Target setting: judgement and after
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To look at being judged, using judgement and the Final Judgement.
Preparation and materials
- Familiarize yourself with the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25.31–46).
- Have available In Paradisum from Fauré’s Requiem and/or Dies Irae from Verdi’s Requiem and the means to play it or them at the beginning and end of the assembly.
- You will also need an image of the painting 'Resurrection, Cookham' by Stanley Spencer and the means to display it during the assembly (check copyright).
- Copy out the passage Matthew 25.31–46 to read at the end of the first part of the ‘Assembly’.
Play your chosen piece of music and display the image of the painting Resurrection, Cookham.
Most religions have beliefs regarding a last judgement and the separation of those who are to be rewarded from those who are to be punished in an afterlife. The introductory music shows how one composer represented it.
The painting shows a twentieth-century artistic interpretation of the same theme. It reminds us that we shall all be involved, judged against the background of where we have lived out our lives – that is part of the power of Spencer's painting.
Judgement is seen to be a final and decisive event. Many people can be overwhelmed by this thought. In the past, it was used as a means of social control, ensuring that people kept to the rules for fear of future and eternal punishment. This is how one New Testament writer pictured it:
Read out the passage Matthew 25.31–46.
That story portrays the Last Judgement as very much a final event, at the end of life, but it need not be like that. Perhaps the story, music and words refer to not just a final judgement but also the ongoing journey through life that we all make. To be useful to us, judgements need to be continuous and regular, to help us become better.
All of us have been through several judgements in the course of our lives: SATS, games in sport, a dramatic or musical performance . . . Ofsted . . . Some are awaiting GCSE or GNVQ exams. All these judgements are made by other people about us.
Such judgements are not to be seen as the end of the story. Ideally, they should be a beginning. They are landmarks or pointers, showing us what we have achieved and allowing us to be congratulated on our achievements. They can be positive and not negative; they are steps on the way, not the final outcome. They show us where we can do even better and where we need to develop or improve.
The most important judgements will be those that we make for ourselves, such as about how to behave. Christians believe that regular self-assessment is important. This is also known as confession. Confession may be made by everyone together, during a service, or, in other cases, by individuals privately to a priest.
This is not intended to be a process in which we look for things to condemn ourselves about, but, rather, an honest standing back, looking at all areas of our lives on a regular basis, assessing where we are and where we want to be.
We all have targets we wish to achieve. The values of the world's religions (as well as of many people who would say they are non-religious) are expressed in terms of, for example, goodness, honesty, trustworthiness. The details of how they apply to us as individuals in our daily lives are for us to work out. If we are to improve in life as a whole, or in particular parts of it, regular assessment of our progress is essential.
Returning to what a Last Judgement might be, it is a way of saying, at the end of your life, ‘How would you like to be remembered? What would you like to have achieved?’
Time for reflection
Use at your discretion.
Encourage the students to close their eyes to avoid distraction and think about one goal or target that they have. It may be a personal one, a sporting one, an academic one, a behavioural one . . .
Ask them to look back over the last seven days and work out whether they have grown nearer to achieving it or are in the same place or are further away.
Ask them to make a decision about what they will do as a result of that thought.
Conclude by suggesting that they now go away and try this method of reflection in other areas of their lives or as a way of looking at life in general.
In Paradisum from Fauré’s Requiem and/or Dies Irae from Verdi’s Requiem