Taking the blame: An Easter assembly
To consider how one feels when wrongly blamed.
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider how one feels when wrongly blamed.
Preparation and materials
- Track from the musical Oliver!.
- A candle (if you use a relighting one, you’ll need a small jug of water to finally put it out).
- Play a track from Oliver! as the children come in to assembly.
Ask the children to identify the song, the musical, the story, the author.
- The setting of the film Oliver!, which is based on Charles Dickens’ story, Oliver! Twist, is London in the Victorian era. This was a time of great growth and change in the nation and empire with the rise of industries bringing many people in from the country to the city to find work.
It was an age of great inequality. There were the rich and privileged, and there were those who were poor and hungry and overworked. Charles Dickens wrote to make the rich people understand how wrong it was to ignore the suffering of the poor. Many powerful people living at the same time as Charles Dickens also began to try to improve the lives of the very poor in this country.
- Ask: How many know the story of Oliver!? Can they identify any sad times in the film? Explain that today we will focus on the pickpocket episode.
Having run away from the orphanage Oliver Twist lives rough on the streets of London, until one day he is befriended by Jack Dawkins, whose nickname is the Artful Dodger. He introduces Oliver to a ‘kindly gent’ who provides Oliver with a bed and some ‘grub’.
Perhaps the name Artful Dodger should have alerted Oliver to the fact that Jack might not be a very honest person, but Oliver is weary and in need of food. What Oliver does not know, of course, is that Dodger belongs to a gang of pickpockets and robbers, and that the kindly gent who takes him in, who is called Fagin, is the ringleader of the gang.
Fagin is a rather scary man but Oliver now has somewhere to sleep and is no longer quite so hungry and thirsty and cold. In the early days in the household Oliver’s job is to sort out the items which the boys bring back to the house. He does not realize that these have all been stolen.
One day Oliver is allowed out with Dodger and his mate Charley. Oliver is dumbfounded when Dodger slips his hand in to the pocket of an elderly gentleman and snatches a handkerchief. The two boys run off swiftly while Oliver stands terrified. This is stealing. He starts to run away and the old gentleman shouts, ‘Stop, thief!
Soon a whole crowd is chasing Oliver and he is eventually caught and taken to the police station and then to the court. This is very serious.
- How do you think Oliver is feeling at this moment? (Identify feelings such as fear, hurt, frustration, panic.)
Have you ever been blamed for something you didn’t do? (If time permits allow a couple of children to tell of their experiences.)
- Fortunately, as Oliver stands in the dock, accused of stealing, Mr Brownlow, the elderly man whose handkerchief has been stolen, comes to Oliver’s help.
‘Stop! Stop! This is not the boy, sir.’ The judge is rather angry at the waste of his time and orders Oliver out of the court. Mr Brownlow notices how ill Oliver looks and when the boy faints on the pavement he arranges for Oliver to be carried to his own home. There then follow some very peaceful and happy days for Oliver.
- If you were accused of something you didn’t do, did it work out in the end? Were you believed? How did that make you feel?
Have you ever been in a situation in which you weren’t believed, when people didn’t think the best of you and might even still think you are to blame? That’s hard!
Shakespeare, another famous writer, wrote these words: ‘The truth will out.’ This means that the truth will become known eventually. Wrong things have a habit of coming to light in the end.
- At Easter we remember Jesus. Here was someone who was blamed wrongly for many things. He was an innocent man yet people wanted to think badly of him. As a result, he was crucified (in those days that was the way the Romans punished people who were found guilty of serious crimes such as violent robbery, treason and murder). But ‘the truth will out’ as Shakespeare said . . . and three days later Jesus rose from the dead.
The Roman soldier who was in charge on the day Jesus died said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son.’
Jesus is someone who completely understands about being wrongly blamed. The Bible tells us not to worry if we are innocent and nobody believes us. Jesus sees everything.
Time for reflection
(Light a candle. If you can, make it one of the relighting ones. Leave it to burn for a while, then blow it out.)
Think of a time when you were wrongly blamed for something. Look at the candle. (Hopefully it’s relit by this point.)
One day the truth will out. In the meantime have courage and stay confident.
thank you that you are light and truth
and that you know all things.
Give us courage and hope when we are wrongly blamed.
Sing one of your favourite Easter songs.