Easter Session | 0.01
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This page offers all the options for today’s session, grouped by the major movements of the session: Context, Content and Closure. Use the toggles to open or close each option until you have the session plan you prefer.
Invite someone to read Mark 16:1-8, then show the Bible Background Video and ask questions like:
- What does this passage mean to you?
- How do you think that you would respond if you found yourself in the situation faced by the women? How do you feel about the way others reacted to their story?
- This account of the Resurrection also includes a character (Salome) about whom little is known. What do you think is the significance of naming her here?
- In what ways do you think this passage is similar to or different from the Resurrection story as you remember it?
Ask some questions like:
- What do you believe are the five most important stories in the news heading right now and why are they so important?
- At what points do you agree or disagree with what you think the national press sees as the five most important stories and why?
Review together the listing of the top stories on GoogleNews for the day and and continue by asking:
- When you think about news stories that end to get your attention, what is more significant to you and why: world, national, local, or some other kind of news?
- What was most/least surprising about the stories listed here and why?
- Which story evokes the strongest response from you and why?
- What story did you think was most conspicuous for its absence from this page and why?
Play the “Easter Songs”
and “Easter is Coming”
clips, pausing between each for comments, then ask questions like:
- What is your initial reaction to seeing Easter celebrated in this manner and why?
- What are some other ways by which a more secular approach to Easter might be a challenge or an aspect of your personal approach to it?
- If you had to tell the Easter story to a group of children, how would you do it?
- There are those who say that faith in Christ ultimately absolutely depends on the Resurrection. How do you feel about this?
- How do you feel about the competing view that Christians sometimes let the person and story of Jesus Christ overshadow his message?
- In what ways does the Resurrection narrative provide you with hope, joy, or more questions?
- Before we dig into the scriptures, let’s consider what we already know. What is your best recollection of the narrative of events from that first Easter morning?
- What kinds of thoughts and emotions do you think Jesus’ friends and followers experienced when they first heard he had risen from the dead?
Select a volunteer, then invite people to participate in the story game “Fortunately/Unfortunately” as follows:
- The volunteer begins with a sentence (e.g., One day Little Johnny walked to the local shoe shop).
- The next person tells of something unfortunate that happens (e.g., Unfortunately, Little Johnny was hit by a refrigerator.).
- The following person contributes a fortunate event (e.g., Fortunately, the refrigerator was made entirely of marshmallows).
- The fourth person contributes an unfortunate event (e.g., Unfortunately, he died.)
- The fifth person contributes a fortunate event (e.g., Fortunately, he came back to life.), and the process is repeated
Continue playing until everyone has had the chance to contribute twice or you have at least twelve sentences of the story, then say something like: There are times in our lives when we think we know the end of a story. As we read the text, try to hear the story as if you had never heard it. Imagine what the women might have been thinking and feeling . . . never knowing that they were in the middle of a story, not the end of it.
Play the clip from the movie “Tommy Boy” and ask questions like:
- How would you have reacted in this situation?
- What kinds of things intimidate you or just make you afraid?
- What is the scariest situation you have ever been in? Why do you think people respond as they do when put into a scary situation?
- How do you normally respond when faced with fear?
- If someone was to ask you which Bible story would be the scariest to you if you were part of it, what would your top of the head answer be and why?
Invite participants to rewrite together Mark 16:1-8 from the point of view of one of the women in the story, adding those details and emotions for each part of the story – walking to the tomb, seeing the stone rolled away, encountering the angel, hearing that Jesus is alive, running away, etc – that may better emphasize what their own experiences might have been, were they present.
Invite participants to create a visual representation of the events in Mark 16:1-8. Encourage them to be creative in their use of colors, shapes, and art supplies as they illustrate the narrative; the feelings that arise from it, or other aspects of the event that create strong feelings for them.
Invite volunteers to share and discuss their work, then ask questions like:
- In what ways can you best describe the emotion that the Resurrection story creates in you?
- What may allow you to must fully experience the power of the Resurrection?
- If you tried to convey that feeling or power to the world at large, how would you do it?
- How might someone go from Easter celebration to “Easter living,” that changes everyday life?
Invite someone to read Mark 16:1-8 then show the Bible Background and ask questions like:
- What is, to you, the most significant aspect of this particular story, and why?
- If this story was covered by the press, how do you think they’d cover it and why?
- Under what category would they file it?
- What factors might determine whether this story ever made the daily top news or got buried so that it largely passed unnoticed?
- What do you think that those things say about us and the way we process important events?
- In what ways does the story of Jesus’ resurrection affect your faith? Your everyday life?
- If you were approached by a reporter who was trying to get a personal angle on the Resurrection story, what would you say and why?
Show the Bible background video followed by the “Easter Song”
and “Christ is Risen”
songs, pausing between each for comment, then ask questions like:
- In what ways might these songs illuminate this scripture for you?
- How would you describe your congregation’s approach to the entire season of Lent and Easter?
- What about it most/least appeals to you and why?
- Just as there are a number of Resurrection narratives, so too are there a number of ways for congregations to recognize and respond to this narrative. What is special about the way your congregation does this, as opposed to other congregations?
- What do you think your congregation’s approach to Easter says about itself?
- In what ways does a congregational approach to Easter affect the way it may be viewed by the rest of the community?
