Planning ahead for the year 2020
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore the benefits of planning ahead for the year.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and two readers.
- Optional: you may wish to have available a time manager/wallchart system to share with the students during the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly.
- Note: the story of Jesus healing the blind man, which is told by the two readers during the assembly, is from Mark 8.22-25.
Leader: Jesus found spit rather useful.
Pause for effect!
I expect that some of you are a bit surprised by this start to an assembly! In fact, though, spit played a crucial part in one of Jesus’ healing miracles. It happened like this.
Reader 1: As Jesus was approaching a village in Palestine called Bethsaida, some villagers brought a blind man to him and asked Jesus to restore the man’s sight. Jesus led the man away to a quiet place and began the healing process.
Reader 2: Jesus spat on his fingers, gently wiped the man’s eyes and then asked him, ‘Do you see anything?’
Reader 1: The man replied, ‘Yes, I can see people, but they look like trees walking around.’ This was probably not the reply everyone expected!
Reader 2: Jesus placed his hands again on the man’s eyes. When he removed them, the man’s sight was fully restored. ‘I can see clearly now,’ the man responded.
Leader: This is January 2020.
Pause to allow time for thought.
Do you know what 20/20 vision is? It denotes vision of normal sharpness. If you have 20/20 vision, it means that you can see everything clearly on an eye chart when you are standing 20 feet away. (In the UK, it’s more often referred to in metric terms as 6/6.) If you have 15/20 vision, it means that you need to be closer to the eye chart to see it clearly, so you might need glasses. Some people have 20/15 vision, which means that they can see clearly from a greater distance.
The man in the story initially had 0/0 vision. With the aid of Jesus’ spit, he achieved something like 10/20 vision. He could discern figures, but they looked more like trees. There was no clarity, no sharpness to what he could see. It was only with Jesus’ second action that everything became clear and he achieved 20/20 vision.
Time for reflection
Leader: Jesus talked a lot about seeing clearly. As he preached his message about God’s revolutionary love, peace and freedom, he would ask his audience, ‘Don’t you see? Don’t you hear? Don’t you understand?’ What Jesus longed for was for people to see the options that lay before them, assess them carefully, apply them to themselves and then act on them. He was concerned that most people would simply glance, take a brief look and then move on because it required too much effort or was too challenging to follow things through.
I want to suggest that, at the start of the year 2020, we all adopt 20/20 vision as we look ahead. What do I mean? Well, it would be very easy for us simply to look at the next week or two and plan to deal with what might occur during that time. Alternatively, we could live in the moment and take the future as it comes. We could be so fearful of what lies ahead of us that we don’t even open our eyes. Like the blind man, we would be adopting 0/0 vision. I’d like to suggest a better way.
The year ahead contains 12 months and each one is significant to us in some way. I believe that it’s good practice to go through the year at its beginning and mark out what’s happening in each month.
Optional: you may wish to share a time manager/wallchart system with the students.
Personally, I always mark in holiday times first! That makes me feel good. Next, I enter personal dates such as birthdays, sports events and concerts or festivals. Last of all, I put in work priorities such as deadlines, revision periods, exams and results. If we stand back, we can probably see a kind of rhythm to the year: hard work, pleasure, rest, hard work, pleasure, rest and so on. If it still looks a bit of a muddle, we should look again to see whether we’ve missed out anything important. Remember that it took two goes for Jesus to heal the man’s blindness in the story.
What I’ve suggested may be fine for those of us who can plot our time clearly. However, it might be that we find it hard to look ahead, perhaps because of nervousness, uncertainty or apprehension. We may lack confidence in our ability to manage what lies ahead, or remember the times last year when we felt that we failed. As we look to the year ahead, it might feel as if we have nothing like 20/20 vision; rather, we might feel like we need glasses!
Sadly, we can’t offer you any magic spectacles, but we can offer you other pairs of eyes to help you look at the year ahead.
- There are people in school to help and advise you. (Give details of pastoral support structures within the school.)
- There are parents and guardians, trusted friends and others who may have the experience necessary to help us see clearly.
- Last, but by no means least, if we have faith, we can also pray, daily and for the time ahead.
The aim is for us to take control of our future by planning ahead so that we can see clearly.
So, let’s make sure that we all have 20/20 vision for the year 2020.
Thank you for the opportunities of a new year stretching ahead for each of us.
Please remind us of all that may be significant in our planning.
May we have a clear view of our hopes.
May we think of others and aim to make people’s lives better this year.
‘I can see clearly now’ by Jimmy Cliff, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrHxhQPOO2c (3.20 minutes long)