Tuesday, 16 November 2010

What's Christmas about?

It's that time of year again. Out come the nativity play costumes. Who's going to be Mary? What new slant can we take on the story this time...?

I can't answer those questions, but I recently did a staff training session at my local school on the meaning of the Christmas story to Christians. It is easy to find that the Christmas story becomes stale and trivialised, no more than a nice story to give us a bit of sparkle in the darkness of winter. But what did it mean to those who first told it (or rather "them, since there are two distinctly different stories in Matthew and Luke's Gospel - and none in Mark or John). And what does it mean to the grown-up Christians who cherish it still.

I produced a handout to go with the session I led - if it is any use to you, please use it.
It's called "Beyond the tea towels and the tinsel", and that is where I hope it will take us.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

“You are the body of Christ” 1 Cor 13

N.B. This assembly is about the whole body working together. Be aware of the fact that some children in your assembly might have disabilities. Parts of their bodies might not work, or not work well. Be sensitive in the way you talk about what the body can do.

Song – I’ve got a body.

There was once a group of people who all wanted to live the way Jesus had taught them. They were Christians, some of the very first Christians, and they lived in a city called Corinth, in Greece. They had learned about Jesus because St Paul had travelled to Corinth and told them about him. They liked hearing stories about Jesus and they had each decided that they wanted to be Christians, so they came together to be one of the very first Christian churches – there wasn’t a building, but they all got together in each others homes, to eat together, pray together and help each other.

But there was a problem. They were all different from each other. Some of them were rich; some of them were poor. Some of them were men; some of them were women. Some of them were old; some of them were young. Some of them were slaves, who had to do what their bosses told them; some of them were the bosses and had slaves under them. Some of them had grown up, like Jesus and Paul, in Jewish families, hearing the stories of the Jewish people – Moses and Abraham and Joseph – and worshipping in Jewish ways with Jewish prayers. Others had grown up worshipping Greek and Roman gods and hearing stories about them.

They all had different ideas about the right way to live and the right thing to do, and they all thought that their way was the only way.

So they were always arguing. They could only see the world from their point of view – they were right and everyone else was wrong. They couldn’t work together on anything, because there would always be arguments. Instead of being friends, they were turning into enemies.

The leaders of the church were worried. What could they do? So they wrote a letter to St Paul and told him about it.

St Paul thought and thought. What could he write that would help them. Then he had an idea.

And this is what he wrote – we still have the letter – it’s in the Bible.

“Think about your body”, he said. “It’s got all sorts of different parts. It’s got feet. Feet are good.”
What can you do with feet?
It’s got hands. Hands are good.
What can you do with hands?
It’s got eyes…
A nose…

Just imagine, said Paul – and this is a bit silly – that your body was just a foot on its own. You were just one big foot. What use would that be? You could hop to places, but you couldn’t see where you were going or do anything when you got there.
Or just imagine an eye on its own – you could see everything, but you couldn’t go anywhere.
Imagine you were just a hand, or just a nose – wouldn’t that be silly?
(The children did indeed think this was very silly – “but if you were just an eye you would be rolling around all over the place…” they said. I think we miss the fun of St Paul sometimes…)

All the bits of our body do different things, but they are all important,. It’s no good the hand saying to the foot “you’re not as important as me.” They are just different, doing different jobs. If one bit of our body hurts – if our foot hurts, say - we feel sad all over.

So, said Paul. In your church you are all like a big body working together – the body of Jesus. Some of you might be like the eyes – you are good at noticing people. You see when someone is upset. Some of you might be like the feet or the hands – you are good at going out and doing something to help the people that the eyes have noticed. You all need each other BECAUSE you are different. If you were all the same, you wouldn’t be able to do all the things you need to.”

Paul wrote all that down in a letter, and he sent it off to Corinth. And the next time the people in that church got together the leaders read out the letter. And I wonder what happened. We don’t know the answer to that, because we haven’t got the letter they wrote back, but I hope they all looked at each other and realised that it was silly to fight over who was best, and who was right. I hope that they saw that each of them was important in a different way.

It’s the same in school isn’t it? Miss Smith is good at being the head teacher. Mr Wooding is good at mending things in the school. The cooks are good at making the dinners. You are good at learning things. I like coming in and telling you stories. If everyone does what they are good at, the school works well – but just imagine, if everyone tried to do everyone else’s job. I don’t know how good Miss Smith is at mending things, or cooking dinners… I might like coming in to tell you stories, but I wouldn’t want Miss Smith’s job – I don’t think I would be very good at it.

I wonder what you are good at. I wonder what your job is in school.
If we all do our job, and value the jobs that others do, we will have a happy school.

Let’s think about that for a while in silence. What are you good at and how can you use that to help others?

Prayer: Lord, help us to do the jobs we have to do in school and to notice the things others do and be grateful for them.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Ruth and Naomi – New beginnings – making someone welcome

The Book of Ruth – Old Testament.

I wonder if you’ve ever moved home and gone to live somewhere else.
· Talk about moving (sensitivity needed: children can move house for all sorts of reasons – family breakdown etc.) It can be exciting, but also strange being a new place, having to make new friends. The story I’m going to tell you is about two people who have to move home. It comes from the Old Testament of the Bible.

There was once a woman called Naomi. Naomi came from Israel, but she and her husband had had to leave their home because there wasn’t any food where they lived. They went to a different country called Moab, far from their home. When they got there it was very strange, but they settled down and they had a family – two fine sons. Their sons grew up and married girls who came from that land.
But then a terrible thing happened to Naomi. First her husband got ill and died, then both of her sons died too. There she was, in a land far from her home, with no one to look after her. The only people she really knew were her sons’ wives, but it wasn’t fair to expect them to care for her as she got old. They would probably marry new husbands.
Naomi decided she had better go back to Israel, where she had come from. She’d been away for a long time, but there would surely be relatives there she could stay with. She told her son’s wives that she was going back and started to say goodbye. She hoped they would make a new life for themselves.

But one of them, Ruth, looked very sad at this. “I can’t let you go back to Israel on your own,” she said “I will come with you. Where you go, I will go. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.” And so she left all her family, her home, her friends, and she went with Naomi. It was a long journey, and when they got to the town Naomi had come from – Bethlehem – everything seemed very strange and foreign to her. Naomi hoped that someone from her family would invite them to stay, but no one did. What were they going to do? They needed to eat and they needed somewhere to live.

