Those Who Serve
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Key Stage 1/2
To explore some aspects of being in the forces and serving others.
Preparation and materials
- Note that you may find some of the imagery used by Paul in the passage read out in the ‘Time for reflection’ section difficult and there are certainly questions to be raised about how Christians should respond to armed warfare and what is meant by a just war. There is also a potential problem with the fact that the armour and weapons mentioned by Paul are old-fashioned – the present equivalent might be a bullet-proof vest and an automatic rifle, which raises further questions. If these are problematic, you could use this assembly without the last section where Paul's imagery is developed.
- Rather than focus on remembering past wars or conflicts, this can be an occasion to learn that serving other people and helping them has an effect on those who serve and helps shape who we are.
- Arrange an interview with someone who has served in one of the forces or been involved in a conflict in some other capacity. You could make a sound recording or video the interview or, if appropriate, interview them 'live', although this should be carefully rehearsed.
- In the interview, include the following key questions:
– What was the 'event'?
– What was the individual's role?
– What was the value of what they were doing? (For example, did their service help their family and friends, the wider community, their country?)
– What were their feelings and thoughts about their family and friends, from whom they were being separated?
- Try to include pictures of the person interviewed, both now and at the time of service. You might also include an illustration of the conflict or a memento (piece of uniform, letter and so on) from that time.
- It is important to be aware of any children who may have members of their family on active service at this time and be sensitive to their views and concerns.
- Choose some appropriate music and have the means to play it at the beginning of the assembly.
- You will need the passage Ephesians 6.13–20 to read out - choose a version that has wording suitable for the age group attending the assembly.
- Open the assembly by playing your chosen music.
- Set the scene, describing the person you interviewed and what he or she does, then play your recording of the interview.
Time for reflection
Allow time for guided reflection covering the following areas:
– thankfulness for people who serve others, especially when it involves separation, danger and the need to protect other people – perhaps people that they do not know personally
– recognizing that there are occasions when we might feel frightened and how the love and support of those close to us can give us strength.
Read Ephesians 6.13–20.
Continue by talking about how who we are, what sort of a person we are in the world, is important. In times of conflict, men and women fight for what they believe is a better world. This doesn't have to mean physical fighting situations. Each day we can work at building a better world by, in the words of Paul, wearing:
– the 'belt of truth' (speaking and finding out the truth)
– the 'breastplate of righteousness' (seeking out and valuing goodness)
– shoes that enable us to bring peace to those around us (perhaps because we will not 'tread on people's toes' and 'go the extra mile' to help!)
– a 'shield of faith' (having faith that God is supporting us, which will protect us)
– the ‘helmet of salvation’ and the 'sword of the spirit' (allowing God to work in our lives and make us better people so we can help others).
The children could draw a large picture of a person and 'arm' him or her with the belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet and sword. On these, they could put illustrations and examples of good ways to live. This could also form the basis of another assembly.
Walk among us Jesus and be with soldiers and peacemakers.
Walk among us Jesus and be with the hungry in their need.
Walk among us Jesus and be with the frightened and lonely.
Help us see them, hear them and, in their darkness, make us part of your light.
'When a knight won his spurs in the stories of old' (Come and Praise, 50)