Author’s note: This is a modified version of a Godly Play story used as an intergenerational sermon in Easter Sunday worship, lectionary year C. For original Godly Play philosophy and training see the Godly Play website.
Scripture: John 20: 1-18
An Inter-generational Formation (IGF) Encounter
Walk slowly to the center of the dais steps with the basket of materials for the story. Carry it carefully to the top step. Unfold the large gold prayer shawl, throw, or “story quilt” and drape it over the steps. Sit down with the basket beside you. Sit quietly while you feel the story forming in you. Then invite the children forward to sit around the story quilt. Invite all others to shift so they can see. Place a white circular underlay down in the center top near you, and smooth it as you say:
This is the story of Easter, the time we celebrate the mystery that Jesus died and that God made Jesus alive again.
Roll out the road. Place the tomb at the end of the road near you. Be sure the two small linen cloths are rolled up inside, hidden. Place the stone beside the door so the tomb is open. Then say:
This is a tomb, a special place for the dead.
Gently run your hand over the tomb.
When Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea put Jesus’ body in his tomb and rolled a huge stone in front of the door.
Trace the stone, which is beside the door of the tomb.
Very early, on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene
Present Mary Magdalene and place her on the road. Bring her forward toward the tomb as you continue:
Came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed.
Stop just short of the tomb, then quickly move Mary away again to the end of the road and off it as you say:
So she ran.
Present Simon Peter and the other disciple, place them near the end of the road and Mary and say:
She ran to Simon Peter and the disciple 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!”
Move all three figures back toward the tomb, with Mary trailing behind, and stop them about half way to the tomb. Say:
Now an amazing thing had happened. God had raised Jesus from the dead.
Present Jesus and hold him while you say:
God had made Jesus alive again.
Put Jesus down behind or beside you while you move the two disciples up the road and into the tomb. Say:
Simon Peter and the disciple Jesus loved ran all the way to the tomb. The disciple Jesus loved looked in the tomb. Peter went right in the tomb to look, then the other disciple followed.
Take the top off the tomb, revealing the two white linen cloths rolled up, one a short distance from the other. Stand the disciples up, facing the cloths, and say:
They saw and they believed. They saw the burial cloths rolled up, empty. But they did not understand the scripture, that Jesus must rise from the dead. They went home.
Take the two disciples out and move them down and then off the road. Pause. Then reach over and slowly move Mary closer to the tomb with one hand while you place the angels into the tomb with the other. Say:
Mary came and stood weeping, and looked into the tomb. She saw two angels, one where Jesus’ head had been and one where his feet had been. They spoke to her. They said: “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus.
Place Jesus outside the tomb, just off the road. Touch Mary and say:
Mary did not recognize Jesus. He spoke to her. He said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”
Touch Mary again and say:
Mary still did not recognize Jesus. She said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away.”
Touch Jesus and say:
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” Mary said to him, “Rabbouni!” which means, Teacher. Jesus said, “Go to my brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
Pick Jesus up and hold him while you move Mary back down the road to the disciples and say:
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.
I wonder questions
I wonder how Mary Magdalene feels when the person she loves the most dies?
Move Mary toward the tomb. Place other figures back in the basket as you ask questions about them. Continue to hold Jesus until you wonder why he appears to Mary first, then put him in the basket with the others.
I wonder how Mary Magdalene feels going to Jesus’ tomb?
I wonder how Mary Magdalene feels when the stone is not where she thought it would be.
I wonder how Mary Magdalene feels when she runs to her friends, the disciples?
I wonder how the disciples feel when Mary Magdalene appears at their door and tells them Jesus is gone.
I wonder how the disciples feel when they do not see Jesus’ body in the tomb?
I wonder how the disciples feel when they go home?
I wonder how Mary Magdalene feels when she sees angels and hears them speak to her?
I wonder how Mary Magdalene feels when Jesus says, “Mary!” and she recognizes him?
I wonder why Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene first?
I wonder what the disciples think when Mary Magdalene tells them she has seen the Lord.
I wonder what they will do?
Invite the children to rejoin adult worshipers and form intentional intergenerational small groups. Instruct everyone to briefly offer other “I wonder” questions with one another. After two minutes, close with prayer.
Materials (including Worship Woodwork Inc. materials made for Godly Play)
Large gold colored prayer shawl or throw, or a story quilt
White circular underlay
Grey cloth road
Wooden tomb with stone and removable lid
Two small rolls of cloth, one smaller than the other, already hidden in the tomb
Wooden figures of Mary Magdalene, Jesus, Simon Peter, another Disciple, and two angels