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Just something we have to do: Having the courage of our convictions

To consider what it means to have the courage of our convictions.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 3

Aims

To consider what it means to have the courage of our convictions.

Preparation and materials

  • Gather information on the Chamonix avalanche tragedy and pictures of climbers (at: www.telegraph.co.uk).
  • Print six copies of the story taken from Acts 4 below.
  • You will need six pupils, to read the parts of the narrator, two religious leaders, a temple guard and Peter and John.

Assembly

  1. Show the images you gathered of climbers and tell the following story of the Chamonix avalanche tragedy.

    Steve Barber (47) and John Taylor (48) shared a love of climbing. This climb they were going to undertake, in the Mont Blanc mountain range near Chamonix in France, was in aid of a York Hospice. With them was Roger Payne, one of the UK’s most respected mountaineers.

    It was July 2012. Conditions were good that day. The climbers were roped together at 13.000 feet when they were hit by a ‘slab’ avalanche. This was caused by heavy snow and triggered by strong winds. The climbers didn’t have a chance. A survivor described being swept downhill as if he was in a ‘washing machine’.

    A very shocked friend of Roger Payne’s was later interviewed about the tragedy. ‘Some people might wonder why we do it. We just have to because it is there. It’s just something we have to do.’

    The interviewer very gently replied, ‘You don’t have to explain yourself to us. We are sorry for your loss.’
  2. Many people do very dangerous things because ‘they just have to’. They have a strong desire to push themselves to the limit, to conquer the seemingly impossible, whether it be mountains, extreme sports or breaking world records at Olympic level.
  3. In the book of Acts we read of the birth of the Early Church. It was a tumultuous time. Jerusalem was abuzz with the name of Jesus. Hundreds became Christians daily as they listened to the preaching of the disciples, often followed by wonderful miracles of healing.

    Of course, not everyone was happy about this. The religious leaders, who had been responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion just six weeks before, were very threatened and angry. Listen to what happened in the following paraphrase of the story in Acts chapter 4.

    Narrator The priests and the religious leaders were greatly disturbed because Peter and John were teaching the people and were saying that Jesus had risen from the dead. They had even healed a cripple.

    Religious leader 1 Seize Peter and John and put them in prison for the night. That’ll cool them down! They’ve got the whole of Jerusalem excited.

    Guard seizes Peter and John and takes them to side.

    Narrator The next day, Peter and John are brought before all the religious elders and teachers.

    Guard brings them back over.

    They began to question them.

    Religious leader 2 By what power are you doing all these things?

    Peter It’s by the name of Jesus, whom you crucified, that this cripple has been healed.

    Narrator The religious leaders were astonished. This Peter, who was just a fisherman, spoke with such courage and power and authority and they couldn’t deny that the cripple had been miraculously healed. They ordered the guard to take them out again.

    Guard leads the off again.

    Religious leaders 1 and 2 (Conferring and looking troubled) What are we going to do with these men? The whole of Jerusalem is abuzz with them. We don’t want this thing to spread even further.

    Narrator They called Peter and John in again.

    Guard brings them back in.

    Religious leader Right. This is the verdict. You are not allowed to speak or teach in the name of Jesus any more.

    Peter and John We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard – it’s just something we have to do.

    Narrator This was not the answer the religious leaders had expected! They could not decide how to punish them this time. After all, the whole of Jerusalem seemed to be praising God for what had happened. They had no choice but to release them this time. Of course, Peter and John went straight back to what they were doing and carried on telling others about Jesus.

    These disciples would later be persecuted for their faith, imprisoned and beaten many times, as would many others who believed. Nonetheless, the message of Jesus would still go right round the world. It was something these people ‘just had to do.’

Time for reflection

It would have been quite a scary time for Peter and John – they had seen Jesus killed by the very people who were now opposing them.

How do you feel when you’re faced with opposition? Opposition might come because of something we believe in or because of the way we choose to live our lives, but there are times when you just have to do the right thing.

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, for people of courage and daring, people who have expanded our knowledge of the world and all its beauty through their pursuits.

Thank you for those first Christians who just had to pass on the good news about Jesus, regardless of what it might cost them. Help us to have the courage of our convictions.

Amen.

Hymn

‘Give me oil in my lamp’ (Come and Praise, 43)

Publication date: May 2013   (Vol.15 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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