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Christian Resources for Worship in Schools

At the Name of Jesus

Perpetua and Felicity were two people who decided to follow Jesus, despite the danger of persecution and death. They were martyred in the year 203 under the Roman Persecutions. Their Feast day is March 7

Opening Activity: Name a Roach!

Take with you a small tin or box, such as a matchbox. Tell them that you have brought in your giant Madagascar hissing roach. For Valentine’s Day (2011) the Bronx Zoo in New York were offering people the opportunity to donate $10 to name their 58,000 roaches after a loved ones.
‘Flowers wilt. Chocolates melt. Roaches are forever,’ quipped the zoo! The males ‘hiss’ at females during courtship and can grow up to 7.5cm long. On the first day of promotion the zoo had 1,000 named roaches! The roaches are native to the island of Madagascar off Africa's south-eastern coast. They are not pests and do not inhabit human dwellings, according to the National Geographic Society. The males often ram one another with their horns and shove one another about with their abdomens during competition for standing in the roach hierarchy.

How would you like a roach to be named after you?! How would you like it if your boyfriend or girlfriend presented you with a roach certificate? How impressed would you be?! Our names are important to us. They are usually carefully chosen by our parents. Sometimes, of course, we may not like our name, or be embarrassed by a middle name! Or we may adopt or be given a nickname. Sometimes, nicknames can be quite endearing. And other times they can be quite spiteful.

Perpetua and Felicity
Today, I am going to tell you a story about two people called Perpetua and Felicity—names that are not that common these days! But they lived during the Roman persecutions of Christians in the beginning of the 3rd century.

In the year 203 Pereptua decided to become a Christian, much to her father’s worry and anger. She was only 22 years old and her father knew how dangerous it was, and she had a small child whom she was nursing. In fact, he was so stressed out with worry that he attacked her: he couldn’t take the news any longer and she had to stay away form him for a few days. In trying to explain her decision to her father, Perpetua pointed to a water jug. She asked her father, "See that pot lying there? Can you call it by any other name than what it is?" Her father answered, "Of course not." Perpetua responded, "Neither can I call myself by any other name than what I am: a Christian."

Perpetua was soon arrested and imprisoned, but not before she was baptised, along with three other people who were learning about the Christian Faith and their Christian teacher. One of these new Christians included a servant girl called Felicity who was 8 months pregnant. The five of them were imprisoned in awful conditions and Perpetua was, for a while, separated from her young child. The five prisoners were eventually killed for their faith. They refused to give up the name of Christian.

Christians Today
Sometimes we can forget how dangerous it has been at certain times and places to be a Christian. Sometimes, we can fail to realise that even in the world today it is dangerous to be a Christian, and that people are persecuted simply for following Jesus. Sometimes, in our own communities, people are criticised and made fun of simply for being a Christian. Sometimes, in our own school, some people’s lives are made difficult because they are Christian. Perpetua’s name means ‘forever’ it comes from the word ‘perpetual’ Felicity’s names means ‘happy’ They both remained true to the meaning of their names. They both remained strong in faith and they were happy to continue following Jesus despite the dangers. But above all both remained faithful to the name of Christian. For both women, in being baptised, took the name of Christian, they took the name of Jesus: that was the most important thing about them. The most important thing in their life was to be called Christian.

Reflection
Do we find it difficult to be a Christian today?
Do we ever make someone’s life difficult because they are a Christian?
What can we do to stand up for people’s freedom to be Christian in the world today?

Prayer
God our Father,
may all Christians be true to the name of Jesus and remain strong in faith, and be given freedom to follow Jesus, their Lord and Saviour.

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