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School News

Proper 25 B

Theme:

Don’t give up!

Bible Reading:

Mark chp 10 vss 46-52

Preparation

A strange noise which may have several interpretations (either a recording or something which could be struck?), a blindfold and a chair

Introduction

Ask the children to close their eyes for a moment. What can they hear? (Make the noise – what is it?)

OR Ask someone to come to the front to be blindfolded and sit on the chair and some of their friends to demonstrate the game where you creep up on them.  Can your “victim” hear them / locate then before they tap them on the shoulder?

The Message

Not being able to see can be frightening and disorientating. In the game you can take the blindfold off (and you might try peeking anyway!), but imagine you were really blind – how would that be different?

Tell the story of blind Bartimaeus (this could work well as an improvised drama).   Explain how the crowd had turned out to see a celebrity, and a blind beggar was just a nuisance.  Once Bartimaeus realised that it was Jesus who was there he believed there was someone who could help him by curing him of his blindness.  Despite the fact that everyone was trying to shut him up, Bartimaeus persisted and he was rewarded for his determination as Jesus heard him and asked for him to be brought over.  If Bartimaeus had listened to all those people who had told him to shut up he would have been a blind beggar for the rest of his life.  The important thing was that Bartimaeus had faith in Jesus and he clung on to that faith – Jesus told him that that was what had made him well.

The story is certain to resonate with your school’s values of determination / resilience / perseverance.  Make the link.  Ask the children to think about how Bartimaeus would have felt when he could see for the first time.

Prayer

Dear God,

Sometimes we feel as if we are in the dark and don’t know what to do next.  Help us to remember how Jesus said “I am the light of the world”.  Help us to persevere in looking for that light.  Open our hearts to the light of Jesus, just as he opened up Bartimaeus’ eyes to daylight.

Amen

There are other stories of Jesus and people whom others neglected or pushed away which could be used this week e.g. Zacchaeus the tax collector, or the sick woman in Luke chp 8.  You could also link with stories of people who some would discount but who won through because they persevered e.g. Paralympians. 

Mudras

mudras

Proper 20 Year A

Theme: “Is that fair?”

Bible Reading

Matthew 20:1-16

Preparation

Familiarise yourself with the story so that you can tell it in your own words.

Lookout some suitable props to illustrate your introduction eg sweets, stickers etc.

Introduction

Children have a very clear sense of what is fair and what isn’t. Choose some relevant examples of fair/unfair actions and choose some children to help to act them out, eg – allowing a goal when the player is offside, giving sweets to just the girls in the class when everyone’s worked hard, taking playtime away from someone who hasn’t done anything wrong, giving everyone a Good sticker even though some have not done as they were told etc. You may want to actually at this out, rather than just talking about it, by giving out treats or house points randomly.

Emphasise the point in conclusion that people consider something is ‘fair’ if it complies with the rules involved; eg punishment for something wrong, reward for something right.

The Message

Tell the story of the Labourers in the vineyard. Ask the children if they think that the landowner was fair.  Was it right that everyone should be paid the same even though some had done a lot more work?  You may even want to link this to / have a debate on jobs today – is it fair that a footballer is paid more than a nurse for example?

Explain that Jesus’ story is about God and the way he treats us. God isn’t fair because he doesn’t treat us as we deserve to be treated. He continues to love us and cares for us no matter how we behave. God only follows the Rule of Love in his Kingdom.  He loves everyone equally, so everyone matters the same, nobody is better than the others in God’s thinking.

So can we try to be like Him and do things for others without looking for any reward in return, i.e. out of love for them as people, not out of personal wants..

Prayer

Perhaps begin with some quiet reflection considering those for whom life does not seem fair; the hungry, the homeless, the sad, the lonely.  Return to the prayer of St Francis of Assisi you used last week:

Lord, make us instruments of Thy peace
Where there is hatred, let us sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is discord, union
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not seek so much to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive, in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And dying we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

Talk about how you can live out the prayer in your own lives.

 

also this week you could think about love in action: Luke chp 10 vss 29-37 – the Good Samaritan; Exodus chp 1 vs 8 – chp 2 vs 10 – the birth of Moses; Mark chp 2 vss 1-12 the friends of the paralysed man, also many modern examples – including ones from your own community

 

Proper 6 Year B

Bible Reading

I Samuel chapter 15 verse 34 – chapter 16 verse 13

Theme: Look inside not outside

Preparation

You need seven items that look wonderful, or at least good, on the outside and are a disappointment on the inside, and one that is the reverse. Examples could include taking tins of food and swapping labels, or beautifully wrapped parcels and a grubby old bag. When you set up for the assembly have only the seven attractive items on display and leave the other package hidden with a member of staff.

