Wake Up, It’s a Beautiful Morning!
The feel of Easter Sunday
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to be optimists rather than pessimists (SEAL theme: Managing Feelings).
Preparation and materials
You will need a leader and two readers.
Leader: Do you sometimes wake up and not want to get out of bed?
Reader 1: It might be because you didn’t sleep well.
Reader 2: It might be because you don’t feel well.
Reader 1: It might be because it’s cold.
Reader 2: It might be because you don’t want to face what the day holds for you.
Leader: On the Saturday of the first Easter, that’s what Jesus’ followers would have felt. Their leader, Jesus, the one in whom they’d placed their hope, for whom they’d left their jobs and families, had just been crucified in a horrific, unjust action by the Roman and religious powers. Many of Jesus’ followers feared for their own lives. All of them were in shock. The future looked bleak. Their thoughts were probably entirely pessimistic.
It’s not uncommon to feel pessimistic. We may be trying to cope with a series of events that might be termed ‘bad luck’. We may have suffered the loss of someone who meant a lot to us. We may be nervous, even frightened about something we have to cope with. There may be a decision that we don’t want to make. It may be that we’re simply the kind of people who always look on the dark side of life.
But . . . let’s fast forward a couple of days on that first Easter. The news begins to trickle through to Jesus’ followers that, contrary to expectation, even contrary to rational understanding, Jesus is in fact alive. Gradually, he appears to them, individually and in groups, and his appearance has a transformative effect on everyone. Suddenly, the world looks like a different place. Fear is taken away and replaced by a desire to shout out that Jesus is alive again. The future is full of hope, anything is possible and each day is an opportunity for wonderful things to happen. Pessimistic thoughts are transformed into optimistic thoughts.
Time for reflection
Leader: It’s not uncommon for people to say they’re pessimists. They claim that it’s just the way they are made, it’s to do with the chemistry of their body. For them, it seems like they naturally only see the negative side of life.
Christians believe that nobody had more reason to be pessimistic than Jesus’ followers in the days after his death. For them, their lives had lost their meaning, whether in their personal lives, their relationships, the community to which they belonged or the political state of their occupied nation. Everything had been destroyed. They had nothing left to live for. But that’s why Christians believe that knowing the whole Easter story is so important. Good Friday, the day on which Jesus was killed, the day when the world collapsed for his followers, must always move on to Easter Sunday, the day when he was raised back to life.
In the days, weeks, months and years following the resurrection of Jesus, his followers lived their lives with the belief that, whatever the world threw at them, Jesus was alive and nothing could dampen that truth. It’s the same belief that Christians hold today, that the Easter Sunday resurrection transforms each new day. Easter Sunday means that it’s possible to live as optimists rather than pessimists.
You may share that Christian belief. You may have a different belief, or maybe none at all. But for all of us, there is a basic principle that we can adopt: we can choose to live our lives in the light of the good things that have happened to us rather than in the darkness of our mistakes and unfortunate experiences. We can choose to be optimists rather than pessimists.
How do we do this? Maybe the key time is the moment when we wake up. As we become aware of our circumstances, of the dreams we’ve dreamed, of the day ahead, we have a choice: do we focus on the things we dread or on the things we enjoy and are grateful for? Maybe it would be useful to spend a moment reminding ourselves of all we enjoyed the previous day, of successes, good experiences and good times with other people. On a bad morning, it may be difficult to push aside the negative memories that intrude. Maybe we could also list the things we are looking forward to that day. Maybe it’s simple things like going to a place where we feel secure or having a meal we know we will enjoy. Finally, we can tackle what we are worried or apprehensive about.
For Christians, the Easter Sunday resurrection is like a light in a dark room, like springtime after a damp and dismal winter, like a brand-new opportunity. It is the reminder that there is always hope and always a way forward.
Thank you for the enjoyable, successful, loving and positive experiences we have.
Remind us of them each time we feel pessimistic.
May we be transformed ourselves, and so transform those around us.
‘Beautiful day’ by U2