My struggle with the Easter Egg Hunt was despite how its association with the greatest event in human history, the activities themselves lack the narrative of the greatest human event - the rising from the dead of the Savior of the world!
Lately, I’ve also paid attention to the connection between how we relay the Easter narrative and the practice/culture of gender inequality (lack of gender mutuality), which is generally perpetuated in the church by either downplaying or completely erasing the role of women in God’s grand plan of salvation. I’ve heard many Christian women leaders ask at Easter time, why the lack of knowledge in the church about the critical involvement of women in the second greatest event in human history and the answer I’ve come up with is because our activities during this celebration, tend to exclude the biblical narrative and instead focus on cultural celebrations(?).
Much of the Christian faith is handed down in ordinary day life/living: our daily practices, traditions and rituals both at home and in the church, as well as in play (yes, play!). People remember more through play. And so I decided our church would from henceforth adopt a new practice that rightly informs and transmits one of the most important tenets of the Christian faith - the Resurrection narrative.
So, after almost twenty years of abstaining from my North American Easter Hunt activities both personally and in my church via my leadership, this past 2018 Easter, my church finally had a ‘hunt’ that was connected to the biblical narrative. I’d like to share what we did, so that others, who perhaps wish to connect their Easter ‘outreach’ programs/activities to the Christian faith, can do it more authentically and with more theologically sound components (bunnies have nothing to do with the Christian Easter event, y’all!).
First of all, I changed the name of our Easter activity to theologically reflect its purpose. So, instead of Easter Egg Hunt, we commenced our Easter Cross Hunt (because the Cross is central to what we celebrate at Easter!) and these were the components of our Cross Hunt:
- Lots of crosses & thorns (we ordered some plastic coins which had crosses and thorns on either side: represents the common human denominator of ‘Jesus died for all’ Christ’s death was for ALL, no exceptions.
- 3 women figurines to represent the three individual Marys (who were at the Crucifixion and at the empty tomb and saw Jesus (one of them)
- 1 empty tomb (which my daughter made out of play dough, using half a walnut shell to cast the mold
- 2 angels (who told the Marys Jesus was risen)
- Soldiers with swords: represents the common denominator: humans (like us) killed Jesus; signifies the common human denominator of sin which sent pierced Jesus’ side, and nailed him to the cross
- A pair of conjoined doves to signify the Holy Spirit (the power that raised Jesus from the dead)
- Lots and lots of various candy!
We made sure there was an abundance of the cross/thorn coins and the armed (with swords) soldiers as this was the common denominator that all humans share. There are no prizes for finding these, but everyone must have some in their goodie bags!
Our space is small, so I had to get creative with the search areas. I ended up portioning off about 2ft x 12ft area on three walls of our gathering space: one on each side of the congregational sitting space and one behind the Table.
Our Easter Cross Hunt took place right after the Easter Sunday morning service (which included Holy Communion, of course!). The benediction was the signal to commence the (indoor) Cross Hunt.
People would split into three groups and each group would choose one side of the search area. They are not allowed to switch sides during the search. At the “amen” following the Benediction, the search commences for the critical figures and imagery in the Crucifixion and Resurrection story. I allotted time (about ten minutes) for the hunt (in which both young and old participated), and at the end of the time (i did a countdown to let everyone know when to stop ‘hunting’, everyone sat down and we started asking for the non-duplicable significant figures and objects of the Hunt:
- Holy Spirit (dove)
- 2 angels
- Empty tomb
- 3 Marys (I hid one Mary in each of the three search areas, so three different people would find each one)
- 1 Jesus (dressed in white)
Also, each person who found a non-duplicable figure/object came up to the front, until al the finders and their ‘finds’ were lined up and holding up their finds. All objects, except the common denominators, were collected back to be re-used next year.
There were 8 prizes in all to match the number of special figures in our hunt (hopefully, we can include the other important figures next year) and the prizes this year were Christian and community movies (a couple of Tyler Perry’s Madea series made it into our prize box!).
My prayer is that as we start this new narrative in our Easter activities, we will be able to ground a theologically sound retelling of the Resurrection Narrative in both young and old and that it won’t seem so hard for such communities to embrace the leadership role of women in church and community because they can see that Jesus trusted women enough to send them with the one of the greatest news in humankind: Christ is risen from the dead and we shall also rise from the dead! Happy Easter! God bless you!
-Rev. Oghene'tega Swann