An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the importance of wisdom.
Preparation and materials
You will need a leader and three readers.
You will also need some reflective music and the means to play this during the assembly.
Leader: Today, we are going to be thinking about the theme of ‘wisdom’ . . .
Reader 1: I wonder what ‘wisdom’ means. I suppose we use it quite regularly, if we include connected words like 'wise'. There are all sorts of sayings about being wise, such as 'being wise after the event' or ‘as wise as an owl’. So I wonder what it means to be wise.
Reader 2: I read somewhere that the word 'wisdom' comes from an Ancient Greek word 'sophia', which is a feminine word. This has led some people to suggest that the Ancient Greeks believed that women were wiser than men.
Reader 3: That doesn’t sound very politically correct. In fact, I don’t think that's a wise thing to say! I think wisdom is more subtle than we think. Listen to this short story.
It was a warm evening. Dusk was falling and the little dormouse scurried among the leaves, looking for a last snack before turning in for the night. Suddenly, she felt herself grasped in a tight grip and taken high into the air. She twisted her neck around to discover that she was caught in the talons of an owl. She knew that, far from looking for a snack for herself, she was going to be providing the owl and his family with their night-time meal.
However, the little dormouse was still alive and, although she was terrified, she remembered a saying that the owl was famous for being a wise old bird. When the owl arrived at his nest, he set the dormouse down and announced to his hungry brood that they should get ready for supper because they would all be eating very soon.
The dormouse looked up at the owl and asked, ‘How did you know where to find me?’
The owl replied, ‘I am a wise old bird. I know where you and your friends hang out. Didn't you know how wise we owls are?’
‘Well, there have been rumours,’ answered the dormouse. ‘What other things can you do? I know you can fly silently and have amazing eyesight, but what else?’
‘I can turn my head right round - 360 degrees,’ the owl replied. ‘That means I can see everything without needing to move.’
‘Wow!" said the dormouse. ‘That's unbelievable - it must make you look very wise. Show me.’
The owl thought for a moment. He listened to the baby owlets jumping up and down impatiently for their dinner. Then he said, ‘OK,’ and whizzed his head around very fast.
‘That was impressive, very impressive,’ said the dormouse. ‘Do it again!’
‘I will do it again, very slowly this time so that you can see it properly,’ said the owl.
As he turned his head away from the dormouse, his grip eased slightly. The dormouse wriggled free and hurled herself out of the nest. She knew that she was so light that she would land safely and be able to scurry away to hide without injury.
The owlets screamed at their father, the wise old owl, ‘Now we haven't anything to eat. You are stupid; you have let our supper go. We thought owls were wise.’
The owl closed one eye and said to his children, ‘Sometimes, wisdom is about giving people a chance. It is not about being all-powerful all the time. It is about knowing when to give other people an opportunity and about listening to them carefully. The dormouse used her wisdom to save her life and I used mine to let her go. I'll catch something else for supper, don't worry.’
And off he flew.
Reader 1: The Bible contains lots of passages about wisdom. In Proverbs 10.1, it says, 'A wise son brings joy to his father.'
In Proverbs 9.10, it says, 'The first step to wisdom is the fear of the Lord.' I think ‘fear’ here means awe and wonder, not being terrified like the little dormouse.
In Proverbs 8.10-11, it says, 'Accept instruction and not silver, knowledge rather than pure gold; for wisdom is better than red coral - no jewels can match her.’
Reader 2: Jesus told a story about a wise man. It is recorded in Matthew 7.24-27 and goes like this.
Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
Time for reflection
Leader: Let's finish with some quiet reflection on our actions and our thoughts. Let’s think about the following questions.
- Can we think of times when we have not acted wisely and have hurt others by the things that we have said or done?
- Have we used our wisdom to help others?
- Have we allowed ourselves to act in a wise way, rather than in a thoughtless way?
- Do we value wisdom and search for it?
Pause after each question to allow the students time to reflect.