Easter is the most important season in the Christian church – it’s the reason for our faith, the coming of new life and hope to all Christian people. We can use it in this current coronavirus pandemic to help our children see signs of hope in a scary world.
You might like to remind yourself of the Easter Story from the bible, then tell it to your children in your own words. It is in all 4 gospels, but Mark’s gospel is the shortest and most concise. ( If you haven’t got a bible, it is online at https://www.biblegateway.com/ – Just put Mark 11 or whatever in the search bar. The right hand drop down offers different bible translations – Contemporary English Version, or Good News Translation both use accessible language for children)
If you have a children’s bible, you will find a version of the Easter story there, for sure.
Mark 11: 1-11 Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey and his hailed as king by the crowds
Mark 14: 12 – 26 Jesus’ last supper with his friends, he shares bread and wine with them and tells them that the bread and the wine will always be a reminder of his body and blood.
Mark 14: 32 – 42 Jesus goes out to the garden of Gethsemane to pray, knowing that he is about to die. His friends go with him but can’t keep awake to pray with him.
Mark 14: 43 – 50 Jesus is betrayed to the authorities by Judas, and arrested in the garden.
Mark 15: 21 – 41 The crucifixion, on a cross between 2 thieves who are also crucified.
Mark 15: 42 – 47 Jesus is buried in a borrowed tomb, and a stone is rolled across the entrance
Mark 16: 1-8 Jesus’ friends come to the tomb and find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty – an angel announces that Jesus is risen from the dead. (you can find a fuller version of the resurrection, including the risen Jesus talking to Mary – in John 20: 1-18)
Points you can make from the story…
That when we are going through hard times it is good to remember that Jesus went through them too. He knows what it is like to be sad, lonely, frightened etc
That Jesus gave his own life so that we could live with him for ever – he loves us that much (stretch out arms, as on a cross… ). We are really important to God. Jesus is alive and is with us for ever, we are never alone.
Jesus turned the bad of the cross into something wonderfully happy and joyful… bad times do come to an end, and there is wonderful rejoicing when those bad times end.
Even dying is no longer so frightening, Jesus is with us even when we die.
Some Messy Easter craft activities
1/ Make an Easter Garden. You need a shallow tray, box or dish. Earth or sand. Stuff you find in your garden or on your daily walk… twigs for the crosses, stones, small flowers, small leafy twigs for trees… If you want the flowers to live you might need to bury little pots of water…
Areas of the garden could be
Gethsemane – the garden where Jesus prayed and the disciples fell asleep (lego people?)
The hill with 3 crosses on it for Jesus and the 2 thieves who were crucified with him
The tomb that Jesus was buried in with a stone rolled across the entrance. If your stone is moveable, you can roll it away on Easter morning to reveal the empty tomb. A small piece of white cloth, or folded loo roll(!) could be seen in the empty tomb on Easter day to signify the cloths in which Jesus’ body was wrapped.
Talk about – tell the story as you make it.
If you make an Easter Garden (or anything else), please send me a photo or post on the St Matthew’s Messy Church facebook page
2/ Anything that transforms a cross from drab to joyful is great.
- Make a cross from paint, wood or whatever and write on it all the things that ‘suck’ at the moment… no friends, not seeing grandma, people getting ill or whatever…
Then decorate it with signs of hope… if it’s a wooden cross you could decorate it with real flowers and foliage. A painted cross could be decorated with cut out 3D flowers, or little scraps of screwed up tissue paper, or butterflies perching on it, with wings folded upwards. (older children could write on the flowers/ butterflies what they are looking forward to when this is over)
- If you have any cress seeds or similar. Put a couple of layers of damp kitchen paper on a plate. Make a cut out cross template from card or cereal packet, and shake some cress seeds onto the kitchen paper through the cross shaped hole. That will make a brown cross. Keep it watered and it will come to life (if you time it right, in time for Easter!) … and make a tasty sandwich.
- Make a double-sided cross – drab colours on one side, sparkles and glitter and bling on the other…
Talk about – Jesus’ death on the cross was very sad, but from it came new life for everybody. The difficult times will come to an end and we can look forward to good times ahead.
3/ Butterflies are a great image for resurrection from the dead. The caterpillar ‘dies’ ie goes into a chrysalis… and then a new and more wonderful life (the butterfly) emerges.
- Make a butterfly obstacle course in the garden for a family race. Contestants have to crawl through a hula hoop or something similar (hatch from an egg) . Put on a caterpillar suit (onesie?) and crawl across a mat or rug leaf. Roll themselves up in a rug or sheet to make a chrysalis and lie for 10 seconds, then put on some butterfly wings (a piece of cloth or scarf bunched in the middle and some elastic would work) and fly back to the start line.
- Make ‘ink blot’ butterflies on paper. Write a thank you prayer on the back for something to give thanks for.
Talk about – how Jesus after he rose from the dead, was still the same Jesus, even though he looked a bit different (not all his friends recognised him immediately. But his new body was better than the old one and he is alive for ever)
4/ Eggs. Eggs look dead and lifeless but eggs can have new life – a baby bird or chick – hidden within them – a great easter image. Eggs are also a similar shape to the stone that was rolled in front of the tomb.
- Make some chocolate and cornflake or shredded wheat ‘nests’ with mini eggs on top, for Easter
- Decorate hard-boiled eggs for easter breakfast with crosses, empty tombs, butterflies, hearts for God’s love etc.. You can also dye a hard boiled egg by leaving it in some water with food colouring and 1 tsp white vinegar for 3 to 4 minutes. If you rub a bit of bacon fat over it afterwards, it makes it lovely and shiny…
- Have a family hard-boiled egg rolling contest
Talk about – how eggs remind us of new life.
5/ Sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed himself and went through pain and loneliness and sadness for the sake of the rest of us. We can make sacrifices for other people too. There are lots of examples at the moment of people being willing to make sacrifices to help out friends and neighbours, or to work for the NHS etc. People who are self-isolating are also making sacrifices so that the NHS doesn’t get too busy
- Make a ‘thank you’ gift or card or a poster saying ‘thank you’. Send it to someone among your friends or family who is a key worker or is making sacrifices for others. Either post it, or ‘send’ it digitally using your method of choice…
Talk about – being thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice and the sacrifice of other people… making sacrifices ourselves …
6/ The stone rolled away.
You can make a simple image from 2 paper plates and a split pin to join them together. The top plate is the stone rolled in front of the tomb, and then you roll it aside to reveal Jesus alive! Or the words ‘He is risen’ (see picture)
Talk about – how Jesus friends might have felt when he died, when they came to the tomb where his body was on Easter morning, and when they found that he was alive after all!
HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!! – WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO WELCOMING YOU BACK TO MESSY CHURCH VERY SOON.