Introduction

Ask a pupil to select one of the prepared items and get them to open it to see what is inside. Undo the item and express disappointment, then progress through all the items. Continue to reassure the children that you know there’s something good in one of these, but you didn’t wrap them so you are not sure which one. Only after seven disappointments should the staff member offer the final package: “It can’t be this one you are looking for surely?” and, of course, it is…..

The Message

What a lot of disappointments before we got to the right one! That is probably how Samuel felt three thousand years ago when God gave him a special job to do. Samuel was sent to find the young man who was going to be the next king of Israel – the man who was king at the time, King Saul, was making a rather poor job of ruling the kingdom and God was wanting to make sure that the next king was ready. So Samuel was sent to Bethlehem (where have we heard that name before?) to find Jesse’s family, because he knew the young man he was looking for was one of Jesse’s sons.

When they all sat down to dinner Samuel looked round the room. There were seven fine young men there, all good looking and clever, and Samuel wondered which one it was going to be. But each time Samuel looked at one of the young men he could hear God’s voice in his head: “No, not this one Samuel – you are looking at what they are like on the outside, but remember God looks at what they are like on the inside”. Samuel was at a loss what to do next “Is this all of them?” he asked Jesse “Have I met all of your sons?” “Well not quite,” answered Jesse “I didn’t think you would want to bother with my youngest son David, he’s only a boy, and so we sent him to look after the sheep!”

Of course, once David arrived Samuel knew at once this was the one God had chosen, so Samuel anointed him (which means he poured holy oil on his head) ready to be king. When he was grown up David became the most famous king Israel ever had. God knew what David was like inside, and what kind of man and king he was going to be.

(You may wish to refer also to Jesus’ descent from David or comment if you have any Davids in the school.)

Prayer

Pray that when we meet up with people and make new friends we get to know them properly, and not just worry about what they look like, or what they wear. Help us to be like God who knows and loves us for what we are.

Also this week – David is still a popular name – what other Biblical names are represented in the school – can you tell their stories too?

 

 

Advent 2 Year B

Theme: He is Coming!

Bible reading

2 Peter chapter 3 verses 8-15a

Preparation

If you have a copy readily available, use “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” from the musical “Godspell” for entry and exit to the hall .  (There are versions on You Tube, but if you are using the film itself be aware that the 1973 fashions may cause amusement!)  The song is based on Isaiah chp 40 vs 3, which is also one of this week’s readings.

Before the children arrive in the hall you need several large notices stuck up around the room or a rolling powerpoint of messages:

“He is coming!”
“It won’t be long before He is here!”
“We must get ready for His arrival”
“What a special day it is going to be!”
“Is He here yet?”
etc

You will need the assistance of another adult to take notes.

Introduction

Begin by telling the school there is to be a special visitor coming soon, and by asking the children who they think the notices might be about. Who would they like it to be? Whose coming to visit the school would get them excited? Collect a few names of famous visitors (remember the notices say “He” not “She”) and then ask what kinds of preparations you will have to make in school for the visitor’s arrival. (If asked to name the visitor, say only that you do not wish to spoil the surprise.) Ask for volunteers for the various tasks, and get one of the other staff to stand with you and make a list of volunteers and tasks in a notebook as you select them.

Thank the children for their suggestions and tell them that, in order to help them get ready for the special visitor, you are going to tell them a favourite old-fashioned story about a special visitor to see if that gives them additional ideas. In the story which follows, make sure you include all the suggestions the children have already made and comment as you go how “***” has already volunteered to do that etc.

The Message

Our story begins in a land far away and long ago. It was a happy, land ruled over by a wise and famous king who was much loved by his subjects, and whenever he left his palace to visit his kingdom, people flocked to see him and celebrate his coming. They all wanted to get near to him and speak to him, or to give him flowers. They put up decorations to welcome him, like big banners with his name on, or shining fairy lights. They organised concerts and plays to make him happy and keep him amused. They held parades and firework displays for him. They even painted all the houses he would see, so that as he passed, all the towns and villages looked clean and fresh and bright. And of course they made wonderful meals, and baked him cakes to take away with him. They did everything they could to make sure the king knew he was expected and welcome when he came to visit their town.

