I did an assembly this morning on “Encounters with Jesus” and I picked Zac up the tree. I don’t do clever assemblies – so, look away now if you are waiting to be impressed.
I just tell a story, so – I started with the story of my family, on a Saturday morning, we have people coming . . . but, we are still in bed, we finally drag ourselves up – crazy running around the house getting ready, getting the place “fit” for visitors – this is all told with visual humour, I run around a fair bit, a slightly mock my children and their ability to get ready and actually put stuff away (shoved under the bed etc), I tell a quick aside about people thinking I had a furry pet when I was small that lived under my bed, which was in fact a sandwich that had gone moldy and grown fur (the infants thought this was hilarious) . . . anyway, we aren’t ready and the place is still a tip and our friends turn up . . argh!
OK, now picture the scene. Jesus is coming, he is drawing a huge crowd, a very small man is trying to see (at this point I get out a very small child and 4 or 5 larger ones), set up the scene with Zac in a tree with the aid of chair (small child peering over the top of the larger children . . . he sees Jesus! Then, uh – oh – Jesus sees HIM (that was not part of the plan), worse, Jesus says “‘i’m coming to your house for tea!”, WHAT – no warning, no preparation, no comparing diaries (I have a very busy social life you know . . . ) Zac has no time to get ready, sort the house or ANYTHING! Jesus goes and – we have no idea what state His house was in – but, we do know what state his life is in and so does Jesus – his house may not have been a pigsty, but his life was a mess (thief, traitor etc).
Here is the thing. We may want to see Jesus – but not always want Jesus to see us (not like this, not with my mess)
Jesus loves Zac into a transformation. He is so overwhelmed by Jesus being with Him, Jesus being OK, Jesus ignoring all the people who HATE him and coming to his house anyway . . . that Zac goes crazy and decides not JUST to give back what he has stolen – but four times that amount to everyone he has cheated!!
Transformed, that is what happens to people when they encounter Jesus. We can’t “get ready” and tidy our mess up, we can’t deal with our mess! Jesus comes to us, He wants to be with us – He can handle our mess, and love us as we are. Maybe today His love will transform us too – maybe we will let Jesus help us with our messy lives . . . lets pray.
That was it more or less. We might even look tidy (but be a mess on the inside), there is a lot around mess that you can talk to with children – they all get that image. They certainly identify with shoving stuff (hopefully) out of sight, but not always actually dealt with. The key to a good assembly (even with infants) is don’t give them EVERYTHING, leave some lingering ideas and thoughts for them to come back to, for the Holy Spirit to inspire the thinking they need to do about the topic, thought, prayerful bit at the end.