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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Living in peace

by Manon Ceridwen Parry (revised, originally published in 2010)

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To consider the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and explore how we can live in peace.

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. Ask the children to talk about their own experiences of different churches and chapels. Point out the different kinds of churches in the local area. If children have visited any of these churches or attend groups at the churches, ask them to describe the buildings or what goes on there.

  2. Explain that different churches have different kinds of buildings and worship in different ways. However, God didn’t plan for everyone to be separate. In the Bible, Jesus spoke about ‘unity’.

  3. Ask the children what the word ‘unity’ means. Ask a child to look up the definition in a dictionary. The definition in the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘the state of being united or joined as a whole’.

    The idea of Christian unity is that Christians are joined together, despite different church buildings and variations in belief: they work as one, whole unit.

  4. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity usually takes place from 18 to 25 January. The idea is that Christians all over the country worship and work together during this week. (It might be appropriate to tell the children about events in the local area.)

  5. Read the Bible passage, Matthew 5.23–24.

    ‘So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.’

  6. Explain that Jesus taught that it is important for us to get on with each other, even though it may be hard sometimes. He said that if we are angry with someone, we shouldn’t come to worship in church or school and sing and pray as if nothing is wrong. He said that we should go away and talk to the person and try to be friends again.

  7. In church services, we act this out by saying to each other, ‘Peace be with you’ during worship. The response is, ‘And also with you.’ This is called ‘sharing the peace’.

    Encourage the children to join in as they share the peace’ with each other. The leader says, ‘Peace be with you’ and asks the children to respond by saying, ‘And also with you.’ Then ask them to greet each other and ‘share the peace’ (with words and actions).

  8. Remind the children that this is acting out in a service something that’s very important in life. We should get on with each other, sort problems out and try to be friends. Christians call this ‘living in peace’.

Time for reflection

Light a candle, and ask the children to reflect on any arguments that they might have had in the last couple of days.

Is there someone that we need to make peace with today?

Prayer
God, give us peace in our hearts,
Peace in our families,
Peace in our school,
Peace in our village (or town/city/area),
Peace in our country,
Peace in our world.
Amen.

Finish by saying ‘Peace be with you’ . . . and see if the children have remembered the response!

Song/music

‘Give me oil in my lamp’ (Come and Praise, 43)

Publication date: January 2018   (Vol.20 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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