Ethos Education

The Tide Going Out

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Assembly Objective:

  • How can we help young people talk about death? This assembly invites students to think about what the Bible teaches about life and death, reminding them that God’s love is unchanging. It aims to help engage with this timely subject with pastoral sensitivity, opening a conversation that offers hope to young people who are suffering from grief or loss.

Film:

  • Little Women (Columbia, 2019, cert PG). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible: 

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of Individual Liberty affirms that we are free and responsible for our own actions and responses. The values of Democracy and Rule of Law recognise that we are part of a society whereby we receive support from others. This assembly encourages pupils to consider how we respond to suffering, and how we support each other in these times.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Stop the Tide (activity)

Begin the assembly with a simple emotions check-in exercise. Invite each student to sit comfortably and to put their feet flat on the floor. Ask them to close their eyes and take a deep breath in, lifting their shoulders to their ears then releasing them on the out breath. Ask them to do this three times, keeping their eyes closed.

Now ask them to be still for one minute, not talking but aware of their breathing. As they sit quietly, ask them to think about what they are feeling today. Are they happy? Do they feel angry about something? Are they feeling sad? Do they feel anxious?

Tell them to notice how they are feeling then take a final deep breath in and out. Ask them to open their eyes.

Explain that an exercise like the one you have just done hasn’t changed anything that is making them feel the way they feel, but that noticing their emotions is a helpful starting point to responding and reacting to them.

Today’s assembly is going to explore our responses and reactions to difficult times.


FILM CLIP

Little Women (Columbia, 2019, cert PG).

Play the clip from Little Women:

  • Start time: 01:13:17
  • End time: 01:18:12
  • Clip length: 4 min 55 sec

The clip begins with the four March sisters reading a letter about their mother who has gone to tend to their wounded father. Beth (Eliza Scanlen) is embroidering a pair of slippers for Mr Laurence (Chris Cooper) as a gift to thank him for allowing her to play his piano. She tells her sisters that they ought to take food to the Hummel family. None of her sisters wants to go with her, and she reminds them that their mother told them it was their duty. When they still refuse to go, she goes alone, dropping off the slippers on the way. On her return she discovers that Mr Laurence has gifted her his piano, along with a note thanking her for her gift. All the girls are excited and Beth, speechless, goes immediately to thank him for his gift. He tells her that she reminds him of his little girl, and then notices that she has a fever. Later that day, outside Beth’s bedroom, the doctor tells her sisters that she has scarlet fever. Jo (Saoirse Ronan) announces that they will nurse her and she will get better. We then see an older Jo and Beth on the beach. Jo is reading a story to Beth. Beth tells her she loves it and that Jo needs to keep writing stories, even when she’s not here. Jo tells her not to say this, but Beth says that she’s had a long time to think about it and she’s not afraid. It’s like the tide going out – it happens slowly but it can’t be stopped. Jo says she will stop it as she’s stopped it before. Beth puts her arm around Jo and the pair sit on the empty beach.


