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Dorcas

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To demonstrate that we can show love by helping others.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available a selection of knitted or handmade clothes.

    Note: you will need to adapt the ‘Assembly’, Steps 1 and 2, depending on the items that you have available.

  • You will also need the story of Dorcas, which is found in Acts 9.32-43.

Assembly

  1. I want to show you something that is really special to me (or to a staff member or child). This is a pair of . . . let me check . . . yes, CLEAN socks (or any other handmade or knitted article of clothing). How do these socks differ from a normal pair? Well, they are much thicker and they come up high on the leg. They are cosy and warm in winter for when I’m out walking, sledging or mountain-biking. Many years ago, I played rugby/football in them and then went on to wear them when I was riding my first motorbike! As you have probably guessed, these socks are VERY old now. But I’m reluctant to throw them out. Can any of you guess why?

  2. These socks were knitted especially for me by my grandmother when I was 13. And no guessing how long ago that was! She knitted three pairs (how many socks altogether?) and took hours to do them. I’d often sit and watch her, mesmerized by the clicking of her knitting needles. What amazed me was that she never stopped talking and hardly ever looked at what she was doing. Imagine trying to get away with that in class!

    My grandmother knitted many clothes for me over the years - from a baby bonnet to these socks. These were the last things she knitted before she lost her sight. Every time I see them, I’m reminded of my grandmother and her care and love.

  3. This morning, we are going to hear an amazing story from the Bible. In the section called the Book of Acts, there is a remarkable story about a kind woman who had just died.

    Dorcas (who was also called Tabitha) lived in a city called Joppa and the action in this story takes place soon after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Dorcas was very good at sewing, but more importantly, she gave away what she made to others who were in need. She had a skill and she used it for good. When women in Joppa lost their husbands and were struggling to make a living and care for their children, they would receive a parcel of clothes from Dorcas to help clothe the family.

    When these widows heard that Dorcas had died, they were very sad and cried. Then, they heard that Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus, was nearby and they sent for him.

    Let’s listen to what happened.

    Read Acts 9.39-42.

  4. What an amazing story! Can you imagine being there, maybe as one of the widows? Can you imagine what would be on the news headlines that evening in Joppa, or on the front pages of the newspapers the following morning?

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Can anyone come up with a front-page heading? (Remind the children that there would not have been any printing presses or television at that time.)

Time for reflection

It’s important for us to keep in mind that people often remember kind deeds. Although Dorcas couldn’t preach or heal people like some of her fellow followers of Jesus, the people of Joppa - especially the needy - loved her. They knew that Dorcas loved them and unselfishly gave them what she could. This was Dorcas’ way of sharing her love for Jesus.

Some charities have adopted Dorcas’ approach and ask people to knit squares to join together to make blankets for needy people. Many schools also collect shoeboxes full of toys to send out at Christmastime. Can you think of other examples?

Prayer
Dear Lord,
We thank you for people like Dorcas who show your love to those in need.
Help us to think how many things others do for us -
Cook our food, buy and wash our clothes, care for us and love us.
Help us also to think of ways in which we can help others -
So that others can see the love of Christ in us.
We pray especially today for the relief agencies working to help children and adults in need all over the world.
Help us to help them.
Amen.

Song/music

‘The prayer of St Francis (Make me a channel of your peace)’ (Come and Praise, 147)

Follow-up ideas

  • Think of possible news headlines in Joppa following the raising of Dorcas from the dead.

  • Prepare a drama/presentation based on the story to be used in a whole-school assembly.

  • Find out about charities and relief agencies that knit blankets for the poor.

  • Use the Internet to research the work that the Salvation Army does to help the homeless. More information is available at: http://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/homelessness

  • Design a poster to encourage others to take clothes to Salvation Army recycling units, which you can find in most towns and cities.

  • Research Christians who cared for the poor, such as William Wilberforce, Dr Barnardo and Elizabeth Fry.
Publication date: April 2018   (Vol.20 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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