Good and bad changes
by Helen Redfern (revised, originally published in 2012)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To reflect upon changes in the natural world and encourage us to consider our response to changes in our own lives.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and two readers. If possible, Reader 2 should be dressed as an older person.
- You will also need two storybooks.
Leader: Welcome to this assembly. Today, we’re going to be tackling an issue that affects all of us: change. Things are changing all the time all over the world, but are they changing for better or for worse? All of us, from the youngest to the oldest, encounter change in our own lives.
Reader 1: I hated the change from primary school to secondary school. Everyone seemed so big, and I kept getting lost because the corridors were so confusing.
I moved to a new house last month, though, and that was a great change, a massive improvement. I have a cool bedroom, there’s some outside space and the people next door seem really nice.
Some change is almost unbearable, though. I know that. My friend’s mum and dad have just split up and she’s so miserable. She’s really struggling to cope with that change.
Reader 2: The world has changed so much since I was a child like you. You wouldn’t believe it. We didn’t have computers or mobile phones. It felt like there was nowhere near as much public disorder and crime, and we’d never even heard of climate change, so we didn’t have any of that worry about the future of the planet.
Still, some of the change is good. Nowadays, they’re finding cures for all sorts of diseases. Look at the amazing Covid-19 vaccine!
Leader: It’s true, isn’t it? Everything is changing so fast, and we are all noticing it. But what can we learn about change today?
It can be reassuring to hear of fairy-tale changes . . .
Reader 1 (reading from a fairy story): ‘And the princess gently approached the frog, leaned forward, planted a kiss and ZAP! The frog transformed into a prince, and they lived happily ever after.’
Leader: Many of us like to hear of bad experiences coming good eventually.
Reader 2 (reading from a storybook): ‘Yet again, the ugly duckling set off on his lonely journey down to the lake. Miserably, he looked down at his reflection in the water . . . and what did he see? A beautiful swan, the most beautiful bird he had ever seen. The swans welcomed him into their flock and he finally had a place where he belonged.’
Leader: In nature, we see the most amazing transformations all the time.
– The tadpole swimming around in the murky pond changes into a frog, jumping joyously from lily pad to lily pad.
– The caterpillar munching through a pile of leaves becomes a glorious butterfly, free to fly wherever it chooses.
– The bare branches of the tree in winter become decorated with bouquets of soft, pink, springtime blossom.
Of course, we also see awful transformations in the world around us.
– Vast oceans are becoming increasingly polluted with industrial waste and oil slicks.
– Immense rainforests are being chopped down to provide land for agricultural development.
– Animals are being hunted and chased out of their natural habitat.
– People are being killed for their religion, the colour of their skin and their nationality.
– Others are starving because of the greed of others.
Reader 1: How do we respond to the amazing transformations in the world around us?
Reader 2: Do we take them for granted? Do we even notice? Or do we celebrate these changes?
Reader 1: And how do we respond to the awful transformations in the world around us?
Reader 2: Do we ignore them and hope that they will disappear? Or do we do all that we can to highlight these changes and campaign against them?
Time for reflection
Leader: Our two speakers have described changes in their lives. Let us take time to reflect now on how we respond to change in our own lives. Change can sometimes be a painful process.
Reader 1: A lump of rock can only become a beautiful masterpiece after hours and hours of painstaking chiselling.
Reader 2: When I make a cake, I have to break the eggs and mix all the ingredients into a sloppy mess. Then, the mixture goes into a hot oven, and out comes a beautiful sponge cake.
Reader 1: A handful of clay can only become a beautiful vase after it has been shaped, moulded and destroyed; shaped, moulded and destroyed; and then shaped and moulded again in the hands of the potter.
Reader 2: Change in our lives can be painful.
Leader: Change can be messy. It can be ugly. It can be lonely. It can be confusing. It can feel like we’re being broken.
However, change can refine. Change can create something beautiful. Change is necessary. Change is inevitable.
Let us conclude with a short prayer. You may make these words your own, if you wish.
We thank you for the amazing changes that go on in the world around us.
May we take notice of them and celebrate them.
We remember the awful changes that go on in the world around us.
May we take notice of them and act to make a difference.
We thank you for the positive changes in our own lives.
May we appreciate them and embrace them.
We remember the difficult changes in our own lives.
May we face them with courage and wisdom and grow through them.
Change can refine.
May we be refined by change.
Change can create something beautiful.
May we become more beautiful as we change.
‘What a wonderful world’ by Louis Armstrong, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWzrABouyeE (2.29 minutes long)