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