Primary Current Assemblies
By Rachel Bird
Suitable for Whole School
To explore the meaning of Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday), and Lent.
Preparation and materials
You will need: A frying pan; several previously prepared, cold pancakes (make them nice and thick and rubbery to make them easier to toss); lemon or lemon juice; sugar.
Show the sugar and lemon and ask the children if they can put their hands up and guess what we’ll be thinking about today. When pancake day has been guessed, ask if they know the real name for the day (Shrove Tuesday). Explain the tradition of eating up food before the fast of Lent begins. The word Shrove is an Old English one meaning to forgive sins.
- Ask some volunteers out to the front and hold a pancake-flipping competition (it is best not to choose the very youngest children!). Give each child 30 seconds and count the number of flips they manage. At the end give them all a round of applause.
- Ask the children if they know what Shrove Tuesday marks the beginning of and introduce the idea of Lent. Explain that this is an important time of year for Christians. It reminds them of when Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights without food. Today we’re going to think about three ways in which Lent was and is important.
- It was an important time and place for Jesus, as it was a place of preparation – this means ‘getting ready’ for something important. Jesus was getting ready for his work of healing and teaching. It was important that he was somewhere on his own, so that he could focus on God, with no distractions. He had a busy and important time ahead. Christians today use Lent as a time to focus especially upon God.
- Jesus was tested in the desert. Either ask the children if they know or tell them what Jesus was tempted by: food, power and wealth, testing God. Go into whatever detail you have time for or is appropriate. The main thing is that Jesus stuck by God, and this is a reminder to Christians today that when things get hard, or they are tempted to forget God, they can trust in God who never leaves them.
- Sometimes people give things up for Lent – it’s another way of trying to keep life simple and focus on God. Give an example if you are planning to give something up for Lent.
- A different way of looking at it is to take something up for Lent. It may be a good time to ‘turn over a new leaf’ – a bit like the pancakes we flipped, we can all have the chance to show a new side to us!
Encourage the children this year to use Lent as a time to make a positive effort to do something good. This might be to keep your room tidy, to be a better friend, to pray, to try your best, to feel better about yourself. It is good to give an example of something you are planning to do.
Time for reflection
Ask the children to close their eyes and sit very still.
Think about what we’ve heard this morning.
Think about what positive thing you might do this Lent.
Thank you that during Lent we can think more about you and focus on you.
We pray that you will help us with the positive things we choose to do this Lent.
We pray also for all those in the world who have no power, no money, no food
or have lost their way in life.
‘Lead me from death to life’ (Come and Praise, 140)