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Christian Resources for Worship in Schools

Martin, Marmite & Mendicants!

There are many good anecdotes from the life of St Martin, who started out his career as a soldier, the most famous being the one where he halved his cloak to give it to a beggar. He was also a conscientious objector, had a great ministry and concern for those in prison. He was born in 317

Opening Activity

Take a bag of tortilla crisps/chips. Open them in front of the pupils and start to look inside the bag, examining each crisp carefully before you eat it. After a few crisps, ask them to excuse you but that you are looking for Jesus. Every now and again, some person somewhere in the world discovers the face of Jesus in a tortilla chip. Of course, it’s not ‘Tortilla Chip Specific’ although it seems it’s often a favoured snack. People claim to discover the face of Jesus in all kinds of convenience foods: from cheese and chive crisps to Toasted Pitta Bread! Some crisps even bring a few hundred dollars on ebay, while others create a shrine for others to come and see! One person who said they discovered the image of the Virgin Mary on a toasted cheese sandwich sold it for $28,000! Now that’s what I call convenience food! And it’s not just American’s who embrace it! A family in Wales in May 2009 discovered the face of Jesus in the lid of a Marmite pot! Check out the story on the BBC website here

The Serious Point is…!
These rather bizzare and funny stories actually bring us to a serious point! Where, really, do we discover Jesus? Where does he choose to reveal himself to us? And how do we recognise him?

St Martin of Tours
There is a story about St Martin of Tours (whose feast day is November 8th). He was born in what is now known as Hungary in 317. He joined the army at the age of 15 but by the age of 18 years he was preparing for Baptism. It was whilst preparing for Baptism that one of the most famous stories told about him occurred. Whilst he was still a soldier, he was at the gates of the city of Amiens when he met a scantily dressed beggar Immediately, he cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. That night he dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me." In another story, when Martin woke his cloak was restored, and the miraculous cloak was preserved among the relic collection of the Merovingian kings of the Franks.

It reminds us of an incident in the gospels (Matthew 25:31-46) when Jesus said:

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' “The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

When we serve other people we serve Christ. We discover Christ in the poor and needy, the homeless and hungry, those who are imprisoned. When we serve these people, we are serving Christ. When we ignore these people we are ignoring Christ. We don’t need to look for Jesus in convenience snacks or breakfast spread. If we really are serious about finding and recognising Jesus we should look for him in the broken people of the world, in the poor and those who are in need. That’s where he is—waiting to be clothed and comforted. (SAFETY: Of course, we have to be careful. For example, it’s not particularly appropriate to encourage for young people to start trying to physically help certain individuals: it could be dangerous. But they can be involved in charities or organisations that help such people. They can treat such people with respect.)

Jesus’ words are a call to:
Treat all people with respect
Not overlook others because of how they appear to us
Look for ways in which we can serve Jesus in others
Treat others as we would treat Jesus

Think about the people we have seen that we have ignored or avoided
Have there been times when we have mistreated people?
Have there been people in need that we have overlooked?
How can we help people?

Lord Jesus,
Help us to discover you in the broken and needy people of the world.
Help us to clothe you and comfort you.
Help us to raise you up and quench your thirst.
Help us to discover you in the poor
and in the lives of people on the edge of society.

Also Check Out

Good versus Evil
St Martin de Porres

Useful Links

Amnesty International
Church Army
Salvation Army

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Other Ideas and Themes

from the Life of St Martin of Tours

St Martin, despite beginning a career in the army at the age of 15, soon left after his baptism, and became a conscientious objector. He was imprisoned for his decision, and also had a great ministry and concern for prisoners. So the story of St Martin could be used to explore issues of:

Conscientious Objectors
Prisoners of Conscience
Punishment and Reform

Conscientious Objectors
Look at ways in which Conscientious Objectors during the Second World War were treated by others and even ostracized by even their families.

Useful Online Links
WW2 People’s War (stories by the public and gathered together by the BBC here
Stories of British Conscientious Objectors—Guardian Newspaper Story 2009 here
The website of Amnesty International is also a useful stop for stories, comments and resources.

A Famous Objector:
Muhammad Ali, the world famous American Boxer. He was in the army and was due to fight in the Vietnam War but refused on religious grounds and was subsequently imprisoned for a time.

‘War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.’ John F. Kennedy

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