Examples of Friendship
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the meaning of friendship using stories from the Bible.
Preparation and materials
You will need a leader and three readers, who will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly.
Have available the following poems and the means to display them or show videos of them during the assembly if required:
- ‘Best friends’ by Adrian Henri, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y6uff52m (1.06 minutes long)
- ‘Friends’ by Elizabeth Jennings, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y982q4jr or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D-DBfSVVJo (0.44 minutes long)
- ‘A friend’ by Rachael Marshall
Leader: Today, we are going to hear two stories from the Bible. I know some of you will be turning off already, but these stories are about friendship, and we all have friends.
Reader 1: Let’s start with a poem by Adrian Henri. (Reads the poem ‘Best friends’ by Adrian Henri or plays a recording of the reading at: https://tinyurl.com/y6uff52m)
Reader 2: With that in mind, let me tell you about David and Jonathan. The story of this friendship is in the Bible and happened over 3,000 years ago.
You may have heard of David. The story of him killing the mighty giant warrior, Goliath, with a slingshot is very well known. David was only a shepherd boy, but after he killed Goliath, he was immediately famous throughout Israel. Saul, the king of Israel, had not had to fight Goliath because David had volunteered, so he took David into his household. It was a new way of life and David became friendly with Saul’s son, Jonathan.
Reader 3: David and Jonathan became very close - like blood brothers or soulmates. Best friends. But Saul started to become jealous of David because he was so popular with the people. In fact, he was so jealous that he started to plot to have David killed. Jonathan was horrified at what his father was doing. How could his father want to kill his best and closest friend? He tried to warn David and protect him.
Leader: It all became too much. So, David and Jonathan made a pact of eternal friendship, swearing loyalty to each other - something so strong that nothing could ever destroy it. Then Jonathan, the dutiful son, went back to his father and David went on his way, later becoming king of Israel himself. When Jonathan was killed in battle, David wrote a poem about Saul and Jonathan, saying how sorry he was. You can read it in the Bible (2 Samuel 1.17-27). Near the end of the poem, he writes: ‘I am distressed about this, Jonathan, my brother. You were so good to me and we enjoyed a great friendship.’
Reader 1: Sometimes, friendships can make us jealous. They become special to us and we don’t want anyone to interfere. MY friend, MY relationship.
Reader 2: This next poem is called ‘Friends’ by Elizabeth Jennings. (Reads the poem ‘Friends’ by Elizabeth Jennings or plays a recording of the reading at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D-DBfSVVJo)
Reader 3: I hope we all have a friendship that is just as strong, but there are other sorts of friendship. Sometimes, we have friends with whom we get on OK, but nothing as powerful as David and Jonathan’s friendship. There are close friends like David and Jonathan, but most of us have other friends that we have for different reasons. Maybe we play sport together, have a similar interest or live near each other.
Leader: In the New Testament, written 1,000 years after the story we have just heard, we read about Jesus choosing Peter to lead the other disciples after his death. So, Peter became their leader. It was a difficult time because Jesus’ followers were being persecuted. One of the persecutors was called Paul. He was on his way to hurt Jesus’ followers when he had a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus. He was amazed and so affected by what he heard and saw that he became a follower of Jesus. He went on to become an important member of the early Christian community.
Reader 1: But could the others trust Paul? He had been trying to kill them. So, they were wary of him. Not only had he tried to kill some of them, but he had not been with them when they had been with Jesus. Why should anyone listen to him? Yet now he was a follower, one of them. Surely they had to be friendly with him. They had to love him as Jesus had told them to.
Reader 2: But Paul and Peter had a disagreement about how the followers of Jesus should act and behave. Paul says that he had to talk to Peter ‘face to face’. He called this ‘speaking the truth in love’. By that, he means that you might love someone very much, but sometimes, you have to tell them the truth about something they have done or something about themselves. It is a hard thing to do, but you MUST tell them because you love them. Peter and Paul were friends because they were followers of Jesus, but they had to recognize that they had their differences while still remaining friends.
Reader 3: That is just like us. We may be friends with someone, but we probably don’t agree with them about everything. We try to respect them, treat them properly and support them if they need help. The Bible is an old book, but if we read it and think about how similar we are to some of the people, and how we go through the same joys and sadness, it doesn’t seem so out of date. I hope you have a friendship like David and Jonathan’s and can handle friendships like Peter and Paul.
Time for reflection
Leader: We’ll finish with another poem. As it is read, let’s think and reflect about our own friendships - those in the past and those we have now.
Reader 1: This poem was written by a teenager with chronic fatigue syndrome, a disease that makes you feel exhausted and ill. It means that you just don’t feel up for things and can end up getting left out.
Reader 2: A Friend
A friend should be someone who’s always there,
Who no matter what happens will always care
And who’ll pick you up when you are down,
If your boyfriend dumps you, will come around.
Someone to help you through good times and bad,
Someone to comfort you when you’re sad.
A friend to share with and listen to,
And you’ll be all of these things for them, too.
Reader 3 (continuing poem):
But a friend is not someone who, when you’re too ill to go out,
Doesn’t bother to call or come about,
Or phone or text just to say hi,
Who only lives round the corner, so I don’t know why
They haven’t bothered to keep in contact with me
’Cos I thought we were all best friends, you see.
But now you all seem to have forgotten me.
It hurts - friends forever we said we’d always be.
Leader: What are our friendships like?
Reader 1: Are we good friends?
Reader 2: Do we treat our friends in the right way?
Reader 3: If we want good friends, we need to be good friends to others.