It was harvest time when they arrived. People were cutting the corn and bringing it in. In those days they didn’t have machines to cut the corn. It was all cut by hand using sharp knives. There was a custom that those who cut the corn shouldn’t cut right up to the edges of the field. If they missed a bit of corn here and there or dropped some, they should leave it. Then people who didn’t have any land of their own, who were poor, could come and pick it up and keep it for themselves. It was called gleaning. Naomi was too old to glean – all that bending down was too hard for her now. But Ruth went straight to the fields to see what she could gather. All day she worked in the hot sun, following the men who were cutting the corn. When dinner time came, and they all stopped, she kept going. While they were eating, the owner of the land, a rich man called Boaz came by to see how they were getting on.

He noticed the young woman working so hard. “Who is that?” he said. “That’s the woman who came from Moab with Naomi. She’s not one of us – she’s a foreigner – and the two of them are on their own here with no one to help them.” Boaz looked at Ruth, working so hard, and he thought she must be very brave and good to have come so far so that Naomi wouldn’t be on her own.

“Make sure you leave her plenty of corn to gather” he told the men, “and make sure you are kind to her and treat her well.”

Day after day Ruth gleaned in the fields, and Boaz watched her. Ruth told Naomi about the man who had been kind to her. Naomi was very happy to hear it because she knew that Boaz was a distant relative of hers as well as being a good man.
After a while Boaz realised that he couldn’t find a better person to marry than Ruth – someone who had shown how loyal and loving she was by the way she looked after Naomi. He and Ruth got married, and they had a son, called Obed.
And the Bible tells us that Obed had a son called Jesse, and Jesse had a son called David. I told you a story about David about a month ago. He was a shepherd boy but he became….(can you remember?)…the king of Israel.
Wasn’t it a good thing that Boaz welcomed Ruth and looked after her. Someone who was a stranger from a foreign land turned out to be really important.

Being somewhere new, or having someone new come to our class, can seem strange sometimes – we don’t like things to change – but we never know what is going to happen. A stranger can turn into a best friend, or teach us something important, or help us in some way. That’s a really good reason to make sure we make new people feel welcome. I

Pray: for all the people who have come new to Seal School this term. For all the new friends we’ve made.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

St Michael – KS 1& 2 - Friends in high places - Being Brave - Seal Theme New beginnings - Autumn

Revelation 12.7-9

Yesterday was a special day for Christians. It was St Michael's Day. Some people call it Michaelmas (if you can lay your hands on some Michaelmas daisies you could show them.)

To understand the story of St Michael we need to think about one of these...
Show OHP picture of a dragon. (I managed to find one in Google images which was scary enough, without being absolutely terrifying!)

· What words can you think of to describe this dragon. (The children instantly said "scary")
Why are dragons scary? ( A wonderful child explained that "we are very small and they are very big and they might eat us!")
· Do you think it would be safe to get too close to him?

Dragons don't really exist, of course. They are made up, but people have often told stories about dragons as a way of thinking about things that are big and frightening.

In the Bible there is a story about a dragon.

A man called John was in trouble. A little while after the time of Jesus he had heard about him and decided to follow him. He became the leader of a church. It wasn’t like Seal church, a big stone building. It was just a small group of people getting together to pray and to try to live the way Jesus had taught them.

But it was a dangerous time to be a follower of Jesus. The Roman army ruled the land where John lived, and they didn’t like Jesus’ followers at all. They thought they were troublemakers. So one day soldiers came and arrested John. They didn’t put him in prison. Instead they sent him to an island, far out to sea, called Patmos, and they made him stay there. It was dry and dusty on the island, and John was very unhappy. He was especially unhappy because he knew that his friends were back in the land he’d come from, and that they would be missing him and be unhappy without him. He wanted to get back to them, but he couldn’t. When he thought about the Romans, who were very powerful and who ruled almost all of the world he knew, he couldn’t imagine that things would ever get better. Who could ever defeat such a great power? Everyone was scared of them. No one was strong enough.

But then John had a dream. In his dream he heard God calling to him. I’m going to show you something, John – you just watch. I know things look terrible now, but they won’t always be like that.
And John looked. And he saw, in the heavens, a great big dragon. He knew it wasn’t a real thing, but it stood for all the bad things that were happening – all the sadness in the world.
And then he saw God, like a king. Kings in those days always had armies of soldiers, so of course God, the great king, had to have an army too. His army was made up of angels – great big strong angels. And at the head of this good army was the biggest, best angel of the lot – he was called the archangel Michael, the leader of the angels.
And as John watched Michael started to fight with the dragon. There was a great battle in his dreams. But in the end, who do you think won? That’s right – Michael and the angels won, and the dragon – all those sad, bad things – were defeated.

And John thought again about the sad and bad things that had happened to him – the soldiers coming, the people back at home who were worried about him – and he realised that God was looking after him and them too, and that in the end, the good things in the world would be stronger than the bad things, just like in the dream. He knew too, that he had God and his angels on his side to help him.

Show OHP picture of St Michael killing the dragon (again, Google images is your friend...)
· Look at the picture of Michael and the dragon.
· If you were in trouble, I wonder who you would look up to to help you? (teachers, parents, big brothers and sisters...)
· Sometimes we are the ones who can help, like Michael.
· Perhaps if you knew someone was feeling sad, or being bullied, you could help them.

Prayer . Silence to think of the times when we feel as if we might be facing a dragon. Thank you for the story of Michael and the dragon. Sometimes bad things happen or we feel sad. Help us to remember that you are with us, and help us to remember that sometimes we can be like Michael, the one who helps others too.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Samuel chooses David - SEAL theme: New Beginnings - Being brave - KS 1 & 2

1 Sam 16: 1-13

This is the first time I’ve seen you this year. I wonder what this year will be like?
· What are you looking forward to this year? (Gather responses)
· What do you think might be difficult this year? (Gather responses - these included a YR child who was scared that planes would fly over the school and drop bombs on him... which is a reminder of what might be going on in the imaginations of the children we teach. He said it rather quietly to me, so I just acknowledged it without repeating it to the rest of the school, and made sure I had a word with his teacher afterwards. )

I’m going to tell you a story from the Bible about someone who found he had a difficult job to do

The people of Israel had a king to rule over them. He was called Saul. But Saul wasn’t a very good king – he wasn’t ruling the country well. God saw what Saul was doing and he decided that there should be a new king to take over from him.

