To acknowledge that feeling sad is a normal and acceptable part of life and to explore the fact that Jesus felt sadness too.
by Gill Hartley
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To acknowledge that feeling sad is a normal and acceptable part of life and how it can help us to be more understanding of other people. To explore the fact that Jesus felt sadness too.
Preparation and materials
- CD/cassette of quiet music.
- Notebook and pencil to make quick notes in point 4 (optional).
- Explain that Christians believe that Jesus was a very special person when he lived on earth. They believe that he was both God and man. Ask the children why Christians believe this, valuing all responses. Acknowledge comments about miracles and special teaching but also stress 'ordinary', everyday stories such as having friends, being a member of a family, eating and drinking.
- Ask the children what they think Jesus looked like when he was on earth. Some may have seen a recent reconstruction of a first-century Palestinian face produced for a BBC documentary. If so, discuss this, but stress that we have no records of his exact appearance. There is nothing in the New Testament to suggest that Jesus looked like anything other a normal human being. In many ways he was just like us and today we're thinking about a time when, as we sometimes do, Jesus felt sad.
- Introduce the story of Lazarus as a story about Jesus feeling sad. Tell the story from John 11.1-44 either in your own words or in the version below, emphasizing Jesus' sadness at the death of his friend.
by Gill Hartley
Jesus had some good friends who lived in the village of Bethany, just two miles outside Jerusalem. They were two sisters called Mary and Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. One day, not long before the end of Jesus' life on earth, news reached him that Lazarus was seriously ill.
It was several days before Jesus could go and see Lazarus and he knew that by the time he got there his friend could be dead. Indeed, when he was just outside Bethany Jesus heard that Lazarus had already been dead for four days, and his friends' house was full of people who had come to mourn.
As he got nearer, Martha came out of the house to meet him. She said to him, 'If you'd been here, my brother wouldn't have died. But even now I know that God will do whatever you ask.' Jesus replied, 'Your brother will come back to life again,' and Martha said, 'Yes, I know he will - when everyone else does, on Resurrection Day!' But Jesus said, 'I am the One who raises the dead and gives them life again. Do you believe that?' Martha answered, 'Yes, I do believe,' and she went back into the house to her sister, Mary.
Jesus stayed where he was, and after a while Mary came to find him, followed by some of the mourners from the house. She began to cry. When Jesus saw Mary crying and all the people with her weeping and wailing, he was upset. He said, 'Show me where Lazarus is buried.' They said, 'Come and see,' and Jesus also began to cry. When the people saw that Jesus was crying, they said to each other, 'They were close friends - you can see how much he loved him!'
- Stop the story at this point and draw the children's attention to the fact that Jesus felt sad and cried because his friend had died. No one thought that there was anything wrong in him doing so. Explain that the story ends with Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life, so in this story we see him as an ordinary person just like us, and as a special person too.
- After the story ask the children if any of them would be prepared to share the things that have made them sad. As you receive each answer, acknowledge the child's right to feel sad. Try to memorize some of the things that have made the children sad, or quickly jot them down, to use in a prayer at the end of the assembly.
- Ask the children how they would respond to a friend who was feeling sad. What would they say to him/her? After several suggestions have been made, ask if they would say to someone who was feeling sad, 'Don't be so silly'? Do not wait for an answer, but answer the question yourself by saying, No, of course not! It's okay to feel sad - it's part of being human. Everyone feels sad at times and there are some things that happen to us all that we can't help feeling sad about.
Time for reflection
Play some quiet music as a background and ask the children just for a very short moment to remember how it feels to be sad. Do not allow too long for this, but lead fairly quickly into a prayer:
We remember today all the people in the world who are feeling sad.
We remember those:
*whose family or friends have died;
whose pets have died;
who have nowhere to live;
who are ill, hungry or lonely;
who have no one to talk to or play with.
Help each one of them to find a way out of their sadness,
and help each of us who knows what it is like to feel sad
to be kind to anyone we know who is feeling sad today.
* Instead of the words in italics you could insert some of the causes of sadness that the children shared in point 4.
'Think of all the things we lose' (Come and Praise, 57)