The gift of gold this Christmas
To help the children understand that when we serve others with kindness and compassion, we are serving God.
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
Preparation and materials
One £1 coin and one 1p coin.
- A gold box.
- An image from a recent world disaster and the following words from Matthew 25.40, displayed on a whiteboard: ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’ (see ‘Time for reflection’).
- For information about the Penny Project go to www.schooloftheword.co.uk
(see ‘Further development’ below).
- Review with the children the gifts which the wise men brought to Jesus.
- Show the £1 coin. Explain that this is the only gold thing which you have in your pocket today. Tell the children that you’ve discovered that well over £65 million has been lost in the UK. Fortunately, this is not all the property of one person. Sadly, nobody seems very bothered about it. And, as far as you know, people are not even looking for the money!
Show the 1p coin and explain that what has gone missing is over £65 million of pennies like these.
How many pennies are in a £1? That means 6.5 billion pennies, weighing 22,000 tonnes, have disappeared since they were first minted in 1971 (from a statement by the Royal Mint, reported in 2007).
- Interview some teachers to see whether they have ever found lost pennies and where these were found.
In a survey conducted four years ago by the car maker Chevrolet, it was calculated that:
– £26 million worth of pennies were lying in gutters and on pavements
– £11 million were rattling around at the bottom of handbags and cases
– £7.8 million had wedged themselves into unlikely places in cars
– £5.9 million were down the backs of sofas
– £4.6 million were lying ignored on the floors of supermarkets, buses and trains.
- Suggest to the children that if we found a 1p coin in any of these places the chances are that we wouldn’t get too excited. (We might have a different reaction to a 50p coin or a £1 coin.)
But if many poor people in Africa or Bangladesh or Asia were to find a coin of similar value lying in their gutters, it would be a different story. There would be great rejoicing. That little coin might mean the difference between nothing to eat all day and a few grains of rice to stave off hunger pains.
- Show the gold box. Remind the children of the gift of gold given to Jesus at his birth.
Explain that Jesus has no need of a gift of gold this Christmas but there are millions of God’s people who need gifts that money can buy, people who have suffered floods in Pakistan, people who have suffered drought and floods in Niger (update with a more recent disaster) or homeless people in our own country who would enjoy company and a hot meal on Christmas Day.
- One day Jesus was talking to his disciples and, as was often the case, they were a bit confused! Jesus was telling them that God was pleased with them. Listen to his words from Matthew 25.35–36:
‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
The trouble was, none of Jesus’ disciples could remember doing any of those good things for Jesus, and they were honest enough to admit it!
What Jesus wanted his friends to know that day was that when they did a kind act to anyone it was as though they were doing it to him.
Perhaps, as a short Christmas project the children could be asked to search for lost pennies. These could be donated to an appropriate appeal.
For a whole term’s project, see The Penny Project (see ‘Preparation and materials’ for web address). The information pack targets the curriculum areas Religious and Moral Education, Citizenship and Enterprise. It contains 20 lesson plans and focuses on the country of Burundi, Central Africa. All money from the purchase of the pack goes to a Christian charity helping the poor in Burundi through micro-credit schemes.)
Time for reflection
Show an appropriate image from a recent news item, perhaps from Pakistan.
Underneath the image, display the words of Matthew 25.40 and suggest that the children take a few minutes to reflect on these words.
‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
Christmas is about giving.
Thank you that you sent your Son
because you care about the whole world.
Teach us to give,
not only to those we know and love,
but, like you, to everyone.
Help us to feel compassion
for those whom we do not know and will never meet
but who need our kindness and care today.
In so doing we will bless you.
Sing one of your school’s favourite carols.