Love is Stronger than Death
by The Revd Guy Donegan-Cross
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To retell the story of Lazarus and to think about being strong and positive in difficult times.
Preparation and materials
You will need two toilet rolls.Note : If there is anyone who has recently been bereaved, it is wise to tell them beforehand about the subject matter and to consider whether it is appropriate for them to be present.
- Organize two teams of a few children and give them each a minute to cover a child in toilet paper as fast as they can. Play background music. Give them both prizes. You can turn this into a bit of game show if you like with you as cheesy compere!
- Ask the covered children to remain where they are. As you tell the following story, slowly unwrap them.
Say that the children wrapped in paper remind you of the story about one of Jesus' friends. Jesus had a special friend called Lazarus. He used to go and stay at his house. Retell the story of the raising of Lazarus (John 11.1–43) in your own words, emphasizing the following:
Jesus' friendship with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary.
Jesus' grief at Lazarus' death.
Everyone's surprise at Lazarus' appearance
- Say that Christians believe that Jesus has power over anything that frightens us, even death. Christians believe that because of him we live after death. There is nothing we need be afraid of.
- Optional : If you have time, and it is appropriate, you could include this story after the Lazarus story:
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things in order, she contacted her minister and asked him to come to her house to discuss her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the funeral service, what Bible verses she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. She also requested to be buried with her favourite Bible.
Everything was in order and the minister was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. ‘There's one more thing,' she said excitedly.
‘What's that?' came the minister's reply.
‘This is very important,' the woman continued. ‘I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.' The minister stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say. ‘That surprises you, doesn't it?' she said.
‘Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request,' said the minister.
The woman explained. ‘In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared away, someone would inevitably lean over and say, “Keep your fork”. It was my favourite part, because I knew that something better was coming - like velvety chocolate cake or apple pie. Something wonderful to look forward to! So, when people come to see me there in that box with a fork in my hand I want them to wonder, “What's the fork for?” Then I want you to tell them: Keep your fork – because the best is yet to come.'
The minister's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman before he left. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her. But he also knew that she had a better grasp of the future than he did. She knew that something better was coming.
- Ask the children to close their eyes and think of anyone they know who is sad at the moment, either because they are grieving or for some other reason. Ask them, if they want, to pray for that person in their own words, remembering that Jesus is stronger than death.
Time for reflection
Whatever I'm facing,
However bad it is,
However frightened I am,
I can get through it,
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank you that you are stronger than anything we have to face.
Help us to trust you.
‘Lord of the dance' ( Come and Praise , 22)