An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Key Stage 1/2
To look at the different types of waiting.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the following:
– alarm clock or kitchen timer
– tennis ball or beanbag
– torch or oil lamp
– poster with the word 'MARANATHA' written large.
- Note that in the ‘Assembly’, Step 7, there is the option to tell the story of the bridesmaids and the talents (Matthew 25.1–13). Familiarize yourself with the story and allow as much participation as possible in the time. You can use a torch with batteries in place of a lamp and oil.
- Tell the children that the subject of today's assembly is . . . (long pause) . . . waiting. Inform them that you have chosen this theme because, from late November and through much of December, Christians all around the world are waiting and preparing themselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This waiting time is called ‘Advent’. Find out, by a show of hands, how many of the children have Advent calendars.
- Explain that there are at least two types of waiting. The first type is when you know exactly when the waiting will come to an end. Advent is that type of waiting. Everyone knows the date of Christmas Day!
- Show the children the alarm clock or kitchen timer. Explain that waiting for an alarm clock or timer to go off is a similar type of waiting.
In front of the children, set the alarm clock or timer to go off in a few minutes. Ask for a volunteer to watch it. Throughout the rest of the assembly, keep checking on the time remaining.
- So, that's one type of waiting. Ask for a volunteer to help you demonstrate the second type of waiting.
Instruct the volunteer to stand in front of you facing the rest of the school. Say that you are going to drop or lob a tennis ball or beanbag over his or her head. Your volunteer must try to catch it without turning round, looking up or cupping his or her hands. You will give no notice of when the ball is going to be dropped or lobbed.
- After a few attempts, ask the children to describe this type of waiting.
Confirm that this type of waiting is when you don't know when the waiting will end. Firefighters and paramedics know all about this. When they go on duty, they know that, in all probability, they will be called out to an emergency, but don't know when. So, they have to wait.
- Christians know about this second type of waiting as well. During Advent, Christians are not only waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago but also waiting for him to come again.
When Jesus lived and taught in Israel 2,000 years ago, he promised his friends that he would come back again – but he didn't say when. In fact, he said he didn't know when, but he did tell his followers to be ready and told them this story.
- If there is time, share with the children the story of the bridesmaids and the talents (Matthew 25.1–13). Allow as much participation as possible. A torch and batteries can be used instead of a lamp and oil.
- Inform the children that it has been 2,000 years and Jesus still hasn't come back yet. It might be another 2,000 years before he does, or it might be tomorrow. Nobody knows, only God.
So, how do Christians deal with this waiting? Do they sit around doing nothing, just waiting? Do they behave like the firefighters and paramedics, preparing themselves and getting on with doing what Jesus wants them to do?
Most of them do the latter. As well as telling people about Jesus and showing people how much he loves them, they also pray.
Time for reflection
Tell the children that you are going to say a prayer soon, but, before then, show them the word 'MARANATHA'. This is one of the oldest and shortest of all the prayers Christians say.
It is in the language that Jesus spoke at home and it means, 'Come, Lord Jesus'. Tell the children that, instead of saying 'Amen', they can end their prayer with the word 'Maranatha'.
Waiting when you don't know when the waiting will end can be very difficult.
Help us to be patient and make good use of the time when we have to wait.
'Soon and very soon' (Let's Praise! 1 (Marshall Pickering), 190, 1994 edition)