Carpe Diem or Plan Ahead?
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec) - Church Schools
To consider living in the present, but planning for the future.
Preparation and materials
You will need a leader, to play the part of the Announcer, and three readers, to play the parts of the Winner, Adviser 1 and Adviser 2. The readers will need time to practise prior to the assembly.
Announcer: And so, ladies and gentlemen, the winner of this year’s St Trinian’s School prize draw - which, let me remind you, is the princely sum of £500 - is . . . if the chair of governors will be so kind as to draw a ticket . . . the winner is . . . the winner is . . . [name of person playing the part of the Winner]!
Winner (moves forwards, gushing thanks): Thank you . . . thank you . . . thank you! £500! Not a fortune, but not bad either. What should I do with it? Maybe I should . . .
Adviser 1 (interrupting): Spend it, of course! What’s the point of putting it in a bank? It’ll just go down in value sitting there. Put it to some use - enjoy it! Fancy a holiday in Barbados? Or why not . . .
Adviser 2 (interrupting): Hang on a minute! Don’t listen to that: use your brain. Plan ahead: that’s the secret of success. ‘Here today, gone tomorrow’: where will that philosophy leave you? In the gutter, that’s where! Look, if you really want to enjoy life, you’ve got to invest in your future. I know it sounds boring, but if I were you, I’d invest it to pay for your education. It’s a sad fact, but if you want to go to university these days, you’ve got to save.
Adviser 1: Are you implying that I’m not educated? Let me tell you something: ‘carpe diem’. That’s Latin, that is, and I bet you don’t know what it means! It means ‘seize the day’ or, in other words, ‘live life to the full NOW, not tomorrow’. That’s not some modern idea: it’s ancient philosophy. You could be knocked over by a car tomorrow, so enjoy life while you can.
Adviser 2: I’m afraid that attitude is becoming frighteningly widespread. Fact one: young people today are saving far less than the same age group of 50 years ago. Fact two: the number of old people is rising, while the number of young people is falling. Unfortunately, this means that the burden of paying for increasing numbers of pensioners is going to fall on a dwindling number of working-age people. It’s going to be a disaster! In fact, if I were you, I’d invest my windfall in a voluntary pension. You can’t start too young.
Adviser 1: Don’t even think about being old: going bald, wrinkles, the skin on your arm looking like plucked chicken skin, losing your mind . . . you’re only young once! Look, if you don’t fancy Barbados, what about the Costa del Sol? Or Greece? Or what about the white sands of the Maldives?
Adviser 2: Fact three: the ability to plan ahead is an essential ingredient of being human rather than an animal. We have the ability to plan ahead - and we should!
Adviser 1: Well, what about the parable that Jesus told about a rich farmer who had a good harvest? The farmer said, ‘I’ll pull my old barns down and build even bigger ones to store all this surplus grain. Then, I can take things easy into my old age.’ Then, God told the farmer that he was going to die that night! So, what is the point of planning ahead?
Adviser 2: I think you will find that only a few verses later, in Luke 12.35-40, Jesus actually commends people who always have their eye on the future. Jesus says, ‘Be dressed and ready . . . like men waiting for their master to return . . . so that when he comes and knocks, you can immediately open the door for him.’
Winner (crossly): Stop. STOP! You’re making me more confused than ever! I don’t know which of you is right. I almost wish I hadn’t won all this money . . .
Time for reflection
Leader: What do you think? You have a choice. Can you spend and save? Or is it one or the other: live now, or live for tomorrow?
Probably, many of you would want to do both: spend a bit and save a bit. That’s perhaps the most sensible approach. However, ‘sensible’ isn’t a word that could be used about Jesus. He often sounds contradictory. He wants people to live fully in the present, but also with their eyes and heart fixed on the future. He does want both!
Living in the present doesn’t mean living in a totally self-indulgent way. If anything, it might mean giving your money away! And living for the future doesn’t mean disengaging from the present. What we do now affects the way we will be in the future.
- How do we live?
- Do we think about the world and the effect that we are having on it?
- Do we think about the environment?
- Do we look for ways to help others?
So many questions . . . we all need to live in the present, but also think about the consequences of our actions. What we do now will affect not only our own futures, but the futures of those who come after us.
Open our eyes to all the rich and good things that we are blessed with NOW.
Help us to enjoy the present, but also to make good decisions for the future.
Help us to be considerate as we care for the world.