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Leaving the past behind

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec) - Church Schools


To explore the idea of letting go of things from the past.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and two readers, who will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly.

  • Have available some images of the Iron Cross on the Camino de Santiago and the means to display them during the assembly. You may wish to run these as a slide show in the background, playing throughout the assembly. Examples could include:

    - the Iron Cross, available at:
    - people at the Iron Cross, available at:
    - close-ups of the base of the Iron Cross, available at: and

  • You may wish to use the Bible reference, 1 Corinthians 13.11.


Leader: A verse in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians says, ‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child . . . but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’

Reader 1: On a hill in northern Spain, theres an old iron cross that is passed by many pilgrims who are travelling along the route known as the Camino de Santiago.

Show the first image of the Iron Cross.

Reader 2: The Camino is an annual pilgrimage. People walk for hundreds of miles to get to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

Show the image of people at the Iron Cross.

Leader: The Iron Cross - known as the Cruz de Ferro or Cruz de Hierro in Spanish - has a tradition attached to it. Its a place where people can leave things that they no longer need.

Show the first close-up of the base of the Iron Cross.

Reader 1: Some of these pictures are not very clear, but can you see what some people have left behind?

Show the second and third close-ups of the base of the Iron Cross.

Reader 2: I can see quite a few postcards and some photos.

Leader: There are shells . . . shoes . . . stones . . .

Reader 1: There are also various messages written on scraps of paper.

Reader 2: These are things - or ideas - that their owners no longer need in their lives.

Leader: But there are some things that look quite good. There’s a bag, some toys, even some chocolate!

Reader 1: What a pity! But why do these people leave things here?

Reader 2: I think its because its a symbolic and meaningful act. I wonder what we would leave behind now if we had a chance to throw away something we didn’t need.

Leader: I wonder if any of us are carrying things around that are holding us back. Have a good think about it.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Reader 1 (to the Leader): At the beginning, you read a bit from the Bible: ‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child . . . but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’ I suppose there are childish things or things that have happened in the past that we might need to put behind us.

Reader 2: We probably all have physical things that we dont need any more, such as old clothes that no longer fit us. Maybe someone else could use them. However, as well as physical things, there are other things that we may come to realize we should leave behind.

Leader: Like what?

Reader 1: Well, what about regrets? Regrets for things that weve done. Call it guilt, if you like. If you feel guilty because you lied to someone, isnt it better to admit the fault and start afresh without the guilt hanging over you?

Reader 2: The same would be true of stealing something. Or not caring about something. Or not helping someone who really needed our help. Weve all done things were not particularly proud of. As we get older, we see our mistakes more clearly and that clarity gives us the power to wipe the slate clean of anything we regret.

Time for reflection

Leader: Christians believe that God is there to help in that process. He invites us to come clean and start anew. As soon as we are old enough to realize that we have made a mistake, we are also big enough to sort it out.

Reader 1: Another school year will soon be over. During the past year, weve all made mistakes from time to time. And because were all another year older, we can see the value in leaving behind childish attitudes.

Reader 2: Lets spend a few moments thinking about that. Let’s think about the things that we don’t want to do any more. Let’s think about the mistakes that we would like to put right.

Dear God,
Thank you that you always want to give us a second chance.
Please help us as we grow up.
Help us to do something about our mistakes.
Help us to put wrong things right.
Help us to live in a good and honest way.


Publication date: August 2023   (Vol.25 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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