Is There More Than This?
A sense of past and future
by Helen Redfern (revised, originally published in 2011)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To recognize and examine the sense of something more within each of us.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and two readers.
- You will also need a table, two chairs and two packed lunch boxes.
- You will need to have the Bible verse found in Ecclesiastes 3.11 displayed: ‘God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set a sense of eternity in the human heart.’
You may prefer to include a paraphrased version, such as: ‘God has put a sense of past and future into their minds.’
- Note: this assembly touches on the death of a grandparent, so please be sensitive to this issue when conducting the assembly.
- Optional: you may wish to use some background music for meditation during the ‘Time for Reflection’ part of the assembly. Examples are available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOB73qRVGJs and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLWXjlmqapY
Two students enter and sit at a table with their packed lunches in front of them.
Leader: One of these students has returned to school after attending his/her grandma’s funeral the day before. Let’s listen in to their conversation over lunch as the two friends chat about how it went.
Reader 1: So, how did it go? It must have been really hard. I’ve never been to a funeral.
Reader 2: Nor had I before yesterday. It was odd, really. I’ve never believed in life after death. I’ve always thought we just get one life, experience one death and then that’s it. Full stop. Finish. But now that someone close to me has died, I can’t help feeling that there must be more than this.
Reader 1: I know what you mean. I’m not super-religious or anything, but however hard I try, I can’t stop believing that there is more to life than just a physical dimension.
Reader 2: Well, I’ll probably move on from feeling that way soon enough. I guess I’m a bit upset about Gran, that’s all. I’m into science and I reckon science will prove there’s no God, no divine being out there controlling everything. That’s the stuff of stories and make-believe, not reason and rational argument.
Reader 1: I’m not so sure. There’s something that makes us humans different from animals, I think. And why are we all so fascinated by the unknown if we don’t believe there’s anything out there?
The two students continue their discussion silently.
Leader: Let’s leave the discussion for a moment and pick up on that point. Isn’t it true that as humans, we’ve been obsessed over the years with the unknown?
Some people devote their lives to discovering aliens, UFOs and life on other planets. Films have been made about life in other dimensions, such as The Matrix, Inception and The Adjustment Bureau, to name but a few. And lots of us love the Marvel films! Numerous books have been written about immortality and the supernatural, too.
We’re intrigued by the idea of travelling through time and space. How many of us love the adventures of Dr Who? We read stories in magazines of people who’ve been to heaven and back, or had near-death experiences, not knowing whether to believe them, but fascinated all the same.
People of faith all over the world and throughout history have believed in an afterlife, whether that takes the form of heaven, reincarnation or some other teaching.
The two students start talking to each other more loudly and animatedly.
Reader 2: But that’s just ridiculous. You’ll be getting at me to go to church soon!
Reader 1: That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just wondering out loud whether this feeling of there being something more is because that’s how we were made.
Reader 2: We weren’t made. It was random, remember? The Big Bang and all that.
Reader 1: Maybe, but that doesn’t really make sense to me. I feel like there’s something spiritual within all of us. Perhaps we shouldn’t fight it, that’s all I’m saying.
The two students fade into the background again.
Leader: Maybe they’re onto something. In the Old Testament, the writer of Ecclesiastes says that God has put a sense of past and future into our minds. A more modern writer, the American Rob Bell, says in his book Love Wins, ‘Religions should not surprise us. We crave meaning and order and explanation. We’re desperate for connection with something or somebody greater than ourselves. This is not new.’
Back to our two friends . . .
Reader 2: So, is that where you’re going to leave it?
Reader 1: Well, no, not really. You’re the one with all the definitive answers. You’re the one with the full stop. I prefer a question mark.
Reader 2: Well, if we only get one life, like I suspect, I’d better get on with living it, not just talking about it. I’m off.
Reader 1: Hmm. And I’m going to give this some more thought. I like where I’m going with this whole thing.
Both leave the stage.
Time for reflection
Point out to the students that the discussion between the two friends was thought-provoking.
Say to the students: ‘Maybe we believe that this life is all we have. Or maybe we believe that there must be more than this. Whatever we believe, please listen to the words of this meditation and if you wish, make them your own.’
Play background music if using.
Time seems to stand still as waves crash on a beach.
How easy it is to get drawn into the glowing colours of a sunset.
The detail of a peacock’s tail feather takes my breath away.
My spirits soar with the flute’s melody rising above the orchestra.
I lose track of time standing before an artist’s masterpiece.
I’m entranced by the dance and wish it would never end.
Humanity builds skyscrapers to reach to the heavens.
Humanity constructs bridges to span the greatest expanse.
Humanity yearns for bigger, better, faster, greater.
Young people fall in love for the first time and wish that it could last forever.
A child wins a competition and wants to bottle the elation.
Someone loses themself in a great book and never wants to reach the final page.
God has set eternity in the hearts of men and women.
And young people. And children.
All people. All over the world. For all time.