Easter Sunday may be the trickiest children’s message to plan. The churches I have served in do not offer Sunday school and there are many guests. For children who do not attend church regularly, this may be one of the only times you have to share the Good News. As it is the single most important day of the Christian year, it is also a day to “Let the story be the story” (as my friend Shannon is fond of saying). Here are three children’s messages I have used that tell the story and invite children to engage with worship. I recommend having children’s time just before or after the Scripture reading. Then, they will have the response activity in hand at sermon time.
Option 1: Create a collaborative art piece with Alleluia Butterflies
You will need: a long stick from a tree, crayons, copies of the Alleluia Butterflies from Illustrated Children’s Ministry, and ribbons to hang the butterflies from the stick.
“Today’s Bible reading is about the empty tomb. Jesus’ friends, who were very sad when Jesus died on the cross, were very excited to see the empty tomb two days later! Easter reminds us that even after very sad things, wonderful new things can happen. It is God who makes it possible for amazing things to happen: people make up after a fight, plants grow again after a long winter, and any time we go from sad to happy. We have a special word we say when we are this happy,”Alleluia! Shout it! Alleluia!”
During church today, would you please color these beautiful alleluia butterflies to remind us of the wonderful things God does? After church, bring them to me and we will tie them to this old, dead stick, making something brand new from it.”
Option 2: Share the Godly Play story, and offer materials for response
Since we use Godly Play (and related resources) in our Sunday school classes, I often use the lessons in church when there is no Sunday school. For Easter Sunday the script from “Jesus Dies and God Makes Jesus Alive” from Following Jesus, or “Faces of Easter VII” from Godly Play Vol. 4: Spring can work well. Consider projecting pictures of the story pieces so that adults can follow along.
After telling the story, give children bags of materials to engage them with the rest of worship. Children who are familiar with Godly Play will understand this type of response to God time. Things I have used that work well include:
- Wikki Stix (allow mess-free, open ended creativity)
- Crayons and activity booklets or coloring sheets
- Holy Week Wheels and He Lives! Sticker sheets from Oriental Trading
- Magic Scratch Crosses
- Don’t forget to invite guests to your next event with a post-card invite!
Be sure to invite the children to show you what they have made after worship!
Option 3: Use a Parachute to unpack the Alleluias
The following children’s message is part of a larger resource, “8 Parachute Activities for Bible Stories,” available on Building Faith.
If you have the tradition of packing up the alleluias for Lent in your church, use this Easter day children’s message to unpack them. Slips of paper with “alleluia” written on them work for the parachute activity. Check beforehand to be sure that you have enough room away from the candles to safely use the parachute in your sanctuary.
Read, “Jesus is Alive” from the Children of God Storybook Bible, asking the children to consider how Mary, the women, and the disciples must have felt at different points. Then say:
“Imagine how happy and excited they were to see Jesus! In church we have a word when we are happy and excited and think God is amazing. We packed up that word six weeks ago. But today is the day to unpack our word. Today is the day when we remember that Jesus is alive! Clap your hands if you are excited, too!”
Take out the parachute and have the children stand in a circle. Place the unpacked alleluia’s in the center of the parachute. Then pray lifting the parachute quickly to launch the unpacked alleluias when you say “alleluia”:
Thank you God for Jesus Christ who loves us. We are so glad the tomb was empty on Easter. We praise you! You are amazing! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen