God always forgives

Aim:

To show the children that God loves us and forgives us when we say sorry.

Bible base:

Luke 15:11-32. The Lost Son

You will need:

Three paper plates – one with a happy face, one with a sad face, one with a face with a jealous expression.

Three flash cards with the following wording:

  1. Dig, dig Work, work, Sweat, sweat, Phew!
  2. Get, get, Money, money, Spend, spend, Gone!
  3. Love, love, Love, love, Love, love, Love!

Preparation

  • If possible read the story from a modern translation of the Bible.
  • Make the flash cards.

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Show the children the faces on the plates and talk about times they have felt happy, sad or jealous over something.
  2. Ask them to listen carefully to the story for times when people had these feelings.

Story

Choose three pairs of children to hold the flash cards.  The younger children will not be able to read these words, but they will remind the older children of what to say.  Practise the sayings, and teach the children the following actions for the last line of each: – Wipe the back of your hand over your forehead for ‘phew!’ – Hold out both hands, palms up, to signify ‘gone!’ – Hug yourself for ‘love!’

Some people were grumbling about the kind of people Jesus spent time with.  Jesus mixed with people that no one else would speak to!  So one day Jesus told them a story.

There was once a man who had two sons.  The older one stayed at home and worked very hard for his father.

Card 1

The younger one wanted to go off and to see the world, so one day he went to his dad and asked for his share of the money that one day would be his.

Card 2

The father thought for a while about how much he loved his son.

Card 3

And somewhat sadly he said, ‘Yes, son’ and gave the boy his share.

So when the money had been collected together for him, the boy left home and went off to a faraway country.  (Take the children with this card round to the back of the room, as if going on a journey.  Ask the children for ideas of how he might have spent his money.)

For a while he had lots of fun spending the money, buying whatever he wanted, spending the money on new clothes and eating the best food, on having parties and buying things for the new friends he had made.  Until one day, the money ran out.

Card 2

So the young man had to get a job, and he found one on a farm, feeding the pigs.  After a while in that country there wasn’t enough food for everyone, and the young man became very, very hungry.  He was so hungry that he felt like eating the pigs’ food!  You know when there are leftovers from dinners at school?  They get put in a bucket and given to feed pigs.  Just imagine it!  The boy was so hungry that he would have eaten leftover baked beans and chocolate pudding and chips and pizza and yoghurt all thrown in together!  Then he suddenly realised how stupid he had been.

‘Back home, even the servants on my dad’s farm have better food that this.  They have three good meals a day and a warm bed to sleep in.  I wonder if my father would ever take me back to be one of his servants if I went to him and said “sorry” for what I have done?’

So the young man decided to go back home.

When he was still some distance from the house, his father saw him and ran to meet him.  The young man knelt down at his father’s feet and began to speak.  ‘I’m sorry for what I have done wrong.  I’m not fit to be your son.  Will you let me come back as one of your servants?’

But before he had finished speaking, his dad hugged him.

Card 3

He shouted for people to bring his best clothes for his son to wear; to bring shoes for his feet and a ring for his finger, and to get food ready for a party!  The dad loved his son so much that he forgave him everything.

Card 3

When the older son heard this he was very cross.  ‘It’s not fair!’ he said.  ‘I’ve stayed at home and worked hard all this time.

Card 1

‘You never gave me a party!’

‘I know,’ said his father, “and you know that I love you very much.”

Card 3

‘But your brother was lost and he is found, so we had to have a party, because I love him very much too.’

Card 3

Application

  1. Talk about the happy, sad and jealous feelings in the story. a) To begin with the money made the younger son happy – the father was extremely happy when his son came hom. b) The younger son made his father sad by going away – the older son made him sad by being cross when his brother returned. c) The older brother was jealous at the way his father treated his younger brother.
  2. There are things that we do that hurt other people and hurt God.
  3. God is like the dad in the story.  He forgives us when we say ‘sorry’ and always keeps on loving us.

