Matt's blog

“ Prayspace follow up ”

Monday, 6th July 2015 - 12:13

 Whenever I run a Prayspace week I ask if I can have assembly slots before / during / after / all three (!). It helps set up the week, advertise what’s going on, generate some buzz.. and best of all. it allows opportunity to follow up in a school-specific way. Whilst I have a couple of ‘Pre-Prayspace’ assemblies in my back pocket, I never plan the assemblies for ‘Post-Prayspace’ until at least the middle of a Prayspace week. There is a great immediacy that comes from seeing which activities, ideas, concepts or themes the students and their interactions with the prayer activities begin to highlight as the week progresses.

Having spent the last week running Prayspace at King Edward VI Upper School, the clear stand out activity from the week wasForgiveness Stones. So this week I have been doing assemblies in school, asking, ‘What does forgiveness look like?’. It uses some of the script from the Forgiveness stones activity and then goes on to develop the students’ thinking about what it means to offer forgiveness that is real, true, deep, free and full.

As forgiveness is something we do, not just something we talk about, I wanted to take a bit of a risk and encourage students to perform an action that would help them to respond in a meaningful and personal way. I arrived early and placed an A6 piece of coloured paper on each chair in the assembly hall. Throughout the assembly, students are encouraged to look at their piece of paper and let it become for them a specific hurt done to them, or that they have caused someone else.

What will they do with it?

The main thrust of the assembly was that we can choose to seek revenge (which perpetuates or exacerbates a bad situation), look for justice (which looks to punish the person and, frankly, may never come), or we can forgive (which absorbs and overcomes a bad situation). As Romans 12:21 says, ‘do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.’

So, as they left the assembly hall they had a choice of what to do with their piece of paper…

They can leave it behind – knowing that they will probably need to deal with it at some point. It’s out of sight, but it’s still there.

They could take it with them – knowing that, although the piece of paper that represents their hurt is flimsy, they are basically choosing to carry a toxic box of bricks away with them.

They can stick it in the shredder by the door – knowing that they are choosing to forgive, or at the very least take a first, proactive step on the path towards forgiving.

What does forgiveness look like? It might, on this occasion, look like a shredded piece of paper.

Wonderfully, the shredder cross-cuts the paper into a kind of confetti, transforming the ‘hurt’ into something that we see joyfully floating on the breeze at times of celebration. Evil can be defeated. Good overcomes.

It was really quite moving to see the queues of students waiting to use the shredder at the end of the assembly on all three days this week – and to pick up a shredder full of brightly coloured confetti at the end of the last assembly of the week!

And here it is…