Mark Drama

Mark Drama

Come along tonight to St. Andrew’s, Dibden Purlieu, to see the Mark Drama. A brilliant FREE performance of the life of Jesus, one of the most amazing stories ever, in 90 minutes.  The cast (members of St Andrew’s and Above Bar Churches): Charlie Besley, Richard Merrit, Tim Rowlandson, Tom Besley, Serena Carthy, Jane Nicholson, Pippa Brown, Femi Adeniran, Jenny Blake, Rebecca Trollope, Eryl Martin, Callum Johnstone, Leila Hyde, Andy Neal, Laszlo Penzes

Doors open from 7pm, with drinks afterwards in the Coffee House for a chance to meet the cast at the after show party!

PSHE Association warns against Ch4 ‘My Self-Harm Nightmare’ documentary

Channel 4

PSHE Association warns against using Ch4 ‘My Self-Harm Nightmare’ documentary in class 

The PSHE Association is deeply concerned about the content of the ‘My Self-Harm Nightmare’ Channel 4 documentary aired on Wednesday night which contains graphic depictions and description of self-harming, and therefore could be a ‘trigger’ to young people vulnerable to self-harm. We urge against any school using the documentary in the classroom for this reason.

Our Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Advisor, Dr. Pooky Knightsmith, is a leading expert in this field and comments that:

“You should never go into too much detail about the technical details of self-harm or eating disorders as this could trigger unhealthy responses in any vulnerable individuals in your group. Talking about specific methods of self-harm can be instructive to vulnerable students.

These suggestions may also be taken on board by any students who are currently harming.

Graphic or extreme images of self-harm and eating disorders should also never be shown for the following reasons:

  • they act as a barrier to seeking help: if someone who self-harms sees images of more severe cases they are likely to feel that their own self-harming is not severe enough to be taken seriously/they’re not yet ‘doing it well enough’
  • they provide a target to be achieved, or a bench mark to strive to reach for those who are vulnerable to, or who are already self-harming or suffering from disordered eating.

Teachers cannot know who will be harming in their class but should assume that someone in the class is currently self harming, has self harmed in the past or is at risk of doing so in the future and should therefore exercise extreme caution.”

 

The Association is due to launch guidance this week on teaching about mental health and emotional wellbeing which will provide advice to schools on how to address these issues appropriately. The guidance will be free to download from: www.pshe-association.org.uk/emotionalhealth.

Easter Egg Surprise assembly

Fish Fingers

Yesterday I did an Easter assembly at our local Infant school focussed on different foods:

Aims

To explain the ‘surprise’ of the Easter story and encourage openness to being surprised.

Preparation and Materials

  • You will need some hot cross buns, a large Easter egg, an empty packet of fish fingers and four eggs – two fresh and two hard-boiled (don’t forget to mark them so you can tell which is which!).
  • Bible reading: John 21:1–14 – I used a Bob Hartman story version. You could ask a child to read this.
  • A large bowl to break the fresh eggs into.
  • A damp cloth to clean up any mess!
  • Apron (optional depending on how messy you’re prepared to get – don’t wear your best clothes!).

Assembly

Explain that this morning you have with you some different types of Easter food. Get the children to consider quietly what food they think you have brought.

 

Bring out the hot cross buns. Explain that buns like these have been eaten for hundreds of years, and were particularly popular during holidays like Christmas and Easter. The cross marked on them is a reminder of Jesus’ death on a cross, so eventually they became associated with Good Friday.

 

Bring out the big Easter egg. Talk about how much we all enjoy eating chocolate at Easter. Explain that in the past, eggs were considered a luxury food, so during Lent people used to give up eating them. (Remind the children, particularly if you have spoken to them about this during Lent, that on Shrove Tuesday eggs would have been used up in the pancakes.) Eggs also remind us of new life, and spring. Some people also say that the inside of a chocolate egg reminds us of Jesus’ empty tomb.

 

Ask if anyone expects to receive (or has already received) any eggs this Easter? Ask if anyone knows why eggs have come to be associated with Easter? Then say you want to use some eggs to demonstrate something about the story of Easter. Put on your apron if you have one.

