Uniqueness - I'm special

Whole schoolCollective Worship
Samuel the Prophet anoints David king and later David writes a poem that celebrates how special he is.

Introduction

The SEAL theme suggested for the second half of the Spring Term is ‘Good to be me’. The following outline is for an assembly and classroom follow-up on this topic and is based on the story of the choosing of David to be the first King of Israel (1 Samuel 16) and also Psalm 139.

David was the youngest of eight brothers, so he might well have had quite a job getting noticed in the family! Indeed, it seems he was easily overlooked. When there was a festival in the town to welcome Samuel the Prophet, David wasn’t even invited; instead he was given the dead-end job of looking after the sheep on the cold hillside. Maybe David didn’t feel very special, but, according to the story, God saw things differently. To everyone’s surprise God chose David to be a king and he never forgot this boost to his self-esteem, based on God’s lasting valuing of him. In one of the Psalms that he wrote he celebrated this, marvelling at how God made him special with a special job to do (Psalm 139). God helped him to realize that it was ‘good to be me’ and the following presentation explores this for the children, helping them to value themselves and look not on the outside appearance of things but to the heart (as God reminded Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7).

Preparation

Use the retelling of these two stories from The Barnabas Schools’ Bible: ‘Jesse’s younger son’ (story 117), pages 108-109 and
‘The God who knows everything’ (story 135), page 123-124.

You also need for the assembly two wrapped presents: one large and extravagantly wrapped and the other just in some scruffy brown paper, tied loosely. In the first should be a plastic ring and in the second a valuable gold ring (a wedding ring, perhaps).

You will also need some other items (perhaps hidden around the assembly hall), all of which have possible hidden value or usefulness and include: a dirty old coin, a dusty book, an old letter, a small dark portrait, and alum key, an old key, a tiny bulb, a shoelace, one lens from a pair of glasses.

Development

1. Produce the two wrapped presents and set them on your focus table at the start of your assembly. (One should be large, beautiful and extravagantly wrapped. The other should be in some scruffy brown paper, loosely tied together. In the first there should be a small plastic ring and in the second a valuable gold ring (possibly a wedding ring).)

Now, I wonder what presents I have here this morning? Two very different presents! Inspect them thoroughly.Which shall I open first?

Invite responses and reasons for their choices. Which one looks most exciting? Why? Which one will be the most special to you think? Why? If I could only open one, which should it be?

2. Open the presents and discover the plastic ring in the large one and the valuable ring in the other.
Things aren’t always what they seem, are they? Sometimes it’s hard to see which things will be special. Special things might be a bit hidden and we can be fooled into thinking that some things are more special than they really are.

That’s exactly what happened for young David in our story this morning. No one thought he was special. He was the youngest of eight brothers, who were probably all stronger, cleverer and better liked than him. He was generally overlooked, it seems, and given rubbish jobs. In his case it was looking after the sheep all day, while the others got to do more glamorous things.
Listen to what happened once when God sent Samuel to find a new king to replace King Saul, who had ended up disappointing God.

Read the story from The Barnabas Schools’ Bible, page 108 (Jesse’s youngest son).

3. God sees what is on the inside, in a person’s heart, and doesn’t just judge by the outward appearance. To everyone’s surprise it was David who was the one God wanted to have anointed. Just imagine how the brothers felt! It was probably rather like the sisters felt about Cinderella!

And David never forgot that God saw that he was special. That is true for each one of us, too. There’s a something special about all of us, which sometimes may seem hidden and hard to see, especially if we don’t think we’re special. This often happens because we don’t look a certain way, say certain things or have certain friends. David discovered it was ‘good to be me’, because God made him and had a job for him that only he could do.

