Interactive Easter was held again on Palm Sunday in March. Since many families go away over Easter, we 'rehearse' the whole of the Easter story at the start of Holy Week - from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. The program was similar to what we have done previously. We open from 5-7pm. People come when they choose. We channel them through the first two activities and then they can do activities in any order, however we try to get them to leave through a final room experience.
1. Arrival Activity
Craft activity making a donkey (but without the palm leaf with the tacky verse). People also received a guide/map of the activities and a bag in which to collect and take stuff home.
2. Plenary Session
We run this about every 15 minutes. The aim is to start the story that they are about to experience, in this case starting Holy Week with Palm Sunday. The segment usually has music, drama, visuals. On this occasion it was
- Music (Intro to "Long Live The King" from "The Passion" by Adrian Snell) plus a Palm branch movie as people came in.
- Welcome and introduction to the story by the MC, our minister Jock.
- Drama - A Donkey's Tale (I adapted this from a script that I found online here)
- Explanation of activities and sending out
Download Plenary Gathering – Interactive Easter 2015 (PDF of Script)
Here is the list of activities. They are laid out partly in the sequence of Holy Week. i.e. Last Supper before Crucifixion before Resurrection.
3. Easter Crafts
We had a table with a bunch of craft things. Someone else organised this and to be honest I can't remember what was on it!
4. Paschal Candle
Make a symbol of the Easter story
8. Last Supper Room
We've done this once before and it is such a highlight that we will do it every Easter. We black out our creche which is a long narrow room. We put a projection screen in the middle of the room. Behind it is a small kitchen area with sink. In from of the screen is a candle-lit table set for 12 people with plates, cups, pita bread, dips, died fruits, nuts, grapes (we had dukkah last time), grade juice and red wine.
On the screen we played a loop of the Last Supper scene from the Gospel of Matthew DVD without the audio. Instead of the audio we played a loop of some ambient music (tracks from "Les Choristes" soundtrack, Ludovico Einaudi, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis soundtrack stuff, Burial, Nine Inch Nails, Colleen - I have a page of ambient music links here.).
On each plate was a piece of paper with the following words:
Welcome to this table
Say ‘welcome’ to someone else!
Help them feel welcome too
Go on, do it…
Jesus’ last meal with his friends
was at Passover
when the Jewish people
celebrated their freedom
from being slaves in Egypt.
They shared bread and wine
stories and laughs
memories and hopes
doubts and faith
Imagine being at dinner with Jesus
he welcomes you
like a brother or sister
like an aunt or uncle
he is your truest friend
How would you feel?
What might you talk about?
What might he say to you?
You are welcome at this table
Eat some food
Drink some juice or wine
The music, words and images
remind us that this meal took place
just before Jesus’ arrest and death
Imagine what it might have been like
Tell one another the story of this night
Know that you are always welcome
at his table
Children can only enter the room accompanied by an adult (ie. pairs - one adult and one child). We fill the table about every 15 minutes and simply leave people to talk, watch and listen as they wish. Every time we have to ask them to leave - they just want to stay in the room. We then take 5 minutes to reset the table for the next group. For many this is the most significant part of the whole experience.
9. Easter Sights, Sounds and Symbols
We had a darkened room containing the following:
Easter symbols with candle-lighting - crosses from around the world, a last supper wood carving, an icon, etc.
Isaiah 53 - An iPhone movie box (black box with a whole cut in the side, iPhone taped inside playing a movie loop + a Belkin Rockstar Multi=headphone Splitter and 2 headphones). The movie loop was a slideshow of x-ray images of the human body, music was "Prayer" from "Songs for Cello" by Rufus Cappadocia. Alongside was printed selected verses from Isaiah 53.
Images of Holy Week - several art books portraying paintings both old and new based on the events of Holy Week - Ars Sacra, The Bible Through Asian Eyes, On a Friday Noon, Imaging the Word. These were surrounded by candles but we also gave people mini-torches to view them.
Stations of the Cross - a slideshow of images by Michael D O'Brien from the book Biblical Way of the Cross. I was given the image resource by a friend and didn't realise until after the event that there were probably copyright issues involves. I've just ordered a copy of the book as I think it has actual posters (and its only $6 from Bookdepository.com!). It was playing with Gorecki's Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 (this was playing through speakers so it could be heard throughout the room.)
11. Story Tent
We put up a mini-gazebo style tent with coloured cloth as the walls, fairy lights and cushions inside. There were a range of children story Bibles and stories about Easter for people to read for themselves or to children.
12. Easter Garden
Sand trays with a whole bunch of materials for people to use to make a garden with the empty tomb.
14. New Life
Make a butterfly. Plus a take-home message about new life. The butterfly was based on this idea but with some embellishment.
15. Empty Tomb
Our empty tomb is a metal frame covered with black cloth in our youth room. In the centre was a 'grave cloth. A host/narrator read "The Three Women" from Iona's "Stages on the Way" (p192-194) and the wonderful Leigh Newton played guitar and sang a couple of songs. We repeated this a number of times for small groups.
As people left they received a laminated card with a Bible passage about the resurrection and a blessing.
We served bread and fish fingers outside.
Once again we had a good vibe and saw a bunch of people who we don't see at Sunday worship. Great support from the church folk. We pretty much have a regular team who turn up and help out. After four years of these events we have something of a rhythm and pattern for it all.
If you want to see what we've done in other years, check out the Worship Resources links on the right hand side of this page.