Prayer

Use the following prayer or similar:

Dear God, we are sorry for hurting other people and you by the wrong things that we do.  Please forgive us and help us to do the things that please you. Amen.

 

Party time – Wedding in Cana

Aim:

To show that Jesus enjoyed parties too!

Bible base:

John 2:1-11. The wedding party at Cana.

You will need:

  • Things to set up as if for a party – plates, cups, serviettes, party hats, candles etc – anything you have to make it look different from an ordinary meal.
  • You might want to find some suitable clothes or hats for the children who take part to wear.
  • A modern translation of the bible (Good News Bible or Contemporary English Version)

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Tell the children that you are getting ready for something special.  Can they guess what?  What kind of a party might it be?  Has anyone been to a wedding?  Has anyone been a bridesmaid or page boy?  What happens at the party after the wedding?
  2. Read the story from a modern translation of the bible.
  3. Choose helpers to act out the wedding: Jesus, Mary, bride, groom, three servants, head servant.  Re-tell the story, helping the characters to act it out – the action is fairly obvious.

Story

Jesus went to a wedding with his mother and his friends.  It was a lovely party – everyone enjoyed themselves, and everyone was very happy.  But then, oh dear!  Before the party was over, the wine ran out and there was no more to drink.

Jesus’ mother went to talk to him. ‘There is no more wine,’ she said. Then to the servants she said, ‘Do whatever Jesus tells you.’

‘Fill the water jars,’ said Jesus.  So they did. ‘Now, take some to the man in charge of the party.’

The man tasted the drink and looked so pleased. ‘Why, this is the very best wine!’ he said.

Jesus gave the people a very special present and helped them to have a very special party that day!

Application

People sometimes think Jesus must have been a very serious man, but like many of us, he obviously went to and enjoyed parties.

Prayer

End with a prayer thanking God for parties and other special times.

Song suggestion

Jesus’ love is very wonderful, 139, Junior Praise

Two Builders

Aim:

As well as reading it, we need to do what the Bible tells us.

Bible base:

Matthew 7:24-27. The two house-builders.

You will need:

  • Some signs giving orders, eg ‘Don’t touch – hot’ or ‘Wait for the green man before crossing the road’ etc
  • Two hard hats, such as builders wear
  • Two cheap, identical umbrellas
  • A mist spray bottle, as used for spraying plants
  • You may also want some kitchen roll to mop up the floor or even a paddling pool for the children to stand in!  (But this would be more for effect: they shouldn’t get that wet!)

Preparation

  • Make the signs as above or write them on acetates.
  • Make a number of holes in one of the umbrellas in such a way that they are not visible until it is opened.

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Show the signs.  What would happen if someone read them but then ignored them?
  2. Jesus said that people should not just read the Bible but also should do what it says.

Story

Read the story of the two house-builders from the Bible.  Re-tell the story simply, with two children acting out the parts.

Here are two people, building houses.  (Children choose a hat and umbrella each, and put on hats, leaving their umbrellas to one side.)

They begin by choosing where they will build.  One chooses sandy ground and the other rocky ground. (Children stand slightly in front of the leader.)

They dig and dig and dig. (Mime.)

They build up their houses with bricks. (Mime.)

And finally they have finished their houses.  (Children stand with arms folded.)

But then, the rains begin. (Spray a gentle mist over both builders.)

What will happen? Will the houses keep them dry? (Children put up umbrellas as the ‘rain’ continues.)

Look!  One builder is snug and dry, but the other is still getting wet – the house just isn’t keeping him dry!

The house build on sand was as useless in a storm as the umbrella with holes in it.

Jesus said that it was when the storms came that the difference between the houses was seen – one stood firm and the other fell down.

Application

  1. Draw the parallel between the story Jesus told and the idea of reading the signs and then ignoring them.
  2. God has given us rules to live by and we are like the wise builder if we keep them.
  3. We should read the Bible AND do what it says.

Prayer

God, you know that it is sometimes hard for us to do what is right.  Please help us to read the Bible and to do what it says.

