Ethos Education

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: Uncertain Future

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Assembly Objective: 

  • The future is uncertain, so how can we make sure our life has meaning and purpose? This assembly explores the Bible’s teaching about making the most of our lives each day.

Film: 

  • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (StudioCanal, 2012, certificate 15). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible: 

Supporting Values Education:

  • The values of Individual Liberty, Respect and Tolerance derive from an underlying belief that everyone’s lives are valuable – and what we do each day matters.

OPENING ACTIVITY

What do you do? (quiz)

Download the Future – What do you do? PowerPoint with this activity.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Ask for two volunteers to play a game (or play the game by dividing the audience into two halves and picking a different person from each half to answer their questions). The aim of the game is to identify the point of different professions. Players score three points if they choose to answer without hearing any possible answers, or one  point if they choose to be given three options before answering. If they go for a three point answer and get it wrong, they forfeit the chance to attempt a one point answer. It is up to you whether or not you allow the other side to have a try after an incorrect answer.
    • Here are the jobs, options and correct answers:
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Cooper.
    • [click] Possible answers: beer brewer; barrel maker; chicken keeper.
    • [click] Correct answer: barrel maker.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Fletcher.
    • [click] Possible answers: arrow maker; lock maker; sailor.
    • [click] Correct answer: arrow maker.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Apothecary.
    • [click] Possible answers: fortune teller; undertaker; medicine maker.
    • [click] Correct answer: medicine maker.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Oculist.
    • [click] Possible answers: soothsayer; eye doctor; manicurist.
    • [click] Correct answer: eye doctor.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Pollard.
    • [click] Possible answers: tree pruner; travelling salesman; printer.
    • [click] Correct answer: tree pruner.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • Milliner.
    • [click] Possible answers: hat maker; tent maker; accountant.
    • [click] Correct answer: hat maker.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • Wrangler.
    • [click] Possible answers: trouser maker; market trader’s assistant; animal handler.
    • [click] Correct answer: animal handler.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • Apiarist.
    • [click] Possible answers: zoologist specialising in primates; bee keeper; fruit farmer.
    • [click] Correct answer: bee keeper.
    • After congratulating the winner and sending any volunteers back to their places, explain that the point of the game was to work out what the point of each job was. In today’s assembly you are going to be thinking about the point of our lives, regardless of what job we choose to do.

As Pointless As… (illustration)

  • Say the following: ‘A chocolate fireplace; a duck that leaks, an inflatable dartboard; an ejector seat on a helicopter, a concrete parachute [feel free to add further proverbial useless things that you can think of]. What do all of those things have in common? There’s no point to them. They are useless, flawed and a waste of time. They have no point. In today’s assembly we are going to be thinking about whether life has a point, or whether it’s just another chocolate fireplace.’

FILM CLIP

  • Play a clip from Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (StudioCanal, 2012, certificate 15).
    • Start time:       0.02.28 (in chapter 1 of the DVD)
    • End time:        0.04.37
    • Clip length:     2 minutes and 9 seconds
  • The clip starts with a television anchorman reporting on why cell phones have stopped working, as Dodge (Steve Carell) works out on a gymnasium treadmill. The clip ends after a sparsely attended meeting at Dodge’s work prompts one of his colleagues to observe that, ‘Life has no meaning’, and Dodge replies, ‘I really think I’m going down with something.’ Please note that if you start the clip any earlier, you will include an offensive poster which features a swear word used in a sexual context, which would not be appropriate for a school assembly.
  • The clip shows people reacting to the news of imminent global disaster in different ways – some abandon their jobs, others attempt to continue with normal life.

