Following and being followed
by Revd Oliver Harrison (revised, originally published in 2007)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider our pathways through life, and how we can learn from those who came before us and help those who will come after us.
Preparation and materials
- Have available some images of stepping stones and the means to display them during the assembly. Examples could include:
- stepping stones across a pond, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y247vpm6
- stepping stones across a river, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y3lmx397
- stepping stones near a bridge, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y57laoux
- You will need about 12 pieces of A4 paper (used or scrap paper is fine).
- Show the images of stepping stones.
Ask the children if they have ever used stepping stones to cross something.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Talk about crossing a river using stepping stones and ensure that all of the children understand the concept.
Ask if any children have ever had an accident and slipped off the stones. Ask them to imagine how wet they would get if they did slip!
- Ask the children to imagine that there’s a river in front of them, running the width of the room.
Take two pieces of paper, put one down and step on it, and then put another down and walk forward one pace.
Reach behind you to pick up the previous ‘stepping stone’ and put it down in front of you. That way, you are crossing the ‘river’ using only two ‘stones’.
- After doing this for a few paces, pause and ask the children if anyone will be able to follow you across the river. Are you leaving a trail or a path? No.
Point out that although your stepping-stone method might be a good way to escape from people who are chasing you, it’s not very kind to anyone who might want to walk the same way and follow in your footsteps.
- Optional: you could have a race across the river, with volunteers using the ‘two-stone’ method of picking up the stone behind and moving it in front. Take part yourself and be sure to come last!
- Next, show another way. Take all of the pieces of paper, putting them down in front of you one at a time and walking forward as you do so. You are now leaving a trail, a path that can be followed.
- Point out that there are many people whom we follow. These could be celebrities, teachers, parents, other children and older brothers and sisters. Some of them might be good examples to follow; others may not!
- Explain that Christians follow Jesus. They believe that he set them a great example by which to live their lives. Christians believe that Jesus came from heaven to earth as a human, leaving a path for them to follow and helping them on their journey.
Time for reflection
Point out that we can all help people who are following us: younger children, smaller brothers and sisters, even generations to come. Are we leaving a good path for them to follow, or are we selfishly taking our stones with us and leaving nothing behind?
Examples of a ‘good path’ might be offering to help younger children, showing a good example around school, looking after the school environment and looking after the planet by recycling and switching off lights.
Stepping stones help us across when our path is blocked. They are there for everyone, serving as a trail, a path that can be followed.
Let’s think about the following questions.
Who are you following and who will follow you?
Pause to allow time for thought.
How can you be helpful and leave a ‘good path’?
Pause to allow time for thought.
Thank you that we can always find a way through the difficult paths of life.
Thank you for your help and guidance on the way.
Thank you for good examples of the way in which we should live our lives.
Please help us to follow these good examples.
Please help us to be good examples to other people, especially those younger than ourselves.
‘The prayer of St Francis (Make me a channel of your peace)’ (Come and Praise, 147)