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Listen Carefully

Itís time to listen

by Alison Thurlow (revised, originally published in 2014)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To encourage us to be good listeners.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to be familiar with the Bible story of Martha and Mary, which is found in Luke 10.38–42.


  1. Explain that in today’s assembly, we are all going to think about getting on and falling out with our friends. First of all, let’s have a quick quiz!

  2. Explain that you are going to read out the questions one at a time. Each question has two possible answers and you want the children to vote for the answer that they prefer by putting up their hand.

    – What would you rather do at playtime: play football or sit on a bench and chat to your friends?
    – What do you prefer to do with your friends: play on a games console or go swimming?
    – If your best friend was away, would you sit on your own for a day or go and sit by somebody else?
    – If there was a new child in your class, would you ignore them or go and play with them?
    – If someone was bullying you in the playground, would you hit the bully or go and tell a teacher?
    – If you had fallen out with your friend, would you go and tell everyone else how horrible your friend is or try to make up?

  3. Point out that the children had some choices to make in the quiz, all of them to do with friends. In the first three questions, the choices they made were up to them – their answers depended on personal likes and dislikes. However, in the last three questions, they could have made a good choice or a bad one with their answer. The choices that they made could either help them to get on with their friends or cause them to fall out.

    Optional: you may wish to read out the questions again.

  4. Explain that you are going to tell the children a story from the Bible about two sisters who nearly fall out about something.

  5. Tell the following story of Martha and Mary or read the story from Luke 10.38–42.

    Martha and Mary

    Jesus and his friends, the disciples, were travelling along a road when they arrived at a village. It was lunchtime and they were all feeling a bit hungry. Luckily, a woman called Martha had invited them to her house for lunch. Martha had a sister called Mary who lived with her.

    Martha dashed around in a frenzy, trying to get all the food ready. She also had a duster in her pocket and kept giving things an extra shine so that everything was spotless for when Jesus arrived.

    When Jesus and the disciples arrived, Mary sat down by Jesus and listened carefully to all the things that he was saying and all the things that he was teaching people about God.

    Martha was getting more and more exhausted. She was also upset that her sister did not offer to help her. Eventually, she blurted out, ‘Jesus, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Won’t you tell her to come and help me?’

    ‘Martha,’ Jesus replied kindly, ‘don’t get so upset. On this occasion, your sister Mary has made the right choice. She has listened carefully and learned lots of important things about God. These things will not be taken away from her.’

Time for reflection

Ask the children to discuss the following questions in pairs or small groups.

– Why did Martha feel so cross with Mary in the story?
– In the story, Jesus told Martha that it was sometimes good simply to sit and listen. Why is it important to listen to our friends?
– How can listening to our friends help us not to fall out?

After discussion time, listen to a range of responses.

Conclude by emphasizing the importance of listening to others. If appropriate, you might like to suggest that Christians believe that it is a good idea to listen to what Jesus has to say to us by reading about him in the Bible.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for today’s story about listening.
Please help us to make time to listen to others.
Please help us never to be too busy to notice those around us.


‘Reflection’ from the film Mulan, available at: (2.36 minutes long)

Publication date: November 2021   (Vol.23 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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