the tin and how you swapped it. There will be a lot of relieved faces – not least, amongst the staff!

Application

Ask about why so many of them pulled faces at you and made disapproving sounds when you started eating? Presumably it was because they saw the tin and the label and assumed you were going to eat dog food! And then, when the lid came off and they saw the jelly and the brown chewy looking stuff, it reaffirmed their preconceptions.  They were probably thinking something along the lines of ‘this person’s a little odd’; ‘steer clear’…

Talk about how they made a judgement without being aware of all the facts.  They didn’t know that the tin wasn’t in fact, a tin of dog food, but a tin of cake and jelly… But that didn’t matter.  They had already made up their mind and most of them weren’t going to try it.  One or two brave individuals did, and their view was changed!

Explain how sometimes you have to experience something before you can truly make a judgement about it. Talk about how, if there is a new film out, there will be lots of reviews about it, and they can choose to believe what others say – and that might convince them to either watch it or not – but, they will never know for sure whether it really was any good or not, unless they watched it for themselves.  Sometimes you just have to experience something before you know the truth!

Say that that is pretty much what the Bible says about God. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Psalms 34:8) is what it says in a part called the Psalms. Talk about how, in your experience, a lot of people make assumptions about God and the Bible without ever trying it out for themselves.  Others have told them that God doesn’t exist; or that He’s irrelevant; or that Christianity is boring; or whatever it is… To be honest, often the people who tell them these things haven’t even tried it!

Leave them with a challenge – to check things out for themselves.  To experience something before making a decision.  Who knows, they may find they’re pleasantly surprised by what they discover… Just like if they’d tasted your ‘dog food’!

Reflection

Tell them you’re going to take a moment to reflect: Suggest they close their eyes and consider whether there are things they have made a judgement about without actually experiencing for themselves. Ask them about their view on God? Has that come from experience? Or an assumption made from a distance.

Ask the pupils if they want to join you in a short prayer… Dear God, help me to check things out for myself before making judgements about people, their beliefs and You. Help me be open to new things. Amen

As I grow – Growing Up

Aim:

To help the children understand that they remain special to God as they grow up and change.

Bible base:

Mark 10:13-16; Luke 13:10-13

You will need:

  • A picture of yourself as a baby
  • A toy car and a set of car keys
  • A babygrow suit and an adult-sized jumper
  • A cloth or plastic baby book and a thick novel
  • A Bible

Preparation

Look up the two Bible passages – if possible look at them in a children’s Bible or work out how to tell the stories simply in your own words.

Presentation

  1. Show the children your baby picture and talk to them a little about what you were like.
  2. Then discuss how you have changed – size, looks, etc.
  3. Show them the toy car and say that as a baby you would have enjoyed having this but now you enjoy driving a real one! (Show them the car keys.)
  4. Hold up the babygrow and then the jumper – talk about how you would never fit into the babygrow now but the jumper is just right.
  5. Show the children the baby book and the novel, make comparisons and talk about why they are appropriate at the different stages.
  6. Talk about how we all grow out of things.  We change and different things happen to us.  Remind them that God cares about us however old we are and whatever happens to us.
  7. Tell the children the stories from the Bible which show us how Jesus had time for little children and for an old lady with a bent back.  (Use a children’s Bible or just explain things simply.)

Time to reflect

  1. Ask the children to sit very still, close their eyes and to think about what they have heard in the assembly.
  2. Remind them of how Jesus treated old and young alike – he had time for the children and time to make an old lady better.
  3. As they grow up and things change they will always be special to God.  He won’t stop loving them.

 

I’m me – God cares for us

Aim:

To help the children understand that God knows all about us, even the things that make us unique individuals.  He made us special.

Bible base:

Luke 15; Psalm 139

You will need:

A simple sheep puppet of some kind eg a sock puppet, a paper bag puppet, a wooden spoon puppet

Preparation

  • Prepare or obtain your sheep puppet.
  • Learn the story and practise telling it using the puppet.

Presentation

Introduction 

  1. Ask the children if they have ever been lost.  How did it happen?  How did they feel?  How were they found?
  2. Tell the children that you know a sheep that got lost.  Introduce your puppet and tell the sheep’s story.

