The Chicken or the Egg?
The meaning of Easter
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to consider the personal implications of the resurrection.
Preparation and materials
- None required.
Leader: I think spring is my favourite time of year. To me, it’s the most positive element of the cycle of the seasons. Spring is about a new start, life beginning again out of the darkness of winter. Summer is also very enjoyable, of course, but there’s always the anticipation - especially at the start of the school holidays - that it will soon begin to deteriorate, especially because the longest hours of daylight occur towards the end of June, when it hardly seems like summer has begun! Autumn can be pleasant too, and brings with it the enjoyment of harvest, with loads of fruit and nuts. However, it feels like it’s on a steady downhill slide towards winter, which often feels like the most depressing part of the year. Indeed, some people would consider it unbearable if it wasn’t for Christmas! You may disagree with me. All the seasons have their supporters, but I think I prefer spring.
You may wish to initiate a short discussion about favourite seasons.
Leader: The Easter story mirrors the seasons in the northern hemisphere. There’s autumn, as Jesus approaches his inevitable crisis in the city of Jerusalem. Next comes winter, represented by Jesus’ death by crucifixion and burial in a tomb. Then, there’s spring - Jesus’ rebirth and resurrection - leading into the summer of Jesus’ new life and the giving of his Spirit to his followers. But which came first? Is the cycle of the seasons a symbol of God’s plan to rescue his world from evil by the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus? Or, is the Jesus story attached to the cycle of the seasons that evidently already existed? It’s a tantalizing question, just like the old conundrum: which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Time for reflection
Leader: It’s possible to play about with ideas like this forever; there is, of course, no definitive answer. What does shine through, though, is the message that death may not be the end; there is the possibility of new life. Whether the message comes from the Christian Easter story or the symbolism of the cycle of the seasons, it’s clear that much of humanity desperately wants to know that there might be something more than this life. It’s a hope that’s shared with many other religious traditions too. So, let’s explore it for a while.
Just imagine: if you knew that there was another life after this one, how might that affect the way in which you live this life?
Take a minute’s silent consideration of this question. You may wish to initiate a period of discussion afterwards.
You may wish to use comments from the discussion to illustrate the following paragraph.
Leader: Some of us may feel apprehensive about the concept of a new life. What if it merely continued the disappointments, pain, frustrations, fears and loss that have been our experience in this life so far? Not an attractive prospect. However, it would also mean that we were given the opportunity to avoid the mistakes that we’ve made today, to take the opportunities that we’ve missed this time round, to rectify the wrong decisions that we’ve made. Now that is an attractive prospect!
Easter is the most important festival for Christians. Easter is the time when Christians celebrate their belief that there is the promise of a new life when we die. What’s more, that new life will be good because it’s under the control of a loving, just, creative and perfect God. There will be nothing to fear. Christians also celebrate the belief that aspects of this new life can be integrated into life today. They believe that God wants to give us a taste of that new life each day.
Just imagine: if we knew that there was another life after this one, how might that affect the way in which we live this life?
‘Easter song’ by The 2nd Second of Acts, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-hLSR5F4Y0 (2.27 minutes long)
- To reflect further on the question in the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly (‘If you knew that there was another life after this one, how might that affect the way in which you live this life?), set the students a one-minute silence to reflect on each of the following elements.
- What challenge would they face?
- Which single opportunity would they take?
- Which single temptation would they avoid?