The importance of giving and receiving
by Rebecca Parkinson (adapted, originally published in 2015)
Suitable for Key Stage 3
To consider how the thought behind a gift is more important than the gift itself.
Preparation and materials
- You will need two boxes wrapped in Christmas paper to look like presents, one large and one small. The paper won’t be removed, so the boxes don’t need to have anything inside.
- You will also need a £20 note and two small coins.
- You may like to use a reader for the story of the widow’s gift, which is found in Luke 21.1-4. A version is available at: https://tinyurl.com/3wnwuzfa
- Optional: prearrange for staff members or students to share their memories of their favourite presents in the ‘Assembly’, Step 3.
- Begin the assembly by staggering to the front, pretending that the large present you’re carrying is extremely heavy. Ask for suggestions as to what the present might be.
- Pull the second present out of your pocket and ask for ideas about what it might be. Ask for a show of hands as to which of the presents would make the students feel most excited if they were given it on Christmas Day.
Point out that, now that the students are older, they are aware that sometimes, smaller presents can actually be more expensive. However, despite this, we all feel a sense of excitement when we receive a large present, especially if it is a surprise and we can’t guess what it contains.
- If possible, share with the students some of the most memorable presents that you have received. If appropriate, ask staff members or students to share their memories too.
- Explain that a present can be special for many reasons. It could be:
- what you have always wanted
- from someone special
- a complete surprise
- very expensive
- However, what matters most isn’t the present that we receive, it’s the thought and love behind it. If someone has taken the time and trouble to care about us enough to buy us a present, that is very special!
- Jesus understood this concept well.
Show the £20 note and the two small coins.
Ask the students to raise their hands to indicate which they would prefer to receive.
- Read (or ask someone to read) Luke 21.1-4.
In this story, Jesus watches rich people proudly placing lots of money in the temple treasury. However, his attention is taken by a widow who quietly sneaks two coins into the box. Jesus notes that this lady has given more than all of the rich people because she has given everything that she has.
- Jesus points out that the woman was acting out of love. This story reminds us that it is not the size or cost of a present that matters, but the love and thought behind it.
Time for reflection
Soon, Christmas will be here. Many of us are probably looking forward to giving and receiving presents. Let’s remember that there are many other things that we can give that don’t cost money, such as our love, care, friendship, attention and time. These things can often mean more to people than an expensive present.
Thank you for Christmas and for the excitement that it brings.
Help us to be people who enjoy giving more than receiving.
Help us to give love and care to those around us.
May the spirit of Christmas stay in our hearts.