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National Day of Reflection 2021

An act of collective worship for 23 March

by Peter Bull

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To use the first anniversary of the first UK lockdown to reflect on our collective experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic and our hopes for a brighter future.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and 15 readers, who will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly, although this can be adapted as needed.
  • Have available three candles and the means to light them.
  • Have available the YouTube video for ‘A little bit of love’ by Graham Kendrick and the means to play it at the end of the assembly. It is 2.45 minutes long and is available at:


Reader 1: Good morning, and welcome to our collective worship. Today, we meet to pause, reflect and remember all those whose lives have been affected by Covid-19.

During times of darkness and anxiety, people light candles. This morning, at the start of our assembly, we will light three candles.

Reader 2 (lighting the first candle): 
We light a light
In the name of the Maker
Who lit the world
And breathed the breath of life for us.

Reader 3 (lighting the second candle):
We light a light
In the name of the Son
Who saved the world
And stretched out his hand to us.

Reader 4 (lighting the third candle):
We light a light
In the name of the Spirit
Who encompasses the world
And blesses our souls with yearning.

Readers 2, 3 and 4 together:
We will light three lights
For the Trinity of love.
God above us,
God beside us,
God beneath us.
The beginning, the end, the everlasting one.

Reader 5: Today, it is one year since the UK first went into lockdown. Since 23 March 2020, we have journeyed together through difficult times.

We have experienced the closure of schools and the development of online learning. Each school has adapted, and we are proud to say that we’ve worked through the challenge of Covid-19 together as a team.

Reader 6: However, these have been difficult times, and we have all been affected. Many families have experienced sickness due to Covid-19, but thankfully most people have recovered.

For this, today, we give thanks.

Reader 7: Sadly, over the last year, millions of people have lost loved ones and have experienced the pain of loss and bereavement. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, many haven’t even been able to attend the funeral of their loved one. In addition, many people have had to grieve without the comfort of having friends and family around them.

Today is the day to acknowledge the grief and loss that we have experienced over the last year.

Reader 8: At noon today, there will be a minute’s silence to reflect on the last year and show support for the millions of people who have been bereaved.

This national day of reflection provides us with an opportunity to connect with someone who is grieving. Perhaps we could have a chat with them, send them a card or message or give them some spring flowers.

Note: as a school, you may wish to plant seeds in memory of those who have died, tie yellow ribbons on some railings or light some candles to shine a light at 8 p.m.

Reader 9: At funerals, many people take comfort from the words of Psalm 23. Let’s listen to those words now.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Reader 10: This beautiful psalm is read at many Christian funerals. It talks about God as a shepherd, and Christians believe that Jesus is a good shepherd who tends and cares for us, his sheep.

At this time of year, the Christian Church commemorates the last week in the life of Jesus. On the day known as Good Friday, Jesus was crucified by the Romans and spoke his last words, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

After Jesus’ death, his body was taken down from the cross and buried in a cave. The tomb was guarded, and an enormous stone blocked the entrance so that no one could steal the body.

Reader 11: When Jesus died, his friends faced times of darkness, but three days later, on the day known as Easter Sunday, their despair was transformed into joy at Jesus’ resurrection.

Let’s listen to the Easter story of hope.

Reader 12: Early on Sunday morning, some women took some spices that they had prepared and went to Jesus’ tomb. When they arrived, they found that the stone blocking the entrance had been rolled out of the way, but when they entered, Jesus’ body wasn’t there.

As they stood there wondering what could have happened, two men wearing clothes that gleamed like lightning appeared beside them. In their fright, the women bowed down, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember what he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”’

Then, they remembered his words.

Reader 13: In a moment of silence, let us pause and reflect.

Loving God,
You hold all our times in your hands: our past, our present and our future.
Be close to us now as we remember all the difficulties and disappointments of the past year. 
Be especially close to all of us who are thinking of someone we loved and knew, but see no longer, whether that is a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour.
Help us to trust that they are at peace with you, and comfort us with your presence.

Lord in your mercy,
 Hear our prayer.

Reader 14: Let’s think about how we connect to our communities.

Loving God,
You place us in families and communities;
Thank you for all those around us who serve us and help us.
Give wisdom to community leaders and to our schools, hospitals, care homes and other agencies who make a difference to our lives.
Help each of us to have the courage to reach out with thanks and kindness to those around us and to speak words of faith as we share the good news of your love.

Lord in your mercy,
 Hear our prayer.

Reader 15: Let’s think about the Easter message.

Loving God,
As we journey towards Easter, help us to live as people of hope, knowing that beyond the pain of the cross lies the joy of resurrection.
Inspire us in our worship, through our schools and churches, and in our homes, that we may bring glory to you and joy to others.
Be with those who are struggling in mind, body or spirit, and give courage to those who are facing uncertainty and change.
Help each of us to keep our eyes fixed on you, that we may reflect your light to all whom we meet.

Lord in your mercy,
 Hear our prayer.

Leader: And finally:

Christ the Good Shepherd,
Enfold us with love,
Fill us with peace
And lead us in hope
To the end of our days.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.

All: Amen.


‘A little bit of love’ by Graham Kendrick, available at: (2.45 minutes long)

Publication date: March 2021   (Vol.23 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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