 

I can do it – Feeding of 5000

Aim:

To show the children that we can all do something for God.  He takes what we offer and makes it something special for him.

Bible base:

John 6:1-14

You will need:

  • A piece of artwork, a football, a piece of maths work, a sweeping brush, a smiling face drawn on a paper plate, some dancing shoes (anything that shows achievements of the children, including cleaning up well or cheering someone up)
  • Some volunteers to mime
  • A few simple props – five rolls and two fish (cut from card) packed in a small basket/box etc

Preparation

Study the script and the Bible passage to familiarise yourself with the story.

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Talk to the children about the things they enjoy doing or things that they are particularly good at.
  2. Use your items to illustrate different skills, pointing out that some of us are particularly good at helping others, being kind or friendly, cleaning up, cheering people etc.  All these things are important.
  3. Ask for six volunteers to come out and help you tell the story by miming the parts: Peter, Thomas, Jesus, Philip, Andrew, boy.  The rest of the children are the crowd.

Story

FAST FOOD FOR FIVE THOUSAND

It had been a hot day.

Everyone was warm and sweaty and hungry.

The crowds had been with Jesus all day, listening to him.

They were sitting on grass, on stones, under trees, up trees and in some cases on thistles (ouch!) and they didn’t mind.

They felt as though they could listen to what Jesus was saying and never have enough.

When it was almost sunset, the disciples thought the people would go back home…but they didn’t.

‘Those children ought to be in bed,’ said Peter. (Peter wags his finger at the crowd as this is said.)

‘Those women should be cooking their husbands’ suppers,’ said Thomas. (Thomas also wags his finger at the crowd.)

A lady who was standing nearby knocked him on the head with her basket. ‘My husband is quite capable of cooking his own supper’, she said.

There was a distant rumbling sound.  Was it thunder?  Peter patted his tummy.

‘Sorry,’ he said, ‘I always rumble when I’m hungry.’ (Peter rubs his tummy.)

The other disciples laughed, but the thought of supper was making them all ravenous.

As Jesus paused in speaking Philip tugged at his sleeve. (Jesus and Philip to mime.)

‘It’s sunset,’ he said. ‘Isn’t it time you finished off, so the people can go?’

Jesus smiled. ‘We’re miles away from anywhere.  What do you expect the people to do?’

‘It’s time for our tea,’ said Philip.  ‘Peter’s tummy sounds like a volcano.  We need food and so do you and what about the people?

They might be able to find food in the villages and farms.  There might be a fast food place…’ his voice trailed off hesistantly.

‘Fast food for all this lot?’ said Jesus, waving his arms over the crowd.

‘Good idea.  Can you find some?’

Philip and the others gulped.

For the first time they looked at how huge the crowd was.

Rows of people, groups of children and women and men, stretched away as far as they could see.

‘What about it?’ said Jesus.

Philip went pale. ‘Have you any idea how much it would cost?’ he said, his voice wobbling.

‘A sandwich for everyone here would be hundreds of pounds, there must be over 5,000 people here!’

Andrew felt someone tugging at his sleeve.  There was a very small boy.  (Andrew and boy to mime.)

‘Not now son,’ said Andrew. ‘We’re having a crisis.’

He turned back to Jesus and Philip.

‘What’s that?’ said the little boy. ‘It’s a grown-up word for a big problem.’

‘Oh, sorry,’ said the boy. ‘I thought you might be hungry.’

Andrew bent down to him.  He had a clean face but otherwise he was very dirty.  He’d been sitting on the ground all day in the dusty heat.

‘What have you got?’ said Andrew.

‘Two big fish – well, medium – and five rolls.  I can’t eat them all myself and Mum said to share.’

Andrew took him by the grubby hand and led him to Jesus.

‘Hello,’ said Jesus. ‘Who are you?’

‘He’s a boy who wants to share,’ said Andrew.

‘Get everyone sitting down,’ said Jesus.

While the disciples organised everyone, Jesus looked into the little boy’s basket and saw the fish and the loaves.

‘Father God,’ prayed Jesus holding up the basket. ‘Thank you for this food and for all you give us. Amen.’

