Message for Mary – Christmas

Bible base:

Luke 1:26-38

Teaching objectives:

To show that Christians believe God can have surprising things to say to anyone, not just important people.

You will need:

• Twenty-one cards with the following options written on them: Mary, Bob, Joseph; In her teens, In her twenties, In her thirties; In Jerusalem, in London, In a tiny village; The king, An angel, A ghost; God, The king, Another angel; You will be a famous singer, You will marry the king, You will have a baby, The baby would be God’s Son Jesus, The baby would be a great leader, The baby would be King forever.

Introductory activity:

Run the following multiple-choice quiz either with the whole assembly or with a few volunteers at the front. (The correct answer is in capitals.)

1. How long did the 100 years war last?

a) 100 years

b) 200 years

c) 116 YEARS

2. What is a camelhair brush made of?

a) Human hair

b) Camel hair

c) SQUIRREL FUR

3. What creature are the Canary Islands named after?

a) DOGS (from Latin)

b) Canaries

c) Goldfish

4. What was King George VI’s first name?

a) Gerald

b) ALBERT

c) George

5. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

a) China

b) NEW ZEALAND

c) Malaysia

Find out how highly the pupils have scored. There were a lot of surprises in that quiz. Today’s story involves quite a few surprises too.

Include the following paragraph if you are doing this assembly following on from ‘A message for Zechariah’:

Do you remember what Zechariah and Elizabeth, the old couple in the last assembly, were praying for? They really wanted a child, and God eventually answered their prayers when an angel came to tell them that they would have a very special son, who would prepare the way for God’s Son. The young girl in today’s story was definitely not praying for a child! She was surprised by what God chose to say to her.

We are going to build up a picture of what this person was like and then together work out the story of what happened to her.

Choose three volunteers to come to the front and help you to hold up cards that will tell the story.

Firstly, we need to find out what this mystery person’s name was.

Give each of the three pupils one of the following three names to hold up: Mary, Bob, Joseph.

Pupils should vote for which one they think the right answer is. Explain that you have already given them a clue! (i.e. you referred to ‘her’)

Tell them the correct answer and display the name ‘Mary’ at the front of the assembly hall.

Follow a similar pattern for the following facts. The correct answer is underlined in each case:

What age was she? In her teens; in her twenties; in her thirties

Where did she live? In Jerusalem; in London; in a tiny village

Mary was not an important person – probably no one outside her village even knew she existed! So, you can imagine her surprise when someone quite unexpected appeared to her one day! Who do you think it was?

Give them the following three choices: the king; an angel; a ghost

When they have guessed, tell them the correct answer and display it at the front.

What a surprise! Mary was very worried when an angel appeared before her! But the angel reassured Mary and told her not to be afraid. He said that someone more important and amazing than him was very pleased with her and wanted to give her a message. Who do you think this was?

Give them the following three choices: God, the king, another angel

When they have guessed, tell them the correct answer and display it at the front.

Mary was not expecting a message from God! She probably didn’t think that a young girl like her living in a little village was important enough for God to speak to. But God knew all about her and had a special job that only she could do.

So, what was the message? It seems quite ordinary at first, but actually it might be the most amazing message that anyone has ever received. Can you guess – or do you know – what that message was?

Give them the following three choices:

  1. You will be a famous singer
  2. You will marry the king
  3. You will have a baby

When they have guessed, tell them the correct answer and display it at the front.

Mary was going to have a baby! But this would be no ordinary baby – He was someone very special indeed. You may have guessed already who it was:

Give them the following three choices:

The baby would be God’s Son, Jesus

The baby would be a great leader

The baby would be king forever.

This was a trick – all three are right! Mary’s baby was Jesus, God’s own son. But the angel also said that because Jesus was God’s son, he would lead the people and would be king forever.

Mary was just an ordinary young girl when God asked her to do a very important task for him. Mary said yes because she trusted God and wanted to do what he said.

