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Easter where you live

To explore the immediacy and universality of the Easter story (SEAL theme: Empathy).

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To explore the immediacy and universality of the Easter story by encouraging students to imagine the events of Easter taking place in the community where they live (SEAL theme: Empathy).

Preparation and materials

  • Choose three readers.
  • For students who follow up on this assembly, print off copies of the account of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection from Mark 14.32—16.7 or Luke 22.47—24.12.

Assembly

  1. Leader Jerusalem is a city like no other. Originally a small Canaanite hill fort, it has become the holy city for three of the world’s major religions.

    Reader 1  Jewish believers see Jerusalem as the site where their founding father Abraham was tested by God, who told him to sacrifice his son (thankfully, God stopped Abraham just before the fatal blow was struck!). Jerusalem is also the city fortified by the Jewish hero King David and where David’s son, Solomon, built the Temple, following God’s instructions. To all Jews, Jerusalem is their home city.

    Reader 2  To Muslims, Jerusalem is the location visited by the Prophet on his famous Night Journey, one of the key events in the establishment of Islam. The Dome of the Rock, the magnificent centrepiece of the city, is one of their most holy sites.

    Reader 3  To Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus visited and acted out much of his ministry. Christians believe that when Jesus was tried, condemned, crucified, buried but then rose again, the power of death was broken and humanity became free from the power of evil.

  2. Leader  Yet Jerusalem was and is a normal city, a community just like many, many others throughout the world where people go about their daily business just like you and me. Yet it’s possible to walk through its streets, listen to its people and imagine the events from many centuries ago.

    We are approaching the Christian festival of Easter. The Easter story took place in the streets of Jerusalem. Even if we can’t always be certain that the locations claimed in the tourist literature today are the exact spots where the events described in the Gospels took place, we do know that:

    –  there would have been a small olive grove on the outskirts of the city where Jesus was betrayed and arrested;

    –  there would have been a police station and local government offices where he was interrogated (except they didn’t have those contemporary titles);

    –  Jesus would have dragged his cross through the busy shopping streets towards a patch of high ground overlooking the city;

    –  once he was dead, his body would have been buried in the local cemetery. Three days later that same cemetery would have been the location for the miracle of his resurrection.
  3. The Easter story happened in a real place, not very different from (name your nearest town or city). I want to suggest a way that, this Easter, you can make the story come alive.

    Begin by taking a modern version of the Bible and reading through the Easter story. It’s a good read: a mixture of crime fiction, courtroom drama and supernatural epic. Each time an event takes place, imagine your local equivalent for the location of the event.

    Then take a walk through the locations you come up with and, while walking, visualize the Easter story happening in (name your nearest town or city). Just an ordinary place, like Jerusalem.

Time for reflection

The events of that first Easter took place in reality thousands of miles away from here but Christians believe they have a universal significance. They believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus brought the possibility of change to all people everywhere. That includes you and it includes me. It’s not remote or irrelevant. It’s not out of date or merely a legend. Christians believe it’s just as much about here and now as it was there and then.

It might be worth looking at some of the things Jesus said and seeing how they fit with today’s society.

Prayer
Dear Lord,
thank you that you are involved in the real world.
Thank you for entering that world through your Son, Jesus.
May I connect his story with the stories taking place in (name your nearest town or city).
Amen.

Music

‘What if God was one of us’ by Joan Osborne (available to download) Or sing one of your favourite Easter songs

Publication date: April 2012   (Vol.14 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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