‘Amen,’ said the boy.

‘Would you like to help?’ said Jesus. The boy nodded.

‘I’ll need some more baskets,’ he called to the disciples.

They gathered some from the people, and Jesus started dividing out the bread and fish while the disciples and the boy took it to the different groups.  Every time they went back for more they were sure there would not be any left.  Every time there was more.  How could it be happening?

Eventually everyone was fed and they began to clear up.

‘How could there be any leftovers?’ thought Philip.

But there were leftovers – twelve basketfuls!

‘Wow,’ said the boy, ‘you’re amazing, Jesus!’

Application

  1. Make the point to the children that the boy did what he could – he offered his lunch to Jesus – and Jesus did something very special with it.
  2. In the same way today, if we offer to Jesus the things we can do, he will use them.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for all the things we can do….painting pictures, writing stories, dancing, making music, helping others.  Please help us to do all these things for you.  Amen.

 

Pass the Christmas parcels

Aim:

To explain clearly the facts surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Bible base:

Matthew 1&2, Luke 1&2. The birth of Jesus.

 You will need:

The following items to wrap and number as shown:

  1. A ‘decree’ – wording as suggested by Luke 2:1-3
  2. A map showing Nazareth and Bethlehem (a simple drawing will do)
  3. A ‘No room’ sign
  4. Some straw
  5. A toy donkey
  6. A doll wrapped up in cloths as Jesus would have been
  7. An angel (a Christmas decoration or paper one)
  8. A toy sheep
  9. A star
  10. A box to represent one of the gifts given to Jesus
  11. A question mark
  12. Christmas paper
  13. A tape of suitable music and cassette player
  14. A rubbish bag for all the paper!

Preparation

Wrap each item from the list in Christmas paper and number them in the correct order for the story.

Some can be omitted to cut down on time, but the larger number means that everyone should at least handle a parcel.

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Ask what games the children like playing at Christmas parties.  Make sure ‘Pass the Parcel’ is mentioned.
  2. Explain that today’s game will be played slightly differently: all the parcels will be passed around together and, when the music stops, you will call out the numbers of the parcels that you want to be opened.
  3. Spread out the parcels among the children and give clear instructions about which way they are to be passed.  When the music stops, call out two numbers at a time (otherwise it takes too long!) and have the children bring the parcels to the front to be opened.
  4. As each parcel is opened, tell the relevant part of the story.

Story

Begin with music.  Open parcels 1 and 2.

Long ago, when Augustus was Emperor, he decided to take a count of everyone who lived in the country of Judea (Show the decree)

Two people, Mary and Joseph had to travel from Nazareth, where they lived to Bethlehem, where Joseph’s family came from many years before. (Show the map).

Music.  Open parcels 3 and 4.

When they got to Bethlehem, the town was so busy with travellers like themselves that all the places to stay were full (Show the sign), and Mary and Joseph had to stay in a stable, and sleep in the straw. (Show the straw).

Music. Open parcels 5 and 6.

During the night, Mary’s baby son was born.  He was called Jesus. There was nowhere for him to sleep except the manger, the feeding trough that the cows and donkeys used.  (Show the donkey).  Mary wrapped up Jesus in strips of cloth, and laid him in the straw.  (Show the baby).

Music and parcels 7 and 8.

Jesus, the baby born in the stable, was not just any baby: he was the Son of God.  Later that night angels (show the angel) went to tell the good news of Jesus’ birth to some shepherds (show the sheep).

Music and parcels 9 and 10.

A special star came in the sky too (Show the star), and some wise men who studied the sky saw the star, and followed it many, many miles until it took them to the place where Jesus was.  When they saw the baby Jesus they gave him special presents of gold, incense and myrrh.  (Show the gift).  These gifts were not what you might take to a newborn baby; but they were just right for someone so special, like Jesus.

Music and parcel 11.

Application

  1. When the question mark is opened, ask the children why they think God sent Jesus to live on earth.
  2. Explain that Jesus was God’s special present to us, because he loves us so much.

