This morning I started a series of five schools that I will be doing Easter assemblies for in the next week:
Show the children the food or images of food and ask them to name them. Explain that these four types of foods are traditionally eaten at Easter time and in some way relate to the Easter story.
Show the children the simnel cake and ask if they have any idea how this relates to the Easter story in the Bible.
Ask them to count the number of marzipan balls on the top of the cake. Can they think why there would be 11? If they don’t know, explain that, traditionally, the balls represent Jesus’ disciples. The Bible talks about Jesus having 12 disciples, but one of them– Judas Iscariot – betrayed Jesus and handed him over to the soldiers, so the cake shows that he was no longer one of the disciples.
Show the children the hot cross buns and ask them what these could represent.
There are various traditions regarding what the buns represent, but the main one is simply that the cross reminds us of Jesus dying on the cross. In the twelfth century, a monk called Father Rocliffe began to make small, spiced cakes, on to which he stamped the shape of a cross. He gave the buns out on Good Friday as Easter presents to the poor people who lived nearby. The idea was so popular that he repeated this each year and gradually other monasteries began to do the same. Over the years, this tradition became more and more popular.
Show the children the Easter eggs and ask them what they represent.
One traditional story explaining the meaning of Easter eggs is that they represent the stone that was put across the doorway to Jesus’ tomb and found to have been rolled away on Easter morning because Jesus had risen from the dead. The idea is that breaking the egg symbolizes the tomb being ‘cracked’ open and Jesus coming back to life.
Eggs are also a symbol of hope and new life. That is because chicks hatch from eggs and, at Easter, this reminds us that Jesus rose from the dead.
Over the years, ‘Easter food’ has become more and more commercialized, with many people simply buying them because it is traditional to do so rather than thinking about or even knowing their significance. In 2013, 90 million Easter eggs were sold in the UK! Christians believe that it is important for people to be reminded of the true meaning of Easter and talking about these foods is a good way to do this.
The last Easter food you have brought is … fish fingers! Bring out the empty fish finger packet. A strange choice – do we normally eat fish fingers on Easter Day? No, but we do hear a lot about fish in the stories about Jesus, and one famous story about fish tells of something that happened after Jesus came back to life.
Read, or paraphrase, John 21.1–14. Jesus appeared to his disciples and cooked them a breakfast of fish on a barbecue. This was the third time he appeared to his friends after he had died. They were so excited that he was alive again.
End by talking about how at Easter, Jesus died and came back to life. Christians believe that Jesus is with us now as our friend, even though we can’t see him.
Have you ever heard someone say, ‘That’s a job for the plumber’, or ‘the AA’, or even ‘the dentist’! Some jobs need experts.
Has anyone heard of Captain Chelsey B. Sullenberger? His expertise hit the world news in 2009. (Show image.)
On 15 January 2009 Captain Chelsey B. Sullenberger III, or ‘Sully’ as he is known to his friends, took his seat in the cockpit of the US Airways Flight 1549. This routine flight was travelling from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina. There were 155 passengers on board as well as a full crew.
Six minutes after take-off the plane flew into a flock of Canada geese and was disabled by a complete loss of thrust from both engines.
As Air Traffic Control raced to find a nearby airport and runway, Sully glided the plane on to the Hudson River adjacent to mid-town Manhattan. As boats and fire services raced to the rescue all the passengers and crew climbed on to the wings of the slowly sinking plane.
All escaped without loss of life. It was the first time in 45 years that a major aircraft had crash-landed on water with no loss of life. (Show web image of ditched plane on the Hudson River.) It turned out that this plane was equipped with state of the art technology, which assisted the pilot in the very difficult art of crash-landing safely on moving water.
When this event was reported, the media of course focused in on the hero of the day, Captain B. Sullenberger. It was reported that Sully had over 40 years of flying experience. He had trained as a US Air Force fighter pilot and had served as an instructor, safety chairman and accident investigator. In other words, he was extremely experienced!
Captain B. Sullenberger also co-directs the University of California’s centre for Catastrophic Risk Management. This centre researches ways to avoid airline tragedies. And he lectures on emergency landings! One of his colleagues said that there was no one more qualified to land that plane and to help the passengers survive a crisis.
Captain Sully was the right person, in the right place, at the right time.
As we approach the Christian festival of Easter, we learn that Jesus was also the right person in the right place at the right time for the job allotted to him.
Ever since history began, the world has known selfishness, greed, corruption and wars. People of faith believe that this is because people have the potential to do both good and bad things.
Christians believe that Jesus was sent by God over 2,000 years ago to live in the land of Palestine (or Israel, as it is called today). He lived a good life and showed us what God is really like.
Christians also believe that only God’s Son could do that. Jesus was the right person for the job of showing us God.
Time for reflection
Imagine what it must have been like for the passengers on board the plane that day. Would it have helped the passengers to know the credentials of their pilot? How does it help us to know the credentials of Jesus?
Dear God, thank you for the skill of Captain Sullenberger. Thank you that he was able to land that aeroplane miraculously with no deaths. Thank you for Jesus, that he did everything necessary to bring us to you and your love. Amen.