So it was that in the town of Lordship, when they heard the king was coming, they began to prepare at once. They had just a few days to bake cakes, paint decorations, organise parties and make up big bouquets of flowers. They marked out the king’s route through the town and erected a grand stage where the mayor would receive him and present him with the keys to the town.

At last the great day arrived and everyone was so excited that they were up hours earlier than usual. They dressed themselves in their best clothes, gathered together their picnics and their balloons and streamers and headed into the centre of the town, ready for the biggest party they had had for a very long time.

As the huge crowd waited by the roadside the band began to play stirring music. The people nodded approvingly – the king would be able to hear them from miles away, and would know how pleased they were to see him. They waited happily.

Two hours later they were still waiting. The road was empty, there was no army, no trumpeters, no coach and worst of all, no king. They stared at a small speck in the distance coming towards them with hopeful looks, but they soon realised it was only a shambling beggar wandering into town, and they turned their attention to their picnic lunches.

The mayor was not pleased to see the beggar, he made the place look messy and untidy. He ordered the constable to move the poor man out of the way where the king would not spot him. The beggar started to move around the crowd. He asked the rich and happy looking townsfolk for something to eat or something to drink. People laughed at him. A few folk threw some crusts to him when they had finished their sandwiches (they were not going to eat their crusts anyway so it didn’t matter if the beggar had them). Some people, who were swigging bottles of wine, pointed out to him the fountain where the horses drank so that he could drink some water. A group of children, who were getting a bit bored with the wait, started following the beggar around and calling him mocking names.

All day long the townsfolk waited. At last, as the sun began to set, the mayor told everyone to go home, and they trailed off carrying all the debris of the day and muttering about the king. The beggar looked around hopefully, but nobody cared where he went for the night, and so he turned his back on the town, and slowly walked away into the darkness, back the way he had come.

The next day a messenger arrived from the king. He went to the mayor and presented him with a proclamation, which he asked the mayor to have read out in the town square by the town crier. Excitedly the people ran to the square to hear what the king had to say. They were sure that he had simply been delayed the day before, and this new message would set a new date for his visit. Already they were looking forward to another day of celebrations and fun.

The message was short, but startling:

“The king sends his greetings to his good people of Lordship. The king came to your beautiful town yesterday to enjoy your celebrations. Remember the beggar.”

Remember the beggar! The people were horrified! They began to think of what they had said to the beggar, how they had turned their backs on him and mocked him, and all that time it had really been their king! How could they have known?

Next year the king came back to Lordship again, although this time he came in his great coach and with a parade of trumpeters and soldiers. When he reached the edge of the town he saw a large noticeboard. The notice said: “This town welcomes everyone. If you need help of any kind go straight to the house of the mayor. God save the king!”

Think about the story with the assembly: the story was about a king who came to his one of his own towns where he should have been welcomed, but was instead ignored and rejected. For Christians the story is like the story of Jesus who was born in poor surroundings and not recognised by the important people of the day as the special person (the Messiah / Christ) that they had been waiting for.

Now return to your notices. Who might they be about? They are there because all Christians are looking forward to the coming of Jesus; they are remembering his “secret” coming at Christmas, and looking forward to his return in glory.

Important: Look again at the list of suggestions and volunteers you prepared earlier; you could arrange for these children and their friends to fulfil their promises by creating Christmas decorations etc for the assembly hall to welcome the coming of the King. Make sure these are commented upon in a later assembly.

Prayer

Pray that we remember the story of the disguised king, and treat everyone we meet with respect, as if they were a king – as if they were Jesus himself.

This week you could tell the assembly about some of the great Old Testament prophets who were “preparing the way for the Lord”. e.g. Isaiah chp 7 vs 14 – Emmanuel meaning “God with us”, Isaiah chp 9 vs 6 – for to us a child is born…  Perhaps use music for this – what hymns are you learning for Christmas?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAiipFhH-j0

3rd Sunday before Advent Year A

Matthew chapter 25 verses 1-13 

Theme: The bridesmaids’ mistake

Preparation

Bring a torch, but remove and reserve its batteries.  Collect together several other items (or show photographs of them) which are not going to work because of a missing element – a wind up clock without a key, an electric device without a plug, a brooch with its pin missing etc.