 

Pick up the fresh eggs and make a show of ‘accidentally’ breaking them in your hand (be prepared for the egg to go everywhere, which will add to the effect). Hopefully the children will laugh, at which point say, ‘If you think that’s funny, you do better – catch!’ and throw one of the hard-boiled eggs to one of the older children. For added fun you can throw another before the children have time to register that they are hard-boiled. (The usual health and safety warnings apply here: throw low and gently and preferably to a good catcher if you know one.)

 

Explain that you threw the eggs to demonstrate something about the Easter story. The Easter story is all about the unexpected, about a surprise.

 

Read or tell the story of how the women, Jesus’ friends, went to the tomb and found it open and empty. They were shocked and surprised to find the body not there.

 

Say that we have all been expecting Easter (we may have been looking at eggs in the shops). But the first Christians were not expecting Easter at all. They didn’t expect to see Jesus again. Ask the children to imagine that they were friends of Jesus.

 

Jesus was their friend, they loved him. Then they saw him get into trouble with the Roman authorities, and they saw him die. They were so sad that they cried and cried. They thought he had left them for ever. After a couple of days they decided to go to visit his grave. But the tomb was empty! What a huge, amazing, exciting surprise! More surprising and exciting than 100 Easter eggs, or 100 eggs thrown about in an assembly!

 

The last Easter food you have brought is … fish fingers! Bring out the empty fish finger packet. A strange choice – do we normally eat fish fingers on Easter Day?

 

No, but we do hear a lot about fish in the stories about Jesus, and one famous story about fish tells of something that happened after Jesus came back to life.

Read, or paraphrase, John 21.1–14. Jesus appeared to his disciples and cooked them a breakfast of fish on a barbecue. This was the third time he appeared to his friends after he had died. They were so excited that he was alive again.

 

End by talking about how at Easter, Jesus died and came back to life. Christians believe that Jesus is with us now as our friend, even though we can’t see him.

 

Explain that the Easter story shows us how when things seem at their worst, when everything has gone wrong, we can often find signs of new life and new hope – if we are open to being surprised.

Time for reflection

Close your eyes and think of a time when you were unhappy…

Remember what got you through that time…

If there is anything troubling you at the moment try to think of a way forward…

Think of a place where you may find new life and hope…

And think how you could bring new life and hope to someone else who is in need…

Prayer

Loving God, give us open hearts and minds to be surprised by new life and new hope. Help us to bring Easter joy to others, especially to those who are sad or in need. Amen.

Egg on your head – Easter assembly

Egg on head

Here’s my favourite assembly that I do each year – feel free to use and adapt:

 

PREPARATION: One egg, towel, plastic sheeting/black sacks, a large chocolate Easter egg. You also need a willing teacher who is prepared to look like they will have an egg cracked on their head – the more senior or precious they are about their hair the better!

 

This assembly works best when done by two people, where one of you is prepared to be the volunteer who does actually have an egg cracked on their head. It can be done as a one-person assembly but you will need another teacher or trusted pupil to crack the egg on your head at the end.

 

INTRODUCTION

If possible as the pupils are coming into assembly give a class worth of pupils a piece of paper with the question “What is love?” on it, and pens or pencils to scribble down their thoughts.

 

Welcome the students and explain that this assembly will be exploring the idea of love at Easter. Ask: ‘I wonder if anyone can tell me what love is?’ Field the various responses and if you have given out the question to a class prior to the assembly share some of their answers.

 

Say, sometimes love is giving up something so that you can help someone else. For example, you may give up watching a TV programme so you can help your mum with the housework or dinner, to show her you love her. Or, you give some of your time and effort to raise money for people less fortunate than yourself because you care for them, for example with Comic Relief Red Nose Day.

 

Now, this kind of giving we call sacrifice which means ‘giving up something valuable for something else that’s really important.’

 

ILLUSTRATION

Now to explain a bit more about sacrifice we’ve got a little quiz with a big Easter egg as a prize for the winner and a nasty forfeit for the loser. The winner gets a lovely chocolate egg, while the loser will get an egg on their head – they will get egged!

