Not the New Year’s Resolution
Planting seeds for the future
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to think about our future at the start of the New Year.
Preparation and materials
You will need a leader and two readers.
Have available the YouTube video ‘Camille – Seeds – Later 25 live at the Royal Albert Hall’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 5.54 minutes long (although you don’t need to show all of it) and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJd3SatPlDo
Leader: I wonder how many of you have made New Year’s resolutions.
You may wish to take feedback from students, asking for examples of the resolutions they’ve made. Alternatively, you may wish to reveal any resolution that you have made yourself.
New Year’s resolutions can be a very good idea.
Reader 1: The start of a new year seems like an appropriate time to begin a new venture. Some people resolve to take up a new hobby, explore new possibilities, visit new places or meet a new group of people. It’s as if the days ahead of 1 January are somehow fresh and untouched, ready for something new that the old year couldn’t carry.
Reader 2: For others, it’s the opportunity to leave behind something that’s been unhelpful in the last year. People often resolve to give up fattening foods, stop acting in a certain way or break an addictive behaviour. A ‘that was then; this is now’ kind of attitude.
Leader: The most adventurous of us may have resolved to do both: to stop one aspect of our life and replace it with something we regard as far better.
Pause to allow time for thought.
There’s only one problem.
Pause to allow time for thought.
Very few resolutions last far into the new year. If I were to ask you in March how many of you had been successful in keeping to your resolution, I doubt I’d find many of you who could honestly make that claim. The number would be even lower by the end of December. Resolutions are hard to keep up. They need discipline and commitment. And when we fail, it usually has an effect on us. We’re unhappy with ourselves and conscious of our limitations. It’s not an encouraging experience, so I want to suggest an alternative.
I wonder whether you or your families like to grow flowers and vegetables. If so, this is the time to sow your seeds.
Reader 1: You don’t sow them outside in January because the cold weather will kill them. Instead, you sow them inside.
Reader 2: Many seeds are tiny. It’s impossible to sow them one at a time. Instead, you scatter them in the pot, gently water them and place the pot somewhere warm and light to help the seeds germinate.
Reader 1: The seeds don’t need a lot of maintenance, just an occasional sprinkling of water. They take a long time to develop, so there’s no point in getting impatient.
Reader 2: If all the seeds germinate and you have a lot of plants in the small pot, it’s a good idea to remove quite a few so that the remainder can develop. Then who knows what might grow?
Time for reflection
Leader: I’d like to suggest that, at the start of this new year, you plant a few seeds, metaphorically speaking. By that, I mean dream a few dreams about what you might achieve this year, and what you’d like to happen if everything went well. Use your imaginations; really think about what you would like to achieve. Let the seeds scatter randomly and allow yourself to get excited about the possibilities. Write them all down and then put the note away somewhere safe.
There’s no need to revisit the list every day; just look at it every now and then. When you do so, try to discern which dreams have become a little more realistic. Maybe you can even delete those that you no longer fancy. There’s no pressure. Let time and circumstances lead your decision-making. I’m sure that eventually, two or three of your dreams from earlier in the year will become distinct possibilities and, with a little extra attention, realities.
Jesus talked about how a tiny seed can grow into a huge plant. The example he gave was the black mustard, which was common in Palestine during his time on earth. The resulting shrub was the size of a tree and so large that birds could build their nests in it. Christians believe that Jesus was referring to what happens when they allow God to lead their lives. They believe that a little bit of faith in God could result in amazing consequences.
Some of us may have a religious faith and agree with what Jesus was talking about. You might believe that God is leading you to believe about the future. Yet for everyone, imagining possibilities for the future can be an exciting, stress-free way to look ahead. What makes this approach different from resolutions is that it starts with hope and excitement at the many possibilities rather than dread at the hard work of denial and the fear of failure. In addition, it allows for some of our plans to be discarded if they don’t appear relevant any longer. There’s no place for a sense of failure. So, let’s enjoy planting as many seeds as we can imagine over the next day or two.
Thank you for the future that stretches ahead of us.
Remind us of the possibilities open to us and let our imaginations wander freely.
At the end of this year, may we look back with a sense of achievement and joy.
Help us to overcome disappointments.
Help us to have the courage to face problems and difficulties.
Help us to live our lives to the full and have a wonderful year!
‘Seeds’ by Camille, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJd3SatPlDo (it is 5.54 minutes long, but you don’t need to show all of it)