TALK

Scripted Talk

Download the Little Women PowerPoint for use with this talk.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Life can be difficult for all sorts of reasons. But the biggest difficulty many of us will face is losing someone we love. Things don’t always work out as we plan, especially if we, or someone we love, becomes ill, and particularly if that illness is serious. Death is something that affects all of us. In fact it’s one of the only certainties of life. One day all of us will die.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Sadly, we have had to think about this much more recently, and many of us will know someone who has been affected by Covid-19. Some of you may already have experienced grief and loss when someone you love has died, so you already know what it feels like to lose someone.
    • It can be very hard to talk about these things, and it’s important that we help each other. This is a serious topic, and we want to be respectful of how it makes us feel, and to be kind to one another.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • We’re going to watch a clip from the film Little Women. This is a story about a family of four girls during the American Civil War. One of the sisters, Beth, is a shy girl who is a very good pianist. Her sisters are all louder and bolder than she is, and so sometimes her voice is not heard in the family. When their mother (Marmee) goes to look after their wounded father, the four are left to take care of themselves. Before she left, Marmee told them to look in on a poor family who live nearby. Let’s find out what happens next. Watch the film clip.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • There was a lot to take in there. At the very end of the clip, we saw a much older Beth and Jo sitting on the beach. After Beth became ill with scarlet fever as a child she never fully improved, and both girls knew that she was not going to live much longer. I wonder if you noticed how differently they reacted. Jo wanted to fight for Beth, to make her better by sheer willpower, and didn’t want to talk about the subject. Beth said that she had had a long time to think about it, but she wasn’t afraid. She knew that death was ahead of her, even if it was coming slowly.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • People respond to stressful situations in different ways at different times. Like Jo, some people don’t want to think about what is happening or they want to do everything they can to fight the illness.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Other people, like Beth, want to talk about it because they are not afraid, and they’ve had time to understand what is happening.
    • There is not one reaction that is better than another. When anyone is faced with suffering they might feel a range of emotions and reactions even in one day. Let’s think about each of these different reactions in turn.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • First of all, let’s think about ignoring death. That can feel like an easy way out of the problem. If I choose to pretend that something bad is not happening then maybe I can forget about it and it will go away. Sometimes that’s OK. When we feel sad, it’s important to live a balanced life. It’s important to keep doing the things we love, whether that’s playing sports, watching TV, reading a good book or playing a musical instrument as these activities help us cope with what is happening to us. It’s also important to think about the other person, too. So, although we might feel sad, the best thing for them might be for us to have a normal conversation with them, sharing a joke or a story. That’s important, but sadly, no matter how hard we try, the problem won’t go away.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • Secondly, let’s think about fighting illness. That’s important too. It’s important for someone who is ill to have a positive attitude and to keep hopeful. People get better. Medicine and healthcare are good things. We can help people we love by standing with them as they fight diseases and illnesses. That’s important, but sometimes people don’t get better, and when they die, it doesn’t mean that they have not fought  hard enough, or that we haven’t tried enough.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • Thirdly, let’s talk about fear. One of the reasons people find it difficult to talk about death is because they are afraid of it. People feel afraid of the pain that they might experience, and they feel afraid because they don’t know what happens after death. There are lots of views and opinions on that, but the Bible says that the reason Jesus died and rose from death was to make it possible for everyone to be sure about life after death. Jesus died to make it possible for us to live forever, and the reason he did that is because God loves us so much. Here are some verses from the Bible that show us that God’s love for us is greater than anything, even death.
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • Read Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
    • ‘And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
    • These verses are very helpful when we feel afraid. They are even the kind of verses that it might be helpful to read out loud when we’re scared. They tell us that absolutely nothing can stop God from loving us. They remind us that God is powerful and that he will be with us no matter what we face if we choose to ask him. That’s important, because everyone feels afraid at some point.
  • [PowerPoint slide 11]
    • That brings us to our final talking point – listening. Beth had become very good at listening because she wasn’t able to be as active as her sisters. She also was quieter by nature, and she noticed what was going on around her and thought about it. She was the one who went to visit the family in the cottage. She was the one who listened to Jo’s stories and understood what they were about. Although her life was short, and she faced a lot of suffering, she was wise. Suffering, illness and death are terrible things, and we would much rather they didn’t affect us, but in this story, we can see how her suffering had helped Beth to be a wiser person.
  • [PowerPoint slide 12]
    • When someone we know is ill, or if we have lost someone or something, it can be helpful to think about what really matters. It’s important to have conversations with people and tell them how much we love them. It’s important to be kind and to listen well to other people. It’s important to understand that every moment we have with someone we love matters.
  • [PowerPoint slide 13]
    • So, ignoring, fighting, remembering God’s love and listening. I wonder which of these phrases best sums up how you are feeling today?
  • [PowerPoint slide 14]
    • There is one final thing that can help anyone who is feeling sad, or is facing illness and death. The Bible also reminds us that we can pray. Because he loves us, God  listens to us when we talk to him, and he understands how we feel because he knows how it feels to lose someone he loves.
    • When you pray, you don’t need special words or phrases, you can just talk to God, but sometimes it can help to use words that someone else has written. The important thing is not to bottle up our sadness but find a way to talk to God, and to other people about it.
    • We’re going to finish our assembly by reading a prayer that has been written to help people who are ill. I’m going to read out the words of the prayer. You might want to close your eyes and listen, or you might want to read along with me.
  • [PowerPoint slide 15]