 

Don’t use pupils for this, but instead prepare a teacher and another adult volunteer to be your partners in crime.

 

Ask them three questions each, easy ones to your volunteer – they of course get the questions right. The teacher is given the impossibly difficult questions – they of course get the answers wrong!

 

Questions:

For the volunteer

  1. What are Easter eggs made of?                                        Chocolate
  2. What colour is chocolate?                                                 Brown
  3. What day of the week is Easter Sunday on?                              Sunday

 

For teacher

  1. When was the first mass produced Easter egg made?            1873
  2. What is the volunteer’s favourite kind of chocolate?
  3. What was the date of Easter Sunday in the 2000?                    23rd April

 

(Ask questions alternatively)

 

As the questioning progresses it is likely that the students will get quite noisy as they see that one of their teachers will get egged. It is important that you ensure that they are listening.

 

At the end, say you are going to egg the teacher as they clearly got all their questions wrong. Make a big thing of giving the large Easter egg to your volunteer and then standing the teacher on the plastic sheeting/black sacks and getting ready to egg them. Encourage the assembly to count down from three for you to break the egg on the teacher’s head.

 

As you go to bring the egg down on their head your volunteer moves the teacher out of the way and steps in to take the egging in the teacher’s place. You carry on oblivious and break the egg on your volunteer’s head.

 

Once this has happened thank the teacher, and give them the large Easter egg, and allow your volunteer to go and get cleaned up.

 

TALK

Explain that sacrifice is a really important part of love. And (name the egged person) suffered a little there, they gave up their nice hairdo so your teacher didn’t have to take the punishment for getting all those questions wrong.

 

Now it’s easy to say you love someone, it’s easy to give someone a hug, and hugging is a part of showing someone you love him or her. But are we prepared to suffer to help others?

 

We’re coming up to Easter, a time when Christians remember the death of Jesus and celebrate His resurrection.

 

Just as, name your egged volunteer, stepped in to take the punishment for the wrong answers from your teacher, we believe that Jesus stepped in and was crucified to take the punishment for all the wrong we do, so that if we chose to follow Him we can be forgiven and one day have eternal life with him.

 

There is a verse in the Bible that says: For God loved the world so much that he gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him may not be lost but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

 

Christians believe that this was the greatest sacrifice anyone has ever made, to lay down his life for the whole world.

 

You will hopefully never be in the place of having to give up your life for someone, but maybe you might think about some sacrifices you could make, to show someone you care or love them.

 

And when eating your chocolate Easter eggs, perhaps you might remember the Christian message behind Easter, that of Jesus giving up His life for us all.

Exams are ruining teenagers’ lives

Exam pupils 1

Emma Jacobs is studying for her A-levels. She is an aspiring journalist and occasional slam poet. She blogs here and tweets @ESophieJ.  Yesterday she wrote a fantastic article on how exams are ruining teenagers’ lives:

Spring is the start of a period of intense pressure for 16-year-olds taking GCSEs. Schools push their more academic pupils in order to score well in league tables. At my comprehensive school, many peers took more than 10 GCSE subjects in one summer. Some had been encouraged to take exams a year early and were then enrolled on AS-levels alongside the GCSEs.

The school day, with travel, can easily stretch from 7.30am until 5pm, and then extra work starts as soon as you get home. A 14-hour day is not unusual in the run-up to exams. There is little or no time for exercise or fresh air. Levels of stress, clinical depression and anxiety are high, and up to one fifth of my contemporaries are said to be self-harming. Eating disorders remain a distressing problem and increasingly sufferers include young men. Some schools recognise the high levels of anxiety by having strategies like “time out” for those who cannot get through an exam without a panic attack, but I see little evidence of strategies being put in place to mitigate the stress before it becomes clinically debilitating.

Not only do exams put a strain on young people’s mental health, their physical health also suffers. For A-level students all-nighters are standard and many then survive a full day of school on caffeine alone. Within my friendship group, on any given night one person is awake texting about how they’re up during the early hours finishing an essay or cramming for a test. Arguably the texting and distractions we have on our phones are part of the problem, but they are part of our world and it’s not as easy as adults think to just turn them off (I notice that adults who advise turning off extraneous screens are often rather wedded to their own devices).

