An Ideal World
Making the world a better place
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec) - Church Schools
To encourage us to consider what our view of a perfect society might be.
Preparation and materials
You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Utopia) and the means to display them.
Have available the song ‘Perfect day’ by Lou Reed (available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYEC4TZsy-Y) and the means to play it at the beginning of the assembly. It is 3.44 minutes long.
You may also like to have available ‘Kingdom of God’ by Taizé (available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WL1_IhVTJmk) and the means to play it during the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly. It is 4.15 minutes long.
Play the song ‘Perfect day’ by Lou Reed as the students enter. It is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYEC4TZsy-Y
Ask the students the following question.
- What would make your ‘perfect day’?
Where appropriate, listen to a range of responses or simply give the students time to consider their own answers.
Ask whether their ‘perfect day’ would include any of the following things.
- Doing whatever they wanted, with no one and nothing to stop them.
- Having no stress, no pressure, no threats and no hassles.
- Spending time with loved ones, friends and family.
- Being in a beautiful place - a warm climate, a sunny beach or idyllic countryside, perhaps.
- Having every need and want met.
- The local football team winning the league!
Pause for a moment after each suggestion.
What about if we were asked to describe not the ‘perfect day’, but the ‘perfect society’? By society, we mean the community we find ourselves living in with other people. What would the perfect society be like?
Five hundred years ago, in 1516, Sir Thomas More wrote a book that tackled this question. He called his book, Utopia. In it, he described an island and the inhabitants of the island. The book suggested that this society was perfect.
Show Slide 1.
Features of More’s Utopia include:
- a nation based on rational thought
- people sharing property
- a healthy distrust of wealth and gold
- no class distinctions
- no poverty and little crime or immoral behaviour
- religious tolerance
Ask the following questions.
- What about you? If you could imagine a perfect society, what would it look like?
- What type of economic system, social structure and government would you propose?
- How would humans treat one another?
- How would people treat the environment, animals and nature?
- What attitudes and beliefs would people hold?
Thomas More has not been the only person in history to describe a perfect society. The idea of the ‘kingdom of God’ was a key part of Jesus’ teaching. Many of Jesus’ parables and sayings reveal a kingdom based on the values of God, where:
- the weak and vulnerable matter
- people burdened by guilt can be forgiven and released from the grip of shame
- intention matters
- all are loved and welcomed
In one of Jesus’ parables, he compared the kingdom of God - God’s ideal society - to a mustard seed.
Show Slide 2 and read the passage slowly and thoughtfully.
Ask the following question.
- What is Jesus telling us here about the Kingdom of God?
The parable suggests that an ideal society can begin with the smallest of intentions or actions. A kind word, a smile of thanks, including someone in our conversation - these small, intentional actions could transform someone’s day. Perhaps it might just help someone to get that bit closer to experiencing their ‘perfect day’.
There is a saying, ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow’. The example of honesty, compassion, forgiveness or love that you show today could begin to transform our society into a more honest, compassionate, forgiving and loving one.
Time for reflection
The teaching of Jesus about the kingdom of God has challenged Christians throughout the centuries. In our time of reflection, we will listen to a simple piece of reflective music from the Taizé Christian community, which is based in France. This community encourages prayer and connection with God through simple chants and songs.
As we listen, let’s consider what we can do today to make our world a better place.
How can we be part of building the perfect society - based on justice and peace?
Play the ‘Kingdom of God’ by Taizé, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WL1_IhVTJmk. The lyrics are shown on Slide 3.
Show Slide 3.
The prayers are shown on Slide 4. The response is (Lord in your mercy): Hear our prayer.
Show Slide 4.
We acknowledge that our world and our society are far from perfect.
For this, we are sorry, and we seek your forgiveness for the times we have hurt others, hurt your creation and hurt you.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
We pray for a greater understanding of what it means to be part of your kingdom.
Help us to know what true love, justice, forgiveness and compassion are really like.
Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
You may wish to play either ‘Perfect day’ by Lou Reed or ‘Kingdom of God’ by Taizé as the students leave.