Story

Idris the sheep lives on a farm under the shadow of the great mountain Cader Idris in North Wales, after which he is named.  He is well looked after by Mr Williams, the shepherd, who makes sure that all the sheep in the flock are well fed and cared for.

Mr Williams knows everything about each one of the sheep – its name, its special favourite places to eat grass, how they lie when they sleep at night and probably even what each sheep is thinking!  Imagine that!  With Idris, that’s not too difficult.  He’s always dreaming of the great mountain with which he shares a name, and of what it would be like to climb up to the very top and look out over the deep blue sea.

Well one day Idris got his chance!  A boy from the farm came running to fetch Mr Williams to help a ewe give birth to triplet lambs.  In the short time that Mr Williams’ back was turned and the gate was open, Idris escaped for his adventure!

Idris ran up the next field and wriggled under a gate that was a bit broken.  It was quite a climb up the hill but he was fairly fit and very determined.  As he climbed higher and higher the farm looked smaller and smaller, until Idris forgot all about the rest of the sheep and Mr Williams the shepherd.  Until, that is, it began to go dark.  Idris shivered a bit as the sun went down and shadows from the moonlight began to stretch out across the mountain. He was cold, he was still a long way from the top, and he was beginning to feel a bit frightened.

Stumbling up the mountain, Idris took his eyes off the path for a moment and suddenly felt himself falling!  There was nothing he could do until he landed with a hard bump on some very rocky ground.  Idris tried hard to get up but – oh no!  He had hurt his foot as he fell.  He began to cry, but there was no one to hear his bleating.  Poor Idris!

Mr Williams the shepherd went back to his sheep when the triplet lambs had been born and were safely tucked up in their pen.  Everything looked all right, but he thought he had better check.  He counted the sheep by number and by name.  ‘Rosie, Penny, Dewi, Gwyn…’ until he reached Idris’ name in his head.  Where was Idris?  Certainly not in the field.  But do you remember what I said earlier, that Mr Williams even knew what each sheep was thinking?  He guessed straight away where Idris would be, for he knew all about the little sheep’s fascination with the great mountain of the same name.  So, closing the gate firmly to keep the other sheep in, Mr Williams set off up the mountain.

Mr Williams didn’t daydream like Idris: he watched carefully where he put his feet.  He had a powerful torch to see the way in the dark, and, keeping to well-worn paths, Mr Williams climbed Cader Idris, calling all the time for the sheep of the same name.  I think you can guess what happened!

Mr Williams found Idris and climbed down to rescue him.  He tucked the sheep inside his coat, for Idris was still quite small, and carried him safely home.  The next day he asked the vet to come and Idris had a special splint put on his broken foot.  Idris the sheep never again tried to escape to the top of the mountain called by the same name.

Application

  1. Tell the children that just as the shepherd knew all about Idris in our story, even what he was thinking, God knows about each one of us.  He cares for us too, like the shepherd cares for the sheep.
  2. God knows the things that are special just to you, the things that make you different from anyone else – your favourite toy, your favourite place to go, your friends.
  3. Make the point that there is something different about each of us.  Even identical twins don’t have the same fingerprints and are different in other ways too.  God knows every part of us and loves us just the way we are.

Prayer

Thank you, God, that you have made us all different.  Thank you that each one of us is special to you.

 

For God and for Gideon

Aim:

To show the children that God is so great, he can do anything.

Bible base:

Judges 7

You will need:

  • A Superman logo
  • A large sheet of paper
  • Three flash cards
  • An earthenware jar or jug
  • A torch
  • A trumpet (real, toy or cardboard cut-out)

Preparation

  • Draw an outline of the Superman logo in the centre of the large sheet of paper (if possible display on a flip chart or board).
  • Prepare flash cards with the numbers 32,000, 10,000 and 300.

Presentation

Introduction

Show the children the Superman logo and ask them if they recognise it.  Discuss with them the special things that super-heroes can do, eg fly, x-ray vision, etc.  Write these up as you go along.

Story

Gideon was no super-hero, but he was the man God had chosen to free his people from their enemies and God had promised to be with him.

Gideon had gathered a huge army of 32,000 men (ask a child out to hold up the flash card) but god told him the army was too big.  God said that they might think they had won by themselves without his help if they had all those men!