Prayer

Ask the children to join in by saying ‘Thank you, Father God’ after every line.

It’s Christmas time, and we’re excited: Thank you, Father God. There are lots of things that make us delighted: Thank you, Father God. For our families and our friends: Thank you, Father God. For your love, that never ends: Thank you, Father God. For excitement and fun: Thank you, Father God. And for Jesus, your Son: Thank you, Father God.

Song suggestion

Come and join the celebration, 323, Junior Praise

Get Ready – Advent

Aim:

To help the children to think about getting ready for Christmas, and what Christmas is about.

Bible base:

Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 1 and Luke 1.  The birth of Jesus.

You will need:

A bag of objects which give clues to special events eg sunglasses and suntan cream for a holiday; some baby powder and a bib for a new baby; some make-up and a hat for a wedding; some decorations and an Advent calendar.

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Play a guessing game with the objects in a bag, asking what the children think you might be getting ready for with each pair of things.
  2. Ask what they have seen happening as people get ready for Christmas – shopping, baking, putting up decorations etc.

Story

Christmas is the time when people celebrate Jesus being born as a baby.  Hundreds of years before Jesus was born at the first Christmas, God helped people to be ready for his coming.  He sent lots of different people as messengers to tell everyone to be ready, because one day God’s special person would come.

These are some of the words that one of them, Isaiah, said ‘A child is born to us!  A son is given to us!  And he will be our ruler.  He will be called “Wonderful Counsellor”, “Mighty God”, “Eternal Father”, “Prince of Peace”.’ (Isaiah 9:6, Good News Bible)

Finally God sent an angel to tell Mary to get ready, because this wonderful baby would be born to her.

Show again the baby things that you have, and explain how Mary would not have got these sort of things together to be ready, but she would have made some preparations.

God also sent a message to Joseph, to tell him to get ready for the coming of Jesus, this very special baby.

Application

  1. Ask why they think God went to so much trouble, telling people to get ready.
  2. Explain that Jesus was born so we could know God better and understand how much he loves us.
  3. Christians call this time of year Advent, a time to be ready for Jesus’ coming.  Suggest that as the children get ready for Christmas they remember the coming of Jesus too. If they have an Advent calendar at home they could remember Jesus as they open the door each day.

Prayer

Ask the children for ideas of what excites them about getting ready for Christmas, and use these as a short prayer to say ‘thank you’ to God for each of these, and for Jesus.

Song suggestion

Come and join the celebration, 323, Junior Praise

Trapped – the nature of authority

Note: This assembly is most suitable for use with upper school pupils.

Aim

To explore with pupils the nature of authority, especially that of Jesus; to challenge them to think about who and what is in control of their lives.

Bible base

Romans 7:18,19 – I want to do what’s right, but…

You will need:

  • A chair
  • A ball of wool
  • A pair of scissors
  • Large pictures downloaded from the internet as follows
  1. Pictures of people in authority
  2. Picture of teenager with ball and chain
  3. Picture of man ignoring warning sign
  4. Words of the song ‘It’s a sin’ by The Pet Shop Boys (optional)
  5. The words from Romans 7:18,19 (use the Good News Bible version)
  6. Picture showing the empty tomb of Jesus

• CD of the song ‘It’s a sin’ by The Pet Shop Boys and appropriate equipment to play it on (optional)

Preparation

• Prepare large pictures as described above.

Content

Introduction

Begin with a short game of ‘Simon says’. Ask pupils to do some odd things (but nothing which is too embarrassing!).

Who’s in charge?

  1. Say that sometimes it feels strange when someone tells us to do something. Point out that, even so, some people do have the authority to do that. Ask the pupils to call out some examples (eg teachers, parents, the police, the government). Display Picture 1.
  2. Sometimes people have authority over us because they are working for our good, or for the greatest good of the greatest number. Sometimes people with authority have been appointed or elected. Sometimes they wear uniforms; sometimes they don’t.
  3. Sometimes a person has authority over us because they love us and we trust them (display Picture 2). With people like these – perhaps our parents – we know that even if we don’t want to obey, what they tell us to do is for our own good.
  4. Often there are consequences if we ignore the authority of others over us (display Picture 3).

