by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore students’ understanding of the Easter story (SEAL theme: Managing feelings).
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and two readers.
- Have available the song ‘The only way is up’ by Yazz and the means to play it at the end of the assembly (check copyright).
Leader History is full of stories of corruption and injustice. Those who fight for freedom and peace, such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi and Oscar Romero, are persecuted, imprisoned, abused and killed. The powerful use every means, both within and outside the law, to silence the threat of change.
The Easter story is no different.
Reader 1 Jesus was ‘shopped’ to the authorities by a disillusioned supporter. The offer of 30 pieces of silver was enough to persuade Judas Iscariot to lead the chief priests, elders and temple guards to a quiet spot away from the crowds, where he identified Jesus by giving him a hypocritical kiss.
Reader 2 Even his right-hand man, Peter, deserted Jesus when the pressure was on. He didn’t have the guts to stand by him.
Reader 1 After his arrest, the guards beat him up, blindfolding him so he never knew where the next blow was coming from.
Reader 2 The prosecuting authorities at the lower court had already made up their minds. Even though there was no evidence against him, they pronounced him guilty of the charges they’d invented.
Reader 1 The higher court dodged the issue, passing him on to the Roman governor, Pilate, who could find no reason to give him the death penalty.
Reader 2 In the end, it was the mob that condemned him. Whipped into a frenzy by the church and the corrupt politicians, they howled for his death. Jesus never stood a chance. The authorities were never going to resist pressure like that. He was led out and executed in the most painful way possible, nailed to a wooden cross.
Time for reflection
It’s important that we remind ourselves of the reality behind the Easter story. It can so easily get lost, either in the familiar rituals of church services or, more likely, in the holiday atmosphere of Easter weekend. Yet, Christians believe this was the turning point for the world, the moment when God showed the depth of his relationship with humanity by tackling the issue of death, of evil and of darkness head on. He took on the corruption and injustice, apparently succumbing under the pressure, then emerging triumphant on the first Easter Sunday.
We meet injustice in our own lives, some of us more often than others. It may be about taking the blame for something we never did. It may be about an opportunity denied to us, bullying we don’t deserve or being let down by those we thought we could rely on. It may be made worse by the system letting us down, by those with influence being swayed by other agendas or not having the time to take our claims seriously.
How do we feel when this happens? It’s easy to get disheartened, to give up, to accept our place at the bottom of the heap. We may even become so resentful, so angry that we lash out, landing ourselves in even more trouble than before.
This is where the message of Easter is so important. Jesus accepted the injustice and corruption at the time. He didn’t retaliate because he knew it wouldn’t do any good right then. He bided his time, knowing that, in the end, life will triumph over death, good will triumph over evil, light will triumph over darkness. He was proved right as he rose to new life three days after his execution.
Easter is about hope, about holding on to the chance that there is a new start available, things really will get better. Easter is about never giving up.
Thank you for the Easter story, for the message of hope, whatever our circumstance may be.
Keep us from despair, from fear, from seeking revenge for the wrong done to us.
May we keep fighting towards the light, waiting and working for a new chance.
‘The only way is up’ by Yazz