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Surprises that surprise

by Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To help students see beyond the immediate and to consider the person of Jesus in a new way.

Preparation and materials

  • This assembly is based on a story that is personal to the writer. You may wish to use it verbatim, or you may prefer to tell your own story on the same theme. Whatever you decide to do, it is very effective to produce the item to convince the listeners that this really is a poor present!


  1. Introduce the story or your version of it - see above. Many years ago, when I was young and didn't have much money, I asked for a hairdryer for Christmas. I knew exactly what sort of hairdryer I wanted because my brother already had one; it was small, and had brushes and combs that attached to the blower, to make styling easier. So I told my parents, and happily anticipated Christmas day - what a good hair day I thought it was going to be. So Christmas day came. I unwrapped my parcels: the usual mix of chocolates, clothes and vouchers, carefully keeping the irregular shaped one with my mum's original style of wrapping until last. So, finally, I took off the paper. To reveal the most boring looking hairdryer you can imagine - a great big thing with no attachments whatsoever and closely resembling a ray-gun from a 1950s sci-fi series. My mother was so pleased with herself. What she had bought me, no doubt at far greater cost than the type I was anticipating, was a professional quality blow-dryer. With more watts of power than I would ever need, and the shape of every professional hairdryer for the last 30 years. Desperately I smiled and thanked her. 'It's lovely,' I said, 'just what I wanted.' Later I had a hurried discussion with my husband. What could we do? Could we afford to buy me another one, like the one I wanted? No, we couldn't, and I knew that. Could I ask the shop for a refund? No, Mum would find out and be mortified. She'd tried so hard to get me something even better than I had asked for…so I kept the dryer. And today, 25 years later, it's still working. Not quite as good as new - it makes strange noises every now and then. But it's working fine. It does what it was designed to do. My brother's hairdryer died after just a couple of years. Mine seems to be immortal.
  2. Go on to say that when Jesus was born, people had clear expectations of what he would be like. Each group in society expected a certain sort of person: either a warrior who would drive the Romans out of Palestine, or a religious leader who would rejuvenate the Jewish faith of the time. People expected him to be kingly, to be as they wanted - just as the girl in the story knew exactly what sort of hairdryer she wanted - so people expected the Christ to be made to their order. But he wasn't. He didn't drive out the Romans and he upset the religious leaders. He annoyed some sections of the population so much that they eventually conspired and he was killed. He wasn't what people expected or wanted. But Jesus was the right person at the right time. His teachings have endured down through the centuries, and while many people can't accept the claim that he is God, most people recognize the wisdom and the justness behind his moral and personal teaching. Jesus was the right person, but most people couldn't see that because their expectations got in the way.
  3. What are your expectations of other people? What are your expectations about God? Maybe today, you can try to see beyond your personal expectations, and see the potential in the people around you, and in the man called Jesus.

Time for reflection

A time of quiet to reflect on all those times when people have turned out to be different from how you expected, different from the assumptions that you made about them. Ask God to enable you to see the true nature and potential of the people around you.


‘For the Fruits of His Creation’ (Mission Praise, 52)


'From the darkness came light' (Come and Praise, 29)

Publication date: January 2005   (Vol.7 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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