God in the Headlines
by An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Key Stage 4/5
To explore the ways in which we can meet with and respond to God through the headlines in the media.
Preparation and materials
You will need:
- PowerPoint slides of the relevant headlines
- Readers for the Bible sentences
- NB: The headlines quoted are from early 2005 or are general. You could adjust them with relevant quotes whenever the unit is used. (You could also use old headlines to illustrate the point that yesterday's tragedy is easy to forget today.)
'Today's newspapers wrap tomorrow's rubbish.' That is often said, and is partly true. Today's headlines soon fade away and are replaced by other sensations.
But the people in them do not fade away, they are not replaced - their misery, sorrow or joy remains. Their need is ongoing. God's concern and involvement with these people remains when the rest of the world has forgotten them. Newspaper headlines act as signposts. They show us the way, they show us where God is to be found, and we leave them behind as we go to meet him where they are pointing.
- Reader: 'Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while He is near.' (Isaiah 55.6) (Show PP: 'Thousands die as tsumani hits Indonesia.')
When the tidal wave struck the countries of the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day 2004, many people asked, 'Where is God?'
The answer is that God was there. He was struggling in the waves, clinging on to floating debris for dear life. He was desperately searching the wreckage for his family. He was mourning their loss. He is struggling to rebuild what was lost.
He was and is in all of those people who made massive donations and in the others who went out to help.
- Reader: 'Truly, I tell you, as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' (Matthew 25.40) (Show PPs)
'One in five 16 to 18-year-old girls has taken the "morning after" pill.'
'One in eight 16 to 18-year-olds has contracted chlamydia.'
In those headlines God is asking us the questions: 'Did you know this? What can we do about it?' He is saying to us, 'What an awful state of affairs!' He is inviting us to help, or to press others to help.
- Reader: 'God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.' (Genesis 1.31) (Show PP: 'It's a sizzling summer as temperatures hit 26 degrees'.)
Pictures of people lying on beaches or playing in the water usually accompany that sort of headline. These are reminders that we live in a world that God has given us, that it is full of good things and full of joy. We can meet with God and share it with him. He is to be found as much in the good things of life as in the problems that people encounter.
God is to be found wherever we look, he is there, in the world, in the headlines:
Asking for our help!
Challenging us to change things;
Inviting us to enjoy the world and the life that he has given us.
Think about yesterday, in school, at home, at play, the people you met.
Thank him for being there.
Thank him for the opportunity to help.
Decide what you can do.
Time for reflection
You are a God who communicates with us.
Help us to be alive and alert to the ways in which you speak to us.
Encourage us to help, to change and enjoy.
Help us to value the work of the journalists and broadcasters who bring you to us in the needs and joys of your world.
Help us to be signposts pointing others to you.
'When I needed a neighbour, were you there?' (No. 285 in New Hymns and Worship Songs, Kevin Mayhew, ISBN 978-1-840-03728-9)