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New Year, Fresh Start

Fresh starts in relationships

by Brian Radcliffe (revised, originally published in 2011)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To encourage us to consider how a new year can be a stimulus to new ways of being and doing.

Preparation and materials

  • None required.

Assembly

  1. Skin is a wonderful part of our body. Not only is it strong, flexible, sensitive and waterproof, but when skin is injured, it has an amazing capacity to renew itself. How does it do it?

  2. First, when we suffer a cut or graze, a clot begins to form immediately to protect the area. White blood cells also migrate to the site of the injury to kill off microbes that have the potential to cause disease. This occurs during the first couple of days, right from the moment of injury.

    Second, during the next three weeks, granulation tissue forms and fills the gaps created by the wound. New blood vessels are created and the edges of the wound begin to contract, pulling it together.

    Finally, over the following couple of years, the skin builds up, gradually increasing its strength. The skin has made itself new, although it never regains more than 80 per cent of the strength of the original skin.

  3. In most cases, skin wounds can be healed. We might be left with a slight trace of a scar, but that’s all. It’s not so easy, however, to heal wounds in our relationships, our hopes and ambitions, our promises and plans.

    When things go wrong in these parts of our life, they often remain a source of frustration and pain. We brood on them; we avoid people and places because of them; our stomach lurches at the thought of them.

  4. A new year has traditionally been a time for making a new start. New Years resolutions are made, and frequently broken in the first few days!

    Optional: you may wish to tell the students about a resolution that you have made, and whether you have succeeded or failed with it.

    Resolutions are good for the future, but they don’t deal with the wounds of the past. Maybe the new year could provide healing in these areas, too. How might this be achieved?

  5. First, it’s useful to identify those areas of relationship breakdown, failure and disappointment that appear to be outside our control at present. This isn’t to give them up, but merely to put them on the back-burner until we can give some imaginative thought to solving them.

    Second, we could make a list of all the actions that we can take, the words that we can say and the attitudes that we can cultivate that could begin the healing process for us and the other people affected. Going up to several people and saying sorry will probably be top of the list for many of us.

    Third, maybe we could set ourselves the task of ticking off one item from our list every day until the list is closed.

  6. Jesus is very much a ‘new year’ person. So many of the things that he said are about turning what is damaged or incomplete into something new and hopeful. He talked of helping blind people to see, setting free captives, turning enemies into friends and bandaging wounds to heal them. It’s all summed up in one statement that he made: ‘I am making all things new.’ (Revelation 21.5)

    To those who believe, this is an encouragement and a source of hope. Jesus is saying that he can help us bring healing to the wounds in our lives and in those around us. We simply need to take the first steps. The new year seems to me like a good time to do so.

Time for reflection

Spend some time considering the following thoughts. You may wish to turn them into a prayer.

- Be thankful for the possibility of a new start, and the encouragement that the words of Jesus give.

Pause to allow time for thought.

- Be sorry for the wounds that we’ve caused in the lives of those around us.

Pause to allow time for thought.

- Make a plan to take some action that arises out of today’s assembly.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Song/music

Healing wounds’ by Mia Patt, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmpcoc4tVbg (4.03 minutes long)

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