Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A talk for Advent

For KS1/2. You will need a rope for the timeline, pegs and 5 pieces of paper which say on them: Abraham and Sarah, Prophets, John the Baptist, Mary and Jesus, Second coming. Also, if you are able to do so, a way of showing John Lewis advert of boy waiting. 

What do we wait for?

-          Birthday
-          bus
-          holidays
-          birth of baby brother or sister
-          Christmas

How do we wait for Christmas?
-          Advent calendar
-          Buy presents
-          Decorating
-          Cards
-          Special meals
-          Carol services

Christians use Advent as a time to remember that we are waiting.
-          Not just waiting for Christmas when we remember Jesus was born
-          But waiting for another event

Set up timeline

Long before Castles and the Romans (but not before the dinosaurs)

1.      God gave a promise. He said to Abraham that he would become the father of God’s special people. He told him that from you will come someone who will be God’s ruler. He will rescue us from sin and death. He will help us live by God’s rules and make everything right, fair, good.

The problem was that the people forgot the promise. They ignored God. They grew lazy.

2.      So God sent the prophets. And the prophets said. Don’t forget the promise. Don’t ignore God. Don’t get lazy

3.      God sent John the Baptist. He was the last of the prophets. And he told people that the promise was about to come true. So he said to people: WAKE UP. Get ready. Remember the promise. Serve and obey God. Say sorry

4.      Mary: the mother of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus was the ruler who the promise was all about. He is God’s ruler. He defeated sin He destroyed death. He helps those who wish to live by God’s rules.

5.      And one day Christians believe that Jesus will return. Not as a baby, but as God’s King. And then he will make everything good, right and fair.

So we wait. And we call this time of year: Advent. Advent comes from the Latin ‘Adventus’, and means ‘coming’. We wait for the time when Jesus will come a second time.

How do you think Christians might get ready for when they believe Jesus will come again?

·         Pray
·         Remember promises
·         Not ignore God

·         See if we have grown lazy 

Monday, March 21, 2016

The power of words to pierce or to heal

Ask children to squeeze out some toothpaste onto a kitchen towel. Ask them to put it back in. They can't!

It is the same with words.
Once they have been said, they cannot be put back.

Words are really important.
There is the old saying, 'Sticks and stones can break my bones but words they cannot hurt me'.
Who thinks that is true?

As someone said, a scar on your heart hurts more than a scar on your wrist.

Or, in the words of Proverbs 12.18, 'Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing'.

So we need to be careful with words, particularly if we are good or quick with words.

It is very easy
- to make a joke about someone
- to call them a name
- to spread a rumour about somebody
- to bad mouth, threaten, humiliate

It is as if the other person is this, and we do this:
hold a piece of paper, and then in silence tear it up into shreds

Touch your tongue! James in the bible tells us that the tongue is like a spark. It is very small, but it can set a forest on fire.

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing 

To bring healing, we need to learn to 'speak the truth in love'.
That doesn't mean we cannot challenge. Sometimes if we love someone, and if we want to build them up, we need to challenge them: to say 'you could do better'. I'm sure it is what many of your teachers say to you!
But it is so important to speak words that build up rather than tear down: like thank you, you're good at that, well done, I like the way you did that, you are a star!

Be careful with your words.
My granny gave me two pieces of advice.
1. If you haven't got anything good to say about someone, don't say anything.
2. Count to 10 before you speak, especially if you are angry or hurting.
And that is just as true before you post something on facebook, instagram or upload a video to youtube.

Because once it is out, you cannot put it back in.
Once words are said, they can only be forgiven.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

One direction. The problem when we want to go our own way.

An assembly based on Philippians 2.3
(you do not need anything, although it might be helpful to have a power point/image of Philippians 2.3)

Invite about 7 of the older children to come to the front. Ask them to hold hands and form a line. Tell them that they must not let go of the next persons hand. 