After over ten years of full-time youth work I have never seen young people (and their teachers) under more pressure than they currently are.  Not only does it have a profound impact on physical and mental health it also places a challenge at the door of the church as it seeks to disciple young people.

Is more coursework the solution to this problem or does this not merely keep the high levels of pressure going for a longer period of time causing even more of a problem?

Any ideas?

Easter Assembly – Hidden Meanings

Easter - Hidden Message of Easter

My favourite Easter assembly is the egg on your head assembly, but having done this at our local special educational needs secondary school I needed a different Easter assembly.  Lacking time to plan I turned to the fantastic schoolwork.co.uk website where I came across a brilliant assembly on Hidden Meanings.

They provide a script and Keynote and PowerPoint presentations:

You will need:

  • “Hidden Message “PowerPoint/Keynote presentation (see above)
  • Small eggs as prizes
  • A Barbie novelty easter egg (or something equally as exciting!)
  • The Real Easter Egg (see note at bottom of next page)

Introduction:

Welcome the students to their assembly, introduce yourself and say that you’d like to begin the assembly today by talking about easter eggs. Explain that you don’t mean the kind of chocolate easter eggs that you eat. Easter eggs are hidden messages in computer games, art, tv shows and even web sites. Say that before introducing them to some of those hidden messages, you will first have some fun with chocolate easter eggs too.

Easter egg games:

You can show some pictures of classic easter eggs on screen and get the assembly to cheer for their favourite (award the head of year with whichever one they pick!). Then say if they want to win an Easter egg too, they have a chance to do that by seeing whether they can guess the favourite Easter egg of these stars:

  • Justin Bieber: An American easter candy called Peeps (marshmallows in the shape of easter chicks)
  • Adele: Green & Blacks Organic Easter Egg
  • Usher: Cadbury’s Crunchie
  • The Wanted: Cadbury’s Creme Egg

(NB: You will need to control this game well, keep up the pace and award any winners with a small egg)

Hidden message ‘easter eggs’:

Remind students that you were about to show them some examples of easter eggs in movies, art and even computer games. Go on to show what you mean by introducing three examples of easter eggs (pictures on the PowerPoint/Keynote accompany these):

  1. UP (2009): In the part near the end, where Carl and Russel are pointing out red and blue cars, it starts to zoom out. There, in the back parking lot to the left, is the Pizza Planet truck. The Pizza Planet truck has been in every Disney/Pixar film since Toy Story.
  2. Michelangelo’s art: On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican in Rome, the center of the ceiling is “The Creation of Adam” also know as the “ET” part of the painting. The figure on the right who represents God has a red robe flowing around him and angels surrounding him. This is actually a cross section view of a human brain. The robe forms the outer limit and the feet of God and the angels form the spinal cord.
  3. Call of Duty Modern Warware: After You’ve finished the last level (Game over/The end) the credits come up. What you have to do is to listen through all the credits until the first song ends, then Sgt. Grigg’s brand new rap Song about the COD4 series (you can look it up on YouTube).

Challenge

[Hold up a large classic chocolate egg]: This is the kind of egg most people imagine when we talk about Easter. Choose an egg that’s as silly and frivolous as possible, a Barbie branded egg for example, and ask students to think about whether there could be a hidden message in this egg as well. The answer is ‘no’! This is just a cheesy silly egg, although at least it’s made of chocolate.

Hold up the ‘Real Easter Egg’ * and explain this is an egg that does claim to have a hidden meaning. It’s been made by a company that wanted to make an egg that explained the meaning of Easter for millions of Christians around world. For them, Easter symbolises the belief that Easter brings new hope through the death and resurrection of Jesus. To Christians, it’s one of the most sacred and important moments of the year, especially given their belief that Jesus was seen alive by hundreds of people on Easter Sunday after being crucified on Good Friday. To these Christians, the chocolate egg has often been seen to represent the boulder or stone that was rolled away from the burial tomb where Jesus’ body had been put.