So God spoke to the prophet, Samuel and told him that he was going to choose a new king. “Saul won’t like that!” said Samuel – “he’ll be really angry”. (A prophet was someone who listened to God’s voice and told people what God was saying.) So God said to Samuel, “Go to the house of a man called Jesse in Bethlehem. Tell him that you have come to worship God with him and his family. Jesse has some sons, and I want one of them to be the new king.” In those days, they didn’t put crowns on the heads of their kings. Instead they anointed them on the head with special oil, so Samuel took some of the special oil with him and set off.

When he got to Bethlehem he soon found Jesse’s house. He didn’t tell him that he was looking for a new king, though. He just told him to call for his sons, so that they could all worship God together. Jesse was very puzzled, but he trusted Samuel, so he did what he asked. Now Jesse had a lot of sons, and Samuel wondered how he would know which one God had chosen to be king.
The first of the sons came into the place where he and Jesse were. He was a big, strong looking man. “This looks like a fine young man,” thought Samuel. “He’d make a wonderful king, surely?” But just as he was about to go forward and put the oil on his head he heard God’s voice. “No, this isn’t the one - you can’t judge what someone is like by what they look like on the inside. I judge them by what their hearts are like, whether they are good people who will do the right things.”
So Samuel stayed where he was. The second son came in. He was very strong and handsome too –“ is it this one?” No”, said God. The third came in. He looked as big and tough as the others. “This one?” he asked God, quietly, but the answer was still no. One by one seven of Jesse’s sons came before Samuel, but each time he heard God say that this wasn’t the one he wanted to choose.
After the seventh came in, Samuel waited, but no one else came. “Is this all your sons?” he asked Jesse. “Are they all here?” , Well, said Jesse, “there is one more, but you won’t want to see him. He is just a boy, not big and strong like these others. I didn’t bother sending for him. He looks after the sheep for me – he’s not grown up enough to do anything else yet.” “Well,” said, Samuel, “you’d better send for him, because God has told me that all your sons need to be here before we begin.”

So Jesse sent for the youngest. It took a while, but someone went to fetch him, and, eventually in he came, just a boy, not at all sure why he’d had to come home. “This is David, my youngest son, said Jesse” He came before Samuel, and stood there, looking puzzled. But God’s voice in Samuel’s head said, “This one! This is the one I have chosen.” And Samuel got up and took the oil which he had brought with him, that special oil that was only used for making someone a king, and he poured it all over David. And from that day onward David knew that God had chosen him for a very special job. It was a long time – not till he was grown up – that he actually became king, but he knew that this was what God wanted, and that God would help him to be a good king. And when he became king, he was a very great king indeed. Who would have thought it? David the shepherd boy, king of Israel.

· I wonder what it would be like suddenly to find out that you were going to be king, like David? (The children all thought, from the responses I got, that it would be rather frightening, and they wouldn’t want to do it! I half expected that some might think it would be fun, but no one did.)
· It might sound exciting to be a king but it was a very difficult job to do as well – Saul wasn’t going to like it. But David turned out to be a good king, because he remembered that God was with him.
· When we thought about the things that might happen this year, some of them seemed exciting and some of them seemed difficult. When we wonder if we will be able to manage to do them, we can remember, like David, that God is with us to help us.

Prayer –think of something you are looking forward to and something you might find difficult this year. (Could ask the children to hold out one hand for the first thing and one for the second.) “Help us to remember that you are with us all the time.”

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Just a rock (Secondary Assembly for Science Week)

This assembly was put together for Science Week at my husband's school (he is a Physics teacher). There was a geological theme running through the week.

The assembly, which was delivered by the students, was aimed at focussing the attention on something we often don't notice - the rocks that make up the earth.

A large rock - pinched from our rockery - was placed on a table at the front at the beginning of the assembly. The students then read the script here - while the powerpoint presentation played.
There was then some music (Mendelssohn: Fingal's Cave) as the slideshow cycled through again.
The assembly finished with a prayer.

Apart from the fact that there was a fire drill in the middle of it, I am told it went well! (In fact, if people still recalled it after all the drama and disruption at all I would count it a success...) So I post it here in case it is any use to anyone else.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Samaritan Woman at the well - SEAL theme Changes - KS1 & 2

Once Jesus and his disciples were travelling from Jerusalem, in the south of the land where they lived, to Galilee, in the north. But between the two there was another land, called Samaria. The people who lived there – Samaritans – didn’t get on with Jewish people like Jesus and his friends. They didn’t talk to each other at all if they could help it. they didn’t eat together. Sometimes people would walk for miles around the edge of Samaria, rather than have to go into it. But Jesus and his friends just walked right into Samaria.
It was a hot day, and they had come a long way. They were hungry and thirsty and tired. After a while they came to a well, just outside a village, where the village people came to collect water – they didn’t have water from taps like we do. There was no one there now, though, because it was the hottest part of the day. No one wanted to be carrying water in this heat.

The disciples looked at Jesus and they could see he was even more tired than they were. “You wait here,” they said, “and we’ll go and bring some food from the village for you.

So off they went, and left Jesus to rest. Jesus sat on the edge of the well, and looked down into it. He could see the water at the bottom of it, and he really wanted a drink, but he didn’t have a bucket or a jar, and the water was too far down for him to reach. What a shame! He was so thirsty.

But just then he realised that there was someone coming towards the well. It was a woman, on her own, carrying a water jug. Jesus was surprised. Normally all the women came together, early in the morning when it was cool. They liked to go together too – it was a chance to meet and talk as they fetched the water. But this woman was all on her own, trudging along the road. Maybe she had no friends. Maybe the other women didn’t like her for some reason, or were mean to her, so she preferred to come on her own when there was no one around, even if it meant coming out when it was baking hot?

But Jesus was glad to see her. “Hello,” he said, “I’m so glad you’ve come. Could you get me a drink of water from the well, please? I am so thirsty, and I don’t have a bucket.” The woman looked at him in surprise. Jewish people usually didn’t talk to Samaritans if they could help it, and men didn’t usually talk to women unless they were part of the family, but Jesus wanted her help.
She was so surprised that he was talking to her, so surprised that he was asking for her help, so surprised that he was being so friendly that she gave him the water and sat straight down to talk to him. They talked about all sorts of things – their ideas about God and their different customs. Jesus wanted to know what she thought – no one had ever wanted to know what she thought before.
After they had been talking for ages, though, Jesus managed to find out what it was that made her sad, why it was that she was alone at the well in the middle of the day. She’d been married five times, but each time her husband had gone off and left her. Now she lived with someone who wouldn’t marry her. Everyone in her village thought it must be her fault if things didn’t work out for her – there must be something wrong with her. No one wanted to be her friend.
But Jesus did, and she started to realise that it wasn’t her fault that everyone was mean to her after all – there was nothing wrong with her at all.

