Easter Family Service
St. Augustine's

18 April 2004

Key :

instructions for congregation
movements during service
prayers and readings
sections of the service

Other information :

There are some notes on our production of the service.

A rough plan of the church is available.

A note on copyright.



THE CROWD'S VIEW : triumph to death sentence

The triumphal entry : the crowd shout HOSANNA !
NarratorWe invite you all to join in the procession round the church as we sing the hymn

"Sing hosanna".

( Actors enter carrying palm branches to wave and ready to sing. )

  Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, sing hosanna to the King of Kings !
  Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, sing hosanna to the King !

( Proceed round church and then leave palm branches on step in front of altar rail. )
Observer stays at Hospital side.

( When everyone has settled back into their seats Observer moves to centre and says - )

ObserverLook ! Listen ! Did you hear all that noise ?

Who's coming into the city ?

Why ! It's Jesus riding on a donkey -
AND there are crowds following Him !

See - they're laying down their cloaks and palm branches before Him to keep the dust of the road off Him.
And they're all carrying palm branches
And shouting
Hosanna ! Hosanna to the King !

( Hosanna in Hebrew means 'please save us', but is often used in English as a shout of praise to God. )

The religious leaders won't like this -

They're out to kill Jesus.

Why on earth did He come into Jerusalem this year ? It's not safe for Him here.

( Observer freezes. )
NarratorAfter Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, He went into the temple and looked around at everything. But since it was already late in the day, He went back to Bethany with the twelve disciples.

Mark 11 verse 11. )

The death sentence : the crowd shout CRUCIFY HIM !
Observer ( 'moving' again )Yes, Lord;

You were welcomed into Jerusalem so excitedly.

What went wrong, Lord ?

Just a few days later - the crowds were shouting

"Crucify Him ! Crucify Him !".

How could people change so quickly ?

( Observer moves to Hospital side. )
NarratorWe praise You, Father God, that Your ways are unchanging.
AllForgive us, Lord God, for our changeable ways.
NarratorA few days after Jesus's triumphant arrival in Jerusalem, He and His twelve disciples went there again to eat the Passover meal together. Towards the end of this meal, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, slipped away to carry out his plan to betray Jesus to the religious leaders. These leaders were looking for a quiet way to arrest Jesus. When the meal was finished Jesus and the other eleven disciples went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.

JESUS'S VIEW : acceptance to Crucifixion

Voice 1( standing near the palm plant )

How did You cope, Lord, in the garden so late,
where You prayed to Your Father for release from Your fate ?
The sweat of Your anguish fell from You like blood;
But You had to suffer for everyone's good.

  And Your disciples, Lord - where were they
  At this time of great need ? Asleep, did You say ?

( Moves to a place near the Hospital wall. )
 How did You cope, Lord, when Judas, Your friend,
Brought soldiers to seize You ? - when, quick to defend,
Peter fought back with sword as the party drew near -
But You stopped him and healed the high priest's servant's ear.

  And Your disciples, Lord - where were they
  When the soldiers bound you ? They ran away !

( Moves to Caiaphas' chair. )
 How did You cope, Lord, through the trial so long :
Staying silent before Caiaphas, the high priest ? So strong.
False accusation the Sanhedrin brought;
Charges of 'blasphemy' rang through the court.

  And Your disciples, Lord - where were they ?
  Out in the courtyard till the break of day.

( Moves to Herod's chair. )
 How did You cope, Lord, with Herod's disdain,
When he robed You with scarlet and mocked You again ?
He'd hoped you would work some miraculous deed -
But Your wonders are only for people in need.

  And Your disciples, Lord - where were they ?
  Keeping their distance, well out of the way.

( Moves to Pilate's chair. )
 How did You cope, Lord, when Pilate gave in
To the cry of the mob shouting "Crucify Him" ?
Knowing You're innocent, washing his hands,
Pretending that frees him from moral demands.

  And Your disciples, Lord - where were they ?
  Hiding in the background to see what he'd say.

( Moves to organ side. )
 How did You cope, Lord, with thorn-woven crown,
With flogging so cruel, with load weighted down ?
You carried Your cross-bar on body so torn
Till they forced it on Simon, Cyrenian born.

  And Your disciples Lord - where were they ?
  Clinging to each other in shock and dismay.

( Moves to centre near altar rail. )
 How did You cope, Lord, with crowds all around
As You trudged on Your journey to Golgotha's mound ?
Many who mocked and who jeered at the sight;
A few women weeping - lamenting Your plight.

  And Your disciples, Lord - where were they ?
  Following the crowds, keeping out of the way.

