Thursday, 14 July 2016

Solomon's Gift

Show the children a large wrapped box.

If you were given a present today, I wonder what you would hope it would be?

Gather responses.

Tell story of God’s gift to Solomon.

Last time I came in, I told you a story about King David, one of the great kings of Israel.

King David had a son, called Solomon, and when David grew old and died, Solomon became king in his place.

David had been a very great king. The kingdom was very rich and powerful with him as a leader. He was going to be a hard act to follow. But Solomon was determined to do his best.

One night, after Solomon had spent the day praying and thinking about how he was going to rule over the country, he fell fast asleep, and as he slept, he had a dream.

In his dream God spoke to him. “Solomon – what gift would you like me to give you? You can ask for whatever you want.”

Solomon thought very hard. What did he want?

He could ask for gold and silver and jewels, to be rich and have fine clothes and houses…
He could ask to be very powerful , to always win his battles when he went to war…
He could ask to be very famous, for everyone to look up to him and tell him how wonderful he was…

Solomon thought, and thought, and thought…

He thought about his father David. He thought about how God had looked after him, and how David had trusted in God. He thought of what a great leader he had been, and all the challenges he had faced – the giant Goliath, the struggle to be king, the difficult decisions he had had to make. He thought about how hard it would be to be as good a king as David.
And suddenly he knew what he should ask for.

“Lord, I feel like a little child compared to my father David. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t feel that I could ever be a king as good as him, so I know what I need. I need wisdom. I need your help to make the right decisions so I can live wisely. That’s the gift I need from you.”

And in Solomon’s dream God answered him. “Solomon, you have asked for a good gift. You could have asked for wealth. You could have asked for power. You could have asked for all your enemies to be defeated, but you didn’t. You asked for something that might not sound exciting, but which will make you a good king, and so I will gladly give it to you. And because you will be wise, and will make good decisions lots of other things will go right for you too.”

And Solomon woke up, and he remembered his dream, and he knew that he had chosen the right gift to ask for.

And Solomon became famous for his wisdom. People came to him when they had really tricky problems to sort out and he thought about them carefully and prayed to God, and was able to help.

Some  of you are going on to new schools, some are going up a class here, and taking on new challenges and new responsibilities. What might you need to do that? We don’t always know what is right to do if we haven’t done something before. It can feel a bit scary. But we can ask for help, just like Solomon.


Prayer – think about that box, and what you need as you grow up.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016


Pentecost Assembly
Wind that moves us

Show sailing boat  with sound effects as children come in

Sing  - One more step along the world I go.

Play "Flap the kipper "

  • what made the kipper move?
  • It is the same force that makes a sailing ship move


Jesus’ friends weren’t moving at all.
They were sitting still – can you sit absolutely still?
They didn’t know what to do
Jesus had told them to tell people his message of love.
But they didn’t know where to start.
They wished he was there to ask
But he wasn’t

At least they could pray
They were gathered together on the day of Pentecost, which was a special feast in the Jewish faith.
Sitting still

When all of a sudden they heard the sound of a rushing wind.
It wasn’t windy outside, but they suddenly felt as if something new had blown into their lives.
All of a sudden they remembered the things that Jesus had told them, they remembered what it was like when he was with them. And they knew that God was with them, just  like he had been with them in Jesus. They felt like they could do anything. Of course they could tell people about Jesus – after all he was their friend, and its easy to talk about your friends.They were so excited that they rushed out into the street and started talking to anyone they could. And even if the people weren't from their country they understood what they were saying.
And very quickly the message spread, just as if that rushing wind had spread it around. And Jesus’ friends told people in Jerusalem, and all over the world.

Jesus’ friends called this experience of God being with them the Holy Spirit. He wasn’t just in heaven. He wasn’t just in Jesus. God was in all of them, helping them to do things that felt difficult, moving them when they felt stuck like statues.

Think of things that are difficult for you to do. When you are stuck it is easy to panic, but we can stop and pray and ask for help – we might get a good idea, or we might think of something we can do or someone we can ask. Christians believe that Pentecost tells us that God is always with us, helping us to get moving.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Faithful and unfaithful servants (Luke 12)

Are you ready?
What might you need to be ready to do now?
Ready to listen. Ready to think.

