This morning we did an assembly on how each child has huge potential in one of our local junior schools:
Small things can cause an awful lot of trouble. Take a stone out of your shoe. As you saw, when a small stone gets inside your shoe, you will not be able to walk far before you will have to stop and take your shoe off to get it out. Left in, you would soon be limping and in a great deal of pain, as I was!
A speck of dust or eyelash in your eye will irritate and annoy you. Tears will stream down your face and you will be able to see nothing until the tiny speck of dust or eyelash has been washed out.
You just have to remove a splinter from your finger, even though it can sometimes be so tiny you can hardly see it.
The massive and complex American space shuttle was held up because of a fault with a tiny microchip.
Bacteria, too small for the naked eye to see, can be responsible for diseases that can ravage the body and spread fear among communities.
Yet small things can also become something great and inspiring. Just think about how a small acorn can grow into a magnificent oak tree that may live longer than any human has.
Small things can have tremendous potential or possibilities – and so do you. What you are now is not what you will be in the future. As children, you are learning and growing every day. You have not yet reached your potential, but what happens today can help to shape your future.
If you love reading and writing stories now, you could be an author one day. If you like racing your friends in the school field, you could be in the Olympics one day.
If you like leading your school council meetings, perhaps, one day, you could be Prime Minister. If you like finding out how the human body works, you could be a doctor or a surgeon in the future.
Dilwyn Lewis A small boy called Dilwyn Lewis was brought up in an orphanage in Bridgend, South Wales. He sat in his school hall, just like you do, and no doubt he wondered what he would be when he grew up.
Having a very ordinary – some would say disadvantaged – start, people who knew him then may have thought he would not achieve much in his life, but, after leaving college in 1945, he became a cloth merchant in Bradford. Within a few years, it became clear that he had a real talent for design, so he set up his own fashion design company in London’s Mayfair. He travelled around Europe, where his designs were much sought after and he became a very wealthy man.
After a period of illness and a spell in hospital, however, he began to feel that his life was empty. He realized that money was not everything, so he decided, at the age of 46, to go to Rome and train to become a Catholic priest.
Returning to England, he became a curate in Surrey and was a chaplain at Gatwick airport.
In 1984, his talent for business and energy for getting things done was put to good use when he was appointed as a canon at the papal basilica in Rome – Santa Maria Maggiore. The church was in danger of being closed because of fire and safety risks, but Dilwyn was the right man to see to it that it was restored. He was fluent in most European languages and travelled all over Europe and America raising money for the work to be done. In time, all the rare and precious art treasures and fabric of the church were restored and it is now considered by many to be the most beautiful church in Rome, after St Peter’s.
Dilwyn was appointed Vicar Capitular of the basilica and created Protonotary Apostolic – the highest of the Vatican titles that can be given for work not related to priestly duties. He said, towards the end of his life, ‘I grew up in an orphanage in Bridgend . . . little did I realize I would end up being the vicar of a papal basilica in Rome.’
Cut the apple into quarters and show the children the pips inside. Ask them what the pips really are (i.e. seeds). If they were planted, what would they grow into? (i.e. an apple tree). Ask a child if s/he can demonstrate how tall an apple tree might grow. When s/he has made an attempt, emphasize the fact that an apple tree can grow considerably taller than a person.
Tell the children that Jesus once asked the people listening to him to think about an even tinier seed which would grow into a big tree. Read Matthew 13:31-32 from your Bible or use this version:
Jesus told them another parable: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up, it is the biggest of all plants. It becomes a tree, so that birds come and make their nests in its branches.’
Explain that we also have a saying: ‘Tall oaks from little acorns grow.’ Ask them what they think Jesus’ story and our saying mean. Help them to see that the two share a similar meaning, i.e. that from small beginnings something big can happen.
Illustrate the above point in the following ways. Ask the children how many of Jesus’ followers (or Christians) they think there are in the world today. Guesses will vary widely. You can tell the children that over 4.5 million people belong to Christian churches in this country, and that if anyone is really keen to know how many there are in the whole world, they could try finding out as homework! There are, however, many millions of Christians in the world today, yet it all began with one person (Jesus) who was born in a very ordinary place (a stable), who grew up in an ordinary home, in an ordinary town. For 33 years no one really noticed him. Say that Jesus’ life and the lives of many people down through history show us that from small beginnings something big can happen. One person can make a difference to the world, no matter how small and unimportant they might seem.
List some of the seemingly unimportant people who have changed the world, e.g.:
Joan of Arc: Born nearly 700 years ago in Domremy in France. She had to look after her father’s animals because she was a girl. But she led the way in driving the English enemy out of her native country of France.
George Fox: Born in 1624 in a village in Leicestershire. He was an apprentice to a shoemaker. He was the founder of the Quaker movement, a religious group committed to peace that has spread all over the world.
Edward Jenner: Born in 1749 in a village in Gloucestershire. He was an apprentice to a country surgeon. He discovered the vaccine for smallpox.
Mary Jones: Born in 1784 in a small village in Wales. She wanted a Bible in her own language of Welsh. This resulted in the formation in 1804 of the British and Foreign Bible Society, which has now translated the Bible into over a thousand languages.
Florence Nightingale: Born nearly 250 years ago, she went out to nurse soldiers in the Crimean War. She led the way in the establishment of schools of nursing and of the modern hospital system.
Rudolph Diesel: Born in 1858 in Paris. He left France because of war and settled in London with no money and no friends. He was the inventor of the diesel engine.
Lech Walesa: Born in Poland just after the Second World War, and worked in a shipyard. He founded the trade union Solidarity, won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1983, and became President of Poland.
Martin Luther King: An ordinary black American of the last century who came to lead the movement for peaceful change in America, helping to get equal rights for black people.
There are many other examples that could be used in addition to the above. Add or delete names according to the life stories you are familiar with.
I wonder what you will end up being?