Allow the students reflect on the question on the final slide of the presentation “What might the hidden message of Easter mean for you this year?” and use a moment of silence while they reflect.

Archbishop Justin Welby’s lecture on evangelism

Justin Welby lecture

Recently the Archbishop of Canterbury has set out his vision for a Church in which every Christian shares “the revolutionary love” of Jesus Christ.  He begins with an incredibly simple and powerful statement:

I want to start by saying just two simple sentences about the church. First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ.

Second, the Church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration. Some of it may be very necessary, useful, or wonderful decoration – but it’s decoration.

You can read the full text of his lecture here.

Children’s champions

Child Champion

As a children’s and youth worker love this quote! Whether you’re a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, carer or someone who teaches children – let’s be their champion! Never underestimate the difference it can make to a child’s life when even just one person believes in them.

Why not share this with your volunteer team who are great children’s ‘champions’ with a word of encouragement.

Assembly: New Year, new you!

Vector 2015 Happy New Year background

Here’s an assembly I did on Tuesday at our local secondary special needs school:

Lots of us will have made resolutions, and it is likely that most of us will break them. GMTV asked viewers to email in their new years resolutions. Here are the top 5 that came out of that poll:

  • To lose weight
  • Save money/spend less
  • Recycle/become greener
  • Get fit/exercise more
  • Stop smoking

CBBC on their website suggested that the top 5 new years resolutions would be:

  • To get fit
  • Stop biting my nails
  • Keep room tidy
  • Eat less junk food
  • Start a new hobby

 

Research suggests that around only 12-29% of us will be successful in keeping our resolution.

 

This January along with thousands of others I’ve started trying to get fit. For me this has involved running four times a week at 6.30am. I’m training to do the Southampton half marathon in April.

 

Do you enjoy running? If so, are you more of a sprinter, enjoying running the 100-metres or 200-metres, or a long-distance runner (5-km, half marathon or full marathon)? (Ask for a show of hands for each type of race).

 

The BUPA Great North Run, the world’s biggest half marathon. Each year there are expected to be about 54,000 dedicated runners. Does anyone know how many miles there are in a marathon? Half marathon? (Answer: 26 miles in a full marathon and 13 in a half.)

 

While gym membership is falling, according to the latest research, running has never been more popular than it is now, with more people than ever going running regularly. The most recent quarterly figures from Sport England show that participation in athletics, which includes running and jogging, increased by more than 215,000 to 1.827 million between the 2007/08 survey and the 2008/09 survey. Charity 5-km runs like ‘Race for Life’ have become very popular, to raise much needed funds for worthy causes, including breast cancer research. Marathons, whether full or half, have sprung up in most major towns and cities in the UK, the most recent being in Southampton.

 

As well as a great way of raising money for charity, running has many health benefits for those who take part: it is fun – by releasing chemicals known as ‘endorphins’, it can make people feel happier (mental/emotional health); it is good for the heart (physical health); and training for races teaches discipline and dedication (spiritual health). It is also a good way of making friends (social health).

 

Many people have a life-long goal to run a marathon. Every year many people fulfil that goal after weeks of training and preparation.

 

Many people see life as a race – a clear start, with stages to pass as you run the race of life. Clearly, everyone finishes the race of life – it’s how you behave along the way that will make you loved.

 

There’s something very special and fulfilling about running alongside thousands of other runners in a long-distance running race. This is particularly the case after weeks of long training-runs, often entirely run alone.

 

Paul wrote in the Bible:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

 

Be inspired by your fellow travellers on the journey that is the race of life, and run with perseverance the race that each one of us has entered, and all of us have the potential to win.

 

What you value will dictate how you run, and keep you going in the race of life.  When you feel tired and worn out with the challenges and difficulties that we will all face in life, how will you keep motivated? Keeping our eyes on the prize will help us to keep motivated. You finish a race and win a race by focusing only on the next step. Let God guide you, with good values, relationships and integrity this term, this school year and for the rest of your life’s race.

 

Prayer

Thank you God for being with us on the ‘race’ of life. Help us to get rid of those things that hold us back and run a race of faith, hope and love that pleases you.

Amen.