This secondary assembly looks at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. It asks students to think about the importance of planning new beginnings and endeavours well in order to make sure that are a success

Resources

You will need two readers.

Engagement

Reader 1: When a president is elected in the USA, there is a waiting period between them getting elected and taking power. Barack Obama was elected on November the 4th 2008 and will take over formally on January 20ththis year.

Reader 2: The time between the election and when the President takes power is called ‘the Transition’. This is a time for the new leader to choose the people he wants to work closely with, who will give him the advice he needs to carry out his duties. He has many people that he must choose.

Reader 1: At the end of this process, the former president and the newly elected President meet for the formal hand over of power. There is also a ceremony known as the Presidential Inauguration. Here, the new president publicly swears his ‘oath of office’, to uphold the constitution (the laws of government of the USA) and to be a good leader to the nation.

Reader 2: Most presidents take this oath by swearing on a Bible. This year, Barack Obama has invited a Christian pastor called Rick Warren to lead this part of the ceremony, the invocation, and to say prayers for the nation. After this, President Obama will give a speech outlining what his government’s priorities will be in the coming years, both in the USA and across the world. This will be given in the presence of many important political figures from many different countries.

Reader 1: After the ceremony, there will be a large number of parties that the President and his family will be invited to celebrate the beginning of his new rule as president. He will be expected to visit them all, if only for a few minutes.

Reader 2: All these various events will have taken months to arrange. Everything from the catering to the security to the venues will have needed to be thought through and planned well by large numbers of people. It is very important that the day goes well – if the inauguration does not go well, it might be seen as a sign that the presidency will not go well. It is an important symbol to the world and to the country.

Reader 2: It is important that the world becomes confident that the new President will try to do his best.

Reflection

New beginnings need thorough planning. What new opportunities or beginnings will you face this year? It might be leaving school as a result of having had exams. It might be beginning a new key stage, or a change of teacher or tutor group. The new beginning might be in terms of a relationship with a friend or family member or a boy/girl friend that you might not be able to anticipate at this moment, but by this time next year will prove to be an important part of your life.

The reality of life is that we cannot prepare for everything; but when we are lucky enough to have foresight and opportunity it is important to do so For example, if you want to benefit from the new opportunities that good exam results can give you, you must plan your time beforehand properly so that you can revise and learn all the relevant information. If you want to play for a sports team, you need to practise so that when the time comes to try out, you are playing to the best of your ability.. If you want to go to the best college or university to suit you and your needs, you need to spend time thinking about exactly what it is you want to get out of the experience, and ask the advice of friends and family.

Of course, a President who has a fantastic beginning at their inauguration could still turn out to be a bad leader. But giving yourself the best start possible is always beneficial, especially if you have started as you mean to go on.

New beginnings can be very frightening, as we often are not sure how things are going to progress. However, all we can do is plan to the best of our ability, and carry on doing so, and hope that our hard work pays off.

Response

You may use this as a prayer or an affirmation:

To begin things well is an art,To make sure that they are planned well

And then put into action in the best possible way is a skill.

May I in all the beginnings of my lifeThink through how I need to use them to help me to become a better person,Use them as opportunities not just for myself

But for the friends, families or others that these new times or place might involve.

Christians believe that God created order out of chaos at the beginning of the universe.May I always be a person who brings order and not chaos,Love not division or hatred.May each new beginning enable me to

See the world, to see others and myself in new and better ways

Amen

This e-bulletin issue was first published in January 2009

About the author: Cavan Wood

Category: