Hands That Help
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools
To develop understanding of the concept of Christian service.
Preparation and materials
You will need an image of the near-touching hands of God and Adam in Michelangelo’s painting, The Creation of Adam, available at: http://tinyurl.com/gv9crss
Optional: you may wish to use a real-life example of someone who has taken seriously the meaning of Christian service. The ‘Assembly’, Step 5, uses the example of Millard Fuller, who founded the charity, Habitat for Humanity. The charity’s website is available at: http://www.habitat.org/emea.
Alternatively, use examples of individuals or charities with which the children are familiar.
Ask the children to look at their hands, and then ask them to wiggle their fingers. Point out what a wonderful piece of engineering the human hand is. The hand is one of the reasons why human beings have been so successful. Ask the children to name and demonstrate things that they can do with their hands, such as gripping things, picking up small items, playing musical instruments, communicating and creating works of art.
Show the image of the near-touching hands of God and Adam in The Creation of Adam.
Ask the children if they have seen this image before and where they think it could be found. Explain that the image is part of Michelangelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel in Italy.
Explain that some religious believers don’t believe that God has hands in the way that we do. Instead, they see the image of God’s hands as a symbol. Artists use this symbol to show that God is involved in some way in the picture they have painted and also to show that God makes things happen.
One of the ways in which God makes things happen in the world is by working through the hands of people who love him.
Read the famous prayer by St Teresa of Avila:
Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks
With compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Reread the prayer and ask the children what they understand from it.
Explain that many people take the meaning of this prayer seriously.
(The following example is taken from http://www.habitat.org/emea. You may prefer to use an example with which the children are already familiar.)
One Christian who took St Teresa’s prayer very seriously is a man called Millard Fuller. He was born into a poor American family, but, by the age of 30, he had become a millionaire. However, Millard and his wife, Linda, believed that God wanted them to do something different with their lives (and their hands) rather than simply making lots of money. They decided to sell everything that they owned, gave the money to the poor and joined with other Christians in helping poor families to build their own homes. Their charity, Habitat for Humanity, has mushroomed in size since its beginnings. It has now helped 9.8 million people find stability and independence through the provision of safe and affordable shelter. The charity encourages others to use their hands in this way to help poor families. Every year, thousands of people travel to different countries around the world to be God’s hands, helping poor families to build their own homes.
Time for reflection
All of us have the opportunity to be ‘God’s hands’ every day. Our actions are important – we can use our hands for good or in a harmful way.
Encourage the children to think of ways in which they can use their hands today to help those around them.
Help us to remember that you have no body, but ours.
No hands, but ours.
No feet, but ours.
Ours are the eyes through which you must look out with compassion on this world.
‘He’s got the whole wide world’ (Mission Praise, 225)
‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)
Find out more about the work of Habitat for Humanity by visiting http://www.habitat.org/emea
Find out about the work of other Christian charities that offer a helping hand to the poor, such as Tearfund, Christian Aid and Cafod.