What’s in control?

  1. Show your audience a piece of wool and demonstrate how easy it is to break it.
  2. Ask for a volunteer. Get them to sit on a chair. Wrap the ball of wool around them. As you do this, say to your volunteer and the audience that it’s not only people who have authority over us. Unfortunately, we can end up being addicted to something which we might think are harmless – like alcohol, cigarettes, gambling…even spending money! These things can also have a kind of authority over us and we can discover, too late, that we are trapped by them.
  3. At this point, ask the volunteer to break free from the wool. It should be impossible.  Emphasise that in a similar way, there may be things in the pupils’ lives which are exercising a kind of control over them and trapping them. Leave the volunteer ‘trapped’ by the wool, whilst you continue…
  4. Explain that the Bible says we are all trapped by something: the wrong attitudes we have; the wrong things we do and say; the wrong thoughts we have. The Bible calls these ‘sin’. At this point you could play part of the song It’s a sin by The Pet Shop Boys and display Picture 4 (optional). Continue by saying that ‘sin’ is not a new idea! Display Picture 5, showing the words from Romans 7:18,19. Ask pupils: Does that ring true for you?

Application

1. Say that one of the characteristics people most noticed about Jesus was that he had ‘authority’. Even though he wasn’t one of the rulers of the time, people realised that he had authority:

  • In his teaching – it was powerful and people listened;
  • Over illnesses – people were healed, and even brought back to life;
  • Over nature – he calmed the storm;
  • Over sin and the death it leads to – he came back to life from the grave (display Picture 6).

2. Turn back to the volunteer trapped by the wool. Say that even though we can’t free ourselves from things – bad habits, wrong thoughts, words and deeds (‘sin’) – Jesus can. He has the ‘authority’ to do that and only someone who is not ‘trapped’ can help those who are. Illustrate this last point by cutting the wool trapping the volunteer so that they are free to stand up. Ask them to return to their seat.

3. Explain that Jesus claimed to have authority over us because he is God. Comment that we naturally tend to dislike someone having authority over us, unless we know that they care about us and are acting on our behalf and for our good.

Christians believe that Jesus wants to have that kind of authority in our lives – he loves us, he knows what is best for us. So Christian believers are happy to say, ‘Yes’ to Jesus – setting them free from the things that ‘trap’ them and taking control of their lives.

 

Peace makers

Bible base

Matthew 5:9; John 14:27

Aim

To help students think about what Jesus said about peace and what they can do to work for peace in their own situations.

Things you’ll need

  • Clipboards and pens.
  • Small prizes for each of your volunteers (small chocolate bars etc).

Presentation

1 Tell the students that you are going to play Blankety Blank (like the TV quiz show), teachers versus students.

Note: if it isn’t appropriate to ask teachers to be involved, have two groups of students competing against each other instead, for example boys versus girls.

Ask for three volunteers for each ‘team’ (or select team members).

2 Give both teams a clipboard and pen. Tell the students that you are going to read out a phrase and they must write on their clipboard what they think should go in the blank. Round one is for student one, round two for student two etc.

Round one:

The phrase for student one is ‘Happy [_____]’. (Answers could include: birthday, Christmas, New Year, Easter, anniversary, hour, go-lucky.)

When the student has written their answer, ask your teacher team to consult together and decide what they think the student has written, then write their answer down.

Now, get the student to show what they’ve written. Then, ask the teachers to show what they’ve put. Did the teachers get it right? Award them a point if they did.

Talk about the word ‘happy’. Say that everyone likes feeling happy! It usually means everything is going well for us. It’s been said that ‘happiness’ is about ‘happenings’. If what happens to us is good, we are happy; When bad things happen to us, we are not!

Round two:

The phrase for student two is ‘War [_____]’. (Answers could include: correspondent, head, dance, lord, time, crime, cry, paint, memorial.)

