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Forgiveness

by Alison Thurlow

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To consider forgiveness as a way of mending broken friendships (SEAL theme ‘Getting on and falling out’).

Preparation and materials

  • Prepare some images on PowerPoint to go with point 1 below (optional).
  • An alternative version of the story called ‘The Unforgiving Servant’ can be found in The Lion Storyteller Bible by Bob Hartman. The children should join in with the phrase ‘Hey, that’s OK!’ which recurs throughout the story.
  • Familiarize yourself with the song ‘Lord, You forgive’ by Nick Harding (Spring Harvest Kids Praise 2002) This works well if you learn the Makaton signs for ‘Lord’, ‘forgive’, ‘please’ and ‘me’.

Assembly

  1. Ask the children to put up their hands if they have broken anything recently. Maybe tell them about something you have broken. Point out that some things that are broken cannot be mended, but it is often possible to mend things that we have broken. If we care for our environment, it is a very good idea to try to mend things rather than always throwing them away and then buying new things. For example, ask the children what they might use to mend the following things if they were broken (show images, if using):

    a hole in the toe of my socks? (needle and thread)
    a ripped page in a book? (sellotape)
    a handle that has come off a mug? (superglue
    a puncture in my bike tyre? (puncture kit)
    a cut finger? (sticking plaster

  2. Then ask the children what they could do about mending a broken friendship. 

    When you fall out with one of your friends, you can’t mend that friendship with a needle and thread, or some sellotape, or superglue or a puncture kit or a sticking plaster, so now you’re going to read them a story from the Bible that might give them some ideas about mending broken friendships.

  3. The parable of the Unforgiving Servant:

    Jesus’ friend Peter came up to him one day and asked him a question:

    ‘If someone does something wrong, something that upsets me, and keeps on doing these wrong things, how many times should I forgive him? Should I forgive them as many as seven times?’

    Jesus looked Peter in the eye, shook his head gently and replied:

    ‘No, not seven times – you should forgive them seventy times seven times!’

    Then Jesus told Peter a story to help him understand more about forgiving and about living life God’s way.

    Once upon a time, there was a king who had lots of servants. One day the king was checking through his account books when one of his servants was brought into the room. This servant owed the king some money – rather a lot of money. In fact he owed him thousands of pounds, but he did not have enough money to pay his debt.

    ‘Sell this man as a slave,’ shouted the king, ‘and his wife and his children too! That way, he will have enough money to pay what he owes me!’

    The servant fell down on his knees in front of the king and pleaded for mercy. ‘I’m so sorry,’ he said, ‘if you’ll just give me a bit more time, I’ll earn the money, then I’ll pay you back everything I owe you.’

    The man looked so sad that the king felt sorry for him, and in a kind voice he said, ‘That’s OK! I forgive you and I’m cancelling your debt.’

    The servant was very surprised, but leaped to his feet and left the palace rejoicing. Just as he came out of the door, he bumped into another servant who owed him some money. It was not a lot of money – just a few coins. Even though the first servant had recently been forgiven by the king, he grabbed the second servant, gave him a good shake, and demanded that he pay back the money. The second servant didn’t have any money, so he too fell to his knees and cried out, ‘I’m so sorry, if you’ll just give me a bit more time, I’ll earn the money then I’ll pay you back everything I owe you.’ The first servant took no notice and had him thrown into jail until he could pay his debt.

    When the king heard what had happened, he was very angry and asked for the first servant to be brought to his palace. ‘I’m not at all happy!’ he roared. ‘I forgave you and cancelled your debt because you asked me to. Why couldn’t you have done the same thing for your fellow servant rather than having him thrown into jail? I’m now sending you to jail until you can pay back your debt in full!’

    Jesus explained to his friend Peter that God is like the king in the story: Christians believe God forgives us every time we tell him we are sorry for the wrong things we have done, and he wants us to treat our friends in a similar way – forgiving them each time they say ‘sorry’ to us.

Time for reflection

Ask the children what they would you say was the key word in that story? Say you think the key word could be ‘forgiveness’.

Ask them to turn to the person next to them and have a go at answering one of these questions: ‘What does it mean to forgive someone?’ (KS2) or ‘What kind of things do you need to say sorry for? (KS1). Listen to a few of their answers.

Remind them that at the end of the Bible story Jesus tells us that, if we have done something wrong, we need to say sorry to God and then he will forgive us. In a similar way, if you have fallen out with a friend, I think two things often need to happen: if you know you have done something wrong or upset someone, you need to be brave enough to say sorry to that person. The person to whom you have said sorry then needs to forgive you.

So, going back to the questions at the beginning of the assembly:

What might I use to mend a broken friendship? I would say a good answer to this question would be ‘forgiveness’.

Prayer

Dear Lord,
Thank you for today’s Bible story about forgiveness.
Thank you that if we say sorry to you, you give us a fresh start.
Please help us to be forgiving people here in this school.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Lord, you forgive’ by Nick Harding (Spring Harvest Kids Praise 2002).

Publication date: May 2015   (Vol.17 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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