The Bible says that no one is too ordinary or unimportant for God to be interested in them. Christians believe he has things that he wants to tell each person and things that he wants only them do.

Optional prayer time:

Say thank you that God knows everything about each person’s life. He is interested in them, no matter how unimportant they feel.

 

 

 

Woman with perfume – what did Mary think?

Bible base:

Luke 7:36-50

Teaching objectives:

To show that the Bible says that Jesus does not judge by appearances but accepts anyone who genuinely comes to him because they love him.

You will need:

  • The following objects wrapped up separately to look like gifts:
  1. A bar of chocolate
  2. A large box with some rubbish in it
  3. A sweet
  • A piece of wrapping paper with a £5 note inside, scrunched up into a ball.
  • Two acetates or posters with the words, ‘What did Mary think?’ and ‘What do you think?’
  • Another large cardboard box covered in expensive-looking paper
  • A small matchbox with two pieces of paper inside saying: ‘Mary wept at Jesus’ feet’, ‘Mary poured perfume at Jesus’ feet’
  • The following phrases written on separate pieces of card: ‘Simon invited Jesus for dinner’, ‘Simon was religious’, ‘Simon did good things’, ‘Simon was well-liked’

Introductory activity:

Choose a volunteer to come to the front and show them the three parcels and the piece of wrapping paper. You may wish to say that they are presents left over from your birthday or from Christmas if doing the assembly in January.

Explain that they can have one of the four items. Allow them to pick them up and rattle or squeeze them, but not open them. As they are doing that, ask the rest of the assembly which one they would choose. Ask the volunteer for their decision.

When they have opened their chosen present, reveal the contents of the other three (if they have not picked the bar of chocolate, it might be nice to give it to them at the end to thank them for their help, if the head teacher agrees).

Most of us judged these presents by their appearance. Not many people would choose an old piece of paper instead of the big box or a bar of chocolate, but actually, it was not what it seemed on the outside. It was actually something special.

Today’s story in the Bible is about someone who did not seem very special, but who had something very special to offer to Jesus. In today’s story, Jesus met two people.

The first person he met was called Simon, and he was very rich and important.

Show the pupils the large expensive –looking box.

Let’s imagine that this box represents all the good things Simon has ever done. Clearly he was quite a good person!

Start to stick the cards about Simon on the box while you explain what sort of a person he was.

Simon was a religious man. He was a Pharisee, which meant that he was quite an important person. He had invited Jesus for dinner. He did good things and was well-liked by the people. Sounds like a pretty good guy!

However, while Jesus was at his house for dinner, someone else arrived. The Bible isn’t clear about what her name was, but some people think she was called Mary, so that’s what we will call her.

Show the matchbox to the assembly.

Let’s imagine that the matchbox represents all the good things Mary has done. It doesn’t look very impressive!

People described her as a ‘sinful woman’, meaning that she did a lot of things that were wrong.

She couldn’t offer Jesus a nice meal. People didn’t think she was a very nice person.

But Mary did offer Jesus something very special.

Open the matchbox. Take out and read the two pieces of paper inside (“Mary wept at Jesus’ feet’, ‘Mary poured perfume at Jesus’ feet’).

That sounds a bit strange to us, but in those days it would have been a sign of great respect and love, and would have been a welcome treat for hot, tired feet!

When Simon saw what was happening, he was very surprised. “If Jesus were really sent from God, he would know what sort of a woman this is and he wouldn’t let her touch him,” thought Simon.

Jesus, however, did not tell the woman to go away. It did not seem like she had much to offer, but Jesus did not just look on the outside. He was interested in what was really in a person’s heart. He knew that Mary was weeping and pouring perfume on his feet because she loved him. He showed that he loved her by accepting her gift.

Display the acetate or poster, ‘What did Mary think?’

Mary thought that Jesus was someone special, and although she didn’t have much to offer, she wanted Jesus to know she loved him.

Display the acetate or poster, ‘What do you think?’

