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Passing Time

The summer solstice is on 21 June 2019

by Rebecca Parkinson (revised, originally published in 2008)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage us to consider how we use our time in light of the fact that 21 June is the longest day of the year.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Passing Time) and the means to display them.

  • Optional: you may wish to ask one of the students to read the passage Ecclesiastes 3.1–8 (the text is given in the ‘Time for Reflection’ part of the assembly).


  1. Remind the students that 21 June 2019 is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Traditionally, the summer solstice is celebrated on 24 June, Midsummer’s Day. The summer solstice occurs when the sun is at its most northerly point and appears to be the highest in the sky. On this day, it should remain light for the longest period of time all year. Some people see this as the start of the summer season.

  2. Explain that, as we move forward through June up to this point, the days get longer. However, as soon as 21 June passes by, the days begin to get shorter again. So, it is a good time to remind ourselves how quickly time passes and ask ourselves whether we use our time well.

  3. Tell the students that you are going to show them a series of slides that depict everyday tasks. Ask the students to imagine an average 70-year-old and guess how long this person will have spent doing each of these tasks during his or her 70 years of life. You may like to invite students to come forward and have a team competition as to whose answers are closest to the correct figures. Alternatively, you may prefer to ask them simply to raise their hands to answer.

  4. Show Slide 1.

    We spend approximately one-third of our lives sleeping, so the answer is just over 23 years.

  5. Show Slide 2.

    An average 70-year-old will have spent six years of his/her life eating.

  6. Show Slide 3.

    An average 70-year-old will have spent nine years of his/her life watching TV.

  7. Show Slide 4.

    An average 70-year-old will have spent five years of his/her life
    waiting in a queue (including at traffic lights).

  8. Show Slide 5.

    An average 70-year-old will have spent four years of his/her life doing

  9. Show Slide 6.

    An average 70-year-old will have spent 18 months of his/her life on the toilet.

  10. Show Slide 7.

    An average 70-year-old will have spent 2.5 weeks of his/her life

  11. Explain that adding together the time taken on these tasks clearly shows that we don’t have that long to do other things. This is only a bit of fun, but it does focus our minds on how easy it can be to waste our time. As the students approach exams and end-of-year tests, discuss with them how we all need to use our time wisely. Talk with them, too, about the summer holidays. Ask them to think about things they can do with their time that won’t mean they just fritter away every day, but instead, enable them to achieve something positive.

Time for reflection

Mention that the Bible speaks about time. There is a well-known poem found in Ecclesiastes 3.

Optional: ask the prearranged student to come to the front to read the following text.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ask the students to think about their daily routine. Is there any time in that routine for them to be quiet and think, for them to do something to help another person?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Ask the students to think about how they use their time. Set them the challenge of thinking how to use their time wisely this week.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear God,
Thank you for our amazing world.
Thank you for our lives and the wonderful opportunities that we have today and in the months and years ahead of us.
Help us to use our time wisely so that our lives will be full of joy and a blessing to other people.

Publication date: June 2019   (Vol.21 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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