Easter Surprise: An Object Lesson for Resurrection Sunday
Easter Sunday is easily the most significant holiday for Christians, even given the popularity of Christmas. However, making the message of the Resurrection memorable for children is a challenge. This object lesson makes the message of the empty tomb memorable for both children and adults, as well as re-creating, in some small way, the emotions felt by Christ's disciples on that blessed morning.
The key to the effectiveness of this lesson is absolute secrecy. If you have children in your home, (and even adults) who will be there for the presentation of this message, you must make your preparations when they are not around to witness it.
First, dye a raw egg, any color you like. You can dye the egg after you have emptied it, but it will have to be weighted down, the liquid will get inside of the egg, and it will have to be drained and allowed to dry.
Next, remove the contents of the egg. Some people prefer "blowing out" the egg by creating a large hole at one end and a smaller one at the other end, scrambling the yolk and white with a long skewer or other implement, and then blowing through the smaller hole to push the contents out the larger one. I use a sharp needle to chip out a hole at the large end of the egg. When the hole is big enough to accommodate the tip of a medicine syringe, I scramble the contents and suck them out through the hole using the syringe. This creates only one hole and aids in the illusion of an "unbroken" egg. This is delicate work, and you may crack an egg or two before getting the results you want.
If you like, you can attempt to cover the hole in the egg with white glue and tissue paper. However, it is difficult to convincingly camouflage the hole, so practice holding the egg with your thumb over the hole so it is not visible to the audience. This is important to the illusion you are trying to create.
For the presentation, bring out the egg and hold it up so everyone can see it, being careful not to expose the hole in the end. Lead the following discussion:
What is this? Children will answer with "an egg" or "an Easter egg" .
How do we know it's an Easter egg? Because it is dyed or decorated.
What do we find inside of an Easter egg? Children may answer with "candy" or "treats". At this point, clarify that it is not a plastic egg, but a real one, and ask what we would expect to find inside of it: a yolk and a white.
This is a real egg, and it has never been cooked. If you have an older child in the audience who is a good sport, you may ask them to be a brave volunteer. Ask them to come forward and face the audience. Remind everyone that the egg has never been cooked, then break the egg without warning on the unsuspecting child's head. Otherwise, break it against a pew or smash it between your own hands. Be warned, a sensitive child will be very upset if he thinks you have broken a raw egg on his head. Another alternative is to include another adult or teenager in your secrecy and ask them to be the victim.
When you break the egg, children and adults alike will let out gasps and exclamations of surprise, first that you broke the egg, and then that the egg was empty. Ask children:
What kind of feelings did you have when I broke the egg? Surprised, shocked, upset, scared, startled.
Read the Resurrection story from John 20 or a comparable source. It may be necessary to first remind children of the crucifixion and that Jesus had died and been placed in the tomb. After reading the story, ask:
How do you think Jesus' friends felt when they got to the tomb and found out that it was empty? Surprised, shocked, upset, scared, startled.
Was it a good thing or bad thing that the egg was empty?
Was it a good thing or a bad thing that the tomb was empty?
When Jesus' followers found out the tomb was empty, they weren't sure right away what to think, just like you didn't know what to think about the egg. But the empty tomb was the best news of all: Jesus was alive! And because Jesus rose from the dead, we can be saved from sin and death and live with him forever in Heaven.
Say the following prayer or one of your own:
Father in heaven, we thank you for the wonderful surprise of the empty tomb and what it means for us. We are grateful that because Jesus is alive, we can have eternal life forever with you. Help us to remember the wonderful news of the resurrection not just today, but every day. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
I have used this object lesson only twice, because it is so memorable that any child who has seen it before will spoil it for the rest of the audience. The adults respond as strongly as the children do, and it is the most effective object lesson I have ever used to illustrate the Resurrection. I hope that you will use it and find it as meaningful as I have.