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Opening the door: Courage to face the future

To encourage students to face the challenge of new opportunities (SEAL theme: Motivation).

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To encourage students to face the challenge of new opportunities (SEAL theme: Motivation).

Preparation and materials

  • Choose three readers.

Assembly

  1. Leader  Howard Carter was an archaeologist. Employed by a British peer, Lord Carnarvon, he worked in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt during the early years of the twentieth century. He was searching for the undiscovered tomb of a pharaoh rumoured to be buried within that area.

    On 16 February 1923 Carter stood before a sealed doorway that led to . . . well, he didn’t really know for sure. As he stood with his hammer and chisel in hand many thoughts would have passed through his mind.

    Reader 1  First, there was the relief that he was at last able to make the breakthrough. He’d begun work in the area in 1914, but the events of the First World War meant that he’d been forced to abandon work until 1917. External factors had got in his way. But his own choices had also delayed the opening of the door. In order properly to catalogue the objects found in the antechamber (the entrance to the tomb), which he had discovered the previous November, he had taken the decision to postpone going further. It was a very professional way to act but must have given rise to feelings of frustration.

    Reader 2  Second, there was the curse. Rumours were rife in Egypt that anyone who broke into the sealed tomb of a pharaoh in order to take the precious objects stored there would suffer a terrible death. These rumours had existed among Arab peoples for centuries. Was the curse true? Howard Carter had no means of knowing what the consequences might be when he broke the seals on the door.

    Reader 3  However, to encourage him, there was the glimpse he’d had of what lay behind the door. The previous November he’d made a small breach in the top left hand corner of the door and, by the light of a candle, he’d had a glimpse inside. When asked what he could see, he had replied, ‘Wonderful things.’
  2. Leader  There are times when I’ve felt as if I were standing before a door that I could choose to open or not. I don’t mean a physical door. I’m referring to a door of opportunity. It might be the chance to do something new, a challenge to set myself, a relationship to embark on or an intriguing possibility to explore

    (You may wish to give a personal example that can be expanded to illustrate the following points.)
  3. Any one of you, faced with a doorway of opportunity, is likely to find your mind filled with a set of conflicting thoughts and emotions.

    You might be conscious of the practical implications of taking this opportunity. How will you get there? What will it cost? Do you have the time?

    You’ll certainly feel the pressure that this might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you don’t do it now the chance might never come again.

    Then there’s the risk. What if it all goes wrong? Might you regret what you’ve done?

    However, it’s likely that you’ve also had some encouragement. You may have talked to others who’ve taken a similar opportunity. You may have carefully researched the details or gone on a taster session. But still the dilemma remains – do you open the door or not?
  4. Howard Carter opened the door and was faced with the most extravagant burial chamber ever discovered. It was the burial chamber of the young pharaoh Tutankhamen. The sarcophagus and its surrounding gold and ebony treasures really were ‘wonderful things’. It had been worth the wait and the uncertainty.

Time for reflection

Leader  Are you faced with an opportunity at this moment? Are you uncertain about what to do?

Take some pieces of advice from Howard Carter’s approach.

First, he took a peep at what might be there. Rather than going blind into something new, find out a little about it.

Second, he wasn’t alone. He had a team of archaeologists to support him, people he could trust and whose advice he valued. Don’t go alone into something new. Go with a friend or as part of a group.

And a final suggestion: always have a way out in case it doesn’t turn out to be all you’d hoped.

You may wish to pray the following prayer.

Prayer
Dear Lord,
thank you that my life is full of opportunities.
Thank you that I can face them with family, friends and school to call on for help.
Today I invite you to help me move forward and open a few doors.
Amen.

Music

‘Opportunities’ by the Pet Shop Boys

Publication date: February 2013   (Vol.15 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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