The Big Search
The Parable of the Lost Coin
by Gill O'Neill (revised, originally published in 2002)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To illustrate that in God’s eyes, we are all precious and of great worth.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a purse and ten ten-pence coins. Place nine of the coins in the purse, but hide the remaining coin in the hall before the assembly, so that it can be found with some searching.
- The assembly includes the Parable of the Lost Coin from the Bible (Luke 15.8-10). This story can be retold, read from a children’s Bible or read from the actual Bible. The version included below is from the Good News Bible.
- Begin the assembly by telling the children that you will need a volunteer to come out and help you do a trick with ten coins.
- Ask the volunteer to count out the coins from the purse. When they say that there are nine coins, look surprised and suggest that they can’t have counted them properly. Ask for a recount. When the answer is nine again, ask the child to sit down while you check. Keep looking puzzled, and turn the purse inside out in search of the missing coin.
- Start to check your pockets and mutter that there were definitely ten coins when you came into the hall this morning. Ask if anyone has seen the lost coin. Perhaps you’d dropped it on your way in. Use your judgement to build up the children’s belief that you are really concerned about the missing coin.
- Start to look around the front of the hall, and then enlist the help of one or two of the children, perhaps asking the seated children for suggestions about where the coin could be.
When the coin is found (you may need to hint where it is if this takes too long), overplay your relief that you’ve got it back. Explain that it would have driven you mad all day if you hadn’t found it.
- Introduce the story that Jesus told about the woman and the lost coin. Either read it from a Bible or retell it yourself from the version below to engage the children (referring to yourself looking for the coin). You could ask a child to mime the story while you tell it.
‘Suppose a woman who has ten silver coins loses one of them - what does she do? She lights a lamp, sweeps her house and looks carefully everywhere until she finds it. When she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together, and says to them, “I am so happy I found the coin I lost. Let us celebrate!” In the same way, I tell you, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents.’
- Explain that what Jesus was saying is that we are like the coins. We are all valuable to God, and even though he has lots of us, if one of us gets lost by not being the kind of person he’d like us to be, he will not give up hope in us. He will search and search for us until we are found.
- Ask the children if they have ever been lost.
Listen to a range of responses.
You may wish to share a story about a time when you got lost.
- Explain that sometimes, we can get lost in our lives. We make bad decisions and mistakes. It is special to have people in our lives who forgive us when we get lost, people who are always there to forgive us and guide us back onto the correct path.
Time for reflection
Ask the children to close their eyes.
Let’s think about a time when we lost something that was important to us. Have you ever spent all day looking for something that was lost? Maybe your mum or dad lost their keys and you searched for them for ages?
Searching for something can be frustrating; we might need lots of determination, but it is so rewarding when we find what we are looking for.
Can you remember how relieved and happy you were when you eventually found what you were looking for? Have you ever been so happy about finding something that you shared the news with your friends or family?
Let’s be thankful that when we are lost, or have gone the wrong way in life and made mistakes, there are people who care enough for us to search and search, or to show us the right things to do.
Thank you for people who care for us enough to forgive us when we get things wrong and get lost in our lives.
Please help us to make good decisions and to listen to advice.
Thank you that you love us and keep searching for us.
Thank you that you always want to forgive.
‘Thank you, Lord’ (Come and Praise, 32)