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Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

Standing up for what we believe to be right and true.

by Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To consider standing up for what we believe to be right and true.

Preparation and materials

  • The story is found in the Old Testament Book of Daniel, chapter 3. This is an instant drama assembly, and you are the narrator.
  • The king and the statue can be played by adults, all the other parts by children. Pick out the children to play these parts when you get there in the story.
  • You also need someone who can play some fanfare-type music - the same few bars, several times.
  • Decide how you will pronounce those names, and stick to it!
  • You need a golden crown that an adult will wear as the king.
  • If you can make/borrow/steal a large statue all the better! If not, get an adult to pose.

Assembly

  1. Explain that the story is set in Babylon. About 2,500 years ago, it was the greatest city in the world. If you go to the British Museum in London, you can see all sorts of things - doors, statues - from the city, that date from the time that we are talking about.
    At that time, there were lots of people living in Babylon who were exiles - captured through wars and taken to the city. Among those people were:
    Shadrach (ask for a volunteer)
    Meshach (another volunteer)
    and Abednego (another volunteer).
    Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were Jewish, and worshipped their own God, who they believed was the one true God. This is the God that Jewish people still worship, and so do Moslems and Christians.
  2. Recruit some guards to stand by the king. Enter the king, who sits down. Explain that the king had a strange name - Nebuchadnezzar. He had a huge, tall statue made, and set it on the ground outside the city. He told everyone that when the band played, everyone had to worship the statue.
    (Musician(s) play short fanfare or similar.)
    Explain that all the soldiers bowed down to the statue.
    (Soldiers enact this, but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego don't.)
  3. Continue the story:
    The king was very cross with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and told them to worship his statue, but they wouldn't.
    (Musician(s) play short fanfare or similar - soldiers bow again.)
    'We worship the true God, the God of Israel', said Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. When the king threatened to kill them for not worshipping his statue, they said, 'Fair enough. Perhaps our God will save us, perhaps he won't. But we believe it is wrong to worship your statue. We're sticking with our God, the God of Israel.'
    King Nebuchadnezzar grew very angry. He ordered his soldiers to go and stoke up his furnace. (Soldiers mime stoking furnace, wiping brows, etc.)
    Then the king ordered the soldiers to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (mime tying up) and ordered them to be thrown into the fire!
    (Soldiers mime pushing them into the fire.)
    It was so hot, that the soldiers died from the heat!
    (Soldiers keel over.)
    After a while, the king went to have a look and see how our heroes were doing.
    (The king wanders towards 'furnace' area, where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have been joined by another person.)
    They were fine, absolutely fine. The king couldn't understand what was going on. He'd put three men into the fire, and now there were four, and none of them were burnt at all!
  4. Ask the children who they think the fourth person is, and where he or she has come from?
  5. Continue the story:
    The king ordered the three men out of the furnace, and asked them how they had survived. They told him that God had sent an angel to care for them. King Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed that he declared himself a follower of the same God, the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
    (Musician(s) play short fanfare or similar. This time no one bows to the statue.)
  6. Talk about the story, pointing out that God saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, even though they said that he might not. Ask the children if they know of any people who died because they wouldn't do what another person was trying to force them to do. Do they know of anyone who wouldn't say that they believed something when they didn't? Perhaps they know of people who died because they believed in a way of life, or a faith, that wasn't the same as everyone else? Ideally prompt people like Jesus, Martin Luther King, Gandhi.
  7. Explain that we call these people 'martyrs': people who are prepared to die for something that they hold very dear. We probably won't have to do that, but point out that we all have our beliefs. As we grow up, we need to hold on to the things that we know are good and true, and stand up for them even when others are saying they aren't true.

Time for reflection

Loving God,
Help us to stand up for what we know to be true, and good, and right,
even when it's hard to do that.
Help us to know that you are with us, even though we can't see you.
Amen.

Song/music

'There are hundreds of sparrows' (Come and Praise, 15; Hymns Old and New, 498).

Publication date: September 2000   (Vol.2 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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