The following article, explaining 'Experience Easter' was published in Well News, Summer 2014.
To download Experience Easter Scripts, click here.
For more information about Trinity Learning, who generously shared this resource, click here.
One Programme Participant, Miriam Garnett, is based with Trinity Learning, a project of Trinity Church in Abingdon. Here she tells us about the Experience Easter initiative:
"In March we had over 400 children and their teachers come through our doors in the space of two days. Not the sort of thing that you hear from a Methodist Church very often nowadays is it?
"For three days Trinity Church, Abingdon, was transformed into a new Jerusalem. The church was divided up into six tableaux scenes. Here, storytellers from around many Abingdon churches recounted excerpts of the Easter story to small groups of primary-school children and their staff, before exploring together some of the links between Jesus' experiences and their own lives. As well as listening, the children took an active part in the story. They washed and dried each other's hands and shared bread. They threaded beads on a cord to remind them of people who are suffering - family, friends and strangers - and wrote their hopes and dreams on palm crosses as they learnt how the hopes and dreams of Palm Sunday were realised in such an unexpected way.
"During the two days, the tableaux settings themselves became metaphors of the Easter message. Gethsemane started out as a dark, bare corner, but slowly beautiful little creatures and plants crept into the garden. The children had been asked to put all their bad feelings - anger, frustration, annoyance - into their ball of dough, and then work them into something better. The bare wall by the tomb became alive with post it notes describing the possible feelings of the women who found it empty - 'amazed', 'filled with wonder' and, my personal favourite, 'wibberly'!
"Noticeable amongst the children was a real atmosphere of stillness and concentration, even among the ordinarily noisiest members of the groups. It was, as one teacher put it, 'a time for reflection in a busy world'. Indeed, it is clear that Experience Easter is not just for the children, but for any one of us living in this busy world. To sit, reflect and be calm is a rare luxury. Doing so frees our minds to think beyond our own lives and concerns and enables us to rediscover a sense of quietude.
"The Easter story is one that many shrink away from when working with children - unwilling to mention the 'gory' bits for fear of upsetting them. But take a look at any children's cartoon - the characters get squidged, mutilated and zapped, and children don't seem that bothered. Maybe it's not them that we're protecting when we don't mention Easter - maybe we're afraid of the awkward questions we'll have to answer. Experience Easter doesn't try and explain the mysteries of the Easter story - it takes the children on a journey, a journey that enables them to explore and discover the story in a way that relates to them. They experience the sorrow, mystery and joy of Easter and they make of it what they will.
"Don't be afraid of the Easter story. Don't be put off by the gore and the difficult theology. At the heart of it is the story of a man full of love, who shared our hopes and dreams, our friendship, betrayal and suffering. That's worth thinking about, surely?"