by Manon Ceridwen James
Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools
To help the children think about the meaning of Christmas.
Preparation and materials
- You will need two pieces of Christmas music – one reflective, quiet piece, perhaps a carol, for Step 3 below, and another more upbeat, jolly piece to play at the end – and the means to play them in the assembly.
- Also a candle.
- Have available some figures from the Christmas story (crib figures) or pictures if you don’t have any.
- Get the children to sit on the floor in concentric circles, with you in the middle, or a horseshoe if that works better. This is important as it signals that this is going to be a different type of assembly from normal and will help the children to be more reflective. Put the unlit candle in the middle, with the Christmas story figures to one side. Keep the figure of Jesus somewhere to hand but separately. Dim the lights or switch them off to make the room as dark as possible.
- Explain to the children that you want them to help you tell the Christmas story and this is going to be their special Christmas assembly, somewhere they will be able to sit and think about what Christmas means.
- Get the children in the right mood to reflect by putting on the reflective, quiet piece of Christmas music at a low volume.
- When the children have quietened down, ask them to, in turn, volunteer to pick a character and explain who it is in the story.
- It doesn’t matter which figure is chosen or the order, but do help the children along by asking them each to explain what the character does in the story. For example:
– Mary was the mother of Jesus, a young woman who did a very special thing, who said ‘Yes’ to God and agreed to have a special baby who would change the world
– Joseph was Mary’s husband, who looked after her and was Jesus’ father on Earth
– the angels told the shepherds about the good news that a special baby had been born
– the donkey carried Mary all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem
– a cow is included as Jesus was born in a stable, so all kinds of animals would have lived there
– the shepherds were out working when they were told by the angels the good news about Jesus coming to help the world and show us the way to God (shepherds had a horrible job in those days, working outside all day and all night, fighting off wolves and other wild animals, and people didn’t like them because they didn’t fit in with everyone else, they were dirty and smelly, but they were some of the first people to be given the good news about Jesus, the gospel, in this very special way – it is for everyone.
Help each child to explain the Christmas story in his or her own words. As they choose a figure, asking questions about who it is and why he, she or it is important will help.
- Ask the children, ‘Who is missing?’ Hopefully they will say, ‘Jesus!’ Retrieve the Jesus figure and explain that Christians believe Jesus, God’s Son, came to Earth as a baby to show us the way to God, to help us follow him and love other people.
Explain that we sometimes talk about Jesus being the ‘light of the world’. Light the candle. Go on to say how we can’t see when we are in the dark and we can sometimes feel afraid. Having a light on, like a torch, can help us see the way. So, thinking of Jesus as the light of the world means that he has come to help us not be afraid and understand life better.
Ask the children to be quiet for a few moments and, in the silence, think about Jesus and the story of Christmas. Be silent for as long as the children can cope (surprisingly, depending on the school, silence can work very well, so don’t be afraid to use it in all kinds of different contexts).
- Finish off by saying that Christmas is a quiet time to think, but also a time to celebrate. Play the upbeat, jolly piece of Christmas music to end the assembly.
Time for reflection
Most of the assembly has involved reflection, so end the assembly noisily by saying, ‘Merry Christmas!’ repeatedly to each other!
Some Christmas music.