What other times do you have to get ready for something?
What do you need to do to get ready for school?

Jesus told a story about two people.
They were both servants of rich masters
Both masters had to go away on business, and they didn’t know when he would be coming back.

Both masters told them to look after all his things. Make sure no one stole anything. Make sure everything was ready for him when he came back.

The first said to himself: What a privilege! I must make sure I take care of everything. And he did.
Every day he checked the stores that he was responsible for. He dusted and tidied and straightened. He watered the plants and looked after the animals.
He weeded the garden and sowed seeds – they would be ready to eat when his master came back. He looked after the money, paid the bills.
He made sure everyone else who worked for his master was doing what they should too and he looked after them all.

The other one, in the other household, thought to himself
“What a lot of power I’ve got”. I’m just like my master now – I can do what I want. Of course I’ll have to be ready when he comes back, but that won’t be for ages, and when I hear him coming I’m sure I will be able to rush around and tidy things up…
In the meantime, I intend to have a really great time.
So he ate his master’s food – never mind, I’ll replace it when I hear he’s coming back!
He drank his master’s drink – never mind – he’ll never notice!
He didn’t do a stroke of  work around the place. The dust and dirt built up – never mind I can run around with a duster and mop quickly when I hear he’s coming.
He was cruel and unjust to his masters other workers – the master will never find out.
He had the time of his life. For the first few days he kept an eye out, just in case his master came back. But as days stretched into weeks and weeks stretched into months he almost forgot his master was coming back at all.
Then, one night, late, very late, when he was sprawled on his master’s couch, a bit drunk, with all the dirty plates and cups around him, he heard a noise. The noise of the front door opening, the noise of someone coming into the hallway, the noise of a very familiar voice shouting out….I’m home…where is everyone.
Hurriedly he tried to stuff all the dirty plates under a cushion…but it was too late. His master looked at him, and he looked at his master…

If you were the master of those two servants what do you think you would have done?
What would you have done with the one who looked after everything?
What would you have done with the one who didn’t?

Jesus told that story to remind people that they never really knew what was going to happen next. It might be something good. It might be something challenging. But they could help themselves to be ready for whatever happened. Being a good friend. Loving and caring for others. Looking after the world around us. Being fair.
If we fill up the oceans with rubbish, there won’t be fish in them when we need them to feed people.
If we throw litter around, we won’t have nice places to play when we want them.

If we are mean to our friends then when we need them, we won’t have any.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Flight into Egypt - Refugee journeys

Look at the picture.
  • Who is the picture of?
  • How do you think Mary and Joseph feel? How do you know?
  • What is Joseph carrying? What about all the other things they own – furniture? clothes?

We know all the stories about when Jesus was born – (ask what they can remember)

But after that, I wonder what happened next.

Do you remember King Herod? He was the king the wise men went to see. He was angry at the thought there might be a new king. He was king and he wanted it to stay that way.
He wanted to get rid of this new baby.

Joseph was asleep one night when he had a dream. In his dream an angel told him that Herod wanted to kill his child.
As soon as he woke up he told Mary that they must leave Bethlehem as fast as they could to escape to somewhere safe.
They gathered all their things together and set out for Egypt.
It was only just in time, because Herod’s soldiers were heading towards Bethlehem. They managed to escape though.

·         What might it have been like to arrive in Egypt? (The children talked about the feeling strange and not having friends, but also feeling safe )

Look at some pictures of modern refugees, people making dangerous journeys. They are escaping from Syria where there is fighting. They come across the sea in little boats looking for safety.