Headings and Bullets

Download the Little Women PowerPoint for use with this talk.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Life can be difficult.
    • Things don’t always work out as we plan, especially if someone we love becomes ill.
    • Particularly if that illness is serious.
    • Death is something that affects all of us.
    • One of the only certainties of life.
    • One day all of us will die.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • You may already have experienced grief and loss when someone you love has died.
    • It’s important that we help each other.
    • We want to be respectful of how it makes us feel, and to be kind to one another.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Introduce the clip from Little Women.
    • A story about a family of four girls during the American Civil War.
    • One of the sisters, Beth, is a shy girl who is a very good pianist.
    • Her sisters are all louder and bolder than she.
    • Sometimes her voice is not heard in the family.
    • When their mother (Marmee) goes to look after their wounded father, the four are left to take care of themselves.
    • Told to look in on a poor family who live nearby.
    • Watch the film clip.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Beth and Jo sitting on the beach.
    • After Beth became ill with scarlet fever as a child she never fully improved.
    • Both girls knew that she was not going to live much longer.
    • Different reactions.
    • Jo wanted to fight for Beth, to make her better by sheer willpower, and didn’t want to talk about the subject.
    • Beth said that she had had a long time to think about it, but she wasn’t afraid.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • People respond to stressful situations in different ways at different times.
    • Like Jo, some people don’t want to think about what is happening.
    • They want to do everything they can to fight the illness.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Other people, like Beth, want to talk about it because they are not afraid.
    • They’ve had time to understand what is happening.
    • There is not one reaction that is better than another.
    • Anyone might feel a range of emotions and reactions even in one day.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • Ignoring death.
    • Can feel like an easy way out of the problem.
    • If I choose to pretend I can forget about it and it will go away.
    • When we feel sad, it’s important to live a balanced life.
    • It’s important to keep doing the things we love as these activities help us cope with what is happening to us.
    • It’s also important to think about the other person.
    • That’s important, but sadly, no matter how hard we try, the problem won’t go away.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • Fighting illness.
    • It’s important for someone who is ill to have a positive attitude and to keep hopeful.
    • People get better.
    • Medicine and healthcare are good things.
    • We can help people we love by standing with them as they fight diseases and illnesses.
    • That’s important, but sometimes people don’t get better, and when they die, it doesn’t mean that they have not fought hard enough, or that we haven’t tried enough.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • Fear and love.
    • People feel afraid of the pain that they might experience.
    • They feel afraid because they don’t know what happens after death.
    • There are lots of views and opinions on that subject.
    • The Bible says that the reason Jesus died and rose from death was to make it possible for everyone to be sure about life after death.
    • Jesus died to make it possible for us to live forever.
    • He did that because God loves us so much.
    • God’s love for us is greater than anything, even death.
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • Read Romans 8:38-39 (NLT).
    • These verses are very helpful when we feel afraid.
    • They might be helpful to read out loud when we’re scared.
    • They tell us that absolutely nothing can stop God from loving us.
    • They remind us that God is powerful and that he will be with us if we choose to ask him.
    • That’s important, because everyone feels afraid at some point.
  • [PowerPoint slide 11]
    • Listening.
    • Beth had become very good at listening because she wasn’t able to be as active as her sisters.
    • She noticed what was going on around her and thought about it.
    • She was the one who went to visit the family in the cottage.
    • She was the one who listened to Jo’s stories and understood what they were about. Although her life was short, and she faced a lot of suffering, she was wise.
    • Suffering, illness and death are terrible things but in this story, we can see how her suffering had helped Beth to be a wiser person.
  • [PowerPoint slide 12]
    • What really matters.
    • Important to have conversations with people and tell them how much we love them. It’s important to be kind and to listen well to other people.
    • It’s important to understand that every moment we have with someone we love matters.
  • [PowerPoint slide 13]
    • Ignoring, fighting, remembering God’s love and listening.
    • I wonder which of these phrases best sums up how you are feeling today?
  • [PowerPoint slide 14]
    • Prayer.
    • There is one final thing that can help anyone who is feeling sad, or is facing illness and death.
    • Because he loves us, God listens to us when we talk to him, and he understands how we feel because he knows how it feels to lose someone he loves.
  • [PowerPoint slide 15]
    • Merciful God, we entrust to your tender care those who are ill or in pain, knowing that whenever danger threatens your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe. Comfort and heal them, and restore them to health and strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Prayer taken from same site as above).

Photo Copyright for Little Women PowerPoint: Slide 1 Columbia Pictures / Slide 2 Columbia Pictures / Slide 3 Columbia Pictures / Slide 4 Columbia Pictures / Slide 5 Columbia Pictures / Slide 6 Columbia Pictures / Slide 7 and 13 Columbia Pictures / Slide 8 and 13 Columbia Pictures / Slide 9 and 13 Columbia Pictures / Slide 10 Columbia Pictures / Slide 11 and 13 Columbia Pictures / Slide 12 Columbia Pictures / Slide 14 Columbia Pictures / Slide 15 Pixabay.com / Slide 16 Columbia Pictures 


RESPOND

Reflection

  • [PowerPoint slide 16]
    • Play some music and display the slide with Jesus’ words from Matthew 5: 3-10. `God blesses those who are poor and realise their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.’

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. A copy of Little Women (Columbia, 2019, cert PG). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. Little Women PowerPoint.

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