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The end of the world: What's your bucket list?

A New Year assembly to encourage students to reflect on what motivates and drives their lives (SEAL theme: Self-awareness).

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

A New Year assembly to encourage students to reflect on what motivates and drives their lives (SEAL theme: Self-awareness).

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. So we’re all still here, then?

    (Pause)

    Wasn’t the world supposed to end just before Christmas? According to the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, time was going to end on 21 December 2012. Yet it didn’t. We all carried on and celebrated Christmas and New Year just as we always have. What a relief!

    Before we get too complacent, though, I’ve got some bad news. There are some experts who claim that the calendar was one year out. In fact, the world’s going to end in 2013. What’s more, NASA, the North American Space Agency, has given a warning of unusual solar activity later this year. The earth will be blasted by solar flares during what is known as the solar maximum. There’s a danger of an electronic blackout and the destruction of all electrical power sources. Maybe we’d better start making plans.
  2. If you knew you only had a limited amount of time left to live, what would you plan to do? Here’s one teenager’s story.

    (Play the Granada TV news item (see ‘Preparation and materials’), or use the following script.)

    Reader
     Alice Pyne was diagnosed with a terminal illness a number of years ago. In order to take her mind off the situation, her mother encouraged her to draw up a list of things she wanted to do before her life came to an end. The list included meeting Take That, going whale watching, swimming with sharks and designing an Emma Bridgewater mug to sell for charity. Her most ambitious aim, however, was to get more people to add their names to the bone marrow register. To date she has encouraged 40,000 people to take that step.

    Some of the experiences on Alice’s list are for personal enjoyment. I’m sure all of us could think of places we’d like to go, celebrities we’d like to meet or skills we’d like to learn if we had a limited amount of time left.

    Yet Alice has also considered the needs of others, particularly in the future. Her Emma Bridgewater mug is available for you to buy and will continue to raise money for charity after Alice dies.

    Even more significantly, she’s increased the possibility of a longer life for many other sufferers from her medical condition. Those people who are on the bone marrow register are able to provide a medical resource that way into the future will prolong or save lives.
  3. I don’t personally believe that the world’s going to end this year so I’m not preparing a bucket list for the next 11 months – (pause) – although it might not be a bad idea to mark out some personal priorities for the year ahead.

    There are some who suggest we should actually live each day of our life as if it were our last.

    There will be some things on my list for 2013 that I want to do for my own enjoyment (you may wish to give a few examples). But what about other considerations?

    Jesus tells the story of a rich man whose priority was simply personal enjoyment. He was going to ‘eat, drink and be merry’. There was no thought for other people. The man died sooner than he expected and was confronted by God. He was made to feel very guilty for his self-centredness.

    I don’t want to reach the end of 2013 and feel guilty because when I look back all I see is my self-centredness. So I think I’ll try to include some ambitions that take into account the needs of others. (You may wish to give an example.)

Time for reflection

So how about you? What do you want to achieve this year – for yourself and for others? Let’s compare notes in 12 months’ time.

Prayer
Dear Lord,
thank you for the gift of each new day, new week, new month and new year.
Help me to imagine what I might experience,
what I might achieve,
who I might meet in my future
and the benefit we could bring to each other.
Amen.

Music

‘Forever young’ by Bob Dylan

Publication date: January 2013   (Vol.15 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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