When Jesus’ disciples came back from the village they were surprised to see Jesus talking to the woman, but they didn’t say anything. She got up and went home, but she felt quite different. She had a friend, someone who had got to know her and like her. Normally she kept herself to herself in the village, but not this day. She rushed from door to door, telling her neighbours about Jesus. “Come and meet him yourself,” she said. “He’s my friend, but he can be your friend too.”

· I wonder what you thought about that story?
· Jesus changed the way that woman thought about herself. She thought she was no good, that no one could like her, but Jesus showed her that there was nothing wrong with her.
· Sometimes we might need to change the way we think about ourselves – might think we are no good at something – or maybe the opposite, that we know it all and don’t need to learn anything new.
· Prayer – that we can learn to see ourselves as we are, not as other people tell us we are.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Joshua and the stones for remembering - KS 1& 2 - SEAL theme Changes

Joshua Chapter 4
Need: A long piece of blue material. 12 “stones” (crumpled up newspaper wrapped in crepe paper), a paper “stone” – cut out shapes – for each child.

Once the people of Israel had to go on a long journey. Can anyone remember anything about the story of Moses? (Gather responses)
The people of Israel had been slaves in Egypt, having to do what the Egyptians told them. But then God sent Moses to rescue them. He led them out of Egypt, and told them that they were going to travel to live in a new land, a land where they could be free, where there would be good land to grow things on. But it was a long journey to get there, through a desert. All along the journey, though, God gave them food to eat and water to drink. It was hard and sometimes they were very fed up, but after many, many years, they finally made it to their new land. Moses had grown old and died by this time, but a new leader called Joshua was leading them.

They came to a river, the river Jordan. Produce blue material and lay it on the floor. On the other side of the river, they could see their new land. It looked wonderful. How were they going to cross it, though? They didn’t have a boat and there wasn’t a bridge. But Joshua asked God for help, and God told him what to do. Just walk into the water, and it will part, just like the sea did when Moses led the people out of Egypt. Pick up the end of the “water” as if it has parted. So that is what Joshua and the people did, and as soon as they stepped into the water, a path opened up through the middle of it – dry land for them to walk in.
They were there! They had arrived! Finally! At last! They were very happy. Now everything would change. No more travelling. No more worrying about where the next meal would come from or if they would be able to find water. They had come home!

They made their first camp in their new land, and they were very excited. Everyone was thinking about the future.

But no sooner had they made their camp than Joshua summoned them all together. He chose 12 people -one from each of the 12 families or tribes of Israel - and gave them a very strange instruction. Choose 12 children to help.

"I want you to go back into the river!" "Back into the river? Why ? We’ve just come out of the river! "
"Ah, but when you get to the middle of the river, I want you each to choose a big stone from the river bed and bring it back to the camp." Put “stones” in the “water”.

The 12 people did what they were told. They waded into the water – it didn’t part this time, so the water rushed all around them. But they each managed to find a big stone from the river bed, and they lugged it back to the bank. "Now build the twelve stones into a big pile," said Joshua. Get the children to retrieve a stone each and build into a cairn at the front of the hall.

So they did just that…

“But why are we doing this, Joshua?”

“You are doing this because this is the place where our long journey ended and we came to our new home. It would easy for us to be so excited about the future that we forget where we came from and who helped us get here. We might forget that we were once slaves, and that God set us free. We might forget that when we were hungry and thirst and frightened God fed us and made us feel better. We might forget what it feels like to be treated cruelly, as we were then, and we might treat other people unfairly too.
That’s why we have put these stones here, because our children will see them and ask – “what are those stones for?” – and then we will be able to tell them the story of our long journey and remember all that we have learnt as we made it.”

And, so the Bible says, the pile of stones stayed there for many years, and whenever the children asked their parents “what are those stones for?,” the parents told the story of how God had rescued them.

I am giving each of you a paper “stone” to take away. I expect some of you are excited about the future too – going to a new school or into a new class, or maybe you are looking forward to the holidays. It is easy for us to get so excited that we forget the good things that we have done, and the things we’ve learnt. So we need to remember them.
I wonder what you have done this year, or learnt this year that you want to remember?

Gather some suggestions.

You could write or draw that thing that you want to remember on your stone. If you give them to your teacher we will stick them all up somewhere to help us all remember what we have enjoyed this year – the things we don’t want to forget.

· Time of silence to think about what we would put on our stone.

· Prayer of thanks for all that we want to remember from this year.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The Wheat and the Weeds – KS 1 & 2 – SEAL theme Changes - Patience

The beginning of this assembly is rather specific to our school. It could simply begin with the comparison of grasses in para 3.The children who had grown the sweet peas were very glad, however, that I had noticed their efforts.

Every time I have come into school for the last month or so I have noticed the pots growing on the decking by the entrance. One of the classes has been growing some plants there. I love gardening, and I sort of recognise the plants there. I can see that they are something in the “pea” family, from the shape of the leaves and the tendrils on the plant. But I don’t know if they are sweet peas (show OHP picture), which we grow because they have got beautiful flowers that smell nice, or whether they are the kind of peas you can eat for your dinner (Show some edible pea plant shoots from home – they look the same). It’s important to know the difference, though because you can’t eat sweet peas – they would upset your stomach if you did.

I’ve watched as they have grown bigger and bigger, and tried to guess, but there are only really two ways I can know for sure which they are. I expect the class that grew them could tell me, if I asked. But how else could I find out…? (Wait until they flower – if you are a gardener, like me, you can tell then, even though they still might look very similar.)
So, unless you tell me I will just have to wait.

Other plants come in “families” like the pea family – different sorts of the same plant family look different. Grass is like that. It just looks like a lot of thin green leaves, but when you see the seed heads, you suddenly realise that there are lots of different grasses. I collected some on the way to school –[show grass seed heads – I put them on the OHP, so the seed heads cast shadows onto the screen] You can see that they are all different – some are fat, some are thin, some look like trees, some are very floppy. But their leaves all look very much the same.

Jesus told a story about one sort of grass – wheat – which a farmer got his workers to sow in his fields. When they had scattered the seed all over the ground, all they could do was wait. They waited until the seed germinated and began to grow. They waited while it poked little shoots above the surface of the soil. It looked just like grass – that was what it was supposed to look like. They waited while it grew taller. They waited while it put out its seed heads.

