Our pre-Easter event at Rosefield Uniting yesterday went great overall. We had 12 different activity areas, running 5-7pm. We probably had 60-70 people overall, enough for the place to feel full of activity, and hopefully more next time. In many ways the event was designed to show the congregation a different way for worship and learning to take place, and to pave the way for our monthly alternative family community gathering.
The idea was to provide a 'hands on' experience of the Easter story for families with primary and pre-school children. Given that Easter falls in the middle of our school holidays, we decided that we'd 'do' Easter early, in a different kind of setting from our normal church worship.
Quite a few of the ideas came from some "stations of hope" that cheryl had originally written some years ago, which we'd used in Mt Barker in 2002, so they've been adapted a couple of times. Cheryl gets all credit for her orginial stuff and no blame for my adaptation.
Here's what we did, followed by a link to download the materials if you wish. Stations had a symbol (also on the handout), Bible text, brief reflection and activity. (Symbol font was the excellent Speed Bump Pi by Brian wilson from Three Islands Press - it has dozens of neat little icons.)
1. Palm Sunday
- video loop of Palm Sunday from "Matthew" DVD, listening station with 5 sets of headphones so you could listen to audio as well
- clay - making symbols of palm sunday (including pressed palm leaves). This table was very popular
2. Music and Drama
- in the church we had musicians doing 15 min sets - the masterful Leigh Newton (pictured above), Emma H, Elena S and Jo P, and Kylie Brice (Goodluck)
- interspersed with a dramatic monologue of Mary at the Cross done superbly by Marige B
the only real problem is that most people didnt make it into the church, so in future I think we'd bring them in here first.
- at the side we also had a table of Easter symbols from around the world
3. Peace Candles
- the church foyer had an invitation to light a floating flower candle and pray for peace
- also an open page from the huge ARS SACRA book of Christian art through the ages (which thankfully just arrived in the mail).
- the dark room was an opportunity to experience Maundy Thursday and Good Friday without words
- 7 black shoeboxes with a pinhole at one end, a colour copy of a painting at the other end, and a cheap light taped inside (thanks megan for this idea!). images from Palm Sunday through to Jesus taken down from the Cross, taken from different cultures
- loop of Last Supper scene from "Matthew" DVD
- three paintings/scultpures by a member of the congregation
- room blacked out, candles, looped music from the Holy Week service that I did in 2008
(lots of positive comments about this room)
- people could make a pretzel from pre-made dough and come back 1/2 hours later to eat it. we had a handout about the origin and symbolism (see download).
- here was an invitation to reflect on Jesus being our friend, the kinds of people he made friends with
- my iPhone (in a black box) played a video loop of images of Jesus by various artists through the ages
- people were invited to paint their own picture of Jesus on a tile, to take home
again this activity was pretty popular.
- we had a circle of cushions and storytellers reading parts of the Holy Week narrative from decent childrens story Bibles.
- a reflection on Easter as a time of hope, and an opportunity to make a card with a message of hope to give/send to someone
- ' unless a seed falls'. planting a seed into a cup to take home
- making a poem or prayer in response to the Easter story using magnetic poetry
11. Cave /Tomb
- the remarkable Scott spent hours making the tomb in the youth room. Meredith burst out of it occasionally to announce that she had discovered that it was empty. (actually, Meredith sat in the dark for an hour listening to a song on loop waiting for her first audience...)
- people were given a torch and invited inside, where they could read the reflection
- then invited to take a piece of black cloth and write either a secret/regret in black of a hope in white, and pin the cloth to the side of the cave
- looped music from Bliss
- people were given a card with the text from John of the risen Jesus on the beach, and took that to the kitchen to receive a fish finger in bread (the blessing is from "A Book of Blessings" by Ruth Burgess, Wild Goose)
- Rachel painted signs of new life on faces (butterflies, etc) and gave out little butterflies on stick (not real ones...) and stickers
- each child received an Easter egg
- hot and cool drinks
There were lots of good interactions. Most people stayed for at least 1 1/4 to 1 1/2. I think next time I'd want to find a way for more of the parents to do thing with their kids, rather than watching their kids do things. Because of cool weather and moving stuff inside, the 'flow' didnt quite work as it should have. Also, the program had symbols but not a map (I figured kids would want to explore), but some kid of map would have helped. I wanted to keep to focus on the narrative, rather than just activities with an Easter theme, and we'd have to work harder on how to do that.
I'll admit that it was a bit weird celebrating Easter before Easter, but as people who are often away ourselves that weekend, it also made sense to me as a way to engage a whole lot of people who might not otherwise connect,
Anyway, overall I hope it helped take us into new territory. A big thank you to our minister Phil who was a great support and help, and to the myriad of people involved.
Download Interactive Easter Resources (545kb PDF)