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Bible passage: Luke 22:47-23:56
Background: Exploring the story of Jesus’ death outside of the Easter week gives space for you and the children to spend more time thinking about what happened and what this story means. It can be quite upsetting, particularly for children who have never heard it before. We will have introduced them to Jesus, who loves them and wants to be their friend, and now he is killed. Remember this, and be sensitive to how the children react as you explore the story.
As the children arrive, sit everyone down in a circle and share out your refreshments. Ask the children if they have done anything this week and to tell the group about it. Share something that you have done this week too. What do the children know about Easter? How many of the things they mention are in the Easter story and how many are just what people connect with spring-time?
You will need: copies of a picture of a cross that can be coloured in (search the internet or draw one yourself); felt-tip pens or crayons
Share out the pictures of the cross and colour them in together. As you do so, talk about Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion and burial. Find out what the children know and don’t know. Remember with this activity that it is the talking that is the important thing, not the colouring in. Children often talk more freely when their hands are occupied with an activity. These chats don’t have the pressure of a face-to-face conversation, and so can flow more!
You will need: objects to create sound effects; copies of the Bible text and instructions from; access to lots of different styles of music and the means to play it (optional)
Share out your sound-effect objects and copies of the Bible text. (Some sections for Luke 22 and 23 have not been included for brevity’s sake.) Read the Bible text and let the children follow; add in the sound effects when they come up. If the group includes some able readers, you could ask them to read the words spoken by Jesus and Pilate.
After you have finished, look through the story and see if you can find any other sound effects to make. If you have time, you could score the story with appropriate pieces of music – happy music, sad music, dramatic music etc.
Ask the group these questions, making sure everyone has the chance to contribute:
- What part of this story surprised you the most?
- What was fair about this story? What was unfair?
- If you were one of Jesus’ friends, what would you have thought during the four different parts of the story?
- What do you think about Jesus dying? Why did it happen?
- What do you want to say to God after exploring this morning?
You will need: art materials; old magazines; large sheets of paper; flat biscuits (such as Rich Tea); writing icing in different colours
Remind the children of the four parts of the story: the arrest, the trial, the crucifixion and the burial. Imagine they are all newspaper journalists and can only report on one of these parts. Which one would that be? Think of as many newspaper headlines as possible and then choose the best.
Children could either make a collage of the newspaper headlines above, using old magazine lettering, bubble writing or paint. Or they could ice plain biscuits or cakes with a cross, using coloured writing icing.
As you work, talk about the story and the children’s reactions to it. Share something of what this story means to you. It would be good for all the leaders to talk about this – this way the children get a lot of different views and see that they can respond to the story in their own way, rather than there being one way to see the story of the crucifixion.
Begin to pray with the first line of the song ‘When I think about the cross, when I think of Jesus, I’m reminded…’ Go around in a circle and ask each child to complete that sentence as a way of saying thank you to Jesus.
Finish your time with a general prayer of thanks. Encourage the children that this is not the end of the story! Say that, as they think about this story during the week, if they have any questions, they should write them down and bring them back next time you meet.
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