by Alison Thurlow
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore the theme of forgiveness (SEAL theme: New beginnings/Getting on and falling out).
Preparation and materials
- Prepare a series of images of the words for ‘hello’ in several languages – see the ‘Assembly’, Step 1 – and have the means to display them during the assembly.
- You will also need the following image of Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son to display during the prayer at the end of the assembly, at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_-_The_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Detail_Father_Son.jpg
- Familiarize yourself with John Hardwick’s song ‘Never, Never, Never’, on his 34 Songs for All Occasions (double CD, Mission Computers, 1999).
Introduce the assembly by saying that you are going to be thinking about making people feel welcome. Explain that you will display the word ‘welcome’ in several different languages. Ask the children to put their hands up if they know which language it is.
– Bienvenue (French)
– Willkommen (German)
– Croeso (Croy–so) (Welsh)
– Benvenuto (Italian)
– Witamy (Vit-a-may) (Polish)
– Yokoso (Yo-koso) (Japanese)
Say that we would probably all agree, it feels nice to be welcomed somewhere and you are sure they are all very welcoming in the school. Point out, however, that it is not always so easy to welcome someone back when they have done something that upsets you or you have had a disagreement with them. Explain that you are now going to tell them a story from the Bible that talks about this very issue. It is the story of the prodigal, or lost, son.
The prodigal son
A father had two sons and he shared all he had between his two boys. One day the younger son left home, travelled to a far country and took his share of his inheritance with him. He wasted all his money on wild living and, when a famine came to that country, he found he had nothing to eat and no money either.
He started working for a pig farmer – horrible, dirty and smelly work that he did not enjoy at all. He realized that his father’s workers were much better off than he was, so he decided to go back home, admit that he had made a bad mistake and ask his father to let him become one of his workers.
As he approached his father’s house, an amazing thing happened. His father saw him, came running towards him, hugged him and kissed him. More amazing than that, his father called the servants and told them to prepare a great feast to celebrate the fact that his son had come home.
The older son was very grumpy – he complained to his dad that he had always worked hard, but he had never thrown a party for him. His father reassured him that everything he had he would share with him, but he had to celebrate because he thought his youngest son was dead and he was really glad he was alive after all. He was lost and now he had been found and this was the reason for the big party!
Time for reflection
Explain that the father in the story – who represents God – forgave the son – who represents us when we have done something wrong – and welcomed him back with open arms. If appropriate, add that Christians believe God still welcomes people into his family today.
Ask the children to sit quietly and think about this question.
– Am I willing to forgive people who have upset me and welcome them back into my friendship group?
Display the image of Rembrandt’s TheReturn of the Prodigal Son and invite the children to look at it while you read the following prayer.
Thank you that you forgive us when we are sorry for the wrong things we have done.
Help us to be forgiving and welcoming in this school.
‘Never, Never, Never’ (John Hardwick, 34 Songs for All Occasions)