But when it did that, the farm workers all got very worried. Because instead of all the seed heads looking like good wheat, which they could harvest and make into flour, mixed in with it were some very different sorts of grass, with different sorts of seeds, seeds which would be no good to eat at all. The field was full of weeds, all mixed in with the wheat.

They ran to the farmer. “We’re sure we sowed wheat – it’s not our fault that the weeds have grown there. Perhaps an enemy of yours came along and did this?” they said. But the farmer wasn’t worried. There were always some weeds in amongst the wheat – he didn’t think anyone had done this on purpose. “But what shall we do?” said the workers. “Should we pull up the weeds?” “No”, said the farmer. “If you do that you will probably just pull up the wheat as well.” We’ll wait until it is all ripe, then harvest the lot and sort out the wheat from the weeds then – otherwise we’ll do more harm than good.
So that’s what they did.

Jesus told that story to remind people how important it is to be patient, not to make decisions about people too quickly. Sometimes, if we meet someone new we might decide very quickly that we don’t like them. But if we had waited and got to know them better they might turn out to be a really good friend. The Y6’s going to new schools will meet lots of people when they change schools – it will be tempting to rush to decide who you like and who you don’t, but you’d do better to be patient and wait a bit.

Jesus also wanted us to remember that God is patient with us. We might do something bad, but God doesn’t just decide that we are bad people and stop loving us. He goes on and on loving us and trying to help us.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your patient love for us. Help us to be patient with each other and with ourselves, to wait and not to decide things too quickly.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Balaam’s Donkey – Telling the truth – Relationships - KS 1 & 2

This is a story from the Old Testament of the Bible, from the time of Moses.

Who can tell me anything about Moses?

The people of Israel had been slaves in Egypt a long way from their home for many years. But then Moses had led them out of Egypt, making the Egyptian king, the Pharaoh, let them go.

But to get home they had to go on a long journey across the desert. It was very difficult. They didn’t have anywhere to stay. They couldn’t grow their own crops to eat. They didn’t know where they would find water. But as they travelled, God helped them. He gave them food to eat and water to drink.

After years and years of travelling, they finally got near the land God had promised they could settle in. But to get there they had to go across land that belonged to another nation, and the king of that nation was very worried. “Look at all these Israelites!” he said. “What a crowd” Just imagine if they all decided to gang up on us. Just imagine if they decided to stop in our land and settle here. We’d have no chance against them. We’d be swamped! What can we do?”

Then he had an idea. “We can’t fight them – there are too many of them – but I could ask a magician to put a spell on them, to curse them and make them go away.” As it happened he knew of a magician – the best there was – a man called Balaam. “Send for Balaam,” he ordered. “Make him come and curse the Israelites.”

Off went his messengers to fetch Balaam. “You’ve got to come,” they said. “It’s the king’s orders! And he’ll pay you a lot of money!” But Balaam wasn’t sure. “Stay the night, and I will give you my answer in the morning.”

But that night, Balaam heard God talking to him. . “Don’t go” said God. “These Israelites are my people. I rescued them from Egypt, and I am going to give them their own land. If I have blessed them, there’s no point you trying to curse them. You can’t say they are bad when I have said they are good”.
But in the morning, when Balaam tried to tell the messengers that he wouldn’t go, they were having none of it. “You’ve got to come – the king says so – and anyway he will pay you any money you ask.” And Balaam thought to himself that perhaps he could just tell the king what the king wanted to hear, even if it wasn’t the truth, perhaps no one would realise that.

So Balaam set off to find the king and to curse the Israelites. There were no cars or buses or trains then, but Balaam had a donkey that he used to ride when he wanted to travel. So he saddled up the donkey and got on its back. They set off towards the place where the king was. For a while the donkey trotted along the path but then, all of a sudden, the donkey looked up and there, right in front of it was a huge, fierce looking angel. Balaam couldn’t see the angel, but the donkey could. The donkey wasn’t going anywhere near this great fierce thing. He veered off the path into the field next to it. Balaam got off the donkey and tried shouting at it, geeing it up, hitting it to make it go, but the donkey wouldn’t budge until the angel eventually vanished.

On they went, but they hadn’t got far before once again, there was the angel, standing right in the donkey’s path. This time the donkey couldn’t get off the path because there were walls on either side, so he just stopped still. “Come on donkey” said Balaam “get a move on!”. He hadn’t seen the angel. But the donkey wouldn’t move. He leaned against the wall, trying to hide, but all he managed to do was squash Balaam’s leg against the wall. Balaam was really cross, but there was nothing he could do. The donkey wouldn’t move until once again the angel disappeared.
The donkey went on a bit further, but then, there was the angel again. This time the donkey had had enough. It just sat down. Balaam was furious. He found a stick and started hitting the donkey. But the donkey just looked at him, and opened its mouth and spoke. Now, you don’t expect donkeys to talk to you, but this one did. “Balaam,” it said, “haven’t I always been a good donkey?” “Yes” said Balaam. “So,” said the donkey, “if I am disobeying you, don’t you think there might be a good reason…?” And just at that moment it was as if Balaam’s eyes were open for the first time. Suddenly he saw the angel too, barring the way.
The angel spoke. “Balaam, God told you not to come. You can’t put a bad spell on people he has blessed. You can’t say they are bad when God says they are good. That isn’t the truth. The donkey knew that, but you wouldn’t listen. Now, go to the king and tell him the truth, not what he wants to hear, but what is true.”
So Balaam realised his mistake and he went to the king, and told him the truth. He wouldn’t curse the Israelites, because they were God’s people. He wouldn’t pretend they were bad when they were actually good.

· In that story Balaam wanted to tell the king what he wanted to hear. It took a donkey to make him see that he couldn’t tell a lie. I wonder if you’ve ever said something that wasn’t true to someone. Perhaps you told them what they wanted to hear. Perhaps it was something you wanted to be true – you boasted about something you’d done or something you had – because you wanted to impress them. In the end though, this story tells us that it is always better to be honest, not to pretend, but to be yourself.

Let’s be silent for a bit so we can think about that story, and about how important it is to tell the truth. I’ll finish with a prayer.

· Prayer that God will help us to be truthful with ourselves, and with one another.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The woman healed on the Sabbath KS 1&2 (My relationships - Being pleased for someone else’s achievement)

Luke 13.10-17

Sing “If you’re happy and you know it” (or some other happy song)

That’s a really happy song..
I’m going to tell you about a woman who didn’t feel like singing at all. She was very unhappy because she was ill.
She had a disease in her back. Gradually she had got more and more bent over. Her back hurt, and she couldn’t stand up straight. When she walked along she couldn’t look ahead of her.
It made it very difficult to do ordinary things – just talking to people was hard. And she had been like that for eighteen years.

