An Easter New Year’s Resolution?
An assembly for Lent
by Rebecca Parkinson
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the season of Lent and what it means to Christians.
Preparation and materials
- None required.
- Explain to the students that you don’t intend to embarrass them, but you would like to ask them a question.
Ask the students to raise their hand if they made a New Year’s resolution this year.
Next, ask the students to raise their hand if they made a New Year’s resolution in previous years.
Finally, ask the students to raise their hand if they are still keeping any of those resolutions.
- Point out that many of us make resolutions at the start of January, but most of us have broken them by the end of the month. It is hard to keep a resolution for a long time.
If we have a shorter-term aim, we are often more able to achieve what we intended. For example, if someone wants to lose weight so that they can fit into their favourite outfit for a wedding, they are more likely to be able to achieve the weight loss. However, after the wedding is over, they may start to eat less healthily again.
- Towards the end of this month, the season of Lent will begin. It is a time when people often decide to give something up. For Christians, Lent is when they remember a time of preparation that Jesus experienced.
- While he was growing up, Jesus had lived at home in Nazareth, but at the age of 30, he knew that he was about to start his public work. He was about to start teaching people about God and performing many amazing miracles. He knew that it would not be easy and that eventually, it would lead to his death.
To prepare for this work, Jesus went off into the desert alone. For 40 days and 40 nights, he didn’t eat or drink anything. During this time, he was also tempted to do several things that he knew were wrong.
Jesus didn’t give in to the temptations and didn’t do anything wrong. At the end of the 40 days, he left the desert and began the work that he had come to Earth to do. His time in the desert had prepared him for this work.
- Lent is the period of time that leads up to Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday (the day after Shrove Tuesday, which is when it is traditional to cook pancakes). Lent lasts for 40 days (not including Sundays), which is the same length of time as Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his work.
- For Christians, Easter is the most important time of the year because it is when they remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. Christians want to be prepared for the celebration of Easter, so they use Lent as a time to think more about God, go to special church services and pray.
- The purpose of Lent is to focus the minds of Christians on God, and also to help them to think of others who are not as fortunate as they are.
As part of Lent, Christians often give up something for 40 days. This is to remind them of the time when Jesus went without food in the desert. Examples are giving up chocolate or biscuits, or not watching television.
Unlike a New Year’s resolution, this is a shorter period of time to aim for. It is much more achievable to commit to doing something for 40 days (with Sundays off!) than for a year.
- In recent years, there has been a move towards doing something good during Lent instead of giving something up. Examples would be tidying our room, saying something encouraging to someone every day, making our bed or doing our homework without complaining!
Time for reflection
Challenge the students to think of something they could do during Lent that would be beneficial.
There may be a charity event run by the school that the students could set up or be part of.
Experts tell us that if we do something for 40 days, it will become a habit, something that we do automatically. Wouldn’t it be great if Lent helped us to carry on doing something positive for the rest of the year?
Thank you that in the business of life, there are times to stop and think.
Help us never to be so busy that we don’t have time to be peaceful and silent.
Thank you for times such as Lent that remind us to think about you.
Please help us to take the time to consider what we can do to help those less fortunate than we are.
Please help us always to be ready to help other people.
‘Be still, for the presence of the Lord’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZugvUQ4m90U (2.52 minutes long)