Standing Assemblies

By Gill Hartley

Suitable for Whole School


To reflect on the new opportunities and challenges a new school year will bring.

Preparation and materials
  • You will be telling the story of Zacchaeus. Use our version below, or another child-friendly version, e.g. The Beginner's Bible (Kingsway Publications).
  • You will need a CD or cassette of quiet background music suitable for reflection.

  1. Ask the children what is new today. For example, some new people (new children and possibly new members of staff), some people wearing new clothes, a new school year, a new term. If this is not the first assembly of the school year, look for other things new, such as a new day, a new week, etc.

    Sing the song: 'Thank you, Lord, for this new day' (Come and Praise, 32).

  2. Read the story of Zacchaeus - someone who changed for the better after meeting Jesus.

    The Story of Zacchaeus
    by Gordon Lamont
    (based on Luke 19)

    Jesus was busy teaching and healing and he came to a place called Jericho. A huge crowd came out to see him and in the crowd was a man named Zacchaeus. He wasn't very popular in Jericho because he was a tax collector who took the people's money and gave it to the Romans. Now Zacchaeus desperately wanted to see Jesus, to find out what all the fuss was about. But he had a problem - he was too short to see over the heads of the people in the crowd. It looked like he was going to miss out.

    Then he saw the answer - a tree, right by the spot where Jesus would pass. Quick as a flash, Zacchaeus climbed the tree. But just as he did, Jesus saw him and said, 'Come on down, Zacchaeus. I need to stay in your house tonight.'

    Lucky Zacchaeus was so pleased and excited that he almost fell out of the tree in surprise.

    A lot of people in the crowd were not so pleased. They started shouting that Jesus shouldn't be seen with a person like Zacchaeus, a tax collector! Zacchaeus heard them and dusted himself off and went straight up to Jesus.

    'I have an announcement to make,' he said. 'I will give half of everything I own to the poor. And, everyone that I have ever cheated can have their money back - four times over.'

    Zacchaeus had a new friend, Jesus - and a new way of life.

  3. Sum up the story by reminding the children that each day is a new chance - a chance to be different and a chance to make new friends. If we have done things we're sorry about we can begin afresh each new day. This is even more true of a new school year!

Time for reflection

Play some quiet music as background for this guided reflection.
Think about what this new year might be like for you.
Are you looking forward to it?
Are you frightened of anything?
Are there things you're nervous about?
Are there things you'd like to do better than last year?
What new chance would you like this year?
How would you like to be different?

Dear God,
Help us when we are frightened because we have to go somewhere new.
Help us not to panic when we have to do something new.
Help us not to be frightened of making a mistake.
Help us to remember other people's feelings, especially if they are new to our school.
Help us always to do our best. Amen.


'Thank you, Lord, for this new day' (Come and Praise, 32).