This morning was a first for me. Slightly scary, but good fun. I stepped back into the world of P4 - P7, and spoke at a local Primary School Assembly. To see several hundred kids who all want to answer the question, and are listening was good - and a great opportunity to build links with the local community at the same time.
The talk wasn't written down, but here's a rough version of it - a New Year Assembly:
I've brought along a calendar - what do we use that for? It's to show us the days and months of the year. Today is the first assembly of the new year, of 2009. Did you remember to write 2009 at the top of the page, or were you still writing 2008?
At the start of a new year, some people do special things. Can you tell me what they are? New Year's Resolutions - promises that people make to change things. Did you make any new year resolutions? (Answers ranged from not doing homework, to eating more chocolate!). I've brought along some things that might help us think about resolutions.
First, a pair of trainers - possibly smelly. You might need these if your resolution is to get fit, go running or lose weight. Sometimes people decide to do something new. Other people might give something up. I've a huge bar of Galaxy Chocolate here - maybe some people are giving up chocolate or sweets? (Judging by the sounds, none of the kids were anyway!)
But why do people make new year resolutions? It's to change something, or make them a better person. Do you know, the Bible tells us about how we can change as well. In 2 Corinthians, it says that 'If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.' (2 Cor 5:17). What that means is that if we are friends with Jesus, then he makes everything new. He changes us, so that all the wrong things we have done are forgiven and forgotten. We see the world in a new way, and treat other people differently.
Jesus once told a story about the Prodigal Son. You might know it. A man had two sons, and the younger decided he wanted his share of the money. So he set off and went far away, and had a great time. He had lots of friends and partied away. But then his money ran out, and he had no money and no friends. He had to feed pigs and was so hungry he even wanted to eat what the pigs were eating.
Then he came to his senses, and realised he was being silly. So he went off home, and before he could even say sorry to his dad, his dad had brought clothes for him, and put a ring on his finger. This was to show that he was accepted back into the family. They had a big party, and the son had a new start. The past was forgotten, and he could start again. (paraphrase of Luke 15)
You know, that's the same with God. When we become friends with Jesus, then we are welcomed in, and given a new start. Just like when you came in on the first day, and turned over onto a fresh new page - you can start over. Jesus can give us a new start, a new creation, when we trust in Him.