Tell the school that you are going to do an experiment. You are going to ask 4 of the children at the front to walk in one direction and three to walk in the other direction. Ask them what will happen. Will the 4 drag the 3, or will the chain break? Where do you think the chain will break?

Usually, when this happens, the chain does break. 

In the bible there is a letter written by Paul. He mentions two women: Euodia and Syntyche. They want to go in opposite directions, and that other people had to decide whether they were with Euodia or Syntyche.

And when that happens:
1. There is a split. And splits multiply. Everybody ends up doing their own thing. There is a telling line in the book of Judges: 'In those days there was no king in Israel and everybody did what they wanted'
2. Splits are painful. Ask the child where the split occurred whether that was true. Did it hurt a bit?
3. It gets lonely
4. You are not as strong on your own
Invite the children to join hands again, but this time tell them to all go in one direction apart from one at the end. They are dragged along by the others 

It is so much better if you pull in one direction. That is true if you are a boy band, a business, a team, class, house, school, family or group of friends. 
Paul in the same letter gives some great advice: 'Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others'.

There is an old story told by the monks. There are two men carrying a long plank of wood. They need to go through a door. The problem is that the man at one end is not prepared to let the man at the other end go first. Why should he? But the man at the other end is not prepared to let the other man go first. Why should he? 
That door is the door to heaven, and because of their pride, ambition and conceit they can never go through. 
What it needs to get through the door is for one of them to humble himself and say to the other, 'It's OK. You can go first'.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Who is the greatest?

An assembly based on Mark 9.33-37​
(You will need a crown, T-towel, and something that can serve as a set of steps)

Who has arguments? What do you argue about?

12 followers of Jesus were walking on the road. They were having an argument. Jesus asks them: What are you arguing about? 

They are a bit embarrassed because they are arguing about which of them was the greatest.

I'm greatest because my daddy is more important than your daddy
I'm greatest because I'm biggest, strongest, prettiest, best at reading, fastest. I've got more friends.
Better behaved than you; cooler than you. My X box is better than your X box. My minecraft world has more treasure places than yours.
I go to Westgate school - best school in the world.
I'm year 6.

[Have something that can act as steps - and invite children to stand on different steps. We want to be on the top step. Place a crown on the child at the top].

Why do we want to be the greatest?
We think that people will notice us, they will think we are special or important. 

Jesus said, 'I'll tell you what the greatest people are like'
They are people who are not trying to go up the steps. They are willing to come down the steps and serve others.

They are the people who help tidy up at the end of the day (not in the 'look at me everybody: I'm staying behind to tidy up' kind of way, but in a quiet, unassuming way), who speak to new child or person who nobody else talks to. They are the Yr 6 child who helps someone in Yr 1.

Jesus says that the greatest is the person who welcomes the person who everybody else thinks is the least significant

Symbol of greatness: not a crown but a T-towel. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lifting people up

Bring a child out to the front and push them down to the ground (agree this with them before the assembly!)

It is very easy to push someone down, especially if you are bigger and stronger than them.
It makes us feel big.
And when people are down we can ignore them, or laugh at them.

The image that we see comes from Ravenna in North Italy. It is a mosaic, one of the earliest known illustrations of the life of Jesus, probably about 1600 years old. This image tells the story of a woman who was crushed because she was sick. It was one of those sicknesses which made everyone avoid her. She was also poor, because she had spent all her money on doctors who had said they would heal her, but did nothing. And she was like dirt. Perhaps people didn't even see her. The man in orange on the right is urging Jesus (he is the one with the halo) to move on, to ignore this woman.

But Jesus stops. He bends down to pick up the woman. He talks with her. He tells her that she is healed and that she is a precious daughter of God (You can read the story in Luke 8.40-48). He lifts her up.

That is what he came to do. It is what we remember at this Christmas time. He came down from heaven, became one of us, was even crucified, in order to lift us up so that we can become sons and daughters of God.
(You could have another child step down off a chair and lift up the child you pushed to the ground earlier)

So perhaps we need to be in the business of lifting people up
Slide 2: ballet dancers
Slide 3: Rugby players

We can lift people up by noticing them when they are crushed, by saying something encouraging, by letting them go first, by giving.

