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All Souls

To explain why the Christian Church commemorates All Soulsí Day (2 November).

by The Revd Sophie Jelley

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To explain why the Christian Church commemorates All Souls’ Day (2 November).

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a sack of fallen leaves, preferably multicoloured. (Don’t gather them too early or they turn brown and crispy.)
  • A bare tree branch.
  • Music, for time for reflection.
  • Note: This assembly may lead children to think about the loss of a loved one, so sensitivity is required, particularly towards any children who have experienced a death recently. The loss of pets can affect children strongly so be aware of this possibility also.

Assembly

  1. Explain that sometimes sad things happen in our lives. It can be especially hard when someone we love dies. It may be that this has happened in your life. Today we are thinking about a special day in the Church’s year when Christians remember and give thanks for the lives of people who have died. This is called All Souls’ Day.
  2. At this time of year we are reminded about life and death because of the changing appearance of the trees and plants around us. Ask the children about what happens to the leaves of trees. Who likes collecting conkers? You could talk with the children about your own examples, e.g. you have a huge tree that sheds 25 sacks of leaves every year!
  3. Show them the branch you have brought in. Explain that this branch looks bare because all the leaves have fallen off the tree. When people we love have died it can feel a bit like this bare branch – sometimes we feel sad or empty inside. But we know that the branch wasn’t always like this.
  4. Show the children the sack. Ask a volunteer to come and pick out a handful of leaves from the sack, then hold up the leaves they have selected. Explain that the Christian Church has a special time each year for thinking about those who have died, to show that those people have been special to us and the belief that they have been special to God.
  5. Christians believe that death is not the end of life. They believe that when Jesus died he came back to life again so that people could have new life with him for ever.
  6. Place the branch where everyone can see it. Ask your volunteer to place the leaves carefully on or around the branch. You may want to invite other volunteers to come and do the same, depending on time available.
  7. Explain that the leaves are like the lives of people we still think about who have died. It is good to think about them and say thank you for them, because their lives have been important to us and to God.

Time for reflection

Reflection

Play some soothing music and give space for children to think about what they have heard.

Encourage them to imagine the life cycle of a tree, from spring through to summer, from autumn to winter and back to new life again in the spring.

 

Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you for every person you have made.

When people die it is very sad.

Help us to have happy memories of them.

Thank you for the new life you bring.

Amen.

Song/music

‘Autumn days’ (Come and Praise, 4)

Publication date: November 2007   (Vol.9 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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