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Bible passage: Luke 24:1-12
Background: It seems as though it is game over for Jesus and his disciples. Jesus has been arrested, convicted on trumped-up charges and finally crucified. There is no doubt that he’s dead as he is taken down from the cross on the first Good Friday and laid hastily in a borrowed tomb. Then the Sabbath began. A whole 24 hours of doing nothing. I’m guessing it seemed like a long, long time. Finally, on the first day of the week, Jesus’ female disciples go to the tomb to do what’s right and prepare Jesus’ body properly for burial. Except he’s not there…
As you begin the session, invite the children to sit together in a circle and pass around a simple object. When a child has the object, they can share their response to the question. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a sand timer so you have time for each person to share if they want to. If a child doesn’t want to say anything they can just pass on the object. Ask the children to share the most unbelievable thing they ever heard that turned out to be true.
You will need: strong-smelling herbs and spices; pestle and mortar sets (optional) Gather together some herbs and spices with strong fragrances. Get a couple of pestle and mortar sets if you can, and let the group crush and tear the herbs and spices to release the scents. Talk about what they like and what they don’t, and whether the scents remind them of anything.
You will need: items to create a ‘tomb’ (see below); a white sheet or surplice
This is a story that needs to be experienced as much as possible. Before the session, create a tomb in your meeting space. It needs to be big enough for at least a few people to get inside at once. If you have a small group, make it big enough for everyone to gather in. You could use a tent or event shelter. Drape the outside with black cloth to make it dark. Inside, you might like to have a long, low coffee table (or a bookcase laid down) draped with white cloths to represent the burial clothes. Have one of your leaders dress in white and wait inside the tomb.
Begin the story outside the tomb. Ask the group to recap what has happened so far. Talk about Jesus being laid in the tomb on the Friday and then everyone having to rest on the Saturday: the Sabbath. Ask the group members to imagine they are Jesus’ disciples. How would they be feeling right now?
Talk about the fact that when someone dies their body has to be treated in a particular way before they are buried. The way the body is prepared varies in different cultures. In Jesus’ time, the body would have been wrapped in a certain way, and spices and ointments would have been put on it. Jesus’ friends didn’t have time to do this on the Friday, so some of the women went back on the Sunday to finish what needed to be done. The tomb was in a garden outside the city. Say that you’re going to go inside the tomb just as they did.
As you gather inside the tomb, ask the children what they see. Point out that there is no body. Ask the group members who they think the person in white is. While you are gathered together here, read Luke 24:1-8. After you have read it, talk about how the women went back to the city to tell the male disciples what they had seen. Say that the men didn’t believe them until they had seen it for themselves.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute. You can continue to sit in the tomb from ‘Bible story’ if you wish:
- How many different emotions can you think of that the disciples in the story might have been feeling at different points?
- Do you think the women believed what they were seeing?
- Why didn’t the men believe the women?
- If you were one of Jesus’ friends and you had been there, what would you do next?
You will need: seeds of plants with strong scents (such as lavender, basil, thyme or mint); compost; cardboard egg cartons cut into individual cups
Talk about how a seed looks dead. We even bury it so it can grow and bring new life. Point out that there is a link to Jesus dying and rising again in that picture. Let the children choose some seeds and plant them in their egg carton pots. Make sure they know how to care for them so they will grow. When they do grow, the smell will hopefully remind them of this story.
You will need: herbs and spices from ‘Intro activity’
Give each person some of the fragrant herbs and spices from ‘Intro activity’ and invite them to find a quiet place to focus on smelling them. If it’s big enough for everyone, you could gather inside the tomb again. As they use their sense of smell, encourage them to revisit the story in their imagination. Ask them to imagine that Jesus appears to them in the garden, as he does in some of the other accounts. What would they want to say to him? What do they think he would say to them?
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