God’s special messengers – Isaiah

Topic

Isaiah

Aim

To help pupils see the difference between appearing to do good and actually doing good.

Things you’ll need

  • Lots of screwed-up pieces of paper
  • A rubbish sack
  • A small paint brush
  • Pictures to illustrate the story Picture Illustrations

Bible Base

Isaiah 58:1-9a

Preparation

Before the assembly, scatter the pieces of paper around at the front so that it makes a mess. Place some of the paper on top of things (the piano, window-sill etc) so the pupils will notice it.

Content

1 Ask for a volunteer to come and clear up all the rubbish and say that you will help. Give him/her the rubbish sack. As your volunteer starts clearing up, tell the rest of the pupils what a kind person you are and how you are going to help (but don’t!). Go on about how nice and helpful you are and how you can’t wait to help clear up. Pause after a while and ask the volunteer if a brush would make it easier to collect up the rubbish. Give him/her the paint brush. As the volunteer finishes clearing up, carry on telling the pupils how helpful you are. Just as your volunteer finishes, say that you’re now ready to help. Then thank your volunteer for all their work.

2 Ask the children who they think was the most helpful: you or your volunteer. Argue your case by saying that you said you were helpful, and you even gave the volunteer a brush to help.

3 Make the point that it’s quite easy to appear to be doing good – working when the teacher is looking, not running down the corridor when you’re being watched. Sometimes, though, people seem to be doing good, when really they’re not.

4 Tell the children that in the Bible we read about one of God’s messengers (prophets) called Isaiah. God had seen that people thought they were being good, when really they weren’t. God knew what was going on and he sent Isaiah to tell them. Tell the story, using pictures if possible.

The people of Israel were worshipping God every day. They would pray to God and promise to keep God’s laws. They even had special festivals when they fasted and prayed, but God never seemed to answer their prayers so they started to complain.

It was then that God sent Isaiah with a message. God wasn’t pleased with them, because even though they were worshipping God, fasting and looking as if they were being good, they were actually being horrible to each other. They were fighting, arguing and bullying people. They looked as if they were doing what was right and good, but in fact, they weren’t. God told them that real worship would mean caring for each other, sharing their food with the hungry and looking after people who were homeless and hungry. God told them that if they did that, he would always be with them to protect them.

Application

A Christian viewpoint

Christians believe that the Bible teaches God still wants people to worship him today, and to care for those in need. It’s no good people saying they will do what God wants, and then not doing it. The Bible says that being a Christian means loving God and caring for others.

For everyone

Whoever we are, it’s easy to look as if we are a caring person. Talking about caring for others is easy. The real challenge is to do it: to be friends with someone at school who has no friends; to share your crisps with someone who hasn’t got any; to be the kind of person who doesn’t just say you care, but actually does.

Response

Ask the pupils to think of a time when they have pretended to do good, but haven’t really. Now ask them to think of any ways in which they can do good things for others today and during the week.

End with a prayer saying sorry for the times they’ve not really done the right thing, and asking for God’s help to care for others during the day.

 

Good for Evil – Easter

Topic:

Easter

Aim

To help children consider their willingness to offer good in exchange for evil, as Jesus did.

Things you’ll need

  • A selection of items of varying value which will interest the children (eg small toys, an MP3 player, a bunch of bananas, a knitting pattern)
  • An item of no value (eg a bag of dirty stones)
  • An item of great value or popularity (eg Nintendo DS)
  • A table on which to display items

Bible Base

  • Mark 14:55,56,65
  • Mark 15:17-19
  • Luke 23:22-25,34
  • 1 Peter 2:23,24

Content

1 Explain the system of bartering used in some countries, where goods are offered in exchange for other goods.

2 Lay out some of the items of varying value you’ve brought to the assembly as goods available for barter. Include the item of no value. Ask for a volunteer to be the stall holder.

3 Have the rest of the items in a bag, including the item of great value or popularity. Take various items out of your bag and offer them in exchange for the goods on the stall. Ask the stall holder whether they are willing to make the exchange. After each of your proposed exchanges, ask the other children whether they think it would be a fair exchange.

4 Finally, offer the item of great value in exchange for the item of no value. Talk about the exchange. Are there any reasons why someone might offer to make that exchange? (For example, if the person making the offer really cared about the stall holder and wanted them to have the best.) Thank the stall holder and ask him/her to sit down.

5 Now talk to the children about Easter. For example:

Easter is a festival when Christians remember what happened to Jesus at the end of his life. Christians believe that Jesus was a man who was always full of love– a good manwho was always obedient to God. At Easter time, Christians remember that Jesusexperienced terrible suffering. He was arrested and accused of things that weren’t true.His friends abandoned him. People punched him and spat on him. He was whipped and made fun of and finally, he was executed, even though the Roman governor found him not guilty.

What did Jesus do in return? The Bible says that he didn’t fight back, he didn’t stand up for his rights. Instead, he asked God to forgive the people who were hurting him. Christians believe that Jesus took all the lies and anger, the hatred and pain of the world and– in exchange– he offers people love, forgiveness, peace and hope.

Application

A Christian viewpoint

Christians believe that Jesus has set an example for them to follow, that they should be willing to offer good things in exchange for any wrong that people do to them.

For everyone

Ask the children for ideas of any ways in which they might be able to offer something good in exchange for something bad (eg share their crisps with someone who never shares theirs).

Responses

Use the children’s ideas for a time of reflection. If appropriate, make them into a prayer. You could follow the style of the prayer of St Francis of Assisi. For example:

Lord God,

help us to offer good things in exchange for bad:

where there is hate help us to offer love;

when we are hurt help us to offer forgiveness;

when there is fighting help us to make friends;

when anyone tells lies help us to tell the truth.