God told Gideon to tell anyone who was frightened to go home.  22,000 men went home leaving Gideon with only 10,000 (next flash card held up).  But God still said that there were too many, so he told Gideon what to do.  All the men had to go down to the river and have a drink.  All those who got down and cupped the water in their hands were to stay but those who knelt down and put their face in the water to drink were to be sent home.  This left Gideon with only 300 men (next flash card held up)!

So Gideon divided the 300 men into groups of 100, each man carrying a torch, a jar and a trumpet (show the props explaining the differences between these and the ones Gideon’s army would have used).  At midnight they surrounded the enemy camp.

When Gideon gave the signal they all blew their trumpets, smashed their jars and saved their torches shouting, ‘For God and for Gideon!’ Their enemies were so afraid they all ran away yelling!

Time to reflect

  1. Ask the children to be still and close their eyes.
  2. Remind them again that Gideon was just someone very ordinary who trusted God.
  3. Also emphasise God’s greatness, his amazing power in helping Gideon and his men to win.

Prayer

Invite the children to say ‘Amen’ at the end if they wish to.

Dear God, thank you that you are mighty and powerful. Thank you that you can do absolutely anything.  Amen.

 

Let’s give Him a big hand – Worship

Topic:

Worship

Aim

To help pupils understand the biblical view of God, that he is someone who deserves to be worshipped.

Things you’ll need

  • Some water in a bowl
  • A measuring jug
  • Several objects which can be easily measured with the ‘span’ of the hand
  • Some modelling clay
  • A blanket
  • A globe
  • A lively worship song with a strong rhythm and means to play it (optional)

Bible Base

Isaiah 40:12; 48:13

Psalm 47:1,2

Content

1 Invite some children to come and help you with the following tasks (give a running commentary on what they are doing).

  • Find out how much water can be held in cupped hands by scooping up water from the bowl, then emptying it into the measuring jug.
  • Measure some objects using the width (span) of your hands.
  • Use your hands to create something simple from modelling clay.
  • Spread the blanket out flat on a table or the floor, using only your right hand.

2 Talk to the children about:

– the quantity of water the volunteer could hold;

– how many hand widths across the objects were that were measured.

3 Tell the children that the Bible asks these questions (Isaiah 40:12, Youth Bible):

Who has measured the oceans in the palm of his hand?

Who has used his hand to measure the sky?

Show the globe and talk about the amount of water in the oceans. Talk about the size of the sky.

4 Show the children the object your volunteer made from clay and talk about spreading out the blanket. Ask the children who they think says these words from the Bible (Isaiah 48:13, Youth Bible):

‘I made the earth with my own hands.

With my right hand I spread out the skies’.

5 Ask the children to think about the crowds at a sports event or concert. What to the spectators do when an athlete or performer does well? (Answer: clap/cheer applaud.) Ask the children why people do this. Tell the children that in the Bible we hear about people clapping God. Psalm 47:1,2 (Youth Bible) says:

Clap your hands, all you people.

Shout to God with joy.

The Lord Most High is wonderful.

He is the great King over all the earth!

Application

A Christian viewpoint

Christians believe that God is worth getting excited about! When they think about how great he is, they want to do something to show that. Explain that this is where the word ‘worship’ comes from – ‘worth-ship’. Sometimes worship means being quiet and still and thinking about God, but Christians also believe that God is worth shouting, singing and clapping to.

For everyone

Whether or not we are Christians, all of us can take time to consider who we think deserves our worship.

Response

Remind the children about what they have heard from the Bible about God. Ask them to think about those things in silence for a few moments. You may like to give the children the opportunity to sing, or clap along to, an appropriate song of praise to God.

 

 

 

The Universe, God and me – The significance of being human

Aim

To help pupils consider the vastness of the universe and the question of significance of human beings.

Bible base

Psalm 8:3,4,9

You will need:

Large pictures of the following:

  1. Picture 1 – the sun, or another nearby star
  2. Picture 2 – a galaxy, for example, the Andromeda galaxy
  3. Picture 3 – a cluster of galaxies, for example, the Virgo cluster.

23 large pieces of card: the number ‘1’ written on the first; ‘0’ on all the others.

A beautifully wrapped gift with an accompanying card addressed, ‘To someone special’

Preparation

Prepare the pictures. You may be able to obtain these from the school science department or astronomy club or from Google Images.

