Today’s assembly was for a local junior school on the theme of friendship

At the weekend I was watching TV, and I was watching one of my favourite programmes which is all about a hospital and everything that goes on in that hospital.  And I saw that there were lots of people in that programme who help us.  So that got me thinking about all the different people we come across, from day to day, who help us.  Can anybody think of people who help us?  (Doctors, nurses, policemen, firemen, teachers …)

They are exactly the people I was thinking of.  But then, I started to think some more, and I then realised that there are some people who I see every single day and who I would probably say help me more than anybody else.  And I would imagine that everybody has at least one of these.  You probably see these people at school, play with them at lunchtime, chat to them at break-time, go to their house for tea, they cheer you up when you’re feeling sad.  Can anyone guess who I am talking about?  (Friends)

I am very thankful for my friends.  They help me out lots and lots.  If I am late getting somewhere they might give me a lift, if I am not well they do some shopping for me, if I have a problem they help me sort it out, if I am sad they cheer me up.  So friends are people who help us.  They help us lots and lots, sometimes without even realising.

I want to tell you a story.  It’s about 4 people who helped out their friend.  They had a few problems to start with, but they were so determined to help him nothing could stand in their way.

There was a man who was paralysed – this meant he could not move and walk around and he had to lie all day and night on a mattress.  He couldn’t work and the only way he could get money was by lying in the street begging.  But he did have 4 very good friends.  One day these 4 friends got to hear about this man called Jesus and that he was at a house in the town.  They heard that he healed people – he made them well again – and the 4 decided they would take their sick friend to see Jesus.

They carefully lifted up their sick friend on his mattress and carried him all the way to the house where Jesus was, but when they arrive they could see crowds of people were trying to get in to see Jesus – the house was already packed full.  Not only were people crowded inside the house, there were people in the doorways, people peering in the windows, there was no room anywhere, it seemed hopeless – how were they going to get inside?  However, instead of giving up, the 4 friends came up with a brilliant idea – they were so determined to help their friend.

They saw some steps going up outside the house on to the flat roof, so they carried their friend up onto the roof and then started digging through the roof.  Many houses in Bible times would have been made from mud and straw which were then plastered over.  We’re not certain what this house was made of, but we do know that these friends made a large hole in the roof of this house and then very carefully they lowered their friend down through the roof of the house.  Jesus realised what lengths these men had gone to, to help their friend and bring him to Jesus.  He knew they were good reliable mates.  Looking at the paralysed man, Jesus told him to get up.  Straight away he stood up, picked up his mattress and was able to walk home.  He was completely healed.

It was great that Jesus was able to make that man better – amazing in fact – but he could only do that because his 4 friends had been prepared to work together as a team and put themselves out to help their mate.

Imagine if, while carrying the sick man on his stretcher, the 4 friends had an argument and started pulling in different directions.  Their friend would have fallen to the ground – they had to work together.  And when they got to the house and couldn’t get in, they could quite easily have given up and gone home.  But they really wanted to help their friend so they put themselves out and made a hole in the roof to lower him through.

Sadly sometimes people do fall out.  Rudolph and Adolf Dassler were two brothers who grew up in a small town in Bavaria, in Germany.  When they left school they went to work for their Father who was a cobbler.  During World War II the brothers had a fall out.  Nobody knows why, but the fall out was so bad that they never talked to each other again, in fact it was so bad that Rudolph refused to go back to work under the same roof as his brother. He decided he would use his experience to start his own business at the other side of the river that ran through the centre of their town.

A couple of years later their father retired and handed over the running of the business to Adolf – he re-named the business ‘adidas’ whilst Rudolph’s set up became known as ‘puma’. Sadly the brothers never settled their differences and took their feud to the grave – this is demonstrated by the fact that their graves are as far apart as possible in the cemetery that the brothers are buried in.

An even sadder part of the story is that the whole town became divided by the fallout. There were adidas/puma restaurants and shops, gangs in the schools and imagine checking out someone’s footwear to decide whether or not you should speak to them!

On Monday 21 September 2009, employees of both companies shook hands and then played a football match.  In a joint announcement, the two companies said they were making up to support the Peace One Day organisation, which has its annual non-violence day on Friday, the 21st September.  The events were the first joint activities held by the two companies since the brothers left their shared firm in 1948.

Think back to my first story today, they were friends who were prepared to get involved in their friendship and put themselves out.  Are your friends like that?  If you want friends like that then surely you have to be that sort of friend yourself?  Are you prepared to help your friends when they need it?  Think how you could help one of your friends today.

In the second story, sadly the brothers who set up adidas and puma didn’t make up, and it led to many arguments in the town, don’t let Wildground Juniors be like that, always be quick to say sorry when you have a disagreement.  The Bible says how: “Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars”.

As I said at the beginning, there are lots of people around who do help us – doctors, nurses, teachers etc., but I want you to think how you can be a person who helps others.

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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