July 3 Doubting Thomas
One of the original 12 disciples, St Thomas is known as "The Twin", Doubting Thomas and the Apostle of India.
Outline script for assembly leader
"I don't ber-lieve it!" That was the catchphrase of Victor Meldrew, a character in the television comedy One Foot in the Grave. He said it whenever something new or baffling happened to him. Something very similar was said by Thomas, one of the first followers of Jesus.
Three days after Jesus was crucified, several of his disciples saw him on various occasions and came to believe that he had risen from the dead.
Thomas wasn't among them. "Unless I put my hand on the marks of the nails and on the mark where the sword pierced his side, I won't believe." A week later, the disciples (including Thomas) were together again. Jesus appeared. "Thomas," he said, "put your finger here and see my hands."
Thomas did so and believed that Jesus had risen from the dead. Even so, he is still named Doubting Thomas. ("Thomas" is Aramaic for "twin". The Bible says Thomas was also named Didymus but Didymus is simply Greek for "twin".) An apocryphal story tells how Thomas intended to visit India to preach Christianity but met a merchant called Abban who was seeking someone to build a new palace for Gundafor, King of Parthia (in what is now Iran).
Because Thomas was a carpenter (and, possibly, an architect), he went to Parthia. Gundafor paid him for the new palace and went on his travels. When he returned, he found Thomas had given the money to the poor and had spent his time teaching the message of Jesus. Gundafor put him in prison.
The king's brother was then taken seriously ill. When he recovered, he told Gundafor about Thomas's teaching. Gundafor and his brother both became Christians and, it is said, Thomas travelled on to India. Centuries later, a Christian missionary, Francis Xavier, travelled to India and met a group who called themselves the Christians of St Thomas - so the story may be true.
The Gospel account of Thomas is in John, chapter 20, verses 24-29.
Share stories of occasions when good news has been hard to believe.
Ask twins to describe the benefits and disadvantages of being a twin.
Older students might debate whether doubt and certainty are virtues or vices.