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Secondary: Standing Assemblies

The journey of life
by Stuart Kerner

> Suitable for Key Stage Three

> Aim

To think about life as a journey, one step at a time.

> Preparation and materials

> Assembly

  1. Each year, in one of the largest assemblies of humanity, some 2 million Muslim pilgrims gather in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform pilgrimage (Hajj).
  2. At the Kumbh Mela festival in 2001, 30 million Hindus gathered by the river Ganges.

  3. Christians have traditionally journeyed on pilgrimage to the great spiritual centres of Canterbury, Lourdes and Rome.
  4. Travelling great distances is a relatively new idea which became a reality after the Industrial Revolution and the growth in cheaper and easier methods of transport.

  5. But even before people ventured beyond the narrow confines of their own villages and communities there was a realization that life itself is a journey.  A journey we take one step and one day at a time.

  6. Life is like a journey, and your experiences are like different parts of that journey.

  7. We are all on a journey. For some, the journey will be full of great things – rewarding careers, loving family, active social lives. Sometimes it may feel as if life just couldn't get any better.
  8. Others may have grown weary and hold little hope for what each day may bring. Still many others are probably somewhere in-between.

  9. The choices we make along the way greatly affect our journey. Each choice has an impact on our lives and the lives of those around us. And the most important choice we will ever make on this journey is the choice we make about our relationship with God.
  10. Probably because life is so much like a journey, there are many expressions we use that conjure up images of travelling.  Consider these different turns of phrase; they all use the key idea of journey while talking about life:

    • Let's cross that bridge when we come to it, shall we?
    • My grandparents are a bit over the hill.
    • His life has no direction at the moment.
    • I don't know which way to turn!
    • You just have to forget about it and move on.
    • His beloved dog passed away in the night.
    • I set out to do the right thing.
    • When I left school I found myself at a crossroads.
    • A lovely baby girl arrived at 2 o'clock this afternoon.
  11. The Chinese have a saying which says ‘The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.'  You are already well on your way.  You have already travelled from your mother's womb, through babyhood, negotiated the tricky path of infancy and childhood, and now stand on the threshold of adolescence and adulthood.
  12. As you journey through life remember to take each step carefully, travel light and remember the need for something to guide you.  Just as ancient sailors used the stars to help them navigate and modern explorers use maps, Christians look to the Bible to guide them through life.

  13. What guides your journey through life?  Your parents?  Your friends?  TV?  Whatever it is, make sure its guidance keeps you 'on the straight and narrow' path.

    Food for thought

    We may run, walk, stumble, drive or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way. Gloria Gaither

    Don't run through life so fast that you forget not only where you've been, but also where you're going. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savoured each step of the way.  Nancye Sims

    Bible reading
    John 14.6



> Time for reflection

Footprints in the Sand (attributed to Mary Stevenson, 1936)

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

‘You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?'

The Lord replied, ‘The years when you have seen only one set of footprints,
my child, is when I carried you.'

> Prayer

Guide us, Lord, along the path of life.
Help us to learn from the things
we have already seen and done.
Shield us from despair,
protect us from danger,
and bring us safely towards you
at the end of our journey.

> Hymn

Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
He who would valiant be




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