A Firestorm of Fury
An act of collective worship about respect, responsibility, keeping your temper, and making peace.
You will need: some images on a projector screen of people showing obviously different moods, ending with showing someone being very angry (be careful not to pick anything too disturbing); a bell (for the village calling out the guard); a few plastic swords for the guards to wave around.
How are you feeling? I wonder if I can tell from your faces? Show some different images of faces. Set pupils the challenge of silently making different faces when you give a signal such as ‘pleased’, ‘excited’, 'puzzled', 'furious'. (You could even ask a few volunteers to come up the front to quickly show everyone their best expressions.)
Feelings are all part of what makes us human – but they can get us into trouble if we let them. Just because we feel something powerfully doesn’t mean it’s true. There’s one feeling that can really make things much, much worse… and that’s Rage. We all get angry sometimes. Anger can be good. Anger says, ‘That’s wrong!’ But we’ve got to be careful that anger doesn’t turn into ‘I’m angry, so I can say and do what I want!’ Because that’s called Rage. Rage is Anger going wrong.
Here’s a story about Anger going wrong – but also about handling it better. I’m going to need your help to tell the story well. To do it, we need to divide you all into two groups, left and right, because we’ll be playing two different groups of people who are angry with each other. (If space allows, you could even ask the two groups to turn and face each other, then shuffle back far enough to allow you space to walk through the middle of them.)
As you tell the story, ask the pupils on both sides to repeat your lines ‘in character’, possibly copying your gestures too.
|Pupils on the left||Pupils on the right|
Jesus and his friends (I’m playing Jesus, by the way), were walking along a mountain road, towards the big city of Jerusalem. It was getting a bit late in the day, and they were looking tired. Some said, ‘I fancy a rest!’ Others said, ‘I could do with a cold drink.’ Others said, ‘I just want to sit down!’
The road turned a corner, and they could see a walled village up ahead, with houses and shops on both sides of the road. There was a tall fence stretching quite some way to the left and the right, and some men guarding a large gate. That was the only way through. Still, Jesus and his friends kept walking.
Then someone at the gate said ‘Stop right there! Where do you think you’re going?’
‘We’re just passing through.’
‘We’re going to Jerusalem.’
‘Can we buy something to eat?’
‘Really? I don’t think so’ The guard rang a bell, and others came out, some with sticks and weapons.
‘This is a Samaritan village. No Jewish people allowed here after sundown – and especially you lot.’
‘Listen, we just want to pass through.’
‘We don’t want any trouble!’
‘No! We don’t trust you.’
‘You’re different to us!’
‘That’s just typical!’
‘You Samaritans are all the same!’
‘And you Jews are all the same too!’
‘Turn around and go back where you came from!’
And with that, two of Jesus friends, James and John, both turned on him and said.
‘Why don’t we just, oooh, blow them all away?
‘What?’ said Jesus.
‘Do it the old way!’
‘Pray down fire on them!'
‘Ask God to send down flames to burn them all up!’
‘Smash the whole place to the ground!’
‘Yes, that’ll teach them!’
And Jesus said, ‘ABSOLUTELY NOT! Follow me!’
And with that, he led them back down the road to a junction, and they took another route through the hills, around the Samaritan village. It would take them much longer, but Jesus didn’t seem to mind about that. I wonder why? And I wonder what he said to them afterwards, when they asked him about it?
- What stupid things can we say when we’re really angry?
- How could saying or doing those stupid things make things much worse?
- What could this story be saying to us today, about handling our anger with difficult people?
(You could use this moment to ask pupils to discuss one or more of these questions in pairs, then feed back a few of their thoughts. If doing so, pick contributions from a few of the older children.)
Well done. Let’s now be quiet, ourselves. Please shut your eyes, and imagine something happening that usually makes you feel really cross when you see it. Hold it tight in your hand, in a tight ball. Now keep those hands tight and listen while I say this prayer.
Father God, we can all get angry, really angry, really burning angry sometimes. Help us all to keep a control on our anger. Help us all to not let it break out and hurt others or ourselves. Help us to find ways to handle our anger, to control it and use it to do something good, not something bad. Amen.
Keep those hands tight. And when you’re ready, when I give the signal, if you’re want, let’s open our tight hands, and imagine those angry thoughts going up to God, who can deal with them better. Ready? Do it now…
How do we handle rejection, and our own understandable rage at the ignorant prejudice of others?
This short episode towards the end of the Jesus story (Luke 9:51–56) illustrates a powerful contrast between Jesus’ attitude towards ‘enemies’, and that held by some of his disciples. The Samaritans were a polyglot collection of ethnic groups planted by previous empires in northern Judaea over the previous 500 years (as a kind of buffer zone, perhaps), whose religion was very different to the orthodox Judaism followed elsewhere in the country, especially further south near Jerusalem. The result in this case? Social segregation, prejudice and ethnic hatred. Getting about the country could be awkward if your route took you through the ‘wrong’ type of village.
The disciples James and John were loud, argumentative (dubbed ‘sons of thunder’), so their instant reaction to this village’s blockade was fury. By calling on Jesus to approve wiping out the whole community by supernatural means, they were remembering stories about the prophets of old like Elijah. Not only did James and John seriously believe Jesus could do such a thing, they thought it justified too. Jesus’ reply was short, sharp, and to the point – so they immediately took another route.
Some years later as leaders of the early Christian church, James and John both wrote letters to other followers that tackled prejudice head-on, speaking of disciples coming from every nation, language and culture. Perhaps something from this encounter sank in afterwards, which might be why it was recorded here – even though hindsight leaves them looking rather foolish.