( Moves to the cross stand. )
 How did You cope, Lord, with all of the pain
When they hammered the nails in, again and again ?
But Your love was so great, so strong and so wide,
You forgave us our sin, and to save us You died.

  And Your disciples, Lord - where were they ?
  Standing with Your mother not far away.

NarratorWe invite you all to come to the front and follow the cross as we move round the church.

When we reach the front again please stand by the altar rail until the recording of two verses from the hymn

"Were you there when they crucified my Lord ?"

is finished.

( Pause for people to come forward. )

Stage-hand starts the music. While this hymn is played on the record player, Voice 1 carries the cross, all actors come to follow the cross and encourage the congregation to join in. The procession continues round the church to the cross stand, where Voice 1 erects the cross.

During this hymn Stage-hand moves the three chairs to the side, leaving a hiding place for Jesus behind them.

1.   Were you there when they crucified my Lord ?
  Were you there when they crucified my Lord ?
  Oh ! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;
  Were you there when they crucified my Lord ?

2.   Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb ?
  Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb ?
  Oh ! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;
  Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb ?

Narrator Please return to your seats and remain standing while we sing "The Old Rugged Cross".
( During this hymn Jesus hides behind the altar. )
1.   On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
  The emblem of suffering and shame,
  And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
  For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Chorus :

  So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
  Till my trophies at last I lay down;
  I will cling to the old rugged cross,
  And exchange it some day for a crown.

2.   Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
  Has a wondrous attraction for me,
  For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above,
  To bear it to dark Calvary.


3.   In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
  A wonderful beauty I see;
  For 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
  To pardon and sanctify me.


4.   To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
  Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
  Then He'll call me someday to my home far away,
  Where His glory forever I'll share.



The Crucifixion
NarratorReading from Luke Chapter 23 verses 27 and 32-34 :

A large crowd of people followed Him : among them were some women who were weeping and wailing for Him.
Two other men, both of them criminals, were also led out to be put to death with Jesus. When they came to the place called "The Skull," they crucified Jesus there

( Voice 1 drapes cloth on the cross to represent Jesus and returns to Hospital side. )

and the two criminals, one on His right and the other on His left.

Jesus said,

Jesus ( from behind altar )Forgive them, Father ! They don't know what they are doing.
Observer ( moving to centre )So often we don't know what we are doing.

So often we hurt God and others by our selfish, sinful ways.

So often we fail You, Lord.

NarratorWe praise You, Father God, that You are always willing to forgive those who are repentant.
AllForgive us, Father, for the things we do wrong.
Jesus on the cross
( Observer moves to side again; soldiers move near cross with a die. )
NarratorReading from John 19 v 23-27 :

After the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier.

( Soldiers mime this )
 They also took the robe, which was made of one piece of cloth without any seams in it. The soldiers said to one another,
SoldierLet's not tear it; let's throw dice to see who will get it.
( Soldiers throw dice and mime winning the robe.

Mary the mother of Jesus and the other women and John come to stand beside the cross. )

NarratorStanding close to Jesus' cross were His mother, His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved standing there; so He said to His mother,
Jesus ( from behind altar )He is your son.
NarratorThen He said to the disciple,
Jesus ( from behind altar )She is your mother.
NarratorFrom that time the disciple took her to live in his home.
( They return to the back with John's arm around Mary. )


NarratorReading from Luke Chapter 23 verses 44-47 :

It was about 12 o'clock when the sun stopped shining and darkness covered the whole country until three o'clock; and the curtain in the Temple was torn in two. Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

Jesus ( from behind altar )Father ! In Your hands I place My Spirit !
NarratorHe said this and died.

The army officer who was standing there in front of the cross saw how Jesus had died.

SoldierCertainly He was a good man !
Observer ( Moving to centre )But, You, Jesus, didn't fail us. You are certainly more than just a good man. You are the Son of God.

You went through the agony of the cross, to be the one pure sacrifice, so that all might be saved.

Hosanna ! Saviour indeed !

NarratorThank You, Jesus, for Your sacrifice on the cross.
AllHelp us, Jesus, to understand all that You have done for us.
God with us : Emmanuel
( Observer goes to back down side aisle, soldiers return to back, Storyteller comes to lectern. )
Narrator( Storyteller's name ) will now read to us the story "A Pretty Sheltered Life" written some years ago, by an anonymous author.
StorytellerA pretty sheltered life ( author unknown ).

