Samuel is given the responsibility of working in the Temple and of telling Eli what God's message is.
Aim: to see that we all have responsibilities whether we're children or adults
1 Have three different sized packages. One should be small and light, one should be small and heavy and one should be big but light. Ask for three responsible people to help you in a job. You want some people who aren't going to let you down. Choose one child with their hand up, one who hasn't volunteered, and an adult. Give each person a parcel and ask them to hold onto it. The adult needs the big light one.
2 Point to the parcels in turn.
Some responsibilities are really light ones that are easy and fun to do. Can you think of any?
Some are heavy ones that are hard to do. Can you think of any?
Some look really big, but when we're old enough and big enough, we'll be able to do them without a problem. Can you think of big responsibilities grown-ups have?
Say that sometimes we ask for responsibilities and sometimes we are given them whether we like it or not.
Say that you picked the first person because they asked to do it, and you picked the second person because although they didn't ask to do it, you knew they could do it and would do it really well.
Say that you picked an adult too, because both children and grown ups have responsibilities.
Through the assembly, keep encouraging the three to hold onto their packages
3 In today's Bible story, we see the way God asks both children and adults to take on big responsibilities. I wonder if you can spot whether the child or the grown up is more responsible?
Perhaps someone can come and play the part of Samuel for me as I tell the story?
When Samuel was three years old, his mother Hannah took him to the Temple at Shiloh, where Eli was the priest. Hannah said to Eli: 'I promised God could have this child as soon as he was old enough, so I'm giving him to you to bring up in the Temple. He can work for God here.'
Hannah was very sad to say goodbye to Samuel, but every year she came to see him and brought him a new set of clothes that she had made for him.
And Eli taught him how to serve God in the Temple. ( Mime sweeping and carrying things in a ceremonial procession.)
Eli had two grown up sons of his own, but they did very bad things and wouldn't do any work for God in the Temple as they were supposed to. And Eli didn't stop them doing bad things. But Samuel kept on doing the things Eli taught him. Then one night when Samuel had gone to bed in his usual place, all alone in the Temple, in a corner near the great chest of God, he heard a voice: 'Samuel!'
Samuel ran to Eli through the dark temple, thinking it was Eli calling him. 'Here I am!' he said. 'What do you want?'
Eli grunted, 'I didn't call you. Go back to sleep.'
So Samuel went back to his bed. But the voice called again, 'Samuel!'
And Samuel ran back to Eli through the dark temple. 'Here I am!' he said. 'What do you want?'
'I didn't call you!' grumbled Eli sleepily. 'Go back to bed!'
This happened a third time.
But this time, when Samuel ran to Eli, Eli realised what was going on. 'Go back to bed, ' he said. 'And if the voice calls again, say, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."'
So Samuel went back to bed and when the voice called again, he said, 'Speak Lord, your servant is listening.'
And God spoke to Samuel and gave him messages to pass on to Eli. And even though the messages were very hard ones, Samuel did what God had asked him to do. And God spoke to Samuel many times after that.
4 Who was responsible in this story?
(Samuel - he did his jobs and he gave Eli the message. Hannah kept her promise to God and kept visiting Samuel. Eli brought Samuel up well.)
Was it hard or easy for Samuel to do the job he'd been given? (Probably quite hard - a mixture of boring everyday jobs (a bit like school) and a hard message to give to Eli.)
Who wasn't responsible? (Eli and his sons.) What should they have done? (Eli should have stopped his sons behaving badly, and his sons should have been working in the temple.)
5 God gives us responsibilities at any age. It might be that like Samuel he has a special job for us from when we're very small. Maybe we need to wait until we're older to find out what it is. He knows we're never too young to love other people and to try to do the right thing. And he will never give us more responsibility than we can handle. If God thinks we can do it, we can do it! Just like these good people have held these objects for so long, even though they might have wanted to put them down and have a rest. Let's give them a clap.
6 Let's have a moment of quiet now to reflect on the responsibilities we have at school, at home, and in other places. And let's ask God to help us to fulfil our responsibilities and not to let people down, even when it gets hard.
7 Finish with a song.