This morning I was taking two Primary School assemblies with my trusty side-kick. We were asked to talk about compassion so Stew the Rabbit (left) and I told a version of the Good Samaritan where Stew responded graciously and compassionately when he came across Bonnie the Bunny (who had bullied him by calling him names, pushing him in puddles and taking his carrots (brilliantly loud gasp of horror from the children at the taking of carrots – they know how much Stew loves carrots!)) after she had fallen off her bike and hurt herself. Her friends had left her and her sister couldn’t cope with the sight of blood so it was left to Stew the Rabbit to save the day.
I was tempted to twist the story further than Jesus did by having Stew ignore her too, or even stand there laughing. I might have done that if it was a church setting, but as I reckoned most of the children would not know the story I kept it conventionally unconventional and Stew wrapped a handkerchief around her leg, helped her up and pushed her bike home while she hopped beside him.
At the start I asked the children to think whether what Stew did was good. At the end I asked them, and was surprised that in the Assembly for the older children some of them said, “No!” It seems that they felt that Stew should not have been kind, gracious, compassionate and forgiving but should have taken his revenge.
Now the story really came alive!
At the start of the second Assembly the teacher leading it introduced how they were finishing their current theme that week. I imagined she would say ‘compassion’ but it turned out that the theme was ‘courage’!
So I quickly adapted the story and emphasised that Stew was frightened of Bonnie the Bunny (and presumably her sidekick Clyde) and how it had taken real courage for him to stop and help her.
And then it struck me. The story of the Good Samaritan is about loving your neighbour, but it is also about courage. It is about having the courage to do what you know is right in the face of danger (the thieves could have been hiding, it could have been a trap); it is about having the courage to overcome prejudice and fear with love and compassion; it is about having the courage to set aside your priorities and risk being out of pocket or having to change your schedule to help those in need.
So Stew the Rabbit taught me a lot today as well.
May God give us all the courage to do what he wants even if we are afraid of the consequences. May God give us all the courage to see our own prejudices and fears and act despite them rather than because of them. May God give us all the courage to prioritise the needs of others rather than ourselves.
Be blessed, be a blessing.