At the end of time, billions of people were gathered on a great plain before God's throne. Here and there, groups of them talked angrily. A woman's voice rose from one group :

Voice 1 ( from one of the pews )How can God judge US ? What does HE know about suffering ?
StorytellerShe jerked back her sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp.
Voice 1 ( from one of the pews )We faced terror, beatings, torture and death !
StorytellerA black man in another group pulled his collar down.
Voice 2 ( from one of the pews )What about this ?
Storyteller- he demanded, revealing an ugly rope burn.
Voice 2 ( from one of the pews )I was lynched for no crime but being the wrong colour. My people were wrenched from their homeland, suffocated in filthy slave-ships, and forced to work until they dropped !
StorytellerFar out across the plain, hundreds of such groups complained bitterly against God for all the evil and suffering He allowed in His world. He lived in heaven where everything was sweetness and light, where there were no tears or fears, hatred or hunger, and everyone was treated fairly.

How could God possibly understand the things man had endured ? "After all," they said, "God leads a pretty sheltered life !"

Later in the day, each group sent out a representative - chosen because he or she had suffered most. There was a leper from Africa, an 'untouchable' from India, a Hiroshima victim, a Jew, an abandoned street kid, a man from a Siberian work-camp, a black American, and many, many more.

In the centre of the plain, they prepared their case.....

At last, they made their announcement. It was simple; before God could qualify as their judge, He must endure what they had endured. They sentenced God to live on earth as a man ! And they added these conditions :

Voice 1 ( from one of the pews )Let HIM be born a Jew !
Voice 3 ( from one of the pews )Let people question who HIS father really is !
Voice 4 ( from one of the pews )Let HIM spearhead a cause so just but so radical that the authorities hate Him, condemn Him, and try to eliminate Him !
Voice 5 ( from one of the pews )Let HIM try to describe something no one has ever seen or heard of - let Him try to communicate God to man !
Voice 6 ( from one of the pews )Let HIM be betrayed by His friends !
Voice 2 ( from one of the pews )Let HIM be falsely accused, tried by a crooked jury, and sentenced by a cowardly judge !
Voice 7 ( from one of the pews )Let HIM see what it's like to be alone and abandoned !
Voice 8 ( from one of the pews )Let HIM be tortured to death in the most painful way imaginable !
StorytellerAs each representative added his part of the sentence there was a loud applause and cheering. ....
All( applause and cheering )
Storyteller... But when the last had said his piece, there was a long silence. No one uttered another word. No one moved. For, suddenly, they all knew GOD HAD ALREADY SERVED HIS SENTENCE !
NarratorThank You, Jesus, that You have already given Your life for us.
AllWe praise You, Jesus.
NarratorPlease stand to sing the hymn

"When I survey the wondrous cross".

During this hymn : Angel hides in the tomb; Jesus hides behind the draped chairs; Joseph of Arimathea and helper move down Hospital side ready to move 'Jesus' from the cross; Women go to the back.
1.   When I survey the wondrous cross
  On which the Prince of Glory died,
  My richest gain I count but loss,
  And pour contempt on all my pride.

2.   Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
  Save in the cross of Christ, my God;
  All the vain things that charm me most,
  I sacrifice them to His Blood.

3.   See from His head, His hands, His feet,
  Sorrow and love flow mingling down;
  Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
  Or thorns compose so rich a crown ?

4.   Were the whole realm of nature mine,
  That were an offering far too small;
  Love so amazing, so divine,
  Demands my soul, my life, my all.

NarratorPlease sit.
Jesus is laid in the tomb.
Joseph of Arimathea and helper take the cloth off the cross and place it in the tomb. Meanwhile -
NarratorThen they took Him and laid Him in the tomb,
( Joseph of Arimathea and helper mime rolling a stone in front. )
 Rolled the stone in front,
( Joseph of Arimathea and helper mime sealing it, and walk to back down centre aisle. )
 sealed it, and went away, for it was the Sabbath and all must rest from work on that day.

All that Saturday Jesus's followers wept and stayed hidden, fearful of what might happen next.

The women, with many a tear, prepared the spices ready to embalm Jesus body, once the Sabbath was over.

HE IS RISEN ! - death is not the end

NarratorVery early on the Sunday morning, as dawn was breaking, they went to the cave where Jesus's body lay.
( Two women bring spices etc down centre aisle. )
1st WomanHow shall we move the stone ? It is so heavy !
2nd WomanDo you think it's safe ?
1st womanWhat can we do now that Jesus has died ?
2nd WomanI'm so sad, and weary. Are you sure it's safe ?
1st WomanI still don't see how we're going to move that stone.
NarratorSuddenly there was a violent earthquake;
( women sit down )
 an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away and sat on it.
( Angel comes from the tomb and stands in front of cave entrance )
 The angel's appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The angel spoke to the women.
AngelYou must not be afraid; I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has been raised, just as He said.

