Below are some suggestions for talks for end-of-year services for Year 6 leavers.
You will need a bin bag full of scrunched-up newspaper, with some 'bad ideas' printed onto sheets of A4 paper that are scrunched up and placed at the top of the rubbish in the bag so that they're easy to find during the talk; see below for examples of 'bad ideas'. You will also need a fairly large Bible, with some key passages bookmarked - again, see below for suggestions - and a few cardboard boxes (any size - a mixture is best - anything from wine boxes to tissue boxes). Finally, it's helpful to have a table, so that the building activity is easier to see.
Ask for two volunteers: they will be the two men in the story. Their job is to act out the story as they hear you tell it.
Get the rest of the children to practise sound effects for the story: rain pouring, lightning flashing and thunder booming.
Read the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders, from a children's Bible or from Butterworth and Inkpen's Stories Jesus Told. Keep the two volunteers at the front for the next part of the talk.
Who has seen a house being built? What is the most important part of the building? (Encourage the children towards the answer 'foundations'.) Each of us builds our lives on foundations: not concrete and steel, but ideas. We base our lives on ideas, and they make a huge difference to the kinds of people we are, how we live our lives and how we affect other people.
Put your sack of rubbish on the table (or floor) and ask your volunteers to build a tower of boxes on it. Then ask them to try again, using the Bible as the foundation. Give them a round of applause and send them back to their seats.
If we try to build our lives on a foundation of rubbish ideas, then we'll have major problems and so will the people around us. What kind of rubbish ideas were at the bottom of our first attempt at a building? You might include ideas such as:
If these are the sorts of ideas that you take with you secondary school, then you're likely to hit problems fairly quickly. What are some of the ideas in the Bible that was at the bottom of our second building? You might bookmark some passages such as the following (it can be helpful to print out the verses on the bookmarks, so that although the children see you looking up each passage in the Bible, you can read them out immediately and in an accessible translation such as the Contemporary English Version):
As you say goodbye to this school, it might seem like you're leaving everything you know behind. But you can be sure that you're not leaving God behind. He made you, he loves you just as you are, and he has great plans for you. If you fix his good ideas in your minds, then you can be sure that the lives you build in your new schools will be great ones. God himself goes before you and will be with you.
It would be helpful to have had Psalm 139.1-16 as a reading earlier in the service. The Contemporary English Version of the Bible provides an accessible translation.
You will need a large sheet of paper (a tabloid-sized sheet of newspaper works particularly well, as it tears easily) and the story script. You will also need to have practised telling the story while making the accompanying origami shapes.
The Summer holidays are nearly here, and at this time of year we often travel to distant places for holidays or to visit family and friends. Sometimes, journeys can see to last for ever. Put your hand up if you've ever heard - or said! - the following words when you've been on a long journey: 'Are we nearly there yet?' But journeys can also be fun. Sometimes our family plays games together on long journeys, like I Spy. What do you do on long journeys to pass the time? (Take a couple of answers.)
As we travel further from home, further from everything we know, we can have a mixture of feelings. We might be excited but also a bit scared. One of the books in the Bible is called the book of Psalms, and it contains lots of songs and poems that people have written to God. In one of them, Psalm 139, the writer reminds us that God goes with us, wherever we go. (Either read verses 1-16 here, or remind the children that they heard it earlier in the service.) No matter where we go on our journeys, we are not alone, because God is with us. Even when we're feeling lonely, or as if nobody is really interested in us, the truth is that our loving Father God is always with us and counts each one of us as his precious child. Even in the dark, he's with us - in fact, he made the dark and it's like light to him. When we're travelling, even if it's hundreds or thousands of miles from home, he's with us and never leaves us. And if we ask for God's help, then he will always answer.
Sometimes we go on real journeys, but sometimes we talk about life as a journey. As we travel though life, we look for things that can bring us happiness and love and acceptance; we look for the things that really matter. And sometimes we go looking in the wrong places. We're going to hear a story now about a man who went on many journeys in search of happiness and meaning.
Read the story, with the accompanying origami shapes.
The man in our story thought that he could make everything ok by spending his money on more and more stuff, but then he discovered that he'd been looking for happiness in all the wrong places. Psalm 139 tells us that if only we open our eyes, we'll see that the search is over: wherever we are, God is here with us, and he will be with us wherever we go. Some of you will be going on a whole new journey after the Summer holidays: instead of coming back to this school that you know so well, you'll be going on to secondary school. You'll be looking for new friends and hoping for happiness. Psalm 139 tells us that even though your new school feels very new and possibly a bit scary to you now, God will be with you and he has great plans for you. He made you and he thinks you're amazing - and he will always be with you.
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