Hopes, Dreams and the Future
by Alison Thurlow (revised, originally published in 2012)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To encourage us to have hopes and dreams for our future.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Hopes, Dreams and the Future) and the means to display them.
- Have available the song ‘I can do all things’ by Jim Bailey and the means to play it at the end of the assembly. It is 2.32 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Fb1vxlyVM
- Start by saying that today, we are going to be thinking about our hopes, dreams and plans for the future.
Ask the children to turn to a partner and talk about what they would like to be when they grow up.
- Ask them to share their ideas and listen to some of their answers. Comment that it would be interesting to ask them all the same question in ten or 15 years’ time and see how many of them ended up doing what they thought they wanted to do when they were aged between five and 11! (You may also like to tell the children what you wanted to be when you were a child and what you ended up doing.)
- Explain that you are going to tell the children a story. It is a traditional folk tale about three trees that had plans and dreams about their future.
The Story of the Three Trees
Once upon a time, there were three trees growing side by side in the forest. They were friends and they used to spend their time chatting together. Even though they were more or less the same height and they were all growing in the same place, they were very different.
Show Slide 1.
The first tree loved beauty.
The second tree loved adventure.
The third tree loved God.
One day, the trees were talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up.
‘When I grow up, I want to be a carved treasure chest, filled with sparkling jewels,’ said the first tree.
Show Slide 2.
‘When I grow up, I want to be a strong ship and my captain will be a great explorer who will discover new lands,’ said the second tree.
Show Slide 3.
‘I don’t want to be made into anything. I want to stay right here, growing taller every year until I am the tallest tree in the forest. Then, when people look at me, they will see that I’m pointing them to God,’ said the third tree.
Show Slide 4.
The years went by and, one day, three woodcutters arrived in the forest and cut the three trees down.
‘At last! My dream of becoming a treasure chest is about to come true!’ shouted the first tree.
‘Brilliant! My dream of becoming a sailing boat is about to come true!’ yelled the second tree.
‘Oh no! Now I won’t be able to point people to God,’ whispered the third tree.
The woodcutters carried the three trees away and, for two of them, the future looked bright. However, before long, all three had to say goodbye to their earlier plans.
Instead of being made into a beautiful treasure chest, the first tree was made into an ugly animal-feeding box.
Show Slide 5.
Rather than being made into a fine sailing ship, the second tree was made into a simple fishing boat.
Show Slide 6.
The third tree wasn’t made into anything at all. It was just cut up into planks and left stacked in the builders’ yard.
Show Slide 7.
The years went by and gradually, the three trees learned to live with their broken dreams.
Then, one cold winter’s night, everything changed for the first tree. A baby was born, and it was clearly no ordinary child. Angels sang. Shepherds and kings came to visit him. Guess which animal-feeding box his mother used as a cradle?
Show Slide 8.
When the first tree realized what had happened, its heart filled with joy. ‘My dreams have come true after all. I may not have been filled with gold and jewels, but I have held the greatest treasure on earth.’
About 30 more years passed before everything changed for the second tree. Then, one day, when it was out in the middle of a lake, a terrible storm blew up and the little tree was sure that it was going to sink. Suddenly, something incredible happened. One of the men on board stood up and called to the wind and the waves, ‘Peace! Be still!’ and they obeyed him.
Show Slide 9.
When the second tree realized what had happened, its heart filled with joy. ‘My dreams have come true after all. I may not have carried a great explorer, but I have carried the maker of heaven and earth.’
Not long after that, things changed for the third tree too. A carpenter came and took it away, but, to the tree’s dismay, he did not make it into anything beautiful or even useful. Instead, he made it into a coarse wooden cross.
Show Slide 10.
‘Oh no! This is the sort of cross soldiers use to put criminals to death!’ thought the third tree. It should have been the worst day of the tree’s life – except for one thing. The man hanging there in agony was no ordinary criminal paying for his crime. He was Jesus – the man Christians now believe to be the Son of God – and he was dying.
When the third tree realized what was happening, its heart thrilled with joy.
‘My dreams have come true after all. I may not be the tallest tree in the forest, but, from this day on, as the cross of Christ, I shall always point people towards God.’
Time for reflection
In the story, each tree had a plan for its future, but it seemed that God had a different plan for them. Initially, God’s plan did not seem as exciting as their original plans, but eventually, God used each one of them to play an important part in the life of Jesus, from his birth to his death.
We all have hopes and dreams for our futures and that is a good thing. (If appropriate, add that Christians believe, if they ask God, he will show them his plans for their future.)
Prayer (these are the words of an old blessing)
In your journeys to and fro,
God direct you;
In your happiness and pleasure,
God bless you;
In care, anxiety or trouble,
God sustain you;
In peril and danger,
God protect you.
‘I can do all things’ by Jim Bailey, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Fb1vxlyVM (2.32 minutes long)
‘A whole new world’ from the film Aladdin, available at: https://youtu.be/eitDnP0_83k (3.09 minutes long)