Yesterday I did an Easter assembly at our local Infant school focussed on different foods:
To explain the ‘surprise’ of the Easter story and encourage openness to being surprised.
Preparation and Materials
- You will need some hot cross buns, a large Easter egg, an empty packet of fish fingers and four eggs – two fresh and two hard-boiled (don’t forget to mark them so you can tell which is which!).
- Bible reading: John 21:1–14 – I used a Bob Hartman story version. You could ask a child to read this.
- A large bowl to break the fresh eggs into.
- A damp cloth to clean up any mess!
- Apron (optional depending on how messy you’re prepared to get – don’t wear your best clothes!).
Explain that this morning you have with you some different types of Easter food. Get the children to consider quietly what food they think you have brought.
Bring out the hot cross buns. Explain that buns like these have been eaten for hundreds of years, and were particularly popular during holidays like Christmas and Easter. The cross marked on them is a reminder of Jesus’ death on a cross, so eventually they became associated with Good Friday.
Bring out the big Easter egg. Talk about how much we all enjoy eating chocolate at Easter. Explain that in the past, eggs were considered a luxury food, so during Lent people used to give up eating them. (Remind the children, particularly if you have spoken to them about this during Lent, that on Shrove Tuesday eggs would have been used up in the pancakes.) Eggs also remind us of new life, and spring. Some people also say that the inside of a chocolate egg reminds us of Jesus’ empty tomb.
Ask if anyone expects to receive (or has already received) any eggs this Easter? Ask if anyone knows why eggs have come to be associated with Easter? Then say you want to use some eggs to demonstrate something about the story of Easter. Put on your apron if you have one.
Pick up the fresh eggs and make a show of ‘accidentally’ breaking them in your hand (be prepared for the egg to go everywhere, which will add to the effect). Hopefully the children will laugh, at which point say, ‘If you think that’s funny, you do better – catch!’ and throw one of the hard-boiled eggs to one of the older children. For added fun you can throw another before the children have time to register that they are hard-boiled. (The usual health and safety warnings apply here: throw low and gently and preferably to a good catcher if you know one.)
Explain that you threw the eggs to demonstrate something about the Easter story. The Easter story is all about the unexpected, about a surprise.
Read or tell the story of how the women, Jesus’ friends, went to the tomb and found it open and empty. They were shocked and surprised to find the body not there.
Say that we have all been expecting Easter (we may have been looking at eggs in the shops). But the first Christians were not expecting Easter at all. They didn’t expect to see Jesus again. Ask the children to imagine that they were friends of Jesus.
Jesus was their friend, they loved him. Then they saw him get into trouble with the Roman authorities, and they saw him die. They were so sad that they cried and cried. They thought he had left them for ever. After a couple of days they decided to go to visit his grave. But the tomb was empty! What a huge, amazing, exciting surprise! More surprising and exciting than 100 Easter eggs, or 100 eggs thrown about in an assembly!
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.
Explain that the Easter story shows us how when things seem at their worst, when everything has gone wrong, we can often find signs of new life and new hope – if we are open to being surprised.
Time for reflection
Close your eyes and think of a time when you were unhappy…
Remember what got you through that time…
If there is anything troubling you at the moment try to think of a way forward…
Think of a place where you may find new life and hope…
And think how you could bring new life and hope to someone else who is in need…
Loving God, give us open hearts and minds to be surprised by new life and new hope. Help us to bring Easter joy to others, especially to those who are sad or in need. Amen.