New Year – collective worship idea

to reflect on the idea of a new start

You will need:
An exercise book that’s full from last term
A brand new exercise book that’s empty

If you do the optional extension, you will also need:
A laminated sheet of light-coloured paper
A sharpie pen
A normal felt tip pen
A paper tissue.

Show the brand new exercise book, and ask how it makes people feel: they may talk about the excitement of a new, fresh book, with no mistakes in it, and how we might be scared to write in it, in case we spoil it. Some people may mention the ‘fresh exercise book’ smell.

Show the old exercise book – how does this one make us feel?  People may say it’s ‘old’ or ‘dirty’ or ‘finished with’, or ‘dog-eared’.
It’s full of a combination of mistakes and good things, and you can trace through the pages the things that are being learned and improved. By Easter, the new book will look just like the old one – full of mistakes and good things, but mostly full of learning.

New starts are a wonderful chance to try and do things right, but we never truly start from scratch: without all our past mistakes and what we learned from them, we would be beginning all over again, and make all the same mistakes we made before.  We build on our past, and our mistakes are part of that.

Optional extension:

Enjoy this new page, this new chapter, this new book – and think about what things you’d like to take with you, as well as the things you want to leave behind.  As for suggestions, and write ‘habits to keep’ in sharpie pen, and ‘habits to say goodbye to’ in normal felt tip, then wipe it with a cloth – the habits to keep will stay, and the others will disappear.


Dear God,
We give you our past – our mistakes and our triumphs.
Help us learn from all that we have done,
and from all that has happened to us.
We give you our future – our hopes and our fears.
Help us to make the most of each new opportunity,
and to remember that each day can be a new start.

Christian Unity – a fruitful approach?

This is something I’ve done in all age worship and in schools, to talk about what working together as churches can feel like. If you use it, you might have to find your own local examples of each kind of working together.  You can also act it out with real fruit – for number 3 you’ll need a hand-held food mixer thingy – the one with the whizzy blades that you would use for getting lumps out of soup.

1. When you go to a supermarket, each fruit has its own compartment – the oranges are with other oranges, the apples are with other apples, and so on. But when you buy some and take them home, you probably put them in a fruit bowl, all mixed together.  Sometimes working together as churches is like that. We collaborate, but we don’t have to sacrifice much.  But bear in mind that fruit ripens at different rates – and bananas are often ahead of the game and may make the rest of you change a little more quickly than you’re used to!

2. But sometimes working together feels more like a fruit salad, Everyone’s had to give a bit – we lose something of our shape, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and if you need to, you can probably still tell which bit each of us contributed – the banana still tastes like banana, the apple still tastes like apple.

3. But sometimes working together as churches feels more like a smoothie. Everyone has to sacrifice a lot – and there’s no way you can tell what all the original flavours were; what matters is the the combination is more wonderful than any of the individual flavours, and that it’s the variety that went in that produces something new and exciting.

So, the question is, what are we willing to give, what are we willing to forgo?  And how will the fruits of our togetherness quench the thirst of those around us?


Let there be light

The theme for collective worship this morning at my church school was ‘God speaks the universe into being’ – it’s part of a series on how God speaks, which will last all term.

Exploring the creation story in schools is challenging: some of the science behind the origins of the universe is well beyond my non-scientific mind, and it’s not always easy to convey the nuances of ‘metaphorical truth’ as opposed to fact when looking at biblical accounts of (pre-historic) events.

There is a simple but profound beauty in the biblical account of God speaking the word ‘Light’ at the moment of creation, just as there is (to a non-expert like me) a simple but profound beauty to the notion of the universe starting with a Big Bang – a sudden explosion of the potential into the actual.

But how to explore this with a school full of 5 to 11 year olds when you have 20 minutes to do it?

It was at that point that I turned to music, and specifically to the opening chorus of Haydn’s epic choral work, The Creation.

I asked the children to imagine a speck of something tiny, so small that they can barely see it, and yet they know that it’s going to be something amazing. I then played them just a minute’s worth of Haydn, inviting them to enjoy the mystery and the potential, and then really to enjoy the Big Bang.

“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, ‘Let there be light.’
And there was LIGHT!”

My reward? A school hall filled with faces that were full of awe – smiles, eyes like saucers. I tell them that when Genesis 1 was written down nobody knew about the Big Bang, but they somehow knew that life needed Light, and that there was a moment when everything came into being. And how people of faith believe that God has never stopped speaking light and life into his world.

My question to them?  “What makes you feel alive like that? What brings that kind of light and life into your world?”

Equality: Collective worship

Does equality mean everyone gets the same? Not always!

Imagine a row of chairs, each a different size. And imagine a line of people, all a different size.  The chairs and the people in Reception are all small, but the chairs for the adults are all big, just like the adults who sit in them!

Sometimes equality means getting something that fits us – the big people get big chairs and the little people get little chairs.

But what if a big person and a little person wanted to look each other in the eye?  If the adult’s on a big chair and the reception child is on the little chair, they can’t look each other in the eye so well!  But if the adult if they swap, they can see eye to eye – the big chair and the little person make the same height as the little chair and the big person!

And what if you’re trying to reach something?  If the reception child can’t reach the high shelf, is it because they are too small?  Or because the shelf is too high?  Just like if a person in a wheelchair can’t get through the door is it because they have a wheelchair that is too wide, or because the door is too narrow?  If we want things to be equal, we don’t make everything the same, we make sure everyone gets what they need.

So first we have to notice each other. Really really notice each other.  This is something we can all do.

But the best noticer is God.  He knows us each so well that he knows the number of hairs on our heads, and knows what we need before we even ask, and loves us all more than we can ever know.  He knows everything about us tha makes us special and unique.


Jesus said, God knows what you need before you even ask.

Think quietly about the things that worry you, about the things that challenge you, about the things that you are proud or, or afraid of.

Thank you God that you know all about us. Thank you that you hear us when we pray, and even when we don’t.Help us to notice what the people around us need, so that we can all be the best that we can be and do the best that we can do.

Jesus said, let the little children come to me.

Think about the opportunities you have, the chances to shine and be noticed, the people who care for you and love you and teach you.Think about children in other parts of the world who don’t haveall  the things we enjoy here.

Dear God, Thank you for all the ways that we are blessed here. Show us how to help others to have a chance to live life to the full.

Jesus said, not one of the little ones that belong to me will be lost.

Think about the people you know who are specially in need, because they are ill, or lonely, or afraid of something, or facing a big problem in their life. Think about the ways that you can show them they are cared for.

Dear God, thank you that you love every single one of us more than we can ever know. When we are feeling alone or when we think we’re not being noticed, help us remember that you are always watching over us.


He’s got the whole world in his hands
He’s got the whole wide world in his hand,s
He’s got the whole world in his hands,
He’s got the whole world in his hands.

He’s got everybody here in his hands…