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Signs and symbols (A World Cup assembly)

To help children think about symbols, in particular the Christian cross, with the help of World Cup merchandise.

by The Revd Sophie Jelley

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To help children think about symbols, in particular the Christian cross, with the help of World Cup merchandise.

Preparation and materials

You will need:

  • An item (or some items) of World Cup merchandise bearing St George’s cross – cheap flags, hats, etc. are available in many shops. If you can’t get hold of any, then make something of your own! You could even paint your face white with a red cross.
  • A simple wooden cross.
  • You could include face painting for the children if appropriate (see 2 below).

There are two options at point 4 below – you could use either or both. The second option mentions the rest of UK to avoid making this an exclusively English assembly!

Assembly

  1. Show the children the merchandise you have brought. Ask why some people are wearing/ carrying these things at the moment. It’s to show their support for the England team over the course of the World Cup football competition. You could ask who likes football in their house, etc. and comment on any recent big matches, if relevant. Explain that the symbol on these things is known as St George’s cross. Say that, in the UK, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have their own flags and the English one looks like this.
  2. Point out that some people are so enthusiastic that they even paint their faces with their team’s flag or colours to show their support.
  3. Point out that the cross of St George is on the English flag because it’s a Christian symbol. Show the wooden cross. In fact the cross is so special to Christians that they will have one inside or outside their churches and often in their own homes, too. They might even wear crosses around their necks.

    Athough Christians don’t usually paint crosses on their faces like keen football fans might, they are marked with the sign of the cross. You could include a face painting demonstration here. If so, take the precaution of checking in advance that this is appropriate with the child concerned (be aware of skin conditions), and that it can be washed off in readiness for the rest of the school day! Ask if anyone’s been to a baptism or christening service. You might want to spend a moment asking about their experiences, if there is time. Describe how the person being baptized is marked with the sign of the cross on their forehead. Explain that this is to show that the person has joined the Church.
  4. Option 1: The cross is there to remind us of something very important that happened over 2,000 years ago. Ask the children what that thing was. Alternatively, explain that it is special to Christians not because it was a happy time but because it was the time when they believed that Jesus, God’s Son, was put to death on a cross. This was not the end but the beginning. Three days afterwards, Jesus rose from the dead so that we could share in his new life for always.

    Option 2: You could point out that little is known about the real St George and that he is revered (remembered as special) by Christians, Muslims and others. Because of this, his symbol is also one of unity that brings people together. Even though he’s the patron (special) saint of England, he’s also appreciated in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The World Cup is like this, everyone cheers for their home team but can also a great time of shared celebration and friendship between nations.

Time for reflection

Reflection

A symbol is a simple picture that tells you something about the thing it’s on and makes the thing easy to recognize.

What symbols do you see around you every day? For example, you can see logos on things you buy and on clothing. Does your school have a symbol? A shield, for example?

If you could choose one symbol to tell people about you, what would it be?

Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you for the symbol of the cross that shows your great love for everyone and every thing.

Amen.

Song/music

‘Our Father…’ (Come and Praise, 51)

Publication date: July 2006   (Vol.8 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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