Here are ideas for you to use in reflecting on the upcoming Sunday’s scriptures with your classes.
Readings for April 16, 2017, Easter Sunday:
- Acts 10:34a, 37-43
- Colossians 3:1-4
- John 20:1-9 or Matthew 28:1-10
“Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee.’” (Matthew 28:7)
All the springtime signs of new life can remind us that Jesus lived again after his death.
Teaching for Primary Grades:
Bring to class lots of pictures of new life in springtime. Tell the Easter story to the children. Compare the excitement of finding out Jesus was alive after his crucifixion to the excitement of seeing leaves burst out again on dead-looking trees or tulips pushing up from the earth where their bulbs were buried.
Talk about symbols of Easter, such as eggs cracking open to reveal baby chicks and butterflies coming out of cocoons. Bring hard-boiled eggs and dye so the children can enjoy the Easter custom of coloring eggs. Play Easter songs while children color pictures of flowers, birds, butterflies, blooming trees, the empty tomb, a risen Jesus, lilies on an empty cross, and so on.
Teaching for Intermediate Grades:
Describe the stages of growth and transformation in the life of a caterpillar as it moves toward becoming a butterfly. This is one of nature’s most striking examples of new life after apparent death and of the death-to-life cycle we call the “Paschal Mystery.” The butterfly is a beautiful symbol for the meaning of Easter because the transformed caterpillar is no longer recognizable, even though it continues to live … just like Jesus was not recognized by his disciples when he appeared to them after his death.
Make or obtain a butterfly pattern that children will be able to duplicate. Provide tracing material, colored paper or crayons, and markers, glue, and popsicle sticks. Let children create colorful butterflies and mount them on the sticks. Use an Easter hymn to close the class, with children holding their butterflies while they sing.
Teaching for Secondary Grades:
While only Christians celebrate Easter, many religions and cultures celebrate life cycles and the renewal of life that springtime signifies. Assign students to research springtime festivals in various parts of the world, particularly: Jewish Passover; Sikh Baisakhi (new year); Hindu Holi; Chinese Ching Ming, also called Chih Shu Chieh (tree planting festival); Bah’a’ Naw-Ruz. Use these questions to guide their research:
- In what part of the world is this festival celebrated? (sense of geography)
- How and when did this festival originate? (historical, cultural significance)
- Are there any religious beliefs connected with this celebration? Explain. (understanding religious customs)
- What are the main components of the celebration? (examining ritual)
Can you make any comparisons between what you have found and the Christian celebration of Easter? (common human yearnings and experiences; celebrating new life)
Have the students share their research and observations. Discuss the significance of symbols and rituals, learning about life from nature’s signs, and discovering that human hearts have a common yearning for new life. Close the discussion with comments about the central importance of Jesus’ resurrection for Christian faith in a life that doesn’t end at death.