by Janice Ross
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To reflect on the need to make time in our lives to be quiet and still.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a large jar with a lid, filled about three-quarters full with water from a pond or puddle. Make sure that it is a bit muddy and perhaps even has small bits of twigs or leaves in it.
- You wil also need a large candle and matches.
- Have available a recording of ‘Away in a manger’ or ‘Silent night’ and the means to play it during the 'Time for reflection' part of the assembly.
- Ask the children to observe what happens when you shake the jar.
As the water begins to settle, the sediment will be visible, swirling around. After a while, the water will settle further and the sediment fall to the bottom.
Identify that it is difficult to see clearly when things are hectic and swirling around.
Explain that sometimes our lives are like this. They are busy, sometimes hectic, with timetables to keep to, homework to do, clubs to go to and friends to keep up with.
It is the same for adults. For parents and carers, there is washing to see to, meals to prepare, phone calls to make, shopping to do. There might be buses or trains to catch, emails to send and answer, work to finish, deadlines to meet, responsibilities at home.
Often our lives can be very like this muddy water swirling around in the jar.
- Light the candle.
Suggest that everyone sit and watch this candle in silence for one minute.
- At the end of one minute ask, 'How did that quiet time make you feel?'
Observe that stopping and settling down is good for us. Silence is good for us.
Ask, 'What did you think about during that minute?'
Suggest that peace and reflection are good for us.
- The end of November is the beginning of Advent. 'Advent' means arrival and is the season of waiting and preparation for the celebration of Christmas, when we remember the birth of Jesus. In the Christian Church, on the four Sundays of Advent, which are the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day, first one, then two, three and four candles are lit to remind us that God sent Jesus, into the world to bring light. The first candle lit is the candle of hope.
- Shake the jar again.
Like the muddy, swirling water in the jar, our world and our lives have become very busy and hectic - and will become even more so as we prepare for all the festivities of Christmas. It is difficult to see clearly when things are hectic and swirling around and it is easy to forget what Christmas is really about. So, let’s remember to take time to be quiet and still in the midst of it all and remember that Christians believe Advent is a time to celebrate the promise of God to send his son, Jesus, into the world.
Time for reflection
Let’s sit for another minute and watch the candle as we listen to a well-known Christmas carol.
Play ‘Away in a manger’ or ‘Silent night’.
Thank you for sending Jesus into the world to bring us light and peace.
Teach us how to find times of stillness during this busy Christmas season.
Recording of 'Away in a manger' or 'Silent night'