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Bible passage: Luke 24:1-12
Background: The Easter story is a joyous one, culminating in Jesus defeating death. However, it is easy to read it with a
knowledge of what is coming next. The women on their way to the tomb didn’t know what was going to happen. They only knew the pain and sadness of Jesus’ death. Those with little or no church background, who have come to church as a one-off, may well come to this story with a similar lack of knowledge about the ending. Try to approach this story with the same mindset, so that everyone in your congregation can experience that rollercoaster of emotion.
OPTION 1: Discussion
As people arrive, or at the start of the service, ask them to consider what they like about Easter. You could get people into groups to talk about this (letting them think about it on their own, if they would prefer) or conduct a discussion from the front. You could even do a poll to find out everyone’s best things!
OPTION 2: Party pieces
Ask the congregation if they have any party pieces they would like to come and perform at the front. You are looking for people who can do something surprising, such as do the splits, count to ten in another language or wiggle their ears. Have some volunteers primed before the service to get the ball rolling, and make sure no one attempts anything dangerous!
You will need: volunteers to be the women and the angels; appropriate costumes; a representation of the tomb (see below); a Bible
Before the session, create a representation of Jesus’ tomb using whatever you can find. You could use fabric, chairs, pot plants and cardboard. Alternatively, you could project a picture onto a wall or screen. Brief your volunteers about how the story will be told.
Recap the story of Easter so far. Use your own words or an appropriate retelling to describe how Jesus was arrested, put on trial and crucified. Introduce the women to the congregation (some of their names are in verse 10) and ask them how they are feeling early on this Sunday morning.
Read Luke 24:1-2, encouraging the women to walk from their starting place over to the tomb. When they get there and find the tomb open, ask the congregation for suggestions about how they might be feeling now. They may be surprised, scared or angry.
Read Luke 24:3-5 and ask the congregation what the women might say at this point of the story. Read verses 6-8 and ask the congregation what they would do next if they were the women.
Read Luke 24:9-12 and wonder together why Jesus’ followers didn’t believe the women. Then ask them to put themselves in Peter’s place. What do you think was going through his mind? Where did he go next?
You will need: copies of the questions below; Bibles
Break into small groups made up of one or two families, or of mixed ages, then give each group a copy of these questions and a Bible:
What do you think the women were talking about as they went to the tomb? • Why did Peter run to the tomb? What did he think he would see? • What would you have done in Peter’s place? • Given that they don’t actually see Jesus until later on Sunday, do you think the women or the disciples knew what had happened? 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); a volunteer who is happy to tell people what the story of Easter means to them
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.
Ask the congregation: “So what?” about Easter. What difference does it mean to them that Jesus came back to life? Invite your volunteer to the front to share their story. If anyone else would like to share, give space for them to do so.
Set these three activities up in different parts of your meeting space. Explain what each one is and encourage people to visit the one that will help them process what they have discovered most effectively.
OPTION 1: Discussion
You will need: volunteers to facilitate discussion; paper and pens
Gather people together in small groups, each with a facilitator, and challenge them to consider how what they have discovered today will make a difference in their lives. You might have a mix of people: some may never have considered the Easter story before, while others may be mature Christians. Help everyone share their ideas. The stories of mature Christians will build up those with little knowledge or experience, while the fresh ideas of those new to the story will inspire older Christians.
OPTION 2: Spiritual space
You will need: objects that provide a spiritual focus, such as candles (real or battery-powered), crosses or palm leaves; baskets
Place all your spiritual focuses in baskets and ask people to choose one or more of the stimuli and either hold it, light it or turn it on. In the quiet, encourage everyone to reflect on what they have heard, discovered and experienced today.
OPTION 3: Easter gardens
You will need: corner yogurt pots; grasses, mosses and twigs; sand or sterile compost; small pebbles
Help people create their own Easter gardens using the yogurt pots. Fold the smaller corner so that it is at right angles to the larger part of the pot, creating the tomb. Fill the larger part with sand or compost and decorate with grasses, mosses and twigs. Finally, place a pebble over or next to the ‘tomb’.
As people work, encourage them to chat about the story and what they have discovered. They can take the gardens home as a reminder that Jesus is alive!
Bring everyone back together and ask if anyone would like to share what they did, thought about or discussed during the response time. Thank everyone for taking part and say an appropriate blessing to close the service.
CREATIVE WORSHIP SUGGESTIONS
Include upbeat songs in your sung worship time, and provide space for people to use flags and ribbons in their worship.
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