by Jan Edmunds (revised, originally published in 2005)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider the value of true friendship.
Preparation and materials
- Write each letter of the word ‘friends’ on seven large pieces of card. These can be assembled as the poem is read in the ‘Assembly’, Step 5.
- Optional: you may wish to display the poem in the ‘Assembly’, Step 5, so that the children can read it with you.
- Ask the children what their favourite things are. What are the things that they like doing best?
Listen to a range of responses.
- Encourage the children to think about being with their friends.
Ask them what qualities they might look for in a special friend. Some children might speak about a pet being a friend.
- Suggest that we are lucky to have friends and that it is important for us to consider how we might be good friends to other people.
- Invite seven children to come to the front and help you.
Give a letter card to each child, making sure that they are standing in the correct order to spell out the word.
Ask them to hold up their card when you call out the letter.
- Read the following acrostic poem, pausing between each line to allow time for your helpers to hold up their letter.
F is for faithful; they’re loyal to the end.
R is for reliable; they’re true and don’t pretend.
I is for the interest in sharing thoughts with you.
E is for enjoyment, whatever you might do.
N is for neighbourly; they’re kind in every way.
D is for dependable on every single day.
S is for that special friend you know is always there; the one who makes you happy and you know will always care.
- Pause to allow time for some general discussion to ensure that the children understand the poem.
Gather up the cards and ask the seven helpers to return to their places. You could prop up or pin up the cards so that they are still visible during the rest of the assembly.
- Continue by saying that you are reminded of a story from the Bible about four friends. It is found in Luke 5.17–25.
The Story of the Friends
There were once four men who regularly helped and took care of their friend who had been paralysed and unable to walk for many years. They had heard about a man called Jesus who was able to make blind people see, deaf people hear, cure lepers and even raise people from the dead. These men loved their friend and felt convinced that he too could be cured.
When they heard that Jesus was teaching nearby, they were determined to find him. They carried their paralysed friend on a mat, secured with ropes, one at each corner, to a house in Capernaum where Jesus was teaching the people about God. A huge crowd was crammed into the building, listening and hoping to witness some of the miracles for which he was becoming famous.
The four friends could get nowhere near. They were very disappointed, but they were determined to reach Jesus. One of them had a daring idea. In those days, most houses had a flat roof that was reached by an outside staircase. The roof was covered with a thick coating of mud on a layer of reeds, so once they were up on the roof, they were able to scrape away the mud and reeds, and make a hole that was large enough to lower their paralysed friend through, until he rested at Jesus’ feet.
Jesus was very moved by the trouble that the four men had taken and knew that they had complete faith in his ability to heal their friend. So, he said, ‘My friend, you are forgiven. Pick up your bed and walk.’
The crowd watched in amazement; some of them had known how ill the man had been. They watched as he slowly began to get up. He stood up straight, picked up his mat and walked away, thanking Jesus and praising God. Some of Jesus’ enemies who saw what had happened were angry. Jesus knew this, but he had wanted to demonstrate that his power to heal was a visible sign that he was indeed the Son of God. It was the loyalty of the friends and the faith that they had in him that encouraged Jesus to perform this miracle.
Time for reflection
Ask the children to think about the story.
Ask the children, ‘How would you describe the friends in this story?’
Ask the children to think about their friends.
Ask the children, ‘What makes a good friend?’
Ask the children to think about themselves.
Ask the children, ‘Are you a good friend?’
Pause to allow time for thought.
We thank you for our friends and for the happy times that we share with them.
Help us to be good friends to each other.
Teach us how to play fairly and to share.
Help us to recognize loneliness in others and show friendliness towards them.
Thank you that you are always with us, even when our friends let us down.
‘You’ve got a friend in me’ from the film Toy Story, available at: https://youtu.be/DNZUKm0ApEM (2.08 minutes long)