Content

Introduction

Begin the assembly by selecting someone from the audience and presenting them with a beautifully wrapped gift (eg a small box of chocolates). Also give them a card, the envelope of which is clearly marked, ‘To someone very special’. Make sure that the audience are aware of what is happening and what the words on the envelope say.

The Universe

1. Ask: How many stars are there in the universe? After receiving some suggestions from the pupils, say that we know about at least one star – on sun (display Picture 1). Ask a pupil to come to the front to hold up the card showing the number ‘1’. They should stand on one side of the front area of the hall.

Explain that the sun is a huge ball of hydrogen gas, large enough for a million earths to fit inside it. Light from the sun takes eight minutes to travel the huge distance to the earth.

2. Continue by explaining that the sun is only one star in our local group of stars, which is called the Milky Way galaxy. Ask if anyone has seen the Milky Way? Say that if they can get somewhere where there are no street lights, on a clear night, they will be able to see a diffuse band of light across the sky. This is the Milky Way. Explain that it’s a vast collection of stars which are like our sun. Say that if we were to take a ride in the Starship Enterprise and go out of our galaxy and look back, we would see something like this. (display Picture 2).

3. But this is only one galaxy among many! (display Picture 3). Remember, each galaxy contains about 100 billion stars. Ask how many galaxies there are in the universe? Explain that there are about 100 billion!

4. To work out how many stars there are in the universe, you need to multiply 100 billion by 100 billion and you get… (ask eleven more pupils to come and hold up the remaining ‘0’ cards, so that the number is stretched across the front of the assembly hall)…a very large number indeed! This number was once likened to the number of the grains of sand on the beaches of the world (Genesis 22:17)!

5. Read Psalm 8:3,4 and 9, whilst Picture 3 and the number are still being displayed. Then ask the pupils holding the number cards sit down, but leave on display Picture 3.

Application

1. Ask pupils what they think the vast, unimaginable size of the universe means for our understanding of our own place in it.

Say that some people simply conclude that we are totally insignificant and that our existence and that of the whole universe have no purpose at all.

Christians take a different view. The Bible acknowledges this whole universe is the creation of God. The reason it is so vast is a demonstration of the exciting and extravagant being that God is! But far from man being insignificant, God has chosen to reach out to human beings in a special way.

2. Ask pupils if they have ever had the experience of being chosen out of a vast crowd (like the person who received the gift at the beginning of the assembly), and because of that they have felt special.

3. Explain that Christians believe human beings are special, in spite of their apparent insignificance in this vast universe – because God chose to come in the person of Jesus to demonstrate his love and care for us. We might be a very small part of the universe, but we are a very special part!

4. Draw pupils’ attention to the picture of the galaxies again (Picture 3, still on display). Say that you are going to end this assembly with a few moment of quiet. As they look at the picture, ask them to let it remind them, not of their insignificance in such a great universe, but of their great significance to God!

 

What am I worth? – Zacchaeus

Bible base:

Psalm 139:13,15; 1 Samuel 16:7; Ephesians 2:10; Luke 19:1–10

Aim:

To help students consider that each one of them is valuable to God.

Things you’ll need:

1. Ten cards with one name each of people who are currently media celebrities (pop, sporting and political celebrities), for example:

  • Ronaldo
  • Victoria Beckham
  • Tony Blair
  • George W Bush
  • Sir Paul McCartney
  • Sir Elton John
  • Mohammed Al Fayed
  • Sven Goran Ericksson
  • Bono
  • Richard Whiteley.

2. Current pop video/DVD, video/DVD player and TV.

Preparation

  • Prepare the cards.
  • Before the assembly, set up equipment to show the pop video and make sure it’s ready to start.

Presentation

1 Ask for ten volunteers and give each one a card. Give them one minute to arrange themselves into the order of what they think each character is worth – the most valuable on the left and least valuable on the right. Encourage some response from your audience. Do they agree with this order? Would they say some of the characters are worth more or less?

Ask your volunteers to go back to their places.

2 Now give your audience the following choices, allowing some response after each. You might want to substitute other examples which are more current or appropriate to your audience.

