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Joseph and the potter

To show that difficult experiences can have good results.

by Guy Donegan-Cross

Suitable for Key Stage 2


An Olympic-themed assembly to inspire pupils to have courage despite obstacles.

Preparation and materials

  • For section 3, you will need:
    an ornate bowl or vase
    a lump of clay or a picture of the clay.
  • Joseph’s story is told in Genesis 37—50. His words to his brothers are in Genesis 50.20.


  1. God never wants bad things to happen to us. He always wants what is good.

    But sometimes he will use difficult times to make us better, more loving people. 
  2. In the story of Joseph in the Bible, poor Joseph knows what it feels like to face great difficulties. He is his father’s favourite – his dad gives him an ‘amazing technicolour dreamcoat’. But his jealous brothers sell him as a slave in order to try to get rid of him.

    Joseph is taken to Egypt, where he is sent to prison for something he hasn’t done. Eventually he helps the Pharaoh by explaining the meaning of two of Pharaoh’s dreams. Pharaoh puts him in charge of looking after all the crops of Egypt during a famine. And Joseph ends up saving his family from starving.
  3. Show the pupils your vase/bowl. Say why you like it.

    Next show a lump of clay, or a picture of clay. Point out that your vase/bowl started out like this. What had to happen to the clay for it to become a beautiful bowl?
  4. Tell the story of the man who found a wonderful vase in a shop. As he picked it up, the vase spoke. It said, ‘I’ve not always been a vase. Once I was just a lump of clay, taken from the earth. One day I was picked up, rolled, squeezed and patted down. I cried out, “Please, stop! Leave me alone!”

    ‘But the potter smiled and said kindly, “Not yet!”

    ‘Suddenly I found myself being slapped down on a wheel and spun round and round. “I’m dizzy!” I shouted. “I think I’m going to be sick!”

    ‘But the potter kept on spinning the wheel, and said quietly, “Not yet.” He spun me round, digging his fingers into me and bending me into a different shape.

    ‘At last he stopped. I thought my ordeal was over. But then he put me in the oven. I had never felt so hot. I shouted and cried out, “Get me out of here!” I thought I was going to die.

    ‘When I thought I couldn’t take it any more, the door opened. The potter gently lifted me out and put me on a shelf. I began to cool. The relief was amazing!

    ‘But it wasn’t to last. Once I’d cooled, I was picked up and painted all over with a sticky glaze which smelt overpowering. “Please stop,” I whimpered.

    ‘The potter shook his head. “Just wait,” he said. And then he put me back in the oven. And this time it was twice as hot as before. I could hardly utter the words but I begged to be let out. When my hope had gone, suddenly the door opened and I was let out and put back on the shelf to cool.

    ‘What would the potter do next? The following day, I felt his hands pick me up and gently turn me. He looked deep into me and I heard him say, “You are so beautiful.”’
  5. Many terrible things happened to the lump of clay in order for it to become a beautiful vase. Many terrible things happened to Joseph. But he said to his brothers, ‘Even though you intended to harm me, God intended it for good.’

Time for reflection

Maybe each of us has some difficult things in our lives. But if we will trust God, he will bring something good out of them.

Dear God,
you are the potter,
I am the clay.
When bad things happen,
help me to trust that you can make something good come from them.


‘Father, hear the prayer we offer’ (Come and Praise, 48)

Publication date: October 2012   (Vol.14 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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