- How can the Easter story provide a group of believers with a chance to offer hope and joy to the rest of the world?
Have a volunteer read aloud Mark 16:1-8, then show the Bible Background Video and continue by asking questions like:
- Why do you think that God did not raise Jesus from the dead on Saturday morning? Why wait two days to do something so important?
- Why did the women have to wait so long to anoint Jesus’ body? What do you imagine was their emotional state as they made their way to the tomb?
- What possibilities might they have imagined when they saw that the stone was rolled away from the door and that Jesus’ body was gone?
- Why would Jesus have allowed someone else (a young man in a white robe) to share the exciting news with the women? Why not appear directly to them?
- Why do you think the women were so afraid that they would not tell such wonderful news?
- Do you think Mark ended the story in this way to imply that the story is ongoing? In what ways does Mark leave the story unresolved?
- What other reasons might Mark have had for leaving the story so open-ended?
Either distribute writing materials to the group or encourage individuals to use their personal journals and read together Mark 16:1-8 and discuss the group’s thoughts and discoveries as they heard the text read, then show the Bible Background Video and invite the participants to do the following:
- List all the “stories” you are involved in or know of in your life. (e.g. “I am involved in the story of who my children are becoming.” “I am in the middle of a story of crisis at work.” “I am aware of the story of what is happening in Syria.” “I am in the personal story of dealing with mistakes from the past.” Etc.)
- For each story listed, jot down what you think the possible outcomes are. Are there any stories for which you feel you know what the ending will be? (And even if you know that the future cannot be predicted, what do your fears/hopes tell you about the outcomes you expect?)
- Spend some time reflection on Romans 8:28 and consider that while all things are NOT good in life, God CAN work good in all things. What thoughts/feelings come to mind as you think about this verse and your life?
- Consider this question: What if what you think you know about the end of your stories, is not what happens? Would your living or outlook be affected in any way? How?
- Share the content of your journaling with God. As you pray, ask for the grace to let go of what you think you know about your stories’ outcomes, and leave space for God to work God’s good in these stories.
- What, if anything, do you want to say to God?
- What, if anything, does God seem to say to you?
Read together Mark 16:1-8 and ask questions like:
- Why do you think the three women were expecting as they headed toward the tomb?
- How would might you have responded to this situation if you were in their place and why?
Watch the Bible Background Video for this session and continue by asking:
- What message would you take from this story if it ended with verse 8?
- What do you think Mark was trying to express with the story’s ending here?
- If you had been on the scene when this happened and wrote about it later, what might you change about this story as written?
Say something like: “Jesus’ resurrection was a major story, if not THE major story of all time, and it marked a major change in the relationship that we have with God. Our faith is bound up in the events of the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and the joy and hope of his resurrection. While we celebrate this wonderful event today, let’s not forget that it was an act of redemption that should also shape the way we encounter the rest of the world.
Bring up the GoogleNews page and ask for volunteers to each choose a different story among the headlines for which to pray. Feel free to review the stories with the group if there are any questions about them. For each story, invite any volunteer to briefly share how the knowledge of Jesus’ Resurrection might affect their response to that particular piece of news.
Close with a prayer that begins with the concerns for the news and ends with thanksgiving for the great news of Christ’s Resurrection.
Using the linked music or local resources, sing together “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”
and ask questions like:
- What is your favorite Easter song or tradition and why?
- What one word might best describe the feeling that the Easter narrative creates in you?
- In what ways does the Easter event shape the faith you show to the rest of the world?
Pray a prayer of thanksgiving for Christ’s resurrection and hope for the world for which he was crucified.
Continue by asking
– What would have happened if the women had truly been too afraid ever to tell what they had seen?
– What might make it easier or more difficult to identify with the women’s fear?
– We have been given the same Good News that the women received that morning! Why are we sometimes afraid to share it?
– In what ways is Mark’s ending a commentary on our own reluctance to share the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection?
– What do you think we could do this week that might better get the good news of Jesus’ resurrection out to someone who needs to hear it?
Close with prayer, including those ideas that were raised for reaching others and your hopes for those who may be helped by them.
Listen as a whole group to Nichole Nordeman’s “Someday”
and ask questions like:
- In what ways are our stories tied to the Resurrection story?
- How might our connection to the Resurrection narrative serve to transform our inner selves?
- In what ways might it transform our relationships?
- What can we do to turn this story into a healing narrative for the rest of the world?
Close with a prayer, holding with God all the stories of our lives, and entrusting the endings to God.
Replay the earlier the “What is Easter”
Video clip and ask questions like:
Now that we’ve talked about it a bit more, what do you think of the answers given in the introductory video?
How does your family normally celebrate Easter? What role does church play in your celebration? In what ways do you think the way we celebrate speaks to the things we value about Easter?
How many times have you heard the resurrection story?
Why do you think that people might get numb to it after awhile?
How would someone who heard this story for the first time likely respond and why?
If you had your way, how would we celebrate Easter and feel the true message?
Say something like:
One last thing: now that we’ve had a chance to talk about this, I want to ask each of you this question. Each of you has ten seconds to answer before we move on to the next person:
What do you think Easter is all about?
If you have chosen one, explain this week’s project, being sure to answer all questions and set any necessary ground rules and close with a prayer that includes helping people embrace the power of the Easter miracle in their lives.