Making a Resurrection Garden
Since my kids reached the age where they were old enough to start to understand what Easter is about, I’ve tried to be very intentional in my teaching. I don’t assume that my kids will naturally be drawn to the true story of Easter. Let’s face it, the competing story is pretty attractive (A magical bunny who leaves you chocolate – yum!), and requires very little in the way of life change. So, when I teach about Easter, I don’t sit around the drill them on the facts. Instead, I try to involve their senses and their creativity, because I know that ultimately it will help what I’m saying to actually reach their hearts.
I first read about making a resurrection garden from Oh Amanda, and we came up with our own version that was influenced by the supplies we had available and input from my kids. Using these instructions as a guideline, think about how you can “own” this project and create a valuable tool for your own kids.
Thursday was the day we built our garden. I filled a large kitchen dish with dirt from the backyard, and asked the boys to do the rest to build a beautiful garden that would represent the place where Jesus went to pray that night. They collected grass, leaves, little rocks, etc and created an inviting little scene.
We talked about Jesus’ prayer in the garden. How he had asked God if there was any other way to save the people he loved. How God had sent an angel to comfort him while his closest friends were sleeping. And eventually, how he had been betrayed there by a friend and arrested.
“Good Friday” did not seem good when it happened. It seemed dark, and horrible, and full of despair to those who loved Jesus. The boys suggested that we add a cross to our garden on this day, and we talked about Jesus’ suffering, and how we know it wasn’t really nails that held Jesus to the cross. It was love. You can see the tomb on one end of the garden, with a stone across its opening (the tomb is really a plastic cup covered with brown paper).
Turns out that my kids picked out some pretty hardy plants to stick in our little garden, but by Saturday I wanted to garden to reflect the mood of Jesus’ followers. I wanted the garden to be dead. So while the boys were sleeping on Friday night I took away all the green leaves and grass from the garden, and I replaced it with dried up brown plants. When the boys woke up on Saturday, they were surprised to see how horrible everything looked.
We talked about what kind of a day this Saturday must have been for Jesus’ disciples and friends. They had thought he was going to save them – and now he was dead. Many of them were hiding, fearing a similar fate. Some of them were in deep despair over the choices they had made the previous few days. Like our garden, the disciples were a sad and troubled bunch.
But then Sunday!
While the boys were sleeping on Saturday night, the garden got another makeover – this one for the better! I took out all the dead things, and put in a collection of artificial and real flowers (I didn’t add the real flowers until early Sunday morning. I took away the stone from in front of the tomb, so the kids could see that it was empty (except for a flower bud my son added later). The transformation from the sad, dead garden of Saturday to the beautiful and alive garden of Sunday was complete!
As the boys marveled at the difference a day can make – the flowers, the beauty, the life – we talked about how Jesus’ friends found out he was alive. How they were filled with unspeakable joy, mixed in with shock and even some unbelief. How the sadness of his death was erased by the glory of his resurrection, and how this is the same change that Jesus can make in our hearts when we choose to follow and believe in him.