  • What is happening?
  • What might feel scary about making this journey?
  • What might feel good about it? 
  • What might help them? 
 Prayer for Refugees, people who have to take journeys they don’t want to take. For those who welcome and help them.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Paul and Silas in prison: Making friends out of enemies

I was a bit uncertain about telling this story. Would the children be worried by it? Would they think they should stay in dangerous situations? 
In the event their responses seemed to indicate that, for the most part they had been inspired to be courageous, and that they got the point that this was a story about loving our enemies. Quite a few also told me how they could see the pictures of the story in their heads, and one described the prison in great detail to me afterwards. 
There was once a man who lived a long time ago in a town called Ephesus, and he had a difficult job to do. His job was to guard the city prison and make sure none of the prisoners escaped. It wasn’t just people who had done bad things who were put in his prison. The Romans ruled Ephesus, and their soldiers could arrest anyone they wanted to. If they didn’t like what someone was saying. If they thought it might be a threat to Rome, they could throw them into prison. And the jailer had to make sure they stayed there. If anyone escaped he knew he would be in a lot of trouble. He’d probably end up thrown into prison himself, and maybe the soldiers would even kill him.

So the jailer was always careful at the end of each day to make sure all the prison doors were locked and barred and bolted. No one was getting out of his prison.
One evening he went round and checked with special care. It had been a busy day. Two new prisoners had been brought in. “Who are they?” he’d asked the soldiers” and what have they done?” “Their names are Paul and Silas, and they have been making all sorts of trouble. They are followers of a man called Jesus. They have been saying that God thinks everyone is important, even the poor people and the slaves. We can’t have that! If slaves start to think they are important they might not do what they are told. They might rise up and rebel. Who would do our work then? So we have given them a good beating and now we must wait to see what our bosses want us to do with them next.”

So Paul and Silas were thrown into a dark, damp prison cell, along with all sorts of other prisoners. To be specially careful, the jailer chained their feet to the wall. They weren’t going anywhere. He locked all the doors behind him.

As he went upstairs to his house and family, though, he heard a strange sound, the sound of singing. It wsa Paul and Silas, and they were singing a song about God, thanking God and praising him. “What a strange pair!” he said to himself. “What on earth have they got to sing about?”

The jailer went to bed, and was soon fast asleep. In the middle of the night, though, he woke up suddenly. Everything around him seemed to be shaking. It was an earthquake. The whole prison house was shaking. when the shaking stopped, he rushed out of his room and started to go down the stairs to the prison. Oh no! The doors of the prison had been shaken loose by the earthquake. They were all standing open. The prisoners were sure to have taken the chance to escape – who wouldn’t? The jailer knew he would be in terrible trouble. 

All of a sudden he heard a voice, calling to him from the darkness of the prison. “Don’t harm yourself. We are all still here!” And sure enough there were Paul, Silas and the other prisoners. “We knew you would be in trouble if we ran away, and it’s not your fault we are in prison, so we stayed. We know that God is with us anyway, whether we are in prison or free, whether things are going well or not, and that gives us courage.”

The jailer was amazed. But he remembered how Paul and Silas had been singing, not crying, in the prison earlier, and he could see that they really trusted God to look after them.

“I would like to know more about this Jesus whose teachings you follow”, he said. Come upstairs and tell me more about him. He took Paul and Silas upstairs, gave them some food and washed their wounds where they had been beaten. And as he did so, they told him about Jesus, and about how he had loved and cared for people, even if they had been cruel to him. “He told us we should love our enemies, and pray for those who were mean to us” said Paul and Silas. The jailer had never heard of someone living like this before, and he had never met anyone as brave as Paul and Silas. “How do I become one of Jesus’ followers,” he asked. “You need to be baptised” said Paul, and so that’s what happened. The jailer and all the people who lived in his house were baptised that very night.

And after that? Paul and Silas went back down into their prison cell to wait for the morning, so that the jailer wouldn’t get into trouble. In the morning, when the soldiers came, they set Paul and Silas free – the judge decided that one night in the cells was probably enough to put them off their message. But Paul and Silas never gave up spreading the message of Jesus, and the jailer never forgot these people who should have hated him for locking them up, but who had loved him instead.