Bring an artefact or photograph related to weddings.

Introduction

Introduce the subject of weddings (taking whichever angle seems most appropriate in your circumstances).  Discover how many of the children have ever been a bridesmaid / flower girl / page boy.  Tell them that you are going to share with them a story Jesus told about bridesmaids, but that at a certain point in the story you will need people to demonstrate the “wedding presents” – distribute your non-working “gifts” around the room.

The Message

Weddings in Jesus’ times were different from ours.  In our story the bride was waiting at home for the bridegroom to arrive for the party.  She sent her ten bridesmaids to wait for the bridegroom, so they took their oil lamps and went to wait outside (you may have to describe how an oil lamp works at this point).  There were no street lights to help the bridegroom find the house safely – so the bridesmaids had an important job to do.

Have you ever waited so long for something that you fell asleep because you were so tired?  Would you be able to sit and wait until midnight and still stay awake?  That’s what happened to these bridesmaids – they all nodded off!

Then suddenly they heard a shout – “the bridegroom is coming, take your lamps and go and meet him, show him the way to the bride’s house!”

Now the bridegroom is coming, it is time to get out the presents!  Ask your volunteers to demonstrate the gift they are holding – what is the problem?

You all had a problem because you were not ready – you hadn’t got everything you needed to make the gift work properly.  The bridesmaids had that problem too: their lamps had all gone out while they slept and they needed to fill them up with oil so that they could light them again.  Five of the bridesmaids were ready for this: they had brought extra oil with them – just like I have brought extra batteries with me to make the torch work.  (Hand over the batteries and invite your volunteer to get the torch working -possibly another adult will need to assist the child at this point while you are talking.)  But the other five bridesmaids hadn’t brought any spare oil, just like I haven’t brought the plug / key/ etc. for the rest of these gifts.  While they dashed off to get the oil they needed, the bridegroom arrived.  When they got back to the party everyone had gone inside and the front door was locked – after all that waiting they had missed the wedding party!

When Jesus told this story, he was talking about people waiting for him to arrive – he is like the bridegroom in the story.  Everyone in the story knew the bridegroom was coming – they were just not sure when he would arrive.  Christians are waiting for Jesus to come  again – they are sure he is coming, they are just not sure when he is going to arrive.  Jesus is saying “I am coming back, and it will be a big surprise.  Make sure you are ready for me!”

Very soon we will begin the time of year called Advent.  In Advent the Church gets ready to celebrate Jesus’ coming at the first Christmas.

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus,

We often forget you because we are too busy, or because we are thinking about other things.  As we get closer to Christmas, help us to remember that this time of year is all about you.  Thank you for coming into our world at the first Christmas, help us to be ready to celebrate with you.

Amen

With this being the week of Remembrance Sunday, and with the centenary of the Battle of Passcendaele (31st July – 10th November 1917) other acts of worship can concentrate on a different kind of remembering. 

Arrivals and Departures

The day in the cathedral begins at 10.30 a.m. – remember that there will be about a dozen coaches arriving at the same time as yourselves, so leave time to queue and unload in your calculations.  It would be a help if schools relatively near to Ely could aim to arrive earlier so as to be in the cathedral ahead of those who have longer journeys and tighter schedules.

The service of worship usually finishes at about 1.45 p.m. Again it would be helpful if the schools with the shortest distance to travel gave their coach driver a slightly later pick up time in order to let those with long drives get away first.  

 

 

 

The Eucharist or Holy Communion

The origins of the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper or the Mass, go back to Jesus himself. It is based on the events of the Last Supper, when Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples for the last time before his crucifixion. The account of this can be found in Matthew 26 vv 26-9, Mark 14 vv 22-5 and Luke 22 vv 14-20. His words ‘Do this in memory of me” were acted upon by the first Christians whom we hear of meeting to “break bread” together in the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2 v 42. St Paul also talks about the Lord’s Supper, and gives the earliest account of it in I Corinthians chp 11. It seems at first that it was retained as part of a communal meal (sometimes referred to as an agape or love feast) but later emerged as a separate act of worship. It became a focal point of Christian worship and almost all Christian denominations use it.

