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One man come in the name of love

To enable pupils to understand that one person acting in a good and just cause can make a substantial difference to the world.

by Paul Hess

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5

Aims

To enable pupils to understand that one person acting in a good and just cause can make a substantial difference to the world.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a recording of the U2 song ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)’ which can be found on U2 The Best of 1980–1990. Either play it as pupils enter, or start the assembly by playing the song once students are seated. The words of the song could be displayed.
  • If possible, display the photograph of the Tiananmen ‘tank man’ – many are available on Google Images and other places on the internet.
  • Images of the other figures mentioned in the assembly – Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Gandhi – are freely available and would further enhance the presentation.

Assembly

  1. Play the U2 song ‘Pride’. This song was written in honour of Dr Martin Luther King (it mentions 4 April, being the day of his murder). The point of the song is that while an assassin’s bullet ended his life, it could not end his vision, the identity he had shaped for black and white Americans. In this song U2 are saying that the power of love, a power embodied in the life of Martin Luther King, is far greater than the might of weapons, oppression and hatred. Dr King was ‘one man come in the name of love’.
  2. The protests led by Martin Luther King were initiated by the actions of another courageous person, Rosa Parks. Rosa was an ordinary black woman in living in the highly segregated town of Montgomery in America. One day in 1955 as she was travelling on a crowded bus she was ordered to stand up so that white passengers could sit down. Tired of the humiliations inflicted on the black community over the years, she refused. The conductor was staggered by her defiance and she was arrested. Her actions led to the Montgomery bus boycott which in turn acted as a springboard for the whole civil rights struggle. Rosa Parks was ‘one woman come in the name of love’.
  3. On 5 June 1989 the tanks of the Chinese army rolled ominously into Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Their goal was to crush the pro-democracy demonstrations by students and other activists, which had been breaking out throughout China in the spring of that year. 

    Suddenly, to the amazement of all around, one man emerged from the crowd – and stood directly in front of one the tanks! One ordinary man stopped the might of the feared Chinese army! When the tank tried to go round him he moved to block it. Eventually, he climbed on to the tank to talk to the driver. No one knows for sure what happened to the man who has become known as the ‘tank man’, but his action showed the power of the human spirit to resist tyranny. He was ‘one man come in the name of love’.
  4. This too was the power of Mahatma Gandhi – the humble man in peasant’s clothes who brought the mighty British Empire to its knees, armed only with the weapons of love, peace and justice. Gandhi believed passionately that if his cause was a just one he would win – no matter how powerful were the forces against him. He famously said: ‘Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.’ Gandhi was ‘one man come in the name of love’.
  5. At the heart of the Christian faith there is also ‘one man come in the name of love’. When Jesus comes to Jerusalem days before his death, he knows that it is there that he will come into conflict with the might of the Roman Empire and with the fury of the Jewish religious establishment. And so he comes armed – armed with the weapons of love, forgiveness and peace. He comes riding the humble donkey.
  6. Into a world of division and barbarism and violence – a world, in other words, not unlike our own – comes the Prince of Peace, whose power lies not in military might, but in selfless love. And here’s the thing: his kingdom, established by the power of love, rather than bullets, has lasted far longer and been far more influential than the kingdom of any military conqueror.

Time for reflection

Reflection

What are you and I prepared to do in the name of love? Do we have even a fraction of the courage of the tank man, or Rosa Parks, or Martin Luther King, or Gandhi? Can we walk with Jesus in the way of the cross?

In the face of a world of greed, violence and oppression, here at school in the face of the bully and the aggressor or in the face of those who simply do not care – what will you and I do in the name of love?

 

Prayer

Lord, give us vision that we may see a better world,

and give us courage that we may act to make it happen.

Amen.

Music

‘Christ’s is the world’ (Hymns Old and New, 89)

The U2 song could be played as the students leave.

Publication date: July 2008   (Vol.10 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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