TALK

Download the Future Seeking a Friend Talk PowerPoint with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • It’s a Hollywood staple, the disaster movie where a small but plucky band of heroes save the world from annihilation against the odds. Bruce Willis did it in Armageddon, Will Smith in Independence Day and even a bunch of hairy-footed shorties did it in Lord of the Rings. The film makers heap on the difficulties, make us think that all hope is lost and then – wouldn’t you know it? – everything works out all right in the end.
    • But what would things be like if the last ditch heroes didn’t come through? The film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World presents just that scenario. In that film, the space shuttle on which all hope’s rested explodes, leaving the Earth helpless in the path of a seventy mile wide asteroid named Matilda, which is due to arrive in three weeks. Here’s how people react to the news:
    • Play the clip from Seeking a Friend for the End of the World:
      • Start time:       0.02.28 (in chapter 1 of the DVD)
      • End time:        0.04.37
      • Clip length:     2 minutes and 9 seconds
    • The clip starts with a television anchorman reporting on why cell phones have stopped working, as Dodge (Steve Carell) works out on a gymnasium treadmill. The clip ends after a sparsely attended meeting at Dodge’s work prompts one of his colleagues to observe that, ‘Life has no meaning’, and Dodge replies, ‘I really think I’m going down with something.’ Please note that if you start the clip any earlier, you will include an offensive poster which features a swear word used in a sexual context, which would not be appropriate for a school assembly.
    • If you are unable to play the clip, say, ‘In the film, some people continue to turn up for work, while others completely abandon normal life. One character even makes the observation that everything in life is now pointless.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • It’s an interesting question, if you knew that the world only had three weeks left, what would you do? Would you try to continue as normal, or would you come to the conclusion that everything had changed? Would you go out in search of new experiences, or would you devote your time to loved ones, to family and friends?
    • But, of course, we don’t know how long we’ve got. We don’t know when the world will end – whether by predictable environmental breakdown, as a result of a nuclear catastrophe, or even an out-of-the-blue sudden disaster. More than that, none of us know how long we have as individuals. We might anticipate living well into old age, but none of us can be sure that we won’t be crossing the wrong road at the wrong time and see our lives snuffed out in an instant. We don’t know how much time we’ve got.
    • Jesus had something to say to his followers about uncertainty concerning time. This is Jesus teaching about his second coming to Earth:
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • ‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.’ Matthew 24:36-44 (New International Version)
    • Jesus was warning about the end of the world, a time when Christians believe that Jesus will come back to call his followers back to him. He tells them that his return, which marks the end of the world as we know it, will be sudden and unexpected. His followers know it’s going to happen, but nobody knows exactly when.
    • Jesus’ point is that he wanted people to be ready. He wanted his followers to live their lives in the light of his promised return. Like anyone else, they don’t know how long they’ve got left, but they are to make the most of the time they have – however long or short it is – and to be ready for the end.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Steve Carrell’s colleague in the film clip observed that life, with just a few days to go, had no meaning. [click] That’s only true if life had no meaning anyway. Everybody’s life ends one day whether it’s sooner or later, and if we don’t know the purpose of our lives, then life has no meaning whether it’s about to end or whether you’ve got years ahead of you.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • What is the meaning of your life? It shouldn’t take news of the imminent destruction of the world to make you ask that kind of question. If you don’t know what life is all about, you won’t know how to make the best of the time you’ve got left, whether that’s a few days or a few decades. None of us know how long we’ve got left, but all of us can determine how we spend the time given to us. What are you living for? What’s the purpose of your life? Does the way you spend your time reflect what you think is truly important? If it doesn’t, what are you going to do about that?

Headings and Bullets

Download the Future Seeking a Friend Talk PowerPoint with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Hollywood staple – heroes save world from annihilation against the odds.
      • Bruce Willis in Armageddon.
      • Will Smith in Independence Day.
      • Hairy-footed shorties in Lord of the Rings.
      • What if the heroes don’t come through?
    • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.
      • Space shuttle on rescue mission has exploded.
      • Seventy mile wide asteroid on collision course to Earth.
      • End of the world in three weeks.
      • Here’s how people react:
    • Play the film clip.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • What would you do if you knew the world was ending in three weeks?
      • Carry on as normal or decide everything has changed?
      • Search for new experiences or devote time to loved ones?
    • But we don’t know how long we’ve got.
      • Don’t know when or how the world will end.
      • Don’t know how long we’ve got before we die individually.
    • Jesus had this to say about uncertainty concerning time:
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.’ Matthew 24:36-44 (New International Version)
    • Jesus says his return will be sudden and unexpected.
      • His followers know it’s going to happen, but nobody knows when.
    • Jesus wanted people to be ready.
      • His followers should live in the light of his promised return.
      • They are to use the time they have well.
      • They are to be ready for the end.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Character in the clip said that life, with just a few days to go, had no meaning.
      • [click] That’s only true if life had no meaning anyway.
      • If we don’t know the purpose of our lives, they are meaningless no matter how long we’ve got left.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • What is the meaning of your life?
      • It shouldn’t take imminent end of the world to make us ask.
      • If you don’t know what life is about, you won’t make the best use of it.
      • None of us know how long we’ve got, but we can choose how to use that time.
      • What are you living for?
      • Does the way you spend your time show what you think is important?
      • If not, what are you going to do about it?

RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God, thank you for the things we can be sure of in an uncertain world. Help us to discover the point and purpose of life and to live our lives in ways that reflect that purpose. Amen.

Reflection

  • Have you ever spent time thinking about the point of life? How differently would you live your life if you knew how much time you had left?

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (StudioCanal, 2012, certificate 15). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. Future – What do you do? PowerPoint.
  3. Future Seeking a Friend Talk PowerPoint.

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