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Excuses, excuses!

by Alison Thurlow

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To reflect on why we so often make up excuses for not doing things.

Preparation and materials

  • If wished, create an image of the questions that appear in the ‘Time for reflection’ section and have the means to display it during the assembly.
  • Familiarize yourself with the parable of the wedding feast, on which the story in the assembly is based, which can be found in Matthew 22:1–14. 

Assembly

  1. Open the assembly by saying to the children that you are going to ask them a question and you want them to be completely honest when they answer it.

    Ask them to put their hands up if they sometimes make up excuses for not having done something. 

    Comment that, if we are honest, we probably all make up excuses for ourselves sometimes.

  2. Say that you have been wondering what sorts of excuses they make up? For example, how they might finish off these phrases:

    –  ‘I’m sorry I haven’t done my homework, but  . . .’

    –  ‘I’m sorry I haven’t tidied my bedroom, but  . . .’

    –  ‘I’m sorry I was late to school, but  . . .’

    –  ‘I’m sorry I was late home from football training last night, but  . . .’

    –  ‘I’m sorry I was rude to my little sister/brother, but  . . .’

    –   ‘I’m sorry I didn’t play with that boy/girl who was all by him/herself in the playground, but  . . .’

  3. Comment that this was just a bit of fun, but you are now going to tell them a story Jesus told in the Bible in which people made up a lot of excuses. 

    The parable of the great feast

    There was once a king who decided that he would like to have party. He thought he would organize a huge feast and invite lots of important people. 

    Once everything was ready, he told his servants to go and tell his guests that the party was about to begin, but it was then the trouble started.

    They arrived at the first house and the man there looked a bit embarrassed and said, ‘I’m so sorry, but I won’t be able to come after all. I have just bought a field and I simply must go and look at it!’ 

    The servants went on to the second house and this time the owner blurted out, ‘Err, sorry, can’t come! I’ve just bought some cows and I need to go and see what they are like!’

    At the third house, the owner blushed a pretty shade of pink and said rather coyly, ‘My apologies, but I’ve just got married and I really do want to stay in with my new wife!’

    When the servants told their master about all these excuses, he was furious! He stamped his foot and bellowed, ‘Go out into the streets and the alleys and invite the people you find there: those who are poor, those who are disabled, those who are blind and those who can’t walk very well.’ 

    So that’s what the servants did and these people were only too delighted to be invited to the king’s feast! 

    Once they were all in the banqueting hall, there were still some spaces left, so the servants went back to the king and said, ‘We could squeeze a few more people in.’ ‘Go to the country roads this time,’ commanded the king, ‘and invite all the country folk, too. None of those rich people I invited in the first place will be coming to this feast!’

  4. Ask the children to think back to the excuses they gave you at the beginning of the assembly – were they always reasonable? 

    Make the observation that they were perhaps a little selfish and, really, often the children made them simply because they did not want to do a particular thing.

    Ask the children, ‘What about the excuses made by the people in the story – were they any better?’ and ‘If not, why not?’

    Suggest that the rich people couldn’t quite be bothered to come to the banquet. The king, who represents Jesus, then invites all the people others might not invite to a great feast and they all come because none of them has any excuse for not coming!

Time for reflection

Ask the children to sit quietly and think about the following two questions.

Display image of questions, if using.

– Do I sometimes make up excuses rather than tell the truth?
– Am I like the king in the story and welcome all kinds of people or do I sometimes make up excuses as to why I leave some people out?

Suggest that being truthful and trying to include everyone will make for a happier and a better school.

Prayer
Dear Lord, 
I’m sorry for the times I make up unnecessary excuses – please forgive me.
Thank you that you welcome all kinds of people – please help me to do the same.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Thank you, Lord, for this new day’ (Come and Praise, 32)

Publication date: February 2015   (Vol.17 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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