As for round one, when the student has written their answer, get the teachers to write down what they think the student has written. Get them to show their answers and award the teachers a point if they get it right.

Talk about the word ‘war’. Comment that there is a lot of conflict in the world today, not just between countries. There are all kinds of conflict between different groups of people: different communities, neighbours, family members, even friends. When conflict happens, it brings lots of unhappiness to many people. The opposite of war is peace.

Round three:

The phrase for student three is ‘Peace [_____]. As before, ask your student volunteer to write their answer. (Answers might include: talks, maker, pipe, time, offering, treaty.) Then continue as for rounds one and two.

Talk about the word ‘peace’. Peace is a great thing if you have it or can get it. Peace is the opposite to war. It also can mean the absence of noise. And, it can be to do with the way we are feeling on the inside, meaning an absence of turmoil, anger, unrest, panic and unhappiness.

6 How well did the teachers do at guessing what the students wrote? Give small prizes to the winning ‘team’ (or to all your volunteers!). Thank your volunteers and ask them to sit down again.

Reflection

1 Ask the students to think about peace for a few moments:

• Would you say you have got peace in your life?

2 Tell the students that you are going to read some words from the Bible that Jesus said about peace:

God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children.’ Matthew 5:9 (CEV)

3 Comment that ‘Peacekeepers’ are people who keep the peace whatever the cost! Peace makers are people who make peace where there is trouble and disagreement.

4 Ask students to think about:

• Are you a peacekeeper, or a peace maker?

Response

1 Get everyone to close their eyes. Spend some time in silence. Enjoy the peace, the tranquillity and absence of noise.

2 Ask them to think about what needs to happen for there to be peace in the world, in situations where they know there is conflict. What needs to happen for them to have peace in their own lives? Say that Christians believe that God gives peace.

3 Now ask students to think about how they could help to bring ‘peace on earth’ in the different situations which they are involved in.

4 As your conclusion, say that you are going to read some more words from the Bible which Jesus said to his disciples when they were frightened and worried. Encourage students to remember anything which is troubling them at the moment and then to imagine that Jesus is saying these words to them:

‘I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid’ John 14:27 (NCV)

 

 

Light and Dark – Hallowe’en

Bible base

Matthew 15:16–20; Luke 11:33–36; John 1:4,5

Aim

To help students reflect on what causes evil and Jesus’ reassurance that he is the light of the world.

Things you’ll need:

  • Appropriate pictures from newspapers etc to remind students of ‘evil’ events that are currently in the news (bombings, crimes which have hurt people, oppression) –these could be prepared for display on PowerPoint.
  • Flip chart and pens (optional)

Preparation

Search out and prepare for display pictures you plan to use.

Note: When you refer to Halloween, take care not to appear to trivialise it or associated topics, which may be frightening issues for some students (eg the occult and supernatural).

Presentation

1 Start by talking briefly about Halloween. Point out how, although most people don’t take Halloween seriously; there is real evil in the world which is very serious. Ask the students for some examples of ‘evil’ they’ve noticed recently in the news.

2 Show them some of the pictures you’ve selected as reminders of ‘evil’ that’s happened recently and talk about the kinds of ‘evil’ these represent.

3 Ask:

  • Why did these bad things happen?
  • Who was responsible?

4 Say that while we would probably never do some of the terrible things they’ve just looked at, all of us do sometimes do ‘evil’ things. Asking students for their ideas, make a list (on flip chart) of different ‘evil’ things they might do (eg bullying, telling lies, taking something which isn’t yours). Even though these aren’t big crimes, they are still small steps in the wrong direction and which often result in hurt for others.

Reflection

1 Dark

Comment that most of the evil and suffering in the world is caused by human beings. The Bible talks about the wrong things we do coming from within us. It’s our own fault! Christians believe that God created human beings with the ability to choose right from wrong: a lot of the time evil is caused by people who deliberately choose wrong.

