What Will You Send?
To reflect on letter-writing and the letters of the New Testament
by The Revd Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To reflect upon letter-writing and the letters of the New Testament.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a bundle of unopened or resealed mail, including junk mail, a bill, a 'Wish you were here' postcard, an invitation, and a (pretend) personal letter.
- A number of children should be prepared to present the light-hearted sketch 'A letter from Paul'. They will need as a prop a rolled length of wallpaper, onto which some of the lines can be written!
- Time for reflection could be prepared for choral speaking.
- You can find more about the use of drama in assemblies on our resources section.
- You might have fun by beginning the assembly with the theme tune from 'Postman Pat'. Say that it's always a surprise to see what the postman brings every morning. Show everyone your bundle of mail and invite the children to guess what each envelope might contain. Respond appropriately! Tear up the junk mail, groan at the bill, look longingly at the postcard, be pleased with the invitation, and take time to peruse the 'personal' letter. (It's from Great Aunt/Uncle…s/he has had a busy week…s/he's worried about…says, will I remember to… and asks how is everything at school?)
- Ask the children to consider the kinds of letters that they like to receive and send. What are the advantages and disadvantages of letter-writing when it is now possible to keep in touch by e-mail? Reflect that a handwritten letter can seem more personal, but naturally takes more time to compose and send.
Tell the children that the person responsible for setting up the postal service as we know it today was a schoolteacher, Sir Rowland Hill. In 1840, he introduced the 'Penny Post', making it possible to send letters anywhere in the British Isles for a penny postage stamp, the 'Penny Black'. For centuries before that, letters had been carried from place to place by messengers.
- Surprise everyone by announcing you have some letters that are almost two thousand years old. Explain that they are in the Bible and were written by one church leader, the apostle Paul, to groups of Christians in different places, such as Rome and Corinth. Invite the children to imagine that one of the letters has just been delivered.
A letter from Paul
by the Revd Alan M. Barker
Narrator: The year: 60 AD. The place: Rome.
Voice 1: Hey, everyone! There's a letter arrived.
Voice 2: Who's it from?
Voice 1 (examining the scroll): I know the handwriting. It's from Paul.
Voice 3: It will be a long letter then!
Voice 2: Open it! Let's see what he says.
Voice 1 (unravelling the long length of paper): It IS long!
Voice 2: 'I, Paul, write this letter to all the Christians in Rome.'
Voices 1 & 3: That's us!
Voice 2: 'I thank God for everyone of you.'
Voices 1 & 3: That's nice!
Voice 2: 'Please don't be disappointed because I can't visit you.'
Voices 1 & 3: That's a shame!
Narrator: Because Paul couldn't visit his friends at Rome he wrote a long letter to teach them about the Christian faith. There was a lot to read. Some things were hard to understand, but others were crystal clear.
Voice 2: 'Love one another.'
Voice 1: 'Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good.'
Voice 3: 'Help the weak to carry their burdens.'
Narrator: And at the end of the letter there were so many friends mentioned!
Voice 1: 'Hello to Mary. What a worker she has turned out to be!'
Voice 3: 'Hello to my cousin Herodian.'
Voice 2: 'Hello to Rufus and his mother. She has also been a dear mother to me.'
Narrator: When they received Paul's letter, everyone in the church at Rome was pleased. They knew they weren't forgotten. They read Paul's words time and time again. And his thoughts were so helpful that they kept the letter safely for others to read as well. That's how it became part of our Bible.
- Ask if the children remember the Royal Mail advertising slogan 'What will you send?' Invite them to consider whether there are important letters that they might write - perhaps to say 'thank you', to express concern, or even a letter of protest. Encourage ideas to be shared.
Time for reflection
The following could be rehearsed as a 'sound montage' spoken by a number of voices. Children can add their own ideas as well.
Thoughts and words,
Pen and paper,
Dear Gran…With love
Dear Sir…Yours faithfully
(in unison) What will you send?
'The ink is black' (Come and Praise, 67)