The Best Medicine
by Revd Richard Lamey
Suitable for Key Stage 2
Preparation and materials
- This assembly can be shortened by leaving out the quote from Genesis 1 in the ‘Assembly’, Step 5.
- Wear a strange item of clothing to make the children smile – something that makes you look a bit different and more comical than usual.
- Have available a book of jokes to read out or memorize a handful of jokes, if you can, or ask some children ahead of the assembly to tell some jokes (vet them!) at the beginning. You could also ask one or more children to tell the story from Genesis 1 in the ‘Assembly’, Step 5, if including.
- Find a summary of Genesis 21 that emphasizes the laughter of Sarah. The whole story is too long to include, so draw out the theme ‘why Sarah laughed’.
1. Without any introduction, start to tell a series of quick jokes – reading from the book, telling them from memory or the children telling them, if arranged.
You can groan with everyone else at the answers or ask the children to put their hands up and tell the punchline. They can be deliberately well-known ones to get people involved.
2. Now, let me tell you a joke from the Bible that’s in Genesis 21.
Explain that Sarah was a lady who had never had children and knew that she would now never have one as she was past the age for having babies. So, when she was told that she would soon be pregnant, she laughed.
When the baby was born, she named him Isaac, which is a Hebrew word for laughter.
This is a different sort of joke from the ones we have been hearing, but I love the fact that in the Bible is a name meaning laughter.
3. Laughter is a good thing. It helps us get through difficult days and really helps good days go well, too.
4. Physically speaking, it is really good to laugh. It relaxes our bodies, increases blood flow to the heart, helps us create antibodies that protect us from diseases and germs and it releases ‘endorphins’, which are the body’s natural well-being chemicals.
5. As well as all that, it helps build a sense of belonging and community. If you laugh together you’re saying something important about what you find funny, which goes to the heart of who we are.
Laughter is good for the body and good for any team and the community as well.
6. God knows all of this, too – none of this is an accident. God made the world out of his abundance and smiled playfully as he did so, as it says in Genesis 1:
Omit if shortening assembly.
In the beginning there was God, and just God. Around him there was no order or beauty or rhythm or stillness. Then, on the first day, God said ‘Let there be light’ and suddenly, out of nowhere, light. God organized the light and sent the light and the darkness to their place. He called the light Day and he called the darkness Night. And God looked around and he said, with a smile, ‘A good start. I’m pleased. Let’s see what I can do tomorrow.’
So, on the second day, God rubbed his hands together and he gathered all of the air together and he rolled it into a ball and he flung it, with joy, to make the heavens. Then he drew the water together and he rolled it and shaped it and spread it around between the land, roaring seas and bubbling streams and calm lakes and fierce cloudbursts. Air and water and earth. And God looked around and he said, with a smile, ‘Not bad at all. I could get into this.’
On the third day, God knelt on the dry and empty earth, and gently, tenderly, he thought of corn growing in the fields and of trees heavy with fruit and of the prettiest flowers. He thought of strawberries and kiwis and pineapples and grapes and kumquats and peas and ripe red apples. And around him, they grew. And God looked around and he said, with a smile, ‘I’m just getting warmed up.’
So, on the fourth day, God looked up to the heavens, and thought, a sun to warm the Earth and the Moon to watch over it while it sleeps and stars to guide and comfort it. So God scattered the stars in the heavens and held the Sun in his hands and shaped the curve of the Moon. And God looked around and he said, with a smile, ‘Yes. I like that.’
On the fifth day, God swung round and round and living creatures appeared all around him, birds to soar and fish to fill the streams and oceans and every kind of animal to cover the Earth – giraffes and elephants and polar bears and geckos and hamsters and lions and cows and sheep. And God looked around and he said, with a smile, ‘This is such fun. But I can do better.’
On the sixth day, God knelt on the ground and he shaped some clay in his hands and, with a smile, he breathed on it and he made . . . you. And God blessed the people he’d made in his own image, and he told them to enjoy the Earth and to care for the Earth, to live gratefully, to relish everything God’s love had made. And God looked around and he said, with a smile, ‘This is perfect.’ And on the seventh day, God rested, and he just enjoyed being there, in the midst of such beauty and such perfection and such wonder. And God looked around and he said, with a smile, ‘This is very good indeed. I’m so glad I thought of this.’
7. I am sure that God smiled when he made each person, which includes you! God gave us this life to enjoy and relish. Why not find someone to tell a joke to at lunchtime? Laughter is indeed the best medicine.
Written by Revd Richard Lamey
Time for reflection
When it comes to counting our blessings, the gift of laughter is one of them. It makes us feel better. It builds up any team. It gets us through hard times and it makes the good times even better. It is surely a gift from God, every bit as much as Isaac himself was to Sarah!
Help us to laugh well today.
Help us to be kind in our laughter – always laugh with people and never at them.
Help us to feel the joy and dance and laughter of creation all around us.
‘All things bright and beautiful’ (Come and Praise, 3)