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Riches

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To consider the fact that money cannot buy love.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and two students to take part in a short sketch. The two students need to be able to ‘over-act’ the scenario.

  • Optional: you may wish to ask readers to read the following Bible verses, and the passage from St Augustine, towards the end of the assembly: Matthew 6.19-20, Matthew 6.24 and Matthew 19.21 and 24.

  • Have available the song ‘Can't buy me love’ by The Beatles, and the means to play it at the end of the assembly. 

Assembly

LeaderWelcome to this assembly. I want to tell you that I'm thinking of leaving teaching . . . don't cheer! . . . and taking a new career direction to write soap operas. There's a lot of money to be made. I've written a pilot episode. It's called Sally and Ben and is all about 'contemporary relationships'. Here's a taster from the end of the first episode.

Sally enters, carrying a suitcase. A distraught Ben runs in after her.

Reader 1 [Ben]: Please, Sally, don't do it - don't leave me, please!

Reader 2 [Sally]: It's too late, Ben - I'm going!

Reader 1 [Ben]: But why? You said you loved me. You used to say I was the most handsome man in the world. You said I was the coolest guy you'd ever talked to. What's gone wrong? I haven't changed - you have! Why, Sally, why! (sobs)

Reader 2 [Sally]: It's too late for me to change my mind, Ben, but if you really want to know . . . I only married you for your money! Even though you were a milkman, you bought me a nice, big, gold ring - and now I've found a rich rock star who can buy me an even bigger one. That's all I'm interested in! Here - you can have your ring back - I'm off!

Sally pulls the ring off, flings it at Ben and storms out. Ben collapses in a heap, sobbing hysterically.

Leader: What do you think about that story? Do you think it’s a winner?! It's got everything: tears, intense emotions and even moral issues! You can imagine how, if it was 'real life', the tabloids would report this episode: ‘Gold Digger Ditches Distraught Milkman’.

You see, although the media seems to idolize the rich and famous, we all know deep down that money can never completely buy love and happiness. In fact, many of us would be disgusted that Sally could be so heartless and selfish.

There are many occasions in the Bible where we read about the problems with loving money too much. Here are just a few of them.

(If possible, ask students to read the following verses.)

Matthew 6.19-20: ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.’

Matthew 6.24: ‘You cannot serve both God and money.’

Matthew 19.21 and 24: ‘Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven . . . it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."'

Despite this, I don't think any of us would turn down even a fraction of many celebrities' wealth!
Many surveys have been carried out that consider whether having lots of money makes people happier. Certainly, having money makes life easier in many ways because it takes away everyday worries and anxieties such as paying the mortgage and the bills. However, many rich people speak about feeling lonely and having a sense of isolation.
Each of us needs to form our own opinions about money – it’s up to you to decide!

Time for reflection

Surprisingly, it was an idea from a monk who lived 1,600 years ago that inspired the sketch at the start of today’s assembly! Saint Augustine was the bishop of a church in what is now Algeria. Becoming a Christian actually taught him that material things were good, not bad as he had first thought. In the following passage, he imagines the world as an engagement ring: a gift from God, a pledge of God's love and favour towards us and something to be enjoyed, but not an end in itself.

(If possible, ask a student to read the following passage.)

Suppose, brethren, a man should make a ring for his betrothed, and she should love the ring more wholeheartedly than the betrothed who made it for her . . . Certainly, let her love his gift; but, if she should say, 'The ring is enough. I do not want to see his face again,' what would we say of her? . . . The pledge is given her by the betrothed just that, in his pledge, he himself may be loved. God, then, has given you all these things. Love him who made them.
Quoted in History of Political Theory: An Introduction, Volume I: Ancient and Medieval, 2nd Edition by George Klosko (OUP, 2012, p.241) (check copyright)

Pause for the students to consider the meaning of these words. You may wish for them to be read again.

Prayer
Dear God,
Help us to see the world through your eyes.
Help us to see that money alone will not bring us lasting happiness.
Help us to share the riches that we possess.
Help us to see that relationships with each other and with you are the basis for happiness in our lives.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Can't buy me love’ by The Beatles

Publication date: June 2016   (Vol.18 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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