2 Light

Christians believe that the power of evil has been overcome through the death of Jesus on the cross. If we do wrong things, God will forgive us when we say sorry to him, and will help us to do what’s right.

Response

1 Light a candle, placed so that people can see it. Then read out Jesus words, saying:

‘Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World.”’ John 9:5 (NIV)

2 Ask students to consider:

  • Have you contributed towards evil in any ways?
  • What good have you done recently?

3 Invite students, if they wish, to take a moment as everyone is quiet to ask God to forgive them for wrong things they’ve done and to find ways of bringing some ‘light’ into others’ lives today.

4 Conclude by reading John 1:4,5, explaining that these are some words from the Bible about Jesus.

Note: Check that the school’s Health and Safety rules will allow you to light a candle during assembly.

 

 

Get Ready – Advent

Bible base

Matthew 2:1–12

Aim

To encourage students to think about why we celebrate Christmas.

Things you’ll need

  • 2 boxes.
  • Sheets of Christmas wrapping paper, pre-cut if necessary, ready to wrap the boxes.
  • 2 rolls of sticky tape.
  • 8 envelopes.
  • 8 cards.
  • 2 address lists (4 addresses on each).
  • 8 mince pies.
  • 2 sets of words of a carol.
  • 4 Christmas chocolates as prizes.
  • 3 more boxes, one wrapped in gold and the two others in plain colours, labelled with large letters: ‘gold’, ‘frankincense’ and ‘myrrh’.

Preparation

• Before the assembly begins, set up a table with all the items necessary in place for the team game. As far as possible, make sure that the table is arranged so that the audience can see the teams’ efforts.

• Place the three gifts of the ‘Wise Men’ separately to avoid them getting spoilt in the team game. These could be put on view to act as a focus through the assembly.

Presentation

1 Start by talking about getting ready for Christmas and students’ preparations. Ask for eight volunteers to take part in team game.

Note: check for food allergies.

2 Have two teams of four people in each. Explain that both teams have to complete four activities to do with getting ready for Christmas. The activities are:

  • Wrap up a ‘gift’.
  • Write four cards and put each in its envelope which must be addressed.
  • Eat four mince pies.
  • Sing a carol.

Involve the audience by having one half supporting Team A and the others supporting Team B. Give prizes to the winning team and encourage applause for all the volunteers.

3 When everyone is quiet again, comment that this time of year coming up to Christmas is called Advent. It’s the time when Christians get ready for Christmas – not just wrapping presents and writing cards – but by thinking about the reason for Christmas.

If appropriate to your audience, ask them what they think are reasons for Christmas (eg presents, parties etc). Say that, really, it’s a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

4 Talk about the story of the Wise Men. Ask the students if they can remember what gifts they brought to Jesus. Explain that each of their gifts tell us something about who Jesus is and what he had come to do.

5 Now, show the audience each of your ready-prepared, labelled gifts.

Gold

Say that gold was thought of as a gift for a king. Christians believe that Jesus is a King – God’s Son – and his special gift to us.

Frankincense

Explain that this was a substance with a strong smell which was used by priests, like incense. A priest was someone who talked to God on behalf of the people. Christians believe that Jesus, a bit like a priest, came to help us know God and show us what he is like.

Myrrh

Myrrh was a substance that was used to cover bodies before they were buried. Explain that Christians believe that this gift reminds us about Jesus’ death for us – so that we could be put right with God.

Reflection

Encourage the students, as they get ready for Christmas this year, to take some time to think about these questions:

  • Where is Jesus in your Christmas?
  • How could you and your family include him in the festivities which started because of his birth?

Response

In a time of quiet, encourage students to pray, or lead with a short prayer yourself, using this or similar outline:

  • Thanks for Christmas and fun: What do they especially enjoy about Christmas?
  • Thanks for Jesus: Ask them to think about the three gifts of the Wise Men and what those tell us about Jesus. Give thanks for his coming to earth for us.
  • Ask God’s help to remember Jesus this Christmas.

Note: Check first with school that it is OK for you to offer mince pies to students and that this isn’t a problem regarding possible food allergies.