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How Important Are Our Friends?

The value of friendship

by Jan Edmunds (revised, originally published in 2006)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To consider the true value of friendship.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need seven sheets of card, each of which should display a letter from the word ‘FRIENDS’. You will also need seven children to hold up the cards as the acrostic poem in the Assembly, Step 5, is read out.

  • Optional: you may wish to display the poem so that the children can read it with you, in which case you will also need the means to do so.

Assembly

  1. Ask the children what they enjoy doing most.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    If none of them have suggested ‘playing with friends’, try to steer them towards this, or suggest directly that most of them enjoy doing so.

  2. Explain that some people like to have a mixture of friends and some have a best friend.

    Ask the children if they can think of any other friends who might be special to us. Encourage them to think about animals and pets.

    Discuss why pets might make good friends.

  3. Suggest how lucky we are to have friends, and how lonely life could be without them. Emphasize that in school, no one should be without friends; we all have a responsibility to look after each other and make friends with each other.

  4. Invite seven children to come to the front and give each of them one of the cards, making sure that they stand in the correct order.

    Ask them to hold up their card when you call out the letter.

  5. Read out the following acrostic poem, pausing between each line to allow time for your helpers to hold up the appropriate letter.

    Friends

    F is for faithful, they’re loyal to the end.
    R is for reliable, they’re true and don’t pretend.
    I is for the interest in sharing thoughts with you.
    E is for enjoyment, whatever you might do.
    N is for neighbourly, they’re kind in every way.
    D is for dependable on every single day.
    S is for that special friend you know is always there,
    The one who makes you happy and you know will always care.

  6. Take a few moments to discuss each line, making sure that the children understand the meaning. You could point out that the poem represents what we call an ‘ideal’ friend. This might be what we would find in a perfect friend, but we all know that we don’t live up to this idea of friendship all the time.

    Optional: if you have the means to display the poem, ask the children to read it with you.

    Gather up the cards and ask your helpers to sit down.

  7. Explain that the poem reminds you of a Bible story (Luke 5.17-26) about four friends who brought another friend to Jesus.

    Four Friends

    Once upon a time, there were four men who regularly helped and took care of their friend. He had been paralysed for many years and was unable to walk. They had heard about a man called Jesus who was able to make blind people see, make deaf people hear and do all sorts of amazing miracles. These men loved their friend and felt convinced that he, too, could be cured. When they heard that Jesus was teaching nearby, they were determined to find him.

    They carried their paralysed friend on a mat, secured with ropes at each corner, to a house in Capernaum, where Jesus was teaching the people about God. There was a huge crowd crammed into the building, listening and hoping to witness some of the miracles for which he was becoming famous. The four friends could get nowhere near him.

    They were very disappointed, but they were determined to reach Jesus. One of them had a daring idea. In those days, most houses had a flat roof that was reached by an outside staircase. The roof was covered with a thick coating of mud over a layer of reeds. When the men reached the roof, they were able to scrape the roof covering away. They made a hole that was large enough to fit their paralysed friend through, and slowly lowered him on the mat until he was just in front of Jesus.

    Jesus was moved by the lengths to which the four men had gone in getting their friend to him. He knew that they had complete faith in his ability to heal their friend. So, Jesus said, ‘My friend, your sins are forgiven, pick up your bed and walk.’

    The crowd watched in amazement. They watched as the man began to move. The feeling came back into his feet and legs, and slowly he began to get up. He stood up straight, picked up his mat and walked away, thanking Jesus and praising God.

    Some of Jesus’ enemies who had witnessed what had happened were angry. Jesus knew this, but he had wanted to demonstrate that his power to heal was a visible sign that he was indeed the Son of God. It was the loyalty of the mans friends and the faith that they had in Jesus that encouraged Jesus to perform this miracle.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to think about their friends.

- What is special about their friends?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- How good are they at being a good friend?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- What could they do to be a better friend today?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- Could they make a new friend today?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Explain that sometimes, we feel like we have no friends or we fall out with our friends and that makes us sad. Encourage the children to talk to someone if they feel like this. Remind them that there is always someone in school who will listen to them and try to help.

Prayer
Dear God,
We thank you for our friends and for the happy times that we share with them.
Help us to be a good friend to them.
Teach us how to play fairly and to share.
Help us to recognize loneliness in others and show friendliness towards them.
Thank you that you are our friend and will be with us always.
Amen.

Song/music

‘You’ve got a friend in me’ from the film Toy Story, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMN4JZ8crVY (2.24 minutes long)

Publication date: January 2020   (Vol.22 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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