Aim: to think about ways to deal with quarrels that will help us to live together happily
1 Come into assembly pretending to be really cross. Show a cardigan, jacket or coat with a rip in it. Say: Look what's happened to my jacket! My sister borrowed it and it's come back like this! And when I tell her it's not on to mess up my clothes, she just tells me not to make a fuss! Ooooh, I'll get my own back on her one day!
2 Say I bet none of you have quarrels with your brothers and sisters, do you? Oh! A lot of you do! I wonder whether you're usually the one who starts the quarrels or whether you're the one who gets picked on? Or perhaps it's a bit of both. Quarrels between brothers and sisters happen, just as we have quarrels between friends here at school. I wonder if someone's been so nasty to you that you've thought, 'I'll get my own back on them!'
Quarrels split people up. Take some pieces of rope - hold them tightly twisted together to show brothers and sisters closely joined and strong together, then spread them out separately to show the effects of a quarrel. Just listen to what happened to a quarrel between brothers that turned really nasty. And how that person decided to get his own back on his brothers.
3 Tell the abbreviated story of Joseph and his brothers. Every time you hear the words: we'll get our own back on you!' you can ask the children to wag a finger nastily.
Joseph and his brothers had the same dad but different mums. And they never got on. Joseph told tales of his brothers, so they hated him for that. 'We'll get our own back on you!' they thought. And their dad treated Joseph as his favourite and gave him a special beautiful coat to wear. This made the brothers really jealous and they hated him for that too. 'We'll get our own back on you!' they thought.
Then Joseph told them his dreams and they hated him even more. Because Joseph dreamed that the brothers had bundles of wheat and all their bundles bowed down to Joseph's bundle. And he dreamed that the sun, moon and stars bowed down to him as well. You can imagine what Joseph's brothers thought of that! 'We'll get our own back on you!' they thought.
So one day when they were all out in the countryside, looking after the sheep, his brothers decided the time had come to get their own back on Joseph. And they lay in wait for him, ready to kill him. Now God had a very important job for Joseph to do, and he didn't want him to die. One of the brothers suggested that instead of killing him, they just throw him into a dry well. So that's what they did. They jumped out on him, tore off his beautiful coat that had caused so much trouble, and shouted at him. 'There you spoilt brat! 'We'll get our own back on you!'. Then they threw him into the dry well.
Well, Joseph didn't die down there, as the brothers decided to sell him to some passing traders. So Joseph was nearly murdered, was thrown into a pit, then sold as a slave and was carried off to Egypt, far from his home and family.
It's a very long story, but years later, with God's help, Joseph had worked his way up to a very important job in Egypt. He was in charge of selling the food to people from other countries who came to Egypt. He was very rich and very powerful. And one day, who should arrive but his brothers! They were nearly dead from lack of food and had come to buy food from Egypt. They didn't recognise Joseph after all those years. But Joseph recognised them. Who was the powerful one now? It was just the right moment to get his own back on his brothers for the way they'd nearly killed him, and then sold him into slavery all that time ago! Did he think, 'I'll get my own back on you'?
But Joseph had learned a lot while he 'd been in Egypt and he knew that his God was a forgiving God. He had learned that getting your own back only ends up hurting people over and over again.
Joseph told his brothers who he was. They were terrified and thought he would say, 'I'll get my own back on you' And he was so powerful now, that he could have them killed or put in prison or send them home with no food' But instead of punishing his brothers for what they did to him, Joseph said to them, 'I forgive you! You wanted to kill me, but God made it all turn out well. He sent me here to save people's lives. Now I can make sure that you stay alive! Isn't God amazing?' And instead of saying 'I'll get my own back on you,' he brought all his brothers and his father and all their family to Egypt where they had plenty to eat for the rest of their lives.
4 So God doesn't want us to split up. He wants us to be close and strong together. (Gather up your ropes again into a strong twist.) So next time you find yourself in a quarrel, ask yourself whether you want to be the person who 'gets your own back' (let the ropes fall apart) or whether you could be the person who brings everyone back together again.
5 Let's pray:
Dear God, help us to remember you when we fall out with each other at home or at school. Help us not to want to get our own back but to do all we can to make friends again. Help us to say sorry to each other and to forgive each other.