Would you rather have:

  • Prada/Next/George at Asda?
  • Holiday in Bahamas/holiday in Spain/holiday in Bognor?
  • Friends like Brad Pitt/Busted/Pauline Fowler?
  • 4 bed-roomed house in Surrey/semi in Bolton/1 bed-roomed flat in Toxteth?
  • Satellite TV, all channels/5 channels on a portable/flickering black and white?
  • Champagne/Bucks fizz/Tizer
  • Mercedes SLK/5-door Fiat Punto/B reg Volvo with rust?

Note: Adapt the examples here to suit the area and school you are in.

3 Watch a pop video by a current and popular band or artist. Ask the students:

  • Why do we want to be like these people?
  • What qualities do they have?

Reflection

  1. Say that Christians believe the good news is that God loves us all, whatever we’re like. He is not impressed by things like wealth, beauty, fame or talent. He is interested in what we are like on the inside.
  2. Briefly tell the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–10). Comment that Jesus loved Zacchaeus (the cheating tax collector) for who he was, not for what he had or hadn’t done. This is a picture of how he loves us too. Christians believe that God created us and we are unique, and he places a high value on all of us. He has a purpose for each person here, even though that might not including getting a number 1 single in the charts!

Response

Encourage the young people to close their eyes as you read the following verses:

  • Psalm 139:13,15
  • 1 Samuel 16:7
  • Ephesians 2:10

Give the opportunity for response in a time of quiet, encouraging the young people to think about what they mean to God, and what plans he might have for them in the future.

 

 

Prayer – Parable of Pharisee and tax collector

Aim

To help pupils understand that prayer is part of a relationship with God.

Bible base

Luke 18:9-14 – the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

You will need:

A mobile phone

Preparation

  • Arrange, in advance, for someone to be waiting for a phone call from you during the assembly. It could be your mother or father or someone posing as them. Alternatively, you could arrange for the person to phone you during the assembly (when you are ready, dial the number you want and let it ring a couple of times as a signal to the person to ring you back).
  • Rehearse the phone conversation in advance, along the lines indicated in the Content section below.
  • Rehearse your reading or telling of the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14)

Content

Phone home!

1. Begin by saying that you have got your mobile phone with you this morning (show it to the pupils). Comment how amazing it is that you can speak to anyone you like, as long as they are near a phone, within a few seconds. How is that possible? There are not so many messages rushing around the earth. This phone is not even connected by wires or cables! The technology is incredible!

2. Mention that you were told that ‘orange’ ones were good, but the shop only had black ones in stock!

3. Suggest that you could make a call, here and now, from the assembly! Explain that you know someone who is in, because you always have a chat on the phone at this time of day. Tell everyone that it’s your mother or father (don’t say the number!). Say that everyone will have a chance to talk to him or her. Ask the audience to keep very quiet until you give a signal and then they must shout, ‘Hiya Mum (Dad).’ Give the audience a practice at doing this before you phone.

4. Make the call and during the (pre-arranged) conversation, make sure you include the following:

  • Say thank you for something;
  • Say sorry about something;
  • Ask for a favour;
  • Make it appear that you are listening to some advice (eg by saying something like, ‘OK I will’);
  • End by saying, ‘I love you’ so softly that you have to repeat it, to your ‘embarrassment’! Let everyone say ‘Hiya Mum (Dad)!’ and end the call.

5. Comment that your mobile phone is a good one but it’s got its limitations. For example, you have to keep it turned on and the batteries fade; it has to be within range and, as with any phone, the person you are trying to call has to be in and has to want to talk to you! Say that you doubt whether you could talk to the Queen, although there was a Canadian journalist who once managed it!

Talk with God

1. Explain that you have another mobile phone that’s usuable any time and at any range. It has free rental and there are no charges for calls. It’s called ‘prayer’. Christians think of prayer as being like a two-way conversation, a bit like using the phone. Then add that they may have noticed, though, how some people treat phones as though they are made for one-way conversations! They forget that there are two parts to a phone. Ask if they have ever had that sort of experience? (Hold the phone, outstretched, away from your ear!)

2. Comment that some people treat prayer like that, too. They keep on talking at God, instead of having a conversation with him.

