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In the Beginning

Keeping it new and fresh

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage students to consider friendship building as an important element in helping to maintain their progress in the new term (SEAL theme: Motivation).

Preparation and materials

  • Have available the TrueTube clip 'In the Beginning',, and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 3.51 minutes long.
  • Optional: You may wish to ask three readers to take part in the Time for Reflection section, although the whole section can be read by the assembly leader.


Leader: We've begun a new term and a new year. It's the start of 2016, a 'once upon a time' moment. Nothing has gone wrong, yet. At least I hope not!

All the best stories, both real and imagined, need to have a start, when everything is clear and straightforward. Here's a version of the best-known of all the ‘in the beginning’ stories.

Show the True Tube clip ‘In the Beginning’ up to ‘Were you born yesterday?’ ‘Actually, yes.' It is 3.51 minutes long. 

Leader: Everything starts off so well. The Garden of Eden is a paradise for Adam. He appears to have all he could ever need: beautiful surroundings, good weather, lots to eat and drink, and a monkey for a friend. What more could anyone want? This is Paradise. But then the situation starts to go downhill.

After a while Adam becomes dissatisfied. His problem is that he's lonely. It's not an unreasonable dissatisfaction. A monkey isn't really much company, even if he does make a mean smoothie!
What Adam realises is that there's no one exactly like him - a human being. Then Eve appears to address this issue, but brings with her a bag of questions, including the big one: 'What are the rules? What aren't we allowed to do?'
If you know the story, this is where the trouble really starts.

Time for reflection

You may wish to ask three students to replace the Leader in the following sections.

Leader: Even though he's living in Paradise, Adam's problem is friendship. He wants someone he can relate to on an equal level - someone like him. Friendship is an important foundation for life. If we have strong, supportive friendships, it can make many aspects of living much easier. When faced with a challenge, tackling an activity for the first time, friendships can give us the confidence to give it a go. When we lack a specific skill, friendships enable us to build a team, drawing on the skills of others as we contribute our own. When we fail, friendships provide support and encouragement to try again. When we've run out of answers, a friend can provide some other options.

Leader (or Reader 1): However, friendship can bring its own problems. In the video clip, it's Eve, Adam's new friend, who raises the issue of rules, of what they're not allowed to do in Paradise. Despite Adam's assurance that there's only one rule, not to touch the fruit on the tree, Eve focuses on this, and eventually has to test the rule to its limit, leading to big problems for them both.

Leader (or Reader 2): Friends may be like us, sharing the same tastes and expectations. But they can also be different, and these differences must be managed. One friend may encourage us into situations where we don't feel totally comfortable, so we need to say 'No.' Another may be so tentative that we're in danger of being held back from being adventurous, so we may need to go it alone for a while. Friends have moods, and so do we. Strong friendships require tolerance, patience and honesty.

Leader (or Reader 3): So, as we start this new term, what might we do about our friendships? First, let's be openly grateful for the friends that we have. Let's tell them that we appreciate what they give us and make a commitment to be there for them in the same way that they are there for us. Secondly, let's review the kinds of friendship we have with different people. Who would we turn to for company, to keep us happy? Who would we turn to when we're really down? Who would we turn to for advice? Who would we turn to in a crisis?

Leader: Finally, what if our list of friends is very short? How can we build a stronger set of friendships? Some say the best way to create new friendships and to strengthen existing ones is to do something together. Maybe the start of a new term is the best time to get involved with a team, a project, a production or a club.

You may wish to give information about what is available in your school.

Leader: As I said at the beginning of this assembly, this is the start of a new term. It will be Easter when we reach its conclusion. So, if today is a ‘once upon a time’ moment, I hope Easter can be the 'and they all lived happily after’ conclusion to a term full of friendships both old and new.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the friends we have, for their support, humour and guidance.
Remind us of the friendship roles we play in the lives of others.
Help us to commit ourselves to them as they do to us.


‘I'll be there for you’ by The Rembrandts

Publication date: January 2016   (Vol.18 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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