4. How easily we forget this and judge things by what they look like on the outside.

The following items need to be produced and talked about – or perhaps hidden somewhere around the hall, to be found by children, with some help. They could include:

  • a dirty old coin… that turns out to be very valuable.
  • a dusty book… that turns out to be a first edition.
  • a dingy old letter… that turns out to come from a famous person.
  • a dark painting… that turns out to be a masterpiece.
  • an alum key (not a promising piece of metal)... that turns out to be really useful.
  • a shoelace… that turns out to be a vital part of someone’s winning a marathon.
  • a tiny bulb… that’s the one thing missing to make a torch work, which could save the day.
  • a rusty key… that unlocks a treasure chest.
  • a lens… that is missing from glasses that enables someone to see at last.

5. Things that don’t look particularly interesting on the outside can turn out to be very special and have a vital role to play in making something work or be very valuable.

It is the same with each of us. We may not think we have much to offer (like David in the story) but we are wrong. There’s something ‘good’ and special about each one of us that might end up making a big difference, if only we recognized and celebrated it.

6. David wrote a poem about all the things that made him special to God.

Read the retelling of Psalm 139 from The Barnabas Schools’ Bible, story 135, ‘The God who knows everything’.

N.B. Here is a fun action version of the key sentiments of this Psalm on the Barnabas for Churches website - «page:Psalms - an easy-to-learn Psalm=1761» - which you could teach the children.

7. For a time of reflection, put up a picture or project images of the objects that the children were hunting for earlier in the assembly (coin, book, letter, portrait, alum key, shoelace, bulb, rusty key, lens).

Some things can look very ordinary on the outside but they are nevertheless very special, vital or even valuable.

I wonder what are the things about me that God would say are special?
I wonder whether there are some hidden things in others that I fail to see as special?
I wonder if I have sometimes been tricked into thinking that it’s the biggest and the brightest things that are most special?
I wonder what small things today will turn out to be the most important and special things such as something that I say, some small job that I do, some special thought that I have?

Dear God,
Thank you that you have given each one of us special gifts.
Help us to discover how special each one of us is and use that special part of us to make a difference for good today.
Amen

Classroom follow-up:

1. On a cube write the following key words on each of the six faces:
Special People, Special Words, Special Days, Special Presents, Special Food, Special Places.

Ask the children in turn to toss the cube/die and invite them to name some special things that fit this category of whichever side faces uppermost.

Special things are those parts of life and of ourselves that we find the most important. These will be different for different people, of course. Sometimes the special things might be very private and personal, too. They are the things that matter most to us.

2. And people can be special for all sorts of reasons. Ask the children in groups to complete the following sentence:

I think that a special person is a person who…

What statements did the children come up with? What makes a person special? It is always outward things?

3. Divide into groups and give each group a list of things that may make a person special. Some of these are very visible and outer things, others are more inner qualities. Give each group an outline of a large person on a piece of A3. Ask the group to decide which words/phrases from the list should go inside the person and which should go outside the person. Here is the possible list to choose from:
A person is special who…
has lots of money.
is sporty.
is kind-hearted.
has a posh voice.
is good at sharing.
wears good clothes.
is good at telling jokes.
is strong.
is good at making things.
is clever in class.
is good at listening.
is good at writing.
looks beautiful/handsome.
has a nice smile.
is good at drawing.
is good at music.

Talk this over first in groups and then as a class.

4. I wonder what special and perhaps hidden sides of you yourselves are special. Do we sometimes not even recognize them? David never realized that he could be a great leader until God showed him. We often undervalue ourselves and think we’re not special.

Ask the children to think what their best friend might say about them.

My best friend would say that I’m special because…

5. David grew to recognize his ‘best self’ and to celebrate the fact that it was ‘good to be me’, when he recognized that all he had was a gift from God.

Using David’s Song (Psalm 139) in the version from The Barnabas Schools’ Bible, page 123, as a starting place, invite the class to write their own poems to celebrate how special each one of them has been made. As a framework use the following:

Opening line: I’m special; I’m unique; there’s no one quite like me…

Last line: So, I just want to thank you, God, for making me me.

Alternatively, why not devise an acrostic based on their name that celebrates their specialness.

Acknowledgements

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