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Who Am I?

The I am sayings of Jesus

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To explore our sense of identity by considering the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and three readers.

    Note: in the first section of the ‘Assembly’, you may wish to use phrases appropriate to the languages spoken in school.

Assembly

Leader: I’d like to begin today’s assembly with a simple question: who are you? It’s the same question that you might be asked to tackle right at the start of learning modern foreign languages.

Reader 1: Je m’appelle (name).

Reader 2: Ich heisse (name).

Reader 3: Me llamo (name).

Leader: ‘Who are you?’ is a common question that we all ask at different times as we seek to get to know each other, especially in new situations where we know little of the people present.

I wonder what Jesus would have replied. He might have said, ‘My name’s Jesus, the son of Joseph. I was born in Bethlehem, but grew up in Nazareth.’ However, in the Bible, we find out that when Jesus was asked that question, he gave various replies. He said:

Reader 1: I am the good shepherd.

Reader 2: I am the bread of life.

Reader 3: I am the resurrection.

Reader 1: I am the light of the world.

Reader 2: I am the way, the truth and the life.

Reader 3: I am the gate.

Leader: Rather than a simple name, Jesus used a series of symbols that highlighted aspects of who he was as a person and what he wanted to do. Each symbol painted a clearer picture of his identity than merely saying his name. We do something similar when we describe one another. We might say, ‘You’re a ray of sunshine,’ when someone helps to lift us out of a sad mood.

Reader 1: We may describe someone as being ‘a listening ear’ because they’re sympathetic when we want to talk through an issue that’s bothering us.

Reader 2: We call a person who can’t hide their feelings ‘an open book’.

Reader 3: When someone is really helpful, we might say, ‘You’re a star.’

Leader: Jesus used symbols in order to talk about himself. He knew who he was, where he’d come from and what his mission in life was. He had a clear sense of his identity, so he could paint pictures like this so that others could understand. It made it easier to relate to him. You knew where you were with him, which then just left the decision of whether to join him.

Do we have a clear sense of our identity? Do we know where we’re going? Do we know our role in life? Have we chosen the way in which we’d like other people to think of us and see us? If so, what might be our symbols?

Let’s consider some examples. Maybe you’re a shield if you have a role protecting others from whatever might be a threat. You might always be alert for arguments and calm things down, defusing tension.

Someone else might see themselves as being like a guide dog. This might be you if you love to give advice and make sure that others don’t get lost.

You might be a mirror, able to reflect back to people their thoughts and emotions so that they can reassess them.

Others might see themselves as a lighthouse, a flag to follow, a safety net, a warm blanket or a flash of lightning. There are many, many possibilities.

Time for reflection

Jesus was very sure of himself. He had a confidence that meant that he could be clear to others.

How do we feel about ourselves? Do we know what our strengths are? Are we proud of them? Perhaps, instead, we are tempted to wish that we were somebody else.

Actually, we’re most effective in life when we’re honest about who we truly are. We’re not inferior or superior to anyone else, we’re simply us. We’re unique and special, and there’s a role in the world that only we can play.

Back to our opening question – who are you? Spend a moment thinking of the symbol that you’d choose to represent yourself.

Prayer
Dear Lord,
Thank you for the unique people we are.
Help us to identify and be proud of what makes us distinctive.
May we give a clear picture to everyone we meet so that their world might be a better place to live.
Amen.

Song/music

‘I am amazing’ by Philippa Hanna, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVNKj0fbMiU (4.21 minutes long)

Publication date: December 2021   (Vol.23 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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