Prayer: Protect us when we are feeling scared. Remind us that you are always with us. And help us to love and pray for everyone, even the people we don’t get on with.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

The wolf of Gubbio (a story of St Francis)

 There was once a young man called Francis who loved having a good time, dressing in fine clothes and drinking with his friends in the town of Assisi where he was born. As soon as he was old enough he decided that the life of a soldier was the life for him – going into battle on a fine horse with gleaming armour – wouldn’t that be exciting! He didn’t have to wait long for a chance. Assisi was at war with a neighbouring town so Francis rode off to battle. But instead of glory, Assisi was defeated and Francis captured and imprisoned in a cold, dirty prison, where he fell ill. Eventually his father paid his ransom, but that year had changed him.
He tried to go back to his old life, drinking with his friends and spending money like water, but somehow he found he couldn’t help noticing those who were cold, dirty and neglected, as he had been in that prison. He thought about Jesus who had loved everyone and he decided he would like to live like Jesus too. So he gave up the fine clothes and the old life and lived very simply, helping those who were poor and sick and telling them the stories about Jesus that had inspired him.

Once, it is said that, on his travels he came to a town called Gubbio, up in the mountains. It was surrounded by a high wall, with fields outside it. As Francis walked up to the town, he was puzzled. He would have expected to see lots of people working in the fields, but there was no one anywhere. He came to the gates of the city – they were shut tightly. What was going on? He knocked on the door. He heard it being unbolted, then opened just a crack. “Come in, come in, as quick as you can – you’re not safe out there…!” said the doorkeeper, pulling Francis inside.
“Whatever is the problem?” said Francis. “What’s the danger?” By this time a crowd had gathered.

“It’s the wolf,” they told him “a ferocious wolf, a huge wolf, a wolf with great sharp teeth and strong, strong legs! He’s been terrorizing us, killing our sheep and cows, causing mayhem. They were afraid for their children, afraid for themselves.

Francis listened and then said, “Hmm, I can see this is a real problem. I will have to go to talk to Brother Wolf.” “No, no,” they all cried – you will be killed.” But Francis insisted. He walked out of the gates, and all the people peered over the walls and out of the windows, trembling with fear for him, sure he would be torn apart. Francis strode across the fields towards the woods around the town. All of a sudden, from the shelter of the trees, out ran the wolf, heading straight for Francis on his strong, strong legs, with his great jaws open, his sharp teeth gleaming, and his tongue lolloping out of his mouth. He got closer and closer. The townspeople were sure this was the end. But Francis calmly raised his hand and made the sign of the cross, and as soon as he did so, the wolf stopped, right at Francis feet. He sat stock still, closed his mouth, and looked up at Francis.
“Brother Wolf, “ said Francis “what’s this I hear about you terrifying these good people? I know you are just doing what a wolf does, but it can’t go on. I will make a bargain with you. If these people promise to feed you every day, will you promise not to harm them or their livestock ever again?”

The wolf nodded his great grey head.”Let us shake upon our promise,” said Francis, and the wolf lifted up his paw to put it into Francis’ hand. Then they walked together back to the town. The people weren’t sure they could trust the promise of a wolf at first, but reluctantly agreed to the bargain, and every day they fed the wolf. And the wolf did them no harm. In fact, the story says, he became so tame that he wandered from house to house and the children played with him like a pet. And when he eventually died, the people of Gubbio wept for their friend the wolf.  

It’s  a good story – a story that reminds us that making peace takes courage, courage to go to those you disagree with, and courage to respect them for themselves too. As we share the peace, we commit ourselves not just to saying the words, but to listening to one another and respecting each other too.

I suppose you could illustrate this with a picture of a wolf, but to be honest, the wolf in the children's imaginations will be a far more vivid one...! 
Practice telling the story so that there is a moment of suspense as the wolf comes charging towards Francis, and a silence as he makes the sign of the cross. I have never found a group of children (or adults) who don't love and respond to this story. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Moses parts the Red Sea

The school in which I usually lead collective worship  is now following Rochester Diocese's three year plan for worship, which can be found here. The theme this term is the sea, so although it isn't actually in the plan I thought the parting of the Red Sea might fit in. The children loved it, and one, who has quite profound physical disabilities came up to me afterwards and told me how sometimes he really struggled to do his school work, but that he had found that people helped him. He told me about some of his strategies for coping with his difficulties - a child for whom the glass, movingly, was clearly half-full rather than half-empty!