3. Read or tell the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) from a contemporary version of the Bible.

Application

  1. Make the point that although we may not feel good enough to pray, that is the very attitude God is looking for in prayers! Instead of long, formal prayers, the Bible shows people talking to God as a person – which is what he is!
  2. Remind everyone that during your telephone call earlier, there were three very important things you said: there was a ‘thank you’, a ‘sorry’ and ‘a please’. And those are exactly the sort of things that many Christians try to include in their prayers with God: telling him about all the things that have happened to them and are going to happen; all the different ways in which they have felt, happy, angry, disappointed. Conversation with God – prayer – is about being real with someone who is always at the end of the line, never out, never switched off, and who never has flat batteries!
  3. The conversation you had on the phone earlier also included your listening to some advice and being reminded of some things you had forgotten. And there was also a chance to say how you felt about your mum (dad). For the Christian, these things are part of prayer too.
  4. Conclude by reminding everyone that conversation is part of a relationship; and prayer is part of our relationship with God. Like all relationships, it needs working at! Encourage pupils to talk with God. It’s good to talk.

 

 

Love – Valentines Day

Aim

To show pupils that there are different kinds of love; and to help them understand the extent of God’s love.

Bible base

Mark 12: 29-31; Luke 15:11-32; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – love.

You will need:

  • A selection of funny St Valentine’s day cards (but make sure you haven’t missed any ‘double meanings’ – teenagers won’t!)
  • Examples from newspapers of St Valentine’s day messages
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 copied onto large pieces of card (use a modern Bible version)
  • A jigsaw Jigsaw Picture made from large pieces of card which has been cut in four, each piece showing one of ‘the four loves’: storge, philia, eros and agape.

Preparation

  • Prepare display cards as described.
  • Find out in advance from a teacher at the school if there is a widely known boy/girl relationship which the parties involved wouldn’t mind being mentioned in the assembly.

Content

St Valentine’s Day

1. Explain that St Valentine’s day is named after Valentine, a priest, who fell in love with an executioner’s daughter. Sadly, the girl was blind, but the priest miraculously restored her sight. However the emperor was displeased with him. He ordered him to be clubbled to death and then his head was chopped off!

2. Over the years it became the tradition for people to remember St Valentine and his love. Gradually it became known as the day when birds choose their mates; and then people started sending the one they loved a card.

3. Show and read out some of the St Valentine’s day cards. Then say that you have somehow managed to intercept one, sent by a boy who is present in this assembly to a girl who is here too. Read the message, inserting the names of the boy and girl (who you found out about in advance) in the appropriate places.

4. Point out that simply by the law of averages, you are far more likely to fall for a person, that that person is to fall for you. So, some people play safe and send their messages anonymously, sometimes through a newspaper. Read out some of the messages from newspapers that you have brought with you.

5. Say that another thing people think about on St Valentine’s day is kissing! Comment that you need to be careful when kissing. Ask your audience if they know these interesting facts. When you kiss:

  • You are using twenty-nine facial muscles;
  • Your heartbeat increases from seventy-two to ninety-five beats per minute;
  • Consequently the blood in your body races around a lot faster, so you feel warmer and your face goes redder and your lips enlarge;
  • You may burn up three calories and…
  • Some experts say your lifespan could be reduced by up to three minutes!

St Valentine’s day could damage your health! Comment that perhaps it’s easier to describe a kiss simply as the shortest distance between two people!

Love

1. Comment that all this talk of romance and kissing could lead you to think that that’s all there is to love. Certainly the media seem to concentrate on these aspects of love. But there is more to love than just these things.

2. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to love God with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself (see Mark 12:29-31). And St Paul (who wrote a lot of what we call the Bible) said this about love…(Display 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, written on an OHP acetate.) Ask pupils: Do you think that this is a good description of the way you love others?

3. Explain that the English language has only one word for something which the ancient Greeks had four words for! If you say in English that you ‘love’ someone, it immediately has certain implications that may not have been intended. But the Greeks could express themselves rather more freely. The words they could use were:

