Introduction: Because this sermon was designed with children as the focus, I primarily use questions to let them get a chance to be part of the sermon, as well as keep their attention. To make it flow better I have not written a full transcript but rather the outline of the questions I memorized so that I could move freely around the space and engage with them more naturally. Inevitably there are parts that were left out, but these notes form the general outline of the message I was attempting to convey.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.-John 20:1-18
- Who can tell me what day it is?
- What makes it special?
- Jesus resurrected
- Who is Jesus?
- Son of God
- What happened to him?
- He was crucified
- What Did Jesus do?
- He taught people how to Love God, how to love one another, and showed people the saving power of God.
What if I told you, we can see the whole story in one picture? (show the icon)
[Go through each part of the picture, naming who is who, and why it matters. I have a physical copy of this Icon that I used as a visual aide to tell the children the story of salvation (as well as to pass it around so they could see it, handle it, and engage with more than just my words).]
[short summary] Jesus is in the center, standing over a chasm representing death, the void, sin, and despair. He is using the cross as a bridge — a metaphor for his saving act of dying on the cross to rescue humanity. He is grabbing two people out of tombs, these are Adam and Eve, our first parents. They represent Jesus rescuing and redeeming all of humanity from Sin, even the original sin of Adam and Eve wanting to take God’s place. Surrounding Him are apostles and prophets of old (John the Baptist by his hair shirt, King David and Solomon by their crown, Peter, etc.) They represent the witness believers are called to give this saving act, as well as the witness of the saints and prophets had in ages past.
- Why do we have Easter Egg hunts?
- They represent new life coming from unexpected places.
[I am aware that Easter eggs, the Easter bunny, etc. most likely come from pre-christian spring renewal festivals. I have decided to take the long-standing tradition of christianizing earlier traditions so that the children— hopefully— will continue to reflect on God’s saving work from]
- What’s inside the Easter Eggs?
- Why are there gifts?
- They represent the gift of new life, of heaven to all of God’s people.
Why do we celebrate it?
Jesus’ resurrection transformed everything. Jesus proved that the worst thing imaginable that could happen to us; to die, for suffering to be meaningless, that evil rules the world. By dying and resurrecting Jesus shows that they are powerless compared to the love of God. That God takes suffering, death, and all terrible things and can transform them into new life. He gives us the power to hope in Good even when we see evil all around us in the world.
How are we transformed by God’s love? We can learn from a story about the dogwood tree.
Long ago, when Jesus and his friends were in Israel the dogwood tree grew straighter than any other tree. It was sturdier than the cedars of Lebanon, and was honored to be the foundation of temples, courthouses, roads, and revered for its beauty and usefulness. Then they came and took the dogwood tree, because it was so straight, made it into a cross and crucified Jesus on it. The dogwood trees were ashamed that Jesus had died upon their branches. In their sorrow they twisted themselves into knots, their guilt and shame eating them up inside. They vowed to never be straight again so that humans could not use them to hurt anyone else. They became twisted and broken in their sadness.
On the third day, when the Lord came out of his tomb in the garden he looked and saw a dogwood tree. He saw what had happened to the dogwood and he was grieved in his heart how its guilt had twisted it so. He walked to the tree, touched it, looked upon it with love and for the first time, flowers bloomed from its branch. So the dogwood is today. It has kept its vow to never be straight, and it is the first to bloom showing God’s love for it.