for the
Family Service
St. Augustine's

April 8, 2007

These are notes and comments on some of the items which appear in the Family Service script. Links from the script point to these entries; clicking the links in the left hand column of the table takes you back to the corresponding link in the script  - or, where more than one link from the script points to the note, back to the first such link.

The comments are typically related to features of the service which are specific to our church or the time of the service, or which for some other reason we think might require alteration for another setting.

For references to the internal geography of the church, it might be helpful to inspect the plan.

Properties :
  • 12 "easter eggs" for visual aids. One egg was lined inside with shiny "gold" crinkled paper; this will represent the empty tomb.
  • 11 objects ( "symbols" ) to fit in the eggs. The objects needed, with notes on our versions thereof, are listed below.
  • Palm branches at back for the crowd.
  • Small easter eggs to hand out at end ( optional, but it fits in with the spirit of the story ).

Furniture :
  • Table in front of altar for eggs, with supports to hold twelve eggs upright ( we used small fruit dishes );
  • Small table and white table cloth for Last Supper scene;
  • Lectern on the Hospital side of the church, close to the wall.
People :
  • Before service begins :
    • Reader at lectern,
    • organist at organ,
    • computer person at computer.

ANGEL'S APPEARANCE We do not usually dress for our family services, except at Christmas, but as the angel's appearance is explicitly described in the text ( "like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow" ) he wore a white gown and a "gold" headband, and was equipped with gold wings.

BAG OF COINS The "bag of coins" is that with the "thirty pieces of silver"; our preacher referred to it in the Message. If your preacher doesn't want it, omit the instruction.

CROWD For us, all available performers. If you have a large cast, judge the size of the crowd by its effect in the church.

EASTER STORY HYMNS The six verses used in connection with the Easter story are taken from a variety of hymns - all, of course, with the same metre, as they are all sung to the same tune. As the verses are rarely the first verses of their respective hymns, here is a table listing the first verses in case anyone tries to find them. All the hymns are found in "Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised".
verse source
When I survey the wondrous cross When I survey the wondrous cross
Now Christ our Passover is slain The Lamb's high banquet called to share
For us to wicked men betrayed O love, how deep, how broad, how high
How fast his hands and feet are nailed O come and mourn with me awhile
There whilst He hung, His sacred side The Royal Banners Forward Go
His tomb of late the threefold guard Light's glittering morn bedecks the sky

EGGS There were twelve eggs, painted in twelve different colours; this is pretty, but also easier for the actors - it's easier to find the right egg. You can build them like this.

JESUS KNEELS The text says "... threw Himself face downward ...", but if you take that literally Jesus becomes invisible to all but the front row of the congregation, and probably inaudible too. Our Jesus knelt in an anguished pose ( we hope ) facing away from the disciples.

MESSAGE The title given matches our Preacher's topic, which was "If only we took seriously the Easter message with its promise of salvation and forgiveness, our lives would be much improved and true witnesses to Christianity". You should obviously change it if it doesn't fit your message.

PALM BRANCHES Not too big, but clearly visible. ( They're going to be left at the front; if they're too big, there won't be room. ) If you can't get real palms, use something with green frondy leaves.

RESURRECTION EGGS Our use of easter eggs to illustrate the Easter story was suggested by the book "Resurrection Eggs ( Parenting )", by Familylife, Randal Lee Walti, and Ben Colter ( Familylife Publishing, 2002; ISBN 978-1-57229-324-3 ). We have not followed the book in detail, but have adapted the idea of symbols within Easter eggs to present our story. ( The book is intended for family use; our more public presentation seemed more suited to a rather different approach. )

STONE The stone rolled over the entry to the tomb is imaginary. Those rolling the stone must agree on where it starts from, and how to roll it. ( It is intriguing that the symbolic stone in the egg is real, but the real stone is imaginary. )

SYMBOLS The symbols are objects initially in the easter eggs which are opened and exhibited at appropriate points in the service. They are listed in the table which follows; some further notes follow the table.

donkey : a stuffed toy ( actually Eeyore )
coins : about ten bright steel washers in a drawstring bag
passover cup : a cup as used in the Communion service
praying hands : a model made from light card
leather whip : a whip with four thongs and a plaited handle
crown of thorns : made from rose sprigs
three long nails : ordinary nails
dice : two soft fluffy dice, each about 7cm cube, sewn together
spear : a simple model of wood and "silver" paper
linen : a reasonably sized piece folded
stone : a painted polystyrene model - a thickish circular disc

Construction of the objects is guided by certain general constraints. Perhaps the most important are that the objects must fit into the eggs, and that they must be big enough to see from the back of the church. It is unfortunate that these two conditions are in opposition; a 30cm spear is not very impressive.

In an attempt to overcome the problem, we augmented the action with a representative display using the projector. For each egg opened, we showed a sequence of five frames, four representing the opening and a final full-screen photograph of the symbol.

The sequence was always essentially the same, except for the picture of the object. The colour of the egg in the display matched the colour of the egg on the table, and the background was black or white to contrast with the colour of the egg. Here is an example :

TOMB Our tomb was imaginary. We chose a position for it which might plausibly be a cave in a cliff, at least to the extent that it was a concealed place with a visible "entrance". The position of the "entrance" must be well defined so that it's clear where to roll the equally imaginary "stone".

TUNE We are accustomed to singing "When I survey the wondrous cross" to the tune "Rockingham".

TWELVE PEOPLE Ideally; but match the number to your resources. With twelve you can get the eggs to the front quickly and neatly.