  • Storge. This word, storge (display on the appropriate piece of the jigsaw), meant ‘affection’. It’s the word you might use when you say ‘I love fish and chips’, or ‘I love Llandudno’, or even, ‘I love old Mrs Jenkins, next door’. ‘Love’ used in this way doesn’t mean that you want to elope with Mrs Jenkins; it means you have a deep affection for her.
  • Philia. The second word the Greeks had was philia (display this next piece of the jigsaw). This word would be used to describe the feelings you have in a close friendship. It could be brotherly or sisterly love, where you have things in common with that person or are able to confide in them. It’s the kind of love you might feel for a best friend. It’s important that we are able to recognise this kind of love for one another, without it having any romantic associations.
  • Eros. The third word is eros (display this piece of the jigsaw). It’s the same word as the name of the little character in Piccadilly Circus, London, who fires an arrow from his bow and which appears on lots of St Valentine’s day cards. From this word we get the English word, ‘erotic’. This kind of love means the physical attraction that St Valentine’s day is about. It’s to do with the kind of feeling that makes us blush or sends shivers down our spine. It’s the sort of love that is portrayed in so many films and songs. It’s the sort of love that may lead two people to say, ‘I can’t live without you. Let’s get married.’
  • Agape. The ancient Greek’s fourth word for love was agape (put the last piece of the jigsaw in place). The literal meaning of this word is ‘sacrificial love’. It’s the sort of love shown when someone gives their life to save another. It’s the sort of love shown when someone gives their life to save another. It’s the sort of ‘mad’ love that keeps on loving even when it gets nothing back in return. It’s the sort of love that welcomes back an undeserving prodigal son (explain as appropriate; see Luke 15: 11-32). And every time, in the New Testament, when the love of God or Jesus is mentioned, this word – agape – is used.

Explain that the greatest act of love, according to the Bible, is Jesus’ death on the cross for the sake of people who had rejected him. In response to the question, ‘How much does God love us?’ some people have stretched out their arms (demonstrate this as a reminder of the crucifixion) and said, ‘This much.’

Application

  1. Say that it’s the greatest thing in the world to know that you are loved. For many Christians the realisation that God loves them with this agape love – which meant Jesus dying on the cross for them – was the thing which made them want to get to know God themselves and to ‘love’ him in return.
  2. Comment that there is a lot being said about the subject of ‘love’ at the present time. Say that you are going to finish the assembly with a few moments of quiet. Ask pupils to use this time to think about all the people, places and things that they could say they ‘love’. If they would like to, they could take this opportunity, as they think about them, to say ‘thank you’ to God for them.

 

 

All you need is love – Valentines Day

Bible base:

Matthew 22:39; 1 Corinthians 13:4–13

Aim:

To help students think about the meaning of love and about treating others with kindness.

Things you’ll need:

  • Flip chart and pens to write up suggestions from students.
  • A CD player and CDs with current songs including the word ‘love’.
  • Bible verses from 1 Corinthians 13:4–7 printed onto card or on PowerPoint (optional).

Preparation

Think of four or five current songs which you think students will know which include the word ‘love’ in the titles or lyrics.

Presentation

1 If possible, play a selection of current songs including the word ‘love’ as students enter the room where you’re meeting for the assembly.

2 Ask students to see how many songs they can come up with which include the word ‘love’. You could show them some CD covers as clues. Write the song titles up on a flipchart if you have one. How many can they think of?

3 Talk about the fact that love is mentioned a lot in music, in magazines, on TV etc. But what is it? For example, what does it mean to love someone? Ask for some suggestions.

4 Point out that it can mean different things at different times, depending on who you are talking about. Get the students to suggest different people we ‘love’ (eg boyfriend/girlfriend, Mum, Dad, brother, friends). Comment that the way we love these people is different depending on the kind of relationship we have with them.

5 Say that you’re going to read one description of love. Read this passage from the Bible, slowly and thoughtfully: 1 Corinthians 13:4–7. Explain that this is from the Bible and is a description of how Christians believe people should act towards others. These principles can be applied to any of our friendships and relationships. Display the verses now if you wish.

6 Talk through each element of the Bible passage, asking for practical examples of what it might mean to behave like this towards friends, parents, boyfriend/girlfriend, teacher etc.

Reflection

  1. Invite the students to consider this commandment from the Bible about how we should care for others: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ Matthew 22:39 (NCV)
  2. Comment that this means we should treat people the way we would like to be treated.

Response

Ask the students to think about their own behaviour and actions. Are there times when they don’t ‘love’ others in the way you’ve just been talking about? Ask them to think about how they might need to change. Encourage them to ask God to help them to be ‘loving’ towards others today.

If you wish, you could play a quiet Christian song on the theme of love as students go out from the assembly.