Every week, though, she went to the synagogue in her town to pray to God on Saturday, because that was the Sabbath day, the day when God had told her people that they should rest and worship. They weren’t to go to work on that day, or to school. It was just a day for resting, for gathering together to pray.
It was hard for her, because she couldn’t stand up straight to talk to her friends. When they sang joyful songs, she just felt sad.

One Sabbath day she went to the synagogue and found that there was a special visitor there, a preacher called Jesus. She had heard of Jesus. She knew he told good stories and was kind to people, always wanting to help them. She wished someone could help her, but she didn’t think he would notice her, and she didn’t like to make a fuss.

She listened to Jesus talking to everyone, telling them about God, and then suddenly he stopped. She wondered what had happened, but she couldn’t stand up straight to see. Then she heard a voice, “Woman, you are well again, you are healed”. She heard him moving through the crowd, and she wondered who he was talking to. Then, there he was, right in front of her. He touched her and told her again that she was healed, and gradually she started to straighten her back, till she was standing up straight and tall.

It was wonderful! She could see everything around her. She could see Jesus. She was so happy that she started to sing…

Begin to sing “If you’re happy and you know it”

But then the leader of the synagogue came rushing over. He was an important man. It was his job to make sure people behaved as they ought to in the synagogue. “What’s all this?” he demanded. “Don’t you know it is the Sabbath?” he said to Jesus. “Don’t you know you shouldn’t be working today? Healing people is work! You shouldn’t be doing it! It’s against the rules!”
The woman stopped singing. What was Jesus going to do?

“Look,” said Jesus. “This is a wonderful thing that has happened here. Never mind if it is the Sabbath. We should all be happy that this woman is better again. Surely God wants people to be well and happy – it can’t be wrong to heal people at any time.”

The leader of the synagogue couldn’t think of anything to say. Perhaps he was jealous of Jesus. Perhaps he just thought rules were more important than people. But he knew that Jesus was right, so he didn’t say anything.
But the woman, and all the crowd around her knew what they thought. They thought it was a wonderful day, because she was better again after so long, and no one was going to stop them from singing…

Sing “If you’re happy and you know it”

To think about: Sometimes it is hard to be happy when someone else does something really well or has something really good happen to them, especially if it someone we don’t get on with. Why do you think that is? (We might feel jealous or that it isn’t fair.)

Pray that God will help us to be as happy when something good happens to someone else as we would be if it happened to us.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Cleansing of the Temple – Holy Week – KS 1 & 2

In a minute I’m going to tell you a story from the Bible, but before I do, I’d like us to think for a bit about your school and all the things that happen in it.
It’s got lots of different rooms in it, for different things.
What happens in the hall?
What happens in Miss Smith’s office?
… the staffroom?
…your classroom? (classroom for learning, it is the children’s home base in school)

Just imagine one day if you came in to school and Badgers class discovered that Miss Smith had taken over their classroom, thrown out all their stuff and turned it into an office for herself because she decided she needed more space…
Badgers might ask her,”what are we going to do, where are we going to learn?”
“You’ll just have to find yourselves a space wherever you can! You could do your lessons out in the playground…”
“But it’s raining!”
“Well, you’ll all have to bring umbrellas then!”

What would you think if that happened?

I don’t think Miss Smith would ever really do that, but I want you to remember it as I tell you this story…

Jesus had come to Jerusalem.
A lot of people were very excited to see him. He had come into the city riding on a donkey, and that made people even more excited. They thought he was going to be a king. It might seem strange to us to think of a king riding on a donkey, but it didn’t to the Jewish people.
A great king from their history King Solomon, had come into the city when they began to rule riding on a donkey*. The prophets had promised that one day God would send the nation another king as great as Solomon. How would they know when he had arrived? He would come riding on a donkey.
So when Jesus came into Jerusalem they thought this was it. Their great new king. No wonder they were excited. They thought he would fight a great battle against the Roman army and set them free…
But Jesus headed straight for the Temple in Jerusalem. Perhaps he was going to pray before he started the battle?
Everyone followed.
They went into the Temple after Jesus. He just stood there, and looked around.

The Temple in Jerusalem had lots of different spaces in it, just like this school. (Put up OHP of Temple from www.eBibleTeacher.com).
In the middle was the holiest place. Only the people who worked in the Temple could go there. Then there was a place where Jewish men, the men who lived in that country could go to worship. Then there was a place where Jewish women could go .
Outside that was space where anyone from anywhere could go. Foreigners who had come from far away who wanted to pray could go there. IT was their space, the only space they had in the Temple.
Jesus came into that space, where there should have been room for all these foreigners to pray, but what did he see? It had been turned into a market place. There were people selling animals, people changing money, tables everywhere, noise and bustle. It had been completely taken over, not by the foreigners it was for, but by the people who worked in the Temple, as a place to make money. There was no room for prayer anymore.
It was just like if Miss Smith had taken over Badger’s classroom and left them nowhere to learn, no space for themselves.

Jesus was furious. “This is supposed to be a place for people to pray. Foreigners haven’t got anywhere else they can go. You have stolen their space from them to make yourselves richer. That’s not fair, and it’s not what God wants!”

And Jesus began to pick up the tables where the people were selling things and tip them over. There was money rolling all over the floor. There were animals running around. It was mayhem!

This wasn’t what people had expected their king to do! He was meant to be attacking their enemies, but instead he was telling them off!
What kind of king was this…?

In the days that followed, most of the people who had been so pleased to see him changed their mind, and by the end of the week, they had had Jesus arrested and killed. But that’s another story, which I know we will be hearing about over the next week, and in church when you come for your Easter service…

When we thought about Miss Smith taking over Badger’s classroom we could see it wasn’t right. I’m sure we would all tell her so. I’m sure she wouldn’t do it anyway!. The story of Jesus in the Temple reminds us of how important it is make space for other people, to make them feel welcome.

Let’s be silent for a minute to think about that story.

Prayer: that we will welcome others and make space for them.

*1 Kings 1.33 (it is actually a mule, which is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, but the idea is the same.)

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Jonah – KS 1 &2 – Encouraging responsibility – SEAL theme “good to be me”

It is important as you prepare to tell this story that there was never any serious suggestion made by those who originally compiled the Bible that this story actually happened. It is told in the form of a folk-tale, and is similar to other ancient folk-tales.

