Theme: The Secret Servant
Mark Chapter 9 verses 30-37
For the introduction you will need various items which mark stages in a person’s life e.g. a christening mug, a school certificate or reading book, a trophy, a driving licence, a wedding ring, a picture of a house, a gift with a label “retirement present” – if you use powerpoint images instead of real items then these can be gradually unveiled, but it will be less interactive.
For the “secret servant prayer” you need to distribute something to everyone in the room which can be symbolically collected in afterwards e.g. pieces of wool which can be tied into a prayer net or on a washing line, or stickers or stars which could be added to a chart, or perhaps an item such as a pebble which could be placed on the assembly table next to the cross. (This may be a prolonged exercise if you have a large school, and you may need to adapt this idea in some way e.g something to represent each class.)
If you are familiar with Graham Kendrick’s hymn “The Servant King” you may like to use this today.
Ask for volunteers to come forward and hold the different items you have collected (distribute these in a random order). Go along your line of volunteers and ask them what they have, and what age they think a person would be when they received or bought something like that. Ask another child to sort the volunteers into a timeline, showing the different stages of a person’s life.
Work your way along the line showing how all through their lives people keep wanting something more or something better – they want a good education, they want a new car, they want enough money to by a new house, they want people to look up to them and respect them etc
One day Jesus’ twelve disciples were having a bit of an argument about which one of them was the greatest – every one of them wanted to think he was the most important, the most respected and the best liked. When Jesus asked them what they had been talking about they were ashamed of what they had been saying, and they didn’t answer him. Have you ever felt like that?
Jesus could see that needed some help and advice, so he sat them down and said to them “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all.” What do you think he meant?
We know that Jesus never worried about whether important people liked him or disapproved of him. He didn’t try to impress people with his possessions or try to earn a lot of money. The things that were most important to Jesus were doing what God wanted him to do, and helping (serving) other people. This is why he told his disciples not to try to keep pushing to the front of the queue, but to be content with being unnoticed and the servant of all.
Now is the time to use your prayer items (see above) ask the children to think of something kind or supportive they could do for another person. It needs to be something which can be done “in secret” and without drawing attention to oneself. You may like to ask some children to share examples of things you could do, in case others are struggling for ideas.
Ask everyone to hold their pebble / sticker/ wool/ etc very carefully and concentrate on it. Ask them to think / pray about a person they could help.
You may also like to use this prayer written by Pope Paul VI:
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow-men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy
As the children leave, collect up the prayer items to make a “secret servant display”. This will depend on what items you have chosen e.g. every child could file past the table and leave a stone, but if they need to tie a piece of wool on a prayer net it is probably best to collect these in a basket to add to the net later. You can refer to this in later acts of worship and ask whether children have remembered, even performed, their “secret servant prayers”. (But don’t ask them what they were about or they won’t be secrets any more!)
The theme of acting humbly or being a servant comes through in the Old Testament and in Jesus’ own life: the servants and the talents Matthew 25:14-28; You cannot serve God and money Luke 16:13; Jesus acts like a servant, washing his disciples’ feet John 13: 1-17