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Come Alive!

Forget the new you; find the true you instead!

by Rachel Noyce

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To encourage us to discover and develop our God-given talents.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Come Alive!) and the means to display them.

  • Have available the video ‘The parable of the talents’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 3.32 minutes long and is available at: https://request.org.uk/restart/2015/11/23/parable-of-the-talents/

    Alternatively, read the Bible story of the parable of the talents, which is found in Matthew 25.14-30.

Assembly

  1. Show Slides 1-2.

    Ask the students whether theyve ever seen the TV game show, All-Star Family Fortunes.

    Explain that it was a game show that featured two teams of five contestants. Each team consisted of a celebrity and their family, who were trying to win money for charity. The two teams were asked to guess the most likely answers given in surveys where 100 people were asked a series of questions.

  2. Invite the students to play a round of ‘New Year Family Fortunes’.

    Explain that you have a list of the top five most common New Year’s resolutions in the UK (taken from a YouGov poll for 2018) and you would like the students to guess what they are.

    1. Eat better.
    2. Exercise more.
    3. Spend less money.
    4. Get more sleep.
    5. Read more books.

    Show Slide 3 when all of the answers have been given.

  3. You might like to share the rest of the top ten with the students.

    6. Learn a new skill.
    7. Get a new job.
    8. Make new friends.
    9. Get a new hobby.
    10. Focus more on appearance.

  4. Ask the students to raise their hand if they have ever made a New Year’s resolution.

    Ask the students to keep their hand in the air if they managed to keep it!

  5. Explain that, at this time of year, people often think about making some significant changes to their lives. However, it seems that these good intentions do not last long. According to a story in U.S. News in 2015, 80 per cent of people fail in their resolutions by February. In fact, the second Friday of January has been coined ‘Quitters Day’ because that’s when people are most likely to give up!

  6. So, why do people persist with making New Year’s resolutions when most people will break them within three weeks?

    Perhaps it’s because our culture often sells us the dream of a new you: becoming a version of ourselves that is fitter, stronger, wealthier, brainier, more physically attractive, more popular and so on. We believe that when we find this ‘new us’, we will feel better, happier and more fulfilled.

  7. Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with deciding to eat more healthily or having a go at a hobby that we’ve always fancied trying. However, what if we are looking for the best version of ourselves in the wrong place? What if the person we really want to be is not out there somewhere, waiting to get in? What if that person is already inside us, waiting to get out?

  8. Show the video ‘The parable of the talents’ or tell the story found in Matthew 25.14-30.

    Recap that Jesus told the story of a rich businessman who goes away and leaves his fortune with three of his employees. He gives five bags of money to one of them, two bags to another and one bag to the third. He instructs his employees to use the money wisely so that when he returns, there’s a profit. Sure enough, two out of the three end up making a big return for their boss, which leaves him delighted. However, the third one doesn’t. He buries his bag of money in the ground, which makes the businessman very angry.

  9. At this time of year, we can often end up focusing on all the things about ourselves that we feel dissatisfied with and wish we could change. However, this ancient Bible story provides a different perspective on the person we are. In the story, the businessman is God and the radical message is this: God has invested his treasure in us.

    The word used in the Bible for the bag of money is ‘talent’, which is where the English word ‘talent’ comes from. In other words, every single one of us has been given unique gifts, abilities, passions and interests – a wealth of things that make us uniquely ‘us’ – that can have an extraordinary impact when they are put to good use.

  10. Invite the students to think about how it feels to do something that they really enjoy. How does it feel to discover that they are good at a particular thing or to talk with somebody about something they are passionate about? You might like to share an anecdote from your own experience.

  11. When we discover and begin to use our God-given gifts, it makes us feel great! It gives us a sense that this is who we really are and what we’re made to do. It makes us come alive.

  12. Explain that when we feel this way, it is not just us who feel the benefit. In the parable, the businessman wants to see a return for his generous investment. It’s often the case that the world is changed for the better by people who use their God-given talents well, such as:

    - the eager engineer who pushes the boundaries of what technology can do
    - the songwriter who creates music that brings joy or comfort to others
    - the gifted peacemaker who builds welcoming communities for others
    - the talented teacher who inspires and brings out the best in others.

  13. It is possible that making a few lifestyle changes will make us happier for a time. However, perhaps true fulfilment is only found when we discover what makes us come alive – whether that’s creating, running, gardening, inventing, being hospitable or standing up for the needs of others – and we do it to the best of our ability.

    So, heres a simple challenge for 2020: forget the new you; find the true you instead!

Time for reflection

Show Slide 4.

Reflect on this quotation from Howard Thurman, a twentieth-century American theologian.

‘Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.’

Read the quotation a few more times and then ask the students to think about the things that make them ‘come alive’.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Ask them to think about their talents and gifts: the things that they are naturally good at or enjoy doing.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Ask the students to think about their passions and interests: the things that excite them, or stir them up.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Ask the students to consider how they can develop these talents this year and how they can use these to help and benefit other people.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Prayer
Dear Lord,
Thank you that you made and love each one of us.
Thank you that you have given us interests, passions and talents that bring us happiness and fulfilment.
Please show us how we can use all that you have given us to bring joy and hope to others.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Come alive’ from the film, The Greatest Showman, available athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDd9dejw2HY (5.12 minutes long)

Publication date: January 2020   (Vol.22 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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