Come here and see the place where He was lying.

( Angel shows tomb to the women. )
 Go quickly now, and tell His disciples, 'He has been raised from death, and now He is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see Him !'

Remember what I have told you.

( Angel stands beside tomb entrance; Jesus comes from behind the chairs and stands by altar rail; The women start moving down to altar rail where they are met by Jesus. )
NarratorSuddenly Jesus met the women.
JesusPeace be with you !
( Women come up to Jesus, take hold of His feet, and worship Him. )
JesusDo not be afraid. Go and tell My disciples to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.
Narrator ( as women hurry to the back )So they hurried off to tell the others everything that had happened to them.
( Jesus returns to hide behind the chairs, angel hides in the tomb.
When the women reach the back : )
2nd womanHe's risen !
1st womanWe saw an angel and he told us "He is risen !"
2nd womanThen he showed us the tomb.
1st womanAnd it is empty ! Truly He is risen !
2nd womanThen we saw Jesus Himself.
1st womanHe is risen and He told us to hurry back and tell you.
2nd womanHe is risen !
1st womanAND He said He would meet us in Galilee. Truly He did.
Both womenHE IS RISEN !
NarratorWe invite you to join in this excited cry "He is risen". Would the people on the far side get ready to stand and shout "He is risen" and the people on this side get ready to stand and shout "He is risen, indeed !"

Please stand.

( Two helpers with the signs stand at front to encourage the shout.

Left side helper raises sign "He is risen". )

Left sideHe is risen !
( Right side helper raises sign "He is risen indeed". )
Right sideHe is risen indeed !
( Repeat the cries twice more. Meanwhile, the Angel returns down side aisle to the back. )
NarratorPlease remain standing for the hymn

"He is Lord !",

which we shall sing twice

Omitted for copyright reasons; further details.
NarratorPlease sit

OUR VIEW : the story goes on.

NarratorOne of the last words that Jesus spoke to His disciples before His Ascension to heaven is told in Matthew 28.16-20.

The eleven disciples went to the hill in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him, even though some of them doubted. Jesus drew near and said to them :

Jesus ( coming to the centre )I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them My disciples; baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.
( Jesus returns to the back down one of the side aisles )
NarratorSo the story doesn't end there. As Jesus said, He has been with us ever since. Down through the centuries - many have heard of Jesus, many have believed and received forgiveness and found new life in Him.

The love, joy and peace that comes from knowing Jesus has in its turn brought others to the foot of the cross, to lay their lives at Jesus's feet and to go on in their turn, living the new life that Jesus brings and so taking the Good News to others.

We, too, as His followers are invited to pass on the Good News of Jesus, to carry the light of Jesus to all whom we meet.

The team will now hand out candles to everyone. ( wait until candles are distributed )

I will now light my candle at the Paschal candle - which is a candle that burns here between Easter and Ascension Day - then I'll light the helpers' candles, and they will come and light the candles at the end of each pew, then the people at the end of each pew please light the candle of the person next to you. Once all the candles are lit we will stand for the prayers.

( Wait until all candles are lit. )
NarratorLet us pray.

Dear Lord God, please help us all to be lights for Jesus in this world.
Please use us to spread Your Gospel message to our families, friends and acquaintances.
Use us, Lord, in Your service. Amen.

AllUse us, Lord.
NarratorPlease remain standing as we say the Lord's prayer together :

Our Father in heaven,
  hallowed be Your name,
  Your kingdom come,
  Your will be done,
  on earth as in heaven.
  Give us today our daily bread.
  Forgive us our sins
  as we forgive those who sin against us.
  Save us from the time of trial
  and deliver us from evil.
  For the kingdom, the power and the glory
  are Yours now and for ever. Amen.

NarratorYou may now blow your candles out. Please hand them in at the back at the end of the service.

Name of singer will now lead us in the hymn

"He lives ! He lives !".

Name of singer will sing the verses and we shall all sing the choruses.

Omitted for copyright reasons; further details.
NarratorPlease remain standing for the Blessing.


We invite you to join us for a cuppa in the Hall ( behind the church ) at the end of this service.

Those taking part :

1st Woman
2nd Woman
Joseph of Arimathea
Mary Magdalene
Mary the wife of Cleopas
Mary's sister
Voice 1
Voice 2
Voice 3
Voice 4
Voice 5
Voice 6
Voice 7
Voice 8.