Never Say Die
An assembly for Easter
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to consider ways to cope with discouragement and the temptation to give up.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and three readers.
Leader (dramatically): Never say die!
Pause for effect.
You can imagine the hero or heroine standing, fist punching the air, defiant in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. The battle may apparently be lost, the cause defeated, the end in sight, but never, ever will he or she admit it, even on the point of death.
Never say die!
Pause for effect.
And what of those who supported him or her? The men and women who left their homes and families, gambled their security and invested their time and energy into the vision that inspired them? Didn’t it feel like the end for them? Weren’t they now left alone, powerless, defeated, bereft? How could they join in the defiant cry?
Never say die!
Pause for effect.
Reader 1: This is just like the Easter story that Christians retell year after year. The story is all about a man called Jesus who challenged the status quo, turned the values of society upside down, offered a way to bridge the natural and the supernatural world and is now close to death, hanging on a cross for criminals. Watching him die are the men and women who followed him, supported him and learned from him. At this moment, none of them could say, ‘Never say die!’ In fact, the crux of the story comes when the hero himself, Jesus on the cross, cries out the words, ‘It is finished!’
Reader 2: So, was it the end? Did the Friday that we call Good Friday mark the end of the Jesus story? Did his followers slink off home, defeated and dispirited? Maybe so, for a couple of days. Then, as the Bible relates, Jesus was raised again to life on the Sunday morning, a new life that somehow broke through all human understanding of what it meant to die.
Reader 3: For Christians, the death and resurrection of Jesus lie at the heart of what it means to be truly human. Why? Because Christians believe that every barrier that might be placed between turning evil to good, between lies and truth, between slavery and freedom, and ultimately, between God and humanity, was broken down on that first Easter Sunday morning. For Christians, the Easter story represents hope of a new start, a new direction, a new future and the opportunity to be truly fulfilled humans.
Time for reflection
Leader: You may share a belief in that Christian message of hope. You may follow another faith or believe that human resources alone are enough. Yet there is something for all of us in the Easter story. Every one of us has experienced times when we felt so discouraged, so let down by other people that we felt there was no way out. A bit like those followers of Jesus on that first Good Friday.
So, what do we do when we feel that way? Some of us will retreat into ourselves, isolating ourselves from friends and family, fearful of every relationship. Others will bury their heads in media, choosing to live in a world that offers no threat or criticism. It’s a way to numb the experience of the real world. Alcohol and drugs are another way of numbing feelings, but these always carry side effects. Sadly, there are some people who cannot face the world any more and are tempted to take their own lives. All because it seems like the end, all because there appears to be no way out. The Good Friday feeling.
Easter is a story of hope. Easter tells us that, however bad our situation might appear to be, there is a way forward, even if we can’t see it at the moment. It’s a ‘never say die’ story, but it needs to be fleshed out for us as individuals. It needs to be tangible. So, where might our hope come from?
Let’s start with people. It’s easy to feel like you’re on your own. But what about others? Can you spot anyone else who’s caught in the Friday feeling? Why not be the person who brings their loneliness to an end? If you can bring hope to them, maybe the hope will rub off on you. We start by making ourselves look outwards rather than inwards.
Next, let’s look at ourselves, at the resources we still have, at our positive points and at our achievements. As with our reaction to people, our initial response will probably be that we are worth nothing, have achieved nothing and can see no chance of change. That’s never true. We need to take an honest look.
Let’s start with today. Let’s think of three sights, words and experiences that have brought us a measure of satisfaction or pleasure, or stimulated us to think. They’re worth sharing and pointing out to others who may take pleasure in them. We do have something to offer.
Now let’s think about the week that’s gone by. What did we achieve, however slight the achievement might appear? What did we learn? Whose life is a little different because we were with them? Let’s look away from the negatives that are dragging us down and deliberately search for the positives.
Finally, there is always prayer. It may be prayer to the God you believe in. It may be prayer to the God you don’t know. It may even be prayer that has no known destination. Many people, of all ages, have found that praying can have remarkable results.
This assembly has been about Easter. Remember, it may feel like Friday now, but, as the old saying goes, ‘Sunday’s coming!’
Thank you for the inspiration and hope that we can take from the Easter story.
Remind us of that Sunday whenever we feel trapped in the Good Friday feeling.