- To help pupils think about the meaning of sacrifice.
- To challenge them about their priorities.
Things you’ll need
- 1 or 2 large boxes
- A bar of chocolate
- Some of your own favourite possessions to show the pupils
- Matthew 4:18-22
- Matthew 9:9
- Matthew 19:16-22
1 Put the bar of chocolate on show. Ask for a volunteer who likes chocolate. Ask him/her to hold the boxes whilst looking at the chocolate. Say that he/she mustn’t put them down until you tell them to – but they will get to eat the chocolate eventually!
2 Ask the rest of the pupils to think about what their favourite thing is (eg a game, a book, a video etc). Show them some of your favourite things which you have brought to the assembly. Explain why you like them. Talk about how you would feel if you had to give them all away. Check that your volunteer is still holding the boxes, whilst looking at the chocolate.
3 Now explain the idea of sacrifice. Start by talking about how people sometimes give things away to other people for a reason. In the Bible, people sometimes gave things away because God told them to. This is called ‘a sacrifice’. People gave things away as a sacrifice for two reasons:
• First, to give God the best they had, to show how much they loved him. Often their most precious possession would be an animal. The animal would be cooked and eaten and special prayers would be said – to praise God, to say sorry or ‘thank you’ to him.
Pause here and turn to the person who is still holding the boxes for you. Make sure they understand that they must not put the boxes down. Then talk about the bar of chocolate and tell them to eat it. When they don’t do as they are told, ask everyone what the person needs to do in order to be able to eat the chocolate. (Answer: put the boxes down.) Tell your volunteer to put the boxes down now so that he/she can eat the chocolate.
• Second, God also told people to make sacrifices to help them remember what was important. Sometimes we get so worried about our favourite possessions that we forget about God, or other people. The volunteer had to get rid of the boxes before he/she could eat the chocolate – which had become the priority.
4 Emphasise that God doesn’t just tell us to get rid of everything for the sake of it. We might make sacrifices for the two reasons above. But sacrifice might mean giving away more than just a ‘thing’.
5 Briefly tell the pupils how in the Bible we read about Jesus calling Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew to follow him and how they left everything for Jesus. They sacrificed everything so that they could follow him, because they realised that that was more important than anything else in their lives. Tell how Jesus also met the rich young ruler who didn’t want to sacrifice his money for Jesus, so didn’t follow him.
A Christian viewpoint
The Bible teaches that Christians need to be ready to make sacrifices. God wants them to put him first, to give him the best they have –which isn’t just objects, but themselves! That means they must obey him at all times. God also wants Christians to be prepared to sacrifice ‘things’ to show that they are not what is most important in their lives but rather that God is.
Whoever we are, we might need to make sacrifices. We might need to be prepared to give things away to help us remember God, or to help us stop worrying about ourselves and care for other people more. For example, we might need to be prepared to lend a game to a friend, or spend less time on our computer and more time helping our mum or dad.
Ask the children to think about what is the most important thing in their lives. Then, keep that thing in mind as you say this prayer:
Dear Lord, help us to be prepared to make sacrifices, to be ready to let things go so that we can put others first instead of ourselves. Amen.