The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, a long way from their home.
The king of Egypt, who was called the Pharaoh, was very cruel to them. He made them work very hard, and he wouldn’t let them rest.
Who would help them? Had God forgotten them? That’s what they thought.

But God had other ideas.

There was a young man he had his eye on to help.
His name was Moses. Moses was an Israelite, but he had grown up in Pharaoh’s palace. He’d run away when he was grown up though, and lived in a desert place, looking after sheep. But one day Moses saw a strange thing. A bush that was on fire, but wasn’t getting burned up.
As he went closer to look, a voice came from out of the bush.
It was God.
“Moses, I have a job for you.”
“ I am the God your ancestors worshipped before you came to Egypt. I haven’t forgotten abuot my people. I love them very much and I can see how much they are suffering. So I want you to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let my people go!”
“I can’t do that” said Moses, “no one will listen to me!”

“Oh yes they will, “said God, “Just you wait and see.”

So Moses went back to Egypt, and he went to Pharaoh.

“My God says‘ let my people go’ “said Moses.
“No” said Pharaoh. “Why on earth should I do that.”
“If you don’t,” said Moses “terrible things will happen.”
“Pah! Don’t be ridiculous”.
But terrible things did happen.
First the rivers of Egypt all went bright red, like blood.
Then frogs filled the land.
Then there were locusts and biting insects, and hailstorms and all sorts of other disasters.
Each time Moses gave Pharaoh another chance.
“Let my people go!” he said.
But Pharaoh wouldn’t listen.
Until the very last disaster.
A sickness swept through the land and the oldest child of ever family, human and animal, died. All except for the children of the Israelites, who were spared. It was a terrible, terrible thing.
“Let my people go!” said Moses.
And Pharaoh said yes. How could he not.

So Moses told all the  Israelites to pick up their bags and follow him, as fast as they could.
And they did.
And it was just as well they were moving fast, because they hadn’t gone far when Pharaoh changed his mind. “Why should I let them go? I need them to work as my slaves!”

So he sent his soldiers after them, with all their armour and their chariots.

And the people ran, but the soldiers ran faster.
They began to catch up.

Then Moses and the Israelites came to a big sea called the Red Sea.
They didn’t have boats.
There wasn’t a bridge.
They were stuck.
Everyone thought it was hopeless.
But Moses remembered God’s promise
He didn’t think God would let them get this far and then let them down.
So Moses prayed.
And God told him what to do.

Moses lifted up the stick he held in his hand.
And he stretched out his hand over the sea.
And a wind began to blow.
And it blew the water up into a wall on one side, and a wall on the other, so that the water was all heaped up.
And the people just walked across the sea bed to the other side.

But what about the Egyptians?
If the Israelites could walk through, they could come through to.
They set off , following the Israelites, with all their chariots and their armour.

But Moses had got to the other side.
And he turned round.
And he stretched out his stick again.
And the waters came crashing down on the Egyptians and swept them away.
And the Israelites were safe and free.

Now I don’t know if it really happened like that at all. The Bible isn’t a newspaper report or a history book, which tells us things exactly as they were. It is a book of stories to help us think.
That story helps me think, because it reminds me that when I think it’s all hopeless, that I can’t do something, I shouldn’t give up. Things can happen that I haven’t thought of. God can help me, perhaps through someone else who comes along to help me.  I might have an idea I hadn’t thought of before. I’m not on my own. There are always people who can help.

Prayer: Think of something you find really hard. Think about who you could talk to about that. 
Hold silence.

Loving God, help us when we feel we don’t know what to do. Help us to tell someone who can help us. Help us to accept their help. Amen

(The children were entirely unbothered by the Egyptians being swept away - I was a bit worried, but they didn't seem to worry about the wholesale slaughter in the story. They listened very thoughtfully to the final plague though, and I could see they agreed with me that it was a terrible, terrible thing.)