Prayer Stations for Remembrance Day: Courage
How do we approach Remembrance Day with children? How can we focus on warfare without overburdening small children with its horrors? How can we talk about peace without talking about its absence?
We decided to reflect on Remembrance Day by focussing on courage: physical courage, enduring courage and moral courage. We chose the Bbilcial story of Daniel as we felt it showed all three.
We looked at physical courage in the lions' den, enduring courage in the Israelites living a life of exile in Babylon and the moral courage needed when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship the golden image.
We linked this to the First World War: enduring courage in the trenches, physical acts of bravery, the moral courage of conscientious objectors.
You can download a PDF of the words for the Prayer Stations here:
We began by telling the Godly Play story of Daniel. Then there was a choice between visiting the prayer stations or staying for a Bible reading, a reflection on courage and prayers.
Station 1: Physical courage
A green cloth with poppies scattered over it was the focus for this station.
Words:Daniel showed physical courage when he went into the lions' den; despite his fear he trusted God to save him from the lions.
During World War I there were many acts of physical courage. We included Captain White's extract from Paul Allen's book "Neath a foreign sky"
Do not be afraid for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.
Isaiah 41: 10
Prayer activity:You may like to pray for courage to meet life's challenges: "I pray for courage as I begin this day..."
Play activity:Make a poppy to remember someone who died in World War I. (Red, green and black tissue paper was provided for this activity.)
Station 2: Enduring courage
This area was set up as a trench using black cloths and hessian. Two of our Posada dolls were used to represent the soldiers, one lying in a bunk and one on a stretcher.
Words:We described the Israelites experience of being in exile in Babylon and how originally they felt cut off from God.
"They hung their harps on the willow trees and sang their sad songs:
"By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion..." Psalm 137
We described the courage needed by first World War soldiers to endure the conditions they lived in - the mud and smells, the incessant noise, the rats and the lice - and included a description of life in the trenches by Frank Richards.
Play activity:You might like to use the materials to create a symbol of courage. You could use the clay, the beads or the art materials.
Prayer activity:What are the biggest difficulties in your daily life? The Israelites found that God was with them through all their difficulties both big and small.
You may like to take a small cross to remind you that God is with you in the same way that he was with them.
You may like to say this prayer: "O God, you know how often we are filled with fear and foreboding..."
Station 3: Moral courage
This area was set up in white. Doves of peace and white feathers were used to symbolise the moral courage of the conscientious objectors. Chicken wire was placed along the front of the display with strips of white cloth to tie on a part of the prayer activity.
Words:The words told the story of King Nebuchadnezzar and the moral courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who refused to worship his golden image.
This was linked to conscientious objectors who were against to all warfare on principle and refused to fight. We described the roles many of them took driving ambulances or working on the land.
As the war went on and so many men were killed at the front, people became more resentful of conscientious objectors. Girls often gave white feathers (for cowardice) to any young men not in uniform.
We included two brief comments from the White Feather Diaries.
Play activity:You may like to remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego standing up for what was right by creating a fiery furnace.
(To create the fiery furnace two paper plates were stuck together and a hole cut in the first one. Red, yellow and orange acetate was used to cover the whole. Black paper figures were cut out and placed inside to represent Sharach, Meshach and Abednego.)
Prayer activity:Is there anything you would be prepared to stand up for? Would you be able to do it, if it meant having everyone against you? You may like to say a prayer asking for the courage to stand up for what is right. As a symbol of your prayer you may like to tie a white cloth to the wire fence.
After we came back together a child read the names of the fallen from the church war memorial, while poppies were laid on a green cloth, one for each name.
We finished by singing: "Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known."
with thanks to Alice Farrant