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Pause for Thought: Going Without

An assembly for Lent

by Alexandra Palmer

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the meaning of Lent.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available the YouTube video ‘The Temptation of Jesus’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 2.37 minutes long and is available at:

    Note: the video includes an explanation of who Jesus is, his baptism by John the Baptist and the temptations that Jesus experienced while he was in the wilderness.


  1. Start the assembly by asking the children whether they like to eat pancakes.

    If there is time, you could ask the children to vote on which of two toppings they prefer, such as lemon and sugar versus chocolate spread. Alternatively, you could ask a few of the children what their favourite toppings are.

  2. Ask the children if any of them know why we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Explain that Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent. Many Christians celebrate Lent by giving up something important, because Lent remembers the time when Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness without eating.

    A long time ago, Christians would give up eating all rich food during Lent. This included eggs, so on Shrove Tuesday, people used to make pancakes and use up all the food they weren’t allowed to eat during Lent. Nowadays, people might give up eating chocolate, buying hot drinks from coffee shops or playing games on the Wii. Sometimes, people decide to do something positive for Lent instead of giving something up, such as performing an act of kindness every day throughout Lent.

  3. Tell the children that you are going to show them a video about Jesus’ time in the wilderness.

    Explain that in the Bible, after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, and was tested by the Devil three times towards the end of his 40 days. These tests are also called ‘temptations’.

    Show the YouTube video ‘The Temptation of Jesus’ .

  4. Ask the following questions about the video.

    - Why did Jesus go into the wilderness? (Answer: Jesus went into the wilderness to prepare himself for the next three years of doing God’s work on earth.)

    - What were the temptations that Jesus had to face? (Answer: The Devil tempted Jesus three times. First, he asked Jesus to turn some stones into bread to satisfy his hunger because he hadn’t eaten for the whole time he’d been in the desert. Next, the Devil took Jesus to the roof of the temple in Jerusalem and asked him to jump off because God would tell the angels to save him. Finally, the Devil took Jesus to the top of a mountain and said that if Jesus worshipped and obeyed him, he would give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world.)

  5. Explain the meaning of the temptations.

    - The first temptation focussed on what Jesus needed most at the time.
    - The second temptation focussed on who Jesus trusted.
    - The final temptation focussed on how to achieve things the right way.

  6. Explain that Jesus went without food for 40 days in the wilderness. Ask the children to discuss with each other what it would feel like to go without the following things for 40 days:

    - their favourite food
    - their favourite TV programme
    - their favourite toy
    - their favourite music

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Optional: to extend the topic further, ask the children to discuss why they think they might be able to go without these things and what difference doing so might make to their lives.

Time for reflection

Think about your favourite food. If you couldn’t eat your favourite food, who would you like to give it to?

Think quietly to yourself about your favourite TV programme and music. If you couldn’t watch the TV or listen to your music, how could you use your time to help the people who look after you?

Think about your favourite toy. Who would you like to share it with?

Dear God,
Thank you that we can remember what Jesus went without in the wilderness.
Thank you for all the food that we have to eat.
Thank you for TV programmes and music that entertain us.
Thank you for our toys and the joy and happiness that they can give us.
Please help us to think about others and how we can help them during this season of Lent.


Our God is a great, big God’, available at: (3 minutes long)

Extension activities

  1. The extension activity extends the ‘Assembly’, Step 6. Using the sheet that accompanies this assembly (Going Without - Extension Activity), encourage the children to draw and explain the four things that they could go without: their favourite food, TV programme, toy and music.
Publication date: February 2021   (Vol.23 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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