MEETING AIM: To discover the events and meaning of the Easter story.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Mark 15-16
BACKGROUND: The Easter story might be well known by the people in your congregation, but Easter is a time when you might welcome people who wouldn’t normally attend church. Think carefully about how you might help these people explore the story and meaning. How can you introduce these people to the good news of Easter?
OPTION ONE: Easter egg hunt
Before the service, hide small wrapped Easter eggs around your meeting space. As people arrive, challenge them to go on an Easter egg hunt. You could also hide Easter booklets or other Easter items to find.
OPTION TWO: Best day ever
Invite people to the front to describe their best day ever. This could be a life-changing event (wedding day, birth of a child), a time spent with friends and family or a special holiday. Try to get a range of different stories, without it getting competitive!
You will need: stations as detailed below
Before the service, set up the different stations in different areas of your space. If you have a small congregation, then invite them to move around the church with you as you tell the story. If that would be impractical, then invite people to turn around in their seats as you progress.
1 Palm Sunday: arrange cloaks and palm leaves (real or cut from card) on the floor. Say: “The people of God had been waiting for God’s special saviour for centuries. They thought it would be someone who would set them free from oppression. But Jesus was not that kind of saviour. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as the prophet Zechariah had said many years before. Everyone shouted and cheered, they put cloaks on the floor and waved branches.” Demonstrate or ask volunteers to help you.
2 Last Supper: set out a table with small cups of red juice and some bread. Say: “Jesus celebrated the Passover with his friends. The Passover was a very special festival for the people of God – they remembered when God rescued them from slavery in Egypt. During the celebration meal, Jesus took some bread, broke it and shared it with his friends.” Do this and share the bread with the people nearest to you. He said it was his body, broken for them. “He picked up the wine and said that this was his blood, shed for them.” Give the cups of juice to people to drink.
3 Gethsemane: arrange some large pot plants in one area of your meeting space. Say: “Jesus and his friends went to a garden to pray. While he was there, one of friends, Judas, arrived with some soldiers to arrest Jesus. Judas had betrayed Jesus!”Ask some people what Jesus’ friends might have thought when they saw Judas betray Jesus.
4 Calvary: set up a large cross. Say: “Jesus was put on trial and handed over to be killed, even though he had done nothing wrong. He was nailed to a cross and left to die.” Pause to let people reflect on this.
5 The tomb: create a ‘tomb’ using furniture and pieces of material. Say: “Jesus’ friends put his body in a tomb. Then, early on Sunday morning, some women went to the tomb with spices to anoint Jesus’ body. When they got there, the tomb was open! An angel told them that Jesus was alive!”
You will need: copies of the questions below; Bibles
Break into small groups – made up of one or two families, or different mixed-age groups – and give each group a copy of these questions and a Bible:
• What’s your favourite part of the story?
• What does this story mean to you?
• What difference does Jesus being alive make to your life?
Give the groups time to chat about these questions, referring to the Bible passage if they need to.
You will need: roving mic (if needed)
Get some feedback on questions two and three from ‘Small groups’, using a microphone to hear people’s contributions if your meeting space is large.
Set up these three activities in different parts of your meeting space. Explain what each one is and encourage people to go to the one that will help them process what they have discovered most effectively.
OPTION ONE: Discussion
Assign some volunteers to help guide a discussion about the story and what it might mean for the congregation today.
OPTION TWO: Testimony
You will need: a volunteer to give their testimony
Before the service, find a volunteer who is happy to talk about what Jesus’ resurrection means to them. Encourage them to tell the story to the group and invite the group to ask any questions they have.
OPTION THREE: Reflection
You will need: crosses cut from A5 card; felt-tip pens
Give participants a cross and ask them to write down their thoughts on the Easter story or draw pictures on the cross. As they do so, encourage them to talk to God about what they think and feel.
Bring everyone back together and ask if anyone would like to share anything from the response time. Thank every-one for taking part and say an appropriate blessing to close the service.
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