Need: Cardboard signposts to Ninevah and to Tarshish

This is a story which the ancient people of the Bible told. They didn’t think it had really happened, but it was a good story which helped them to think about important things.

There was once a very powerful nation called Assyria. They had a huge army of strong soldiers with all the latest weapons. No one else stood a chance against them. They were cruel too, treating those they captured badly. Everyone was scared of them.
In the nation of Israel there was a prophet called Jonah – a man who listened to God. One day when Jonah was praying he heard God speaking to him.
“Jonah – I have a job for you.”
“Yes, God, what is it?”
“I want you to go to the city of Ninevah, the capital city of Assyria, right in the middle of their nation, and tell them that I want them to change their ways, to stop being cruel to others.”

(put up signpost to Ninevah)

Jonah was TERRIFIED. He wouldn’t last two minutes in Ninevah with all those cruel Assyrians about. They’d never listen to him. And even if they did, he didn’t think it was fair. Why should they get a second chance? Why didn’t God just destroy them anyway? Everyone would feel safer then.

But Jonah didn’t say anything.

He just got up and packed a bag. He went down to the harbour, where all the boats were and started asking where people were going to.
“We’re off to Tarshish”, said one group of sailors.
Put up sign to Tarshish facing in the opposite direction to the sign to Ninevah

“That’ll do,” thought Jonah…Is Jonah going the right way, the way God asked him to? (let children tell you that it is the opposite direction.)

But off they went to Tarshish. Jonah thought he could run away from Ninevah, and run away from God. But he was wrong.

In the night a great storm blew up. The boat was tossed about. The waves got higher and higher. (Invite children to make “waves” with their hands, if you are sure you can stop the ensuing riot when you need to…) The sailors were sure they would all be drowned. In those days people often thought that God made storms happen, and the sailors wondered who might have done something to make him send this storm.
It wasn’t one of them, but then they remembered their passenger, Jonah. He admitted that he was running away from God. “The only way to save yourselves is to throw me overboard,” said Jonah. They didn’t want to, but Jonah insisted, so that’s what the sailors did, and as soon as they did, the storm stopped.

Jonah began to sink in the water. This is the end, he thought. But God had other ideas. Deep down in the water below Jonah was a big fish. God sent the fish to where Jonah was and he opened his mouth wide and with one gulp, swallowed him. Down went Jonah into the fish’s tummy.
And there he stayed for three days, thinking about what had happened. Jonah saw that he should have done what God wanted, and he prayed to God to help him.

The fish kept on swimming till it came to the land, where it opened wide its mouth again and spat Jonah out.

Now Jonah went in the right direction, straight to Ninevah. He still wasn’t very happy about it though. He didn’t like the Assyrian Ninevites, and he didn’t think God should like them either. He walked into the city, though, and began telling them God’s message. “God is going to destroy your city! You wait and see!” (He wasn’t very nice about it!). He didn’t think they would take any notice of what he said. But he was wrong. Every one of them stopped what they were doing, started thinking, and felt really sorry for being mean to people. Even the king of the Assyrians heard the message, and he was really sorry for being a cruel king. He ordered all his people - and even their donkeys and cows – to fast (to stop eating for a while) to show how sorry they were.

And God forgave them.

Jonah might have been happy about this. After all, wasn’t it a good thing that God had forgiven them and that they had changed their ways?
But Jonah was furious.
“You’re just soft, God! They don’t deserve to be forgiven. They are mean, nasty people, who have done mean, nasty things. You should punish them.”
And Jonah went into a big, big sulk.
He sat in the desert, with the sun beating down on him, feeling sorry for himself and cross with God.
God thought, “How can I show Jonah that he is wrong to feel angry with me for forgiving the people of Ninevah?”
God had an idea.
During the night he made a plant grow up beside Jonah. In the morning there it was, shading him from the sun. Jonah loved his plant. It was his new best friend.
But the next night God sent a worm along which munched through the plant. In the morning it was all eaten up. All Jonah’s lovely shade was gone. He was really upset about the plant dying.
And God said to him, “Jonah, you are really sad about the plant dying. It was special to you. But you didn’t care at all about the people of Ninevah – men, women and children – who were special to me. They are my children, just as you are…”

And the story ends there, with Jonah sitting in the desert thinking about what God said to him.

We’re going to sit still and think now, just like he did. Sometimes its hard to love and care for people we don’t like, who might have done something mean to us, but God asks us to help them, just like he would.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Gideon, the reluctant hero – Going for Goals – recognising our acheivements/self-esteem KS 1 & 2

I was going to tell the story of Moses and the Burning Bush at this assembly, but the headteacher told me she'd just done it, so this seemed a reasonable alternative to fit with the theme. I have left out the episode where Gideon hewed down his father's statue of Baal, partly because it made the story rather longer and more complicated than I would have time for (or the children patience for) but also because it is a bit hard to justify hewing down other people's Gods in a school committed (rightly IMHO) to respecting all faiths!

The story lends itself to hamming up, and the script below is only really an outline.

Gideon - Judges 6.11ff
The people of Israel were in trouble. They were being attacked by another tribe of people, the Midianites. The Midianites kept on coming down from the hills, stealing their crops and killing their animals. The people had nothing to eat. They were getting really hungry, and they thought it was the end for them. Who would help them?

One man in Israel at least had managed to gather a harvest. His name was Gideon. He wasn’t very big. He wasn’t very strong. He wasn’t very brave. In fact he was trying as hard as he could to make sure he stayed hidden, so the Midianites wouldn’t find him and the small amount of food he had. He was working away quietly at storing the food away in an outbuilding on his farm, when all of a sudden he noticed that someone was watching him. He was really scared. Was it a Midianite?

But then the stranger spoke up. He wasn’t a Midianite, he was an angel from God. “Hail, Gideon! Mighty Warrior! God is with you”

Mighty warrior? Thought Gideon, looking behind him to see if there was someone else the angel was talking to. He wasn’t a mighty warrior, and he didn’t want to be one either.

“There must be some mistake. I’m not a mighty warrior. God must have meant you to go to someone else…”

“No – it was definitely you. You are going to lead your people in battle against the Midianites.!”

“Um – would it be all right if I asked you to prove that you are from God?”
The angel told Gideon to fetch some food and put it on a stone. Then he just touched it with the stick he was carrying and it burst into flames…”

“Wow!” Said Gideon. “Now I believe you, even if I still don’t think I’m a mighty warrior.”