Slide 4: shows another of these mosaics from Ravenna. It is of another woman, but this time standing tall. And she is giving. Perhaps it is the same woman. She has been lifted up and so now she is able to lift up others.

We have seen some pretty awful things recently done in the name of God, but the bible says that true religion is about caring for orphans and widows in their need (slide 5). It is not about pushing people down so that we can make ourselves bigger. It is about lifting people up.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


​For Primary: You will need a box of chocolates.

Take two children to the back of the hall. One should be year 6 and the other year 1. Place a box of chocolates at the front, and tell them it is treasure. Ask them to race to it, and that the winner gets it. I am assuming that the bigger and stronger child gets to the treasure first (often the children are kind to each other and the bigger lets the younger win, but you need to tell them both beforehand that you do need the bigger and stronger child to win). 

She picks it up and says (ask her to repeat after you), 'I got here first. This is mine'. 
She gets everything and the smaller child gets nothing. 
Ask the other children if that is fair? When they all say, 'No', she then gives to the smaller child one of the sweets, but still keeps the rest for herself.

You could say that is a bit how it is like in our world. The bigger and stronger people get all the world's treasure and, if they are feeling good, they occasionally give one sweet to those who are not so big and strong - but they still keep the rest for themselves.

But then you introduce people to the King. 
The King says to the the older child (get the child acting out the role of King to say after you): 'That is not your treasure. I crafted it, left it there, and it is mine'.

Ask the children what the child should do.

Explain that the child could walk away with the sweets and pretend that the King does not exist. She might store them in a safe place, give some to her friends and to the people who do good to her. But when other people ask for some of the treasure, or try to take it, she fights them off. Her problem is that although she pretends that the King does not exist, there will always be something in her which is frightened that the King will come and get her.

Or she can realise that the treasure does belong to the King, say sorry for taking it for herself and offer it back to Him.
If she does that, she gets a surprise. The King says, 'You may keep the treasure. But remember it is not yours. It is my gift, not just to you, but for everyone.'

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The story of the woman who gave everything

Based on Mark 12.41-44

Two people with smarties. One gives 5 smarties. One person gives 10 smarties. Who gives the most?

Now I'm going to give you a little more information. The person who gave 10 smarties had 10 packs of smarties. The person who gave 5 smarties only had 5 smarties. Who gave more?

Perhaps we would still say the person who gave 10 smarties, but they still had loads of smarties left over for themselves.
But I think that it was the person who gave 5 smarties - because they gave everything that they had.

Jesus was sitting at the entrance to the temple. He watched people put their money in the glass box. Many people put in large sums of money. £10. £100. £10000. WOW WOW WOW.  Look how much they are giving. They are such generous people.
A woman came in. She was very poor. She put in £1. Nobody said wow. In fact nobody noticed. Nobody except Jesus.

And Jesus called his friends together. They were still looking at the WOW person who had given £10000. Did you see that? He is amazing. Jesus said, 'Not really'. He is very very rich and it cost him nothing to give that amount of  money. He has got 100s of 1000s of pounds left. But that woman, who put in £1. That was all she had to live on for the rest of this week. She gave everything that she had.

It was only £1. Nobody noticed. But God noticed. And God said WOW

In a church in a town in Italy there are some of the earliest known illustrations of scenes from the life of Jesus. This picture shows this scene

Jesus is in the middle on the right. One of his friends is on the right. He is praying. And Jesus is blessing the woman who is giving. I have always thought of this widow as someone who was stooped and bowed. But here she stands upright with an immense dignity.

When we give, not to be noticed, and when we give - and I mean really give: you put all your weeks pocket money into a collection - nobody else will notice because it is not much. But you know. And although other people think that you are very little and insignificant, inside you can know that you are really big and tall.
And best of all, Jesus notices, and he says WOW