Pause for Thought: Are You Shining?
The light within each of us
by Claire Law
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To consider the symbolism of light in artwork and the idea of light within ourselves and others.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Pause for Thought: Are You Shining?) and the means to display them.
- Have available the YouTube video (audio only) ‘This little light of mine’ performed by Odetta. It is 5.02 minutes long, but you should start it from 1.25 minutes. It is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMaWsfLYQko
- Show Slide 1.
Point out the light bulb on the slide and ask the children whether they can name other sources of light.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Explain that in today’s assembly, we are going to explore the idea that each of us has a light in us that we can allow to shine so that others can see it.
- The idea of a light existing inside us is very old! More than 500 years ago, Renaissance artists were using this idea in their art. They included a lot of darkness in their paintings, but also painted a person in the picture in such a way that they appeared to be lit up, containing a light from within that illuminated others in the picture.
Show Slide 2.
This painting is over 500 years old. The artist was called Michel Sittow and the painting is called The Nativity at Night.
Ask the children to look carefully at the picture and decide where the light appears to be coming from.
- The baby Jesus has been painted in such a way that he is the only source of light in the picture, and the light from him shines on the others in the image. Perhaps the artist based his painting on Jesus’ words that he is the ‘light of the world’. (John 8.12)
- In many religions, there is the idea that we each contain a special spark, or light, which we can choose to cultivate and share with others. Jesus speaks about this in the Gospels.
Show Slide 3.
In Luke’s Gospel, we read, ‘No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.’
Jesus is encouraging us to let a light shine from within us to the rest of the world.
- In the Hindu faith, a greeting used towards others is the Hindi word, ‘Namaste’. It can be translated as ‘the light in me honours the light in you’.
Show Slide 4.
At the start of November, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists will celebrate the festival of light known as Diwali.
- The idea of each of us having a light within us is expressed beautifully in a children’s gospel song called ‘This little light of mine’. The song is thought to have been composed in the 1930s and is still popular today. We may be familiar with it from the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in May 2018 because they chose it as their final hymn.
- Show Slide 5.
Read out the lyrics on the slide.
Point out that there is more to this simple hymn. During the 1960s, singing this song became a key way for the civil rights movement in the USA to express its desire for freedom and black equality.
- Show Slide 6.
Peaceful protest marches saw thousands of people singing the song as a means of communicating that everyone has a special spark, a light within them, and should be treated equally. They were singing for everyone to have the light within them recognized and honoured.
- Tell the children that you are now going to play a version of ‘This little light of mine’ that was sung by Odetta, an American singer and civil and human rights activist.
Ask the children to listen carefully.
Play the YouTube video (audio only) ‘This little light of mine’ performed by Odetta. Start it from 1.25 minutes.
Time for reflection
No matter who we are, we all have a light within us that we can allow to shine out to others. We can all be kind, helpful, generous and fair.
Show Slide 3 again.
Let’s remember Jesus’ words: ‘No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.’
Invite the children to spend a few moments thinking about lights that they have seen in other people. Are there times when other people have made them feel happy, encouraged, loved or cared for?
Encourage the children to aim to bring light to someone’s life this week.
Sometimes, it can feel difficult to sense our own spark of life and light.
Sometimes, we are sad.
Please help us to bring light into the lives of others.
Please also help us to see light in those around us.
Today, please help us all to be more aware of the light that we each carry.
Please help us to share that light with others and, in so doing, show your light and your life to others.
‘This little light of mine’ performed by Odetta, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMaWsfLYQko (5.02 minutes long, but you should start it from 1.25 minutes)