The Salvation Army at Christmas
Appreciating what we have
by Philippa Rae
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To consider the importance of appreciating all that we have.
Preparation and materials
Have available some images of things that are traditionally associated with Christmas and the means to display them during the assembly. Examples could include:
- Christmas dinner, available at: https://tinyurl.com/lhv4xk9
- Christmas pudding, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y9cfv8pb
- Christmas stockings, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yb8kceqk
- Christmas presents, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y9bg7m77
- Christmas decorations, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ya69fcz9
You will also need an image of William and Catherine Booth and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/yc6go7om
More information about The Salvation Army is available at: https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/
Thank you to The Salvation Army for providing the stories of David and Joan.
Point out that Christmas is an exciting time with many wonderful things to enjoy. It holds a special meaning for many people.
Show the images of things that are traditionally associated with Christmas.
Ask the children which parts of Christmas they enjoy most. Many people enjoy spending time with family and friends at Christmastime.
Unfortunately, some people are not lucky enough to have friends or family to share Christmas with. Many families may be struggling. Some people do not even have a warm home to stay in at any time of the year.
Fortunately, there are some wonderful organizations that try to bring a little light relief at Christmastime. Churches, football clubs, cafes, food banks, holiday camps, supermarkets and charities: many organizations go out of their way at Christmas to give time, kindness and comfort where it is needed most, such as a hot meal, shelter and companionship.
One such organization dedicated to spreading a little cheer is the charity, The Salvation Army, which was started by William and Catherine Booth in 1865 on the streets of London. They demonstrated their Christian faith by offering practical support to those in need. Some of the issues they saw people facing were homelessness, a lack of food and clothes, a lack of jobs and poor health. Those issues still affect people today.
Show the image of William and Catherine Booth.
In the last 150 years, The Salvation Army has grown into an international organization, operating in 128 countries. It has helped people in numerous ways, providing care during wartime, offering night shelters for the homeless and helping individuals to rebuild their lives by feeling that they are valued members of the community.
Here are two stories from The Salvation Army that show different ways in which it has helped.
David was a builder until stress and ill-health forced him to give up his job. He fell behind with his rent and was evicted from his home. For seven months – including a bitterly cold winter – David lived rough on the streets. For a while, he slept behind a shop’s dustbins, but he had to move on when late-night revellers tried to kick him and trample on his possessions. He felt like he was at an all-time low.
Then, out of despair came a spark of hope. The local council found him a place at a Salvation Army residential centre for homeless people. Becoming homeless had knocked the stuffing out of David. He even began to think that there was no point in living. But at The Salvation Army centre, he found that he was no longer alone. He was welcomed and valued, which helped to build his self-confidence.
Now, thanks to this support, his old zest for life has returned. He is working as a volunteer in the cafeteria in the centre and applying for jobs in the catering industry. He says quite simply, ‘I don’t know what I would have done without The Salvation Army. You saved my life.’
Aged 94 with arthritis of the spine, Joan can’t walk very far without help. Her husband died ten years ago and her only son died soon afterwards, leaving her all alone in her little bungalow.
For years after her husband died, Joan was dreadfully lonely and felt terribly miserable. However, The Salvation Army found a way to give Joan the love and companionship to enjoy life again. Every week, she gets taken by minibus to the day centre that they run near her home. She has made friends with the other guests, and gets to join in all the activities, like quizzes and bingo. It makes her feel so much better.
Already Joan is looking forward to the Christmas lunch at the centre for people who live on their own. She particularly loves the games and the singsong that they have after the meal. ‘It’s just like our family Christmases used to be,’ she says with a smile. ‘The Salvation Army is my family now.’
Time for reflection
Let’s think about David and Joan’s stories. David suffered homelessness and Joan had a medical condition that limited her mobility. Through these problems, both of them suffered the heartbreak of loneliness.
Although it seemed like they had been forgotten, David and Joan were helped through the compassion and friendship of The Salvation Army.
By spending time with people and valuing them, The Salvation Army makes an immeasurable difference to those in need, whatever their personal circumstances are.
Although helping others in practical ways can have a positive impact on their lives, one of the most important things we can do to show that we value others is to give our time. At Christmas, we can be so busy looking forward to all the good things that we can forget about others who are less fortunate. Let’s all spare a little time to think about others.
Thank you for the wonderful time we have at Christmas.
Please help us to appreciate the time we have at Christmas with our friends and family.
Let us enjoy the gifts that we receive, and the good food that we eat.
However, please help us never to forget how fortunate we are.
Please help us always to think about others.
Thank you for organizations like The Salvation Army who show compassion and love.
Please help them as they seek to make people’s lives happier this Christmas.
A traditional Christmas carol or any appropriate Christmas song.