You can't get around the fact that Halloween inevitably impinges on children, with all the orange and black plastic tat in the shops and ghost stories on the TV. But increasingly parents and teachers are feeling that it is unhelpful to encourage involvement in a celebration which can be destructive, dangerous and dark.
Many schools prefer to concentrate on November 1st All Saints Day, with its emphasis on positive attributes of God's friends being safe in God's hands for eternity.
Here's an assembly story concentrating on the power of God to release people from fear. It uses the catchphrase from Psalm 27 verse 1: 'The Lord is my light and the one who saves me. I'm not afraid of anyone.'
You'll need a candle and match.
Amy was scared. She was scared of the dark. She was scared of giants. She was scared of Megan Smith who was her worst enemy in the world. She was scared of getting asthma. She was scared of trick or treaters who came to their door in scary monster masks.
'Dark's just… dark,' said her brother Bill. 'It won't hurt you.'
'There's no such thing as giants!' said her mum.
'Megan Smith's a nice girl really,' said her dad.
'You won't get asthma!' said her sister Lisa.
But Amy hid under her duvet and refused even to stick her head out. 'Take the monsters away!' she whimpered. 'Take the monsters away!'
'What am I going to do with her?' asked Mum in exasperation.
Granny came and sat on Amy's bed.
'I can't see any monsters, Amy,' she said.
'You don't need to see them but they're still there,' said Amy from under the duvet.
'You know something,' said Granny to the duvet. 'No-one's going to take those monsters away. But they don't need to.'
'Yes they do!' came a voice from the duvet. 'I'm scared of them.'
'But I've got something here that monsters are afraid of,' said Granny. 'If you take it, you won't need to be afraid of anyone.'
'What is it?' asked the duvet in a wobbly voice.
'It's something that's bigger than any monster and stronger than any monster and will keep you safe wherever you are, in your dreams and in your bed and at school and everywhere you go.'
The duvet stirred. 'I want it,' said the duvet. And Amy actually stuck out her head.
Granny held out her hand. 'Look!' she said. Light the candle
Granny was holding a lit candle in a green china candleholder! Amy liked candles.
'That's all right', thought Amy. 'I'll take a candle with me wherever I go and I won't be scared any more. I'll take a candle to school where Megan Smith is, and take it under the duvet with me at night, and have it by me when I eat tea…'
But Granny blew out the candle flame. blow it out
'Granny, why did you do that?' Amy wailed.
'Because it's not the candle flame that makes monsters go away,' said Granny, watching the smoke wisps winding up to the ceiling. 'And anyway, you can't take a candle to bed with you or to school! The candle just reminds you. It's the light inside you that makes monsters go away. That's the light you can take everywhere you go. It has words to go with it, to remind you what the light really is. The words are very old and tried and tested by someone who was very brave, but very scared too. He was scared of giants, like you! And he was scared of his enemies, and of being ill… but he loved God very much. And because he was brave and scared, he found out how not to be scared. In fact,' said Granny, 'he managed to fight a bullying giant and stop that giant scaring everyone else too!'
'Who was he?' asked Amy.
His name was David,' said Granny. 'And David wrote these special words in a poem: 'The Lord is my light and the one who saves me. I'm not afraid of anyone.'
'The Lord is my light,' said Amy. 'Like a bright candlelight. The Lord is my light and the one who saves me. I'm not afraid of anyone.'
You keep those words safe inside you,' said Granny, 'and bring them out when you start feeling scared. You see what a difference they make.'
'The Lord is my light and the one who saves me. I'm not afraid of anyone.' Amy thought for a moment and crawled out from under the duvet. 'I wonder if you're right, Granny?'
I wonder if you think those words helped Amy when she was feeling scared? I wonder what helps you when you're feeling scared? Perhaps you'd like to learn those words that David wrote too. Let's say them together:
The Lord is my light and the one who saves me. I'm not afraid of anyone.
A prayer to say with the candle lit
We all get scared of things sometimes. When we do, please help us to remember those words of David: you are my light and the one who saves me and I'm not afraid of anyone.
In Jesus' name