Over the centuries in the two main branches of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox, the Eucharist evolved its own elaborate ritual. By the time of the Reformation in the West the laity took communion very occasionally, and then only the bread. It was called the Mass and had by that time become almost the only service used in church, and one in which the congregation were onlookers rather than participants. The service was said in Latin, which only the educated could understand, and the action took place at the far end of the church so that people could not see what was happening. It was surrounded by superstition and mystery.

The Protestant movement in the 16th and 17th Centuries put greater emphasis on preaching than on the communion, and developed other kinds of worship which did not include communion. When they did hold a communion service they did so with the minimum of ritual and restored the practice of everyone taking both the bread and the wine sometimes substituted with a non-alcoholic drink

BELIEFS

The beliefs about the Eucharist are reflected in the practices. Much of the argument at the Reformation concerned the doctrines about the substance of the bread and wine in the service, and the meaning of Jesus’ death. This had often been thought of as Jesus making a sacrifice of himself in order to placate God for the sins of mankind, much in the same way that animal sacrifices had been used previously. In this way the re-enactment of the Last Supper with its words ‘This is My Body” and ‘This is My Blood” was seen as a re-enactment of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The table on which this took place was called an altar, part of the language of sacrificial worship. Much has been said and written about those words, and to what extent the bread and wine actually become in some way the body and blood of Christ. The doctrine which claims that the bread and wine become the real body and blood of Christ is called “transubstantiation”. One of the accusations levelled against the early Christians was that of cannibalism because of this. As it was always kept for those who were within the church those outside felt that there was an element of secrecy which encouraged such ideas. At one time anyone could attend the early part of the service which consists of readings from the scriptures and a sermon, but when the actual communion began they were asked to leave (The Latin for this was “Missa stint” meaning “they are sent away” – the origin of the term Mass). The need to ensure that all the bread which was consecrated was consumed, and the wine drunk comes from a belief in the sacredness of the elements of the communion. So do the practices of touching neither the chalice nor the consecrated bread but allowing the priest to put the latter straight onto the tongue.

Changes at the Reformation were to the beliefs about the communion and these brought about a change in practice. Rather than emphasising the idea of the re-enactment of a sacrifice, the Protestant movements saw the service as a memorial meal shared by Jesus’ followers. The bread and wine, while treated with the greatest respect, were seen as symbols rather than changing into the actual body and blood. The communion service was not held so often, as they felt it was more important to preach, and teach the people. The name of the altar changed back to the idea of a table, and some groups began to sit round a table to share this meal together. While going to the communion rail still occurs in some Protestant churches, including the Church of England, others take the bread and wine to the people in their places, often with the wine in individual cups rather than sharing the one goblet. This means that everyone can wait and then eat at the same time rather than take it in turns as they do at an altar rail. They will sit to receive their communion. In the Anglican church most people kneel at the altar rail, as they may do in Roman Catholic churches. However, there are places where it is more usual to stand to receive, as it apparently was in the early church.

The service of Communion is divided into two parts – the Ministry of the Word and The Ministry of the Sacrament

In the first part you will find prayers, readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament other than the Gospels, and a reading from the Gospels themselves. These readings are set out according to the time of year, and follow a particular theme. So it is that all churches on a particular Sunday will be hearing the same Biblical readings. There will be a sermon in most services, after which the Creed – the statement of the Christian faith will be said together by everyone. After the prayers of intercession, when the needs the world are thought of as well as our own needs, comes the Peace. Practice varies, but in many churches this is the point at which the congregation greet each other with the words “Peace be with you”, often shaking hands at the same time. This is an ancient practice which has been restored within the context of worship.

The offertory which comes next marks the beginning of the Eucharist itself. In this the people make their offering of money to God, as well as the bread and wine which are to be part of the Eucharist. In many churches this is taken up to the altar with the collection. There then follows the Eucharistic prayer, which is long, but does involve the people in various responses. There are several possible variations of this in the Common Worship service book, but all are based on ancient liturgies, and include giving thanks to God for all that he has done for mankind, and particularly for the life and work of Jesus. There is also the narrative of the Last Supper when the words “this is my body” and “this is my blood” are spoken over the bread and wine to be shared by those present. Further prayers are said and then the people are invited to come to the altar rail to receive communion.

After the communion itself, another prayer of thanksgiving is often included, or of dedication. There is the blessing and the service is ended. There may be hymns at various points in the service, and if they are included there is usually one at the end while the priest and his assistants leave.

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