God is with us wherever we go
by Revd Sophie Jelley (revised, originally published in 2006)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools
To consider the sending and receiving of postcards, and the belief that God is everywhere and is always ready to help us.
Preparation and materials
- Have available an image of some postcard stands and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/y7fo9lh6
- Prepare a set of your own ‘postcards’ on A4 card showing the following pictures and words in large letters on one side (you need no artistic ability – the pictures should only be very simple!).
– A sun with the word ‘dawn’.
– A blue sky with clouds and birds, with the word ‘heavens’.
– A boat on the sea, with the word ‘sea’.
On the other side of each of your ‘postcards’, write in large letters ‘I am there. Love from God x’.
- Have available a collection of postcards from around the world – if possible, some of these should have been sent to you.
- You will need the Bible passage Psalm 139.7-10: ‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast.’
- Ask the children which of them like receiving letters and parcels through the post. Ask them if they have ever been on holiday and noticed stands with lots of postcards on them.
Show the image of the postcard stand.
- Ask the children what the postcards are for.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Explain that not so long ago, sending postcards was a common occurrence. Explain that before mobile phones and the Internet, people would send a postcard to reassure others that they had arrived at their holiday destination and that they were having a good time.
- Point out that you like to receive postcards during the summer holidays, too.
Show the children your collection of postcards from around the world. If possible, explain who sent them to you.
- Ask the children where they went on holiday this summer, or whether they know someone who has been or is on holiday. Be sensitive to your particular context because holidays may not be possible for some children.
- Ask the children if any of them wrote or received a postcard this year. Then, ask them if any of them sent text messages instead!
- Introduce the Bible reading from Psalm 139 by saying that it is a bit like a series of postcards from someone very special.
Read Psalm 139.7-10: ‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast.’
Ask the children if they know who the passage is about.
- Say that you have brought along some more postcards to give them some clues.
Ask for three volunteers and give each of them one of your drawn cards.
Ask each volunteer to hold up the card and describe the picture. Then, ask each of them to read out the message on the back or read them out yourself.
- Explain that Christians and people of many faiths believe that wherever we go, God is there, thinking about us. The skies, seas and solar system are all vast and we cannot imagine what they are really like. However, we can trust that God knows and that there is nowhere that he is not already present.
- What can this mean for us? Draw out some examples depending on your volunteers. For example, a teacher may feel apprehensive about a new class, a child may need to be reassured about a new school or subject, a parent may feel anxious about their child taking the bus to school for the first time or there may be other concerns outside school.
All of these things are real concerns, but no matter what we face, Christians believe that God is always there with them. They believe that no matter where we go in the world, God will always be there.
Time for reflection
Ask the children to close their eyes. You may like to play some quiet music in the background.
– Have you ever received a postcard like those we’ve seen today, or an electronic version?
– Have you ever sent one?
– Do you like getting postcards, letters, emails and texts?
– Why is it a good thing to keep in touch with people in this way?
– Have you ever thought about the belief of many religions – that God is with us wherever we go?
Pause to allow time for thought.
Thank you that you are to be found in every part of the universe.
From the heavenly skies above us,
To the depths below us;
The dawn and each morning around us,
The seas and the unknown before us.
Help us to bring all our worries and concerns to you
So that we may know your help every day.
‘Morning has broken’ (Come and Praise, 1)