The next day Gideon started to feel a bit braver, but he still didn’t feel brave enough to fight the Midianites.

A little time later, things had got even worse with the Midianites. They had joined forces with another nation and they all gathered together in the valley not far from where Gideon lived. Now there were twice as many of them, and they were twice as frightening. Gideon hadn’t forgotten what the angel had told him. Could he do something against these armies? He didn’t think so, but he started just talking to a few people about it – “we’ve got to do something,” he said - and before he knew quite how it had happened, everyone was looking to him to give them a lead.

Gideon tried to look as if he knew what he was doing. But really he didn’t at all. He wasn’t a leader. He wasn’t a soldier. He’d never done this before.

So Gideon prayed. “Lord, I don’t really think I’m the person to lead our armies. I’ll do it, but only if you are really sure you want me to. Could you give me a sign to tell me it really is me you want.” Gideon got a sheepskin and he laid it on the ground.
“If I really am the one you want, in the morning, could you make the sheepskin all wet in the morning, but the ground around it all dry?”

He went to sleep, and in the morning, guess what? The sheepskin was wet and the ground around it was dry.
Gideon was amazed. But… He was still frightened.
So that night he prayed again.
“God, thank you for that miracle last night, but I just wanted to check it wasn’t just a coincidence, or a little cloud that just rained there or something, so if you really, really mean it could you tonight make the sheepkin dry and the goround around it wet instead…? “
He went to sleep, and in the morning, the sheepskin was dry and the ground was wet.

Ok, God, I give in. At least I’ll have lots of soldiers fighting with me. Have you seen how many people have come to join my army? There must be twenty thousand!

“Ah yes, said God to Gideon. There are a lot of them. In fact, it seems to me there are far too many. I am with you, and you are a mighty warrior – we don’t need all those soldiers. Go out and tell them that any of them who don’t really want to fight can go home…”

“Is he crazy?” thought Gideon, but he did it, and lots of the men went home. Now there were only ten thousand.

“There” he said to God. “Is that better.”
“No” there are still too many, said God – send some more away.” So Gideon sent away a whole lot more. There were only three hundred left, and that didn’t look nearly enough to Gideon. How were they going to defeat the Midianites with that lot?

God told Gideon to go down to the enemy camp that night and listen. So he crept down when it got dark, and hid outside one of the tent. As he crouched there he heard one of the soldiers say to the other, “I’ve just had the strangest dream – I dreamt a great round barley cake came rolling into the camp and flattened all the tents. What do you think that meant?”
“That’s easy,” said the other soldier. It was about Gideon – the great warrior – coming down to attack us!”

Gideon realised that not only did God think he was the right person to lead the attack, and his own soldiers, but even the enemy thought he was a mighty warrior! So he decided he would do what God asked him.
He went back up the hill to his soldiers and he gave each of them a pottery jar and a trumpet. He sent them out to surround the enemy camp. When he gave the signal each soldier broke his jar and blew his trumpet. Can you imagine the noise of three hundred jars breaking and three hundred trumpets blasting away? It was a terrible noise!

The enemy soldiers all woke up. “Gideon is attacking!” they shouted, and ran out of their tents. But in the darkness they couldn’t see who was who and they began attacking each other. Those who could just ran away. When morning came, the Midianite army was defeated.
And Gideon had learned that he really was the leader God had wanted.

Sometimes we all feel like Gideon. We think we can’t do what we’ve been asked to. Sometimes other people believe in us more than we believe in ourselves. When we feel like that we can remember Gideon who could do far more than he thought!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Candlemas assembly – KS 1 & 2 – Going for goals/ persistence

Take: Jam jar lanterns – one per class - with OHP pictures of Candlemas story stuck to them – the more colourful the better - including the words “Shine as a light in the world.” Battery power tea lights (or real ones).

We are just getting ready in church to mark a special time in the year. It’s called Candlemas, and it’s the very end of Christmas. Christmas probably feels a long way off by now, but we’ve been celebrating it in church, thinking about what it means all through January. If you’ve been in church you’ll see we still have our Crib up (Show photo)

But this weekend we come to the end of Christmas, and we tell a special story to think about that.

It’s a story which happened about six weeks after Jesus was born – we are now about six weeks from Christmas Day. It’s a story about two very old people, called Simeon and Anna. They spent all their time in the Temple in Jerusalem, the place where everyone gathered to pray. But they didn’t just come once a week or once a month, they were there every day. Anna even slept in the Temple. They were waiting. Waiting and waiting. What were they waiting for? They were waiting for God to come and help their people.

They looked around them and saw that people were unhappy. Roman soldiers had marched into their land and they had to do what the soldiers told them to. Often the soldiers were cruel.
Simeon and Anna saw that people often made each other unhappy too. They treated each other badly, as if they didn’t matter, especially people who were ill, or poor. It wasn’t right, and Simeon and Anna did what they could to help people, but they knew that they couldn’t do it on their own. They needed God’s help. People believed that God would send a special helper – they called him the Messiah – but when would he come, and what would he look like.

All day, every day, Simeon and Anna watched and prayed. They looked at all the people who came to the Temple, but none of them was the one.

Then one day, a little family – a man and a woman carrying a baby – came into the Temple. The baby was about six weeks old. It was baby Jesus, with Joseph and Mary. They had come to the Temple to say thank you to God for Jesus. All families did that. And when they came they brought something to offer – two pigeons. Here’s a picture of them. You can see Joseph carrying the pigeons. They felt very small – the Temple was HUGE, and it was crowded. No one would notice them. But someone did. Simeon and Anna. Something told them that this little baby was the one they had been waiting for. They pushed through the crowds towards them.

Simeon took the baby in his arms and said. “This is the one I have been waiting for. Now I can die happy, because I have seen that God is coming to help our people, and people all over the world. He will be like a bright light shining for everyone.” Anna told everyone around that this child would be very special when he grew up, someone would help them to live right.

Mary and Joseph didn’t know what to make of it at all, but they remembered Simeon and Anna and what they had said as Jesus grew up, and thought about it.

Candlemas is a time when we remember Simeon and Anna too. They had to wait and watch, to be patient and keep going, not giving up, so that they could see Jesus. Sometimes we have to do that too. It is easy to give up when things are difficult. But Simeon and Anna trusted that help would come, and that helped them to keep going.

Prayer: give out jam jar lanterns to one representative of each class. As they stand at the front, pray for people who might be feeling helpless, all in the dark, and ask for help to keep going. Let the children take the jam jar lanterns back to their classes.