Today’s assembly was for years 1 & 2 in a small infants school on the theme of peace, as on 21st September it is International Day for Peace:
Prepare eight pieces of card with writing on both sides as follows:
- Front: Dress Back: Love
- Front: in Back: Joy
- Front: the Back: Peace
- Front: wardrobe Back: Patience
- Front: God Back: Kindness
- Front: picked Back: Goodness
- Front: for Back: Faithfulness
- Front: you Back: Self-control
Begin by saying that you have a very difficult quiz to start the assembly. Hold up a pencil and ask for ‘hands up’ for children to say what it is. Do the same with a piece of paper, a bag, a book and/or any other everyday objects.
Admit that it wasn’t so difficult after all. Who thinks it’s easy to name things – to say what they’re called?
As they’ve done so well, say that you’re going to make the next question a bit more difficult. Produce your cuddly toy and ask what it is. Agree that it is a toy dog/cat, but what is it called – does anyone know?
Tell the children the name you’ve given the toy (you could explain why if appropriate), and explain that some things have a special name, a name that you give them. Ask for examples such as their own toys and pets; include the children’s own names given them by their parents.
Say that you have a special name for ‘17th May’ (replace with the date of your birthday). Can anyone guess why? You call it ‘My Birthday’. Take a few ‘My Birthday’ dates from the children.
Why does the school have its particular name?
Now tell the children that you know of a school called ‘4th of April’. Can they guess why? Value all suggestions and then explain that it’s a school in Angola, which is a country in southern Africa – a long way away! It was named after the day that Angolans stopped fighting each other and made peace. This was such an important and happy day that everyone wants to remember it. Including the children of the 4th of April School.
Remind the children of the concept of ‘opposites’, considering some simple examples and concluding with happy / sad, better / worse, united / divided.
Using the display board, introduce the six key words from the Peace Prayer in random order. Challenge everyone to match the words together in opposing pairs. Rearrange the display according to their suggestions.
As the opposites are formed, reflect briefly together upon the meaning of the words. Note that the word ‘death’ can describe not only the end of our physical existence but also a state of awareness, i.e. we can be ‘dead’ to the needs of others.
Invite the assembly to consider the words that speak of a better, happier world and those that describe sadness and division. Organize the pairs in the order that they are found in the Peace Prayer. Reflect that people of faith pray that the world might enjoy greater happiness and unity.
Here’s how! Display the complete version of the Peace Prayer and read it together. Explain that this prayer is used by people of different faiths, and especially during the Week of Prayer for World Peace. The Peace Prayer was composed by Satish Kumar and adopted by the Prayer for Peace Movement in 1981. It is perhaps unique in being used by peoples of different faiths across the world. The UN has also designated 21 September as a World Peace Day.
Invite everyone to consider how this prayer can be effective. Note that it begins, ‘Lead me’. Individual actions and words can help to either unite or divide humanity. (How is this true in school?) Everyone who prays the Prayer has a part to play in making peace real.
The Peace Prayer
Lead me from Death to Life,
from Falsehood to Truth.
Lead me from Despair to Hope,
from Fear to Trust.
Lead me from Hate to Love,
From War to Peace.
Let Peace fill our heart,
our world, our universe.
Put a CD on. Ask the children to pass the bag of clothes from one person to the next as long as the music plays. When the music stops the child who is holding the bag takes out an article of clothing, without looking. They then go outside the room to get changed, while the process continues until the bag is empty.
When all the children are changed and ready ask them to enter the assembly room in a ‘fashion parade’. Give each child one of the cards (in the right order) and ask them to hold them up with the front showing.
Say that God has a set of clothes for us all; they will not make anyone look silly and they will fit everyone. Read out the cards, which are a paraphrase of Colossians 3.12 based on The Message translation. Ask all the children to read out the verse: Dress in the wardrobe (clothes) God picked for you.
Ask the volunteers to turn over their cards. Read out the new ‘clothes’: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control. Explain that the Bible is using a metaphor here, saying that living a good life is like putting on the right clothes each day. Say that anybody can look good in these clothes and that they don’t cost you any money. These are the clothes which Christians believe God wants us to wear and wants to give to each of us. Imagine a world – or a school – where everyone wore these clothes.
Give the volunteers at round of applause.
Time for reflection
- What are you wearing today?
- Will you clothe yourself in friendliness, patience, kindness…?
- What are you wearing today?
Dress us in love.
Dress us in joy.
Dress us in peace.
Dress us in patience.
Dress us in kindness.
Dress us in goodness.
Dress us in faithfulness.
Dress us in self-control.