What would have thought if you had been there? Would you have thought that what Mary did was strange?

Optional prayer time:

Give thanks that Jesus does not judge by appearances, but came to earth to show his love to all people.

Mary and Martha

Bible base:

Luke 10:38-42

Teaching objectives:

To show that Christians believe Jesus wants us to get to know him better and wants us to be his friend. The Bible says that this is more important than anything else.

You will need:

  • In advance, put together a pop quiz based on current songs being listened to by primary school children. You can find this out from any pop music magazine, listening to the charts, on the Internet at www.bbc.co.uk/totp, or by looking at the most recent pop compilation CD. Either play a snippet of a song and ask the children to name the title and the band, or give the pupils the name of a band and ask them to name their current hit. Be sure to check titles and lyrics carefully in advance for swearing and appropriateness!
  • Acetates or posters of the words ‘What did his friends think?’ and ‘What do you think?’

Introductory activity:

Conduct your pop quiz.

How do they know the answers to this quiz? They listen to music. Why do they listen to music? Because they like it and they think it’s worth it.

Optional extra activity: invite about eight pupils to come to the front, divide them into two teams and put them at either side of a line in the centre of the assembly hall. Give each team a supply of paper balls made out of newpaper and allow them one minute to throw as many as they can into the other team’s area. They can pick up balls thrown by the opposition and fire them back over the line. Encourage the rest of the assembly to cheer for their side.

Make the point that they were all very busy for a minute, but the best way of winning would have been to save the newspaper balls at their own side until a couple of seconds before the end. Then they wouldn’t have been so busy and would also have achieved a better result.

Display the acetate or poster, ‘What did his friends think?’

Today’s story is about someone called Mary. Mary may have liked listening to music too, but there was something the Bible says she really enjoyed doing, and that was listening to Jesus. He told fantastic stories and was always interested in people.

When you hear the name ‘Mary’, be very quiet and put your finger to your lips.

Mary had a sister called Martha, and while Martha enjoyed listening to Jesus too, she thought it was really important to make nice food for him and offer him a comfortable home to visit. Sometimes she was so busy doing this that she didn’t have time to stop and listen to Jesus.

When you hear the name ‘Martha’, we are all going to do different things, because she was so busy!

Divide the assembly into four.

  • Group 1: mime cooking
  • Group 2: mime cleaning
  • Group 3: mime setting the table
  • Group 4: mime washing up

On the occasion we are thinking about today, Jesus had gone to visit his two friends, Mary and Martha. As usual, they were both delighted to see him, and Mary sat down at his feet to listen to the stories of where he had been and what he had been doing. Martha was delighted to see him too, but she was worried about what the house looked like and what they would eat for their dinner, and so while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, Martha rushed around, cooking and cleaning and setting the table and washing the dishes. Martha was exhausted!

Eventually, Martha went to Jesus and complained.

‘Jesus,’ she moaned, ‘don’t you think it’s unfair that I’m doing all the work while Mary sits and does nothing to help me?’

But Jesus spoke gently to Martha, who was still thinking about all the things she had to do, and told her that actually, Mary had got it right. Mary was doing the most important thing – listening to him – and that was really how to please him.

Tell the pupils that you have finished the story, so they should stop doing the actions when they hear ‘Martha’ or ‘Mary’.

What did Jesus’ friends think? They both wanted to please him, but Martha had got the wrong idea. She was worried about lots of unimportant things, like how the house looked and making him the best meal ever, whereas Mary had chosen to do something much more valuable: she was listening to what he said.

Display the acetate or poster, ‘What do you think?’

What would you have thought if you had been there? Would you have been like Martha, too busy doing other things to spend time with Jesus, or would you have been like Mary, eager to hear all that he had to say?

Christians believe that the most important thing for anyone to do is to get to know Jesus better by reading the Bible and praying, but sometimes people are too busy doing other things.

Optional prayer time:

Give thanks that Jesus is more interested in us than in what we do. Pray that each of us might get to know him better.