An assembly for Lent (Ash Wednesday, 18 February 2015)
by Ruth Hind
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore the concept of repentance.
Preparation and materials
- You may wish to have a compass and a map as visual aids for the story in the assembly.
Tell the following story, pausing to ask the children the questions and accept their responses.
I wonder if any of you have ever been orienteering.
Orienteering is an outdoor adventure sport. The aim is to move through a number of control points, marked on a map.
Show the map and compass, if using.
You move from point to point, deciding the best route to complete the course in the quickest time. It can be very exciting.
Sami learns a valuable lesson
Sami loved orienteering. Sometimes he did it with his family, at other times with a group of friends from his club. He was such a good map reader that usually he didn’t get lost, but he will never forget the time he did.
He wasn’t expecting to get lost, he was expecting to win. He was in a familiar wood, one he thought he knew like the back of his hand. He looked at his map and thought, ‘Yes! What an easy route.’ He planned it all out in his head and set off at a fast pace, shouting to the others in his team to follow him. ‘Come on, we can win this!’ he yelled. Even though he hadn’t given them a chance to see the map, the others followed him.
At first, all was well, but gradually the path they were following became very narrow and overgrown with brambles. Even though it was not as easy as Sami had thought, he was determined to carry on. The path became steeper and they had been going a long time without seeing a control point. Sami began to suspect that he might be going in the wrong direction.
What do you think Sami should do?
Sami didn’t tell anyone else he thought he had got it wrong – he just kept on going. The others began to get worried. ‘Are you sure we are on the right track, Sami?’ They looked at the map and decided that they needed to go in another direction.
Sami was too proud to admit that he was wrong. He decided to break all the rules and go on alone. He was sure that soon he would see a landmark he recognized and work out where he was, but, as it then began to rain heavily and Sami struggled to see anything at all, he realized his mistake. He shouldn’t have left his group.
What do you think Sami should do?
Sami turned round and began to retrace his steps. He moved quickly, even though he was tired. He wanted to catch up with his friends as soon as possible!
How do you think Sami felt?
When he saw them in the distance, he was so relieved. Together, they looked at the map. They realized that they had been going in completely the wrong direction and needed to go the opposite way.
Sami’s team did not win the orienteering that day, but they did at least complete the course and Sami had learned a valuable lesson: if you are going in the wrong direction, it is best to admit it as soon as possible.
In the Bible, there are many examples of people realizing that they have gone the wrong way and changing direction. Sometimes they aren’t physically lost, but their lives have taken a wrong turn.
Depending on the level of the children’s knowledge of the Bible, you might ask them to suggest examples, expecting responses such as Zacchaeus, the Prodigal Son or Jacob.
Realizing that you are going in the wrong direction and turning around is what Christians call ‘repentance’. You don’t need to be a Christian to repent, though. When we make a mistake, we should all admit it and then do something about it. That is repentance and, sometimes, like when Sami got lost, it is the very best thing we can do.
Time for reflection
I wonder if you have ever made a wrong choice?
I wonder how you feel about asking for help?
It isn’t always easy to admit when we are wrong, but brave people face up to their mistakes and, when they do, they find others are willing to help put it right together.
Sometimes we can take a wrong turn,
Sometimes we can realize that we have been wrong.
Give us the courage to change direction and the confidence to know that you are with us.
‘One more step along the world I go’ (Come and Praise, 47)