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Pause for Thought: What the future holds

A reflection on hope in the future

by Becky May

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To explore that there is always hope, even in an uncertain future.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available the YouTube video ‘The Time Machine (2/8) Movie Clip - Going Forward’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 2.41 minutes long and is available at:


  1. Welcome the children to the assembly and begin by asking how they are feeling today. Ask the children what they are most looking forward to about 2021.

  2. Tell the children that you are going to show them a short clip from a film. Explain that it is set at a point in history, but the man is sitting in a time machine, about to journey to the future.

    Show the YouTube video ‘The Time Machine (2/8) Movie Clip - Going Forward’.

  3. Explain that we all know that 2020 wasn’t what we hoped it would be. There were probably many times when we wished for a time machine that could leap forwards into the future to a time when things would be a bit more normal. Perhaps we still feel a bit like that!

  4. Describe how starting a new year feels a bit like being on the brink of the future, the next stage in time.

    Ask the children the following two questions.

    - As you look ahead to 2021, what are you looking forward to?
    - What are your hopes and dreams for the year ahead?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  5. Explain that this time last year, when we were looking ahead to 2020, we had no idea how things would pan out! Many things that happened in 2020 weren’t in any of our plans for that year. It’s OK for us to feel sad about some of these things, and disappointed too.

    However, we can also feel thankful and happy about some of the things that we experienced last year, perhaps some unexpected positives.

    If possible, give some personal examples here, or invite the children to share some of their own unexpected joys. An example might be that we engaged more with family members who lived further away by using Zoom, or we got to know our neighbours better.

  6. Tell the children the following quotation: ‘I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.’

    We didn’t know what 2020 would hold and, although we have hopes and dreams for 2021, perhaps we are more apprehensive about those dreams because of the surprises last year.

    Christians believe that even though we can’t see ahead to the future - we can’t get in a time machine and jump ahead to see what’s going on! - God is with us in every situation. Christians believe that God is bigger than time, so he holds us even in uncertain times.

Time for reflection

Invite the children to make themselves really quiet inside for a moment and to think about the year ahead. As they stand on the brink of the future, what things do they hope for, what things would they like to achieve this year? What are their hopes and dreams for their friends and family?

Ask them to think for a moment about some of the things that may be worrying them. These may be the things that they don’t know or feel a bit unsure about. Remind them of the quotation that you shared and explain that we don’t need to worry about the future because God holds us in every circumstance, and we can trust him.

Explain that a verse in the Bible says, ‘Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.’

The future may be uncertain, and there may be things that happen that we don’t expect in the year ahead, but there will also be things to enjoy and celebrate together.

Dear God,
Thank you that you are with us in every circumstance or situation.
You know how different and unexpected the last few months have been.
As we look ahead to 2021, help us to remember that you are with us, and you hold the future in your hands.


‘I don’t know what the future holds’ by Jim Bailey, available at: (3.09 minutes long)

‘Our God is a great big God’ by Vineyard Worship, available at: (2.51 minutes long)

Extension activities

  1. You might like to invite the children to write about their dreams for 2021 or create some artwork on this theme. You could create a time capsule for the class that you can open together at the end of the year.

  2. You may find it helpful to have some circle time discussions where you look back to 2020 and think about some of the things that may have disappointed the children, or surprised them. Then, looking ahead to 2021, think about some of the things that they may be worried about or looking forward to.
Publication date: January 2021   (Vol.23 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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