Part 8 of our Easter Freestyle Series
By Zephaniah Associate & Founder of the Raise Project Carol Barwick
An Easter Carol (To the tune of Away in a Manger)
Away on a hillside
The Lord did decide
To take up His cross
And to give up His life
His friends stayed there with him
Ate food and drank wine
So they would remember
This heavenly sign
Away on a hillside
The Lord heard the jeers
The cries of Barrabas
The questions, the tears
And then Pontius Pilate
Delivered the news
The end would be nigh
For the King of the Jews
Away on a hillside
Between love and strife
Our lovely Lord Jesus
Laid down His whole life
The stars in the bright sky
Gave way to the Son
Who then rose to Heaven
To sit on His throne
The above is a response to my son’s obsessive need to sing Christmas songs at all times of the day and night. In March. So having attempted to make him sing We Wish You a Merry Easter and Jesus died for you… it got me thinking about Carols and why there aren’t any at Easter.
The verb of Carol is “to sing or say something happily” so I wondered if that was why there were no Easter Carols despite there being many glorious and triumphant hymns (the one about angels in bright raincoats was always my favourite as a kid – can you guess which one that is?).
This got me thinking about joy at Easter. Is it truly possible to en-joy a story of pain and death?
The dictionary definition of the verb enjoy is as follows
- to experience with joy; take pleasure in: He enjoys Chinese food.
So here’s the thing. I run a business raising self-esteem and confidence of all ages and, much like my fabulous friends at Zephaniah Trust, I also do storytelling although mine are interactive sessions specifically for under 5s. We really enjoy our sessions – we enjoy the stories and the songs!
As we approached Holy Week, I became aware that I needed to pick an appropriate story for our big Easter session. It may well be questioned from an outsider’s point of view whether a story of death could ever be a joyful thing to share with little children. But as a Christian I believe that the story of Jesus’ death is the ultimate story of hope and future happiness. So I set about finding a story that would be appropriate to read in my Easter story session. Strangely enough Julia Donaldson didn’t seem to have any stories about crucifixion, and the story I ended up doing last year (when I was feeling less brave) was about a rabbit who poos instead of laying eggs (the book is called Rabbits Don’t Lay Eggs, don’t ask). Other standard Easter books had pictures that were either too graphic for little ones or didn’t talk about the real Easter story at all choosing to talk more about chicks and bunnies. So with help from a friend I decided to use a simple toddler’s re-telling where the children tell the story of Jesus’ death by acting it out through an American pageant. It was fine, cute even. But I didn’t think I would enjoy it. I didn’t know if the children would enjoy it. In fact, I was really unsure about the story that I had picked and whether it was right to share the real Easter story at all…
It was as people arrived however that it became obvious that they were really pleased that the true story of Easter was being shared. It was lovely to take such an important and yet simple story and turn it into something so packed full of joy and happiness. I was aware that with little ones I wanted to downplay the death and turn up the volume on the happiness and then I realised – this is actually the meaning of Easter in a nutshell (or an eggshell…). Yes, Jesus died – a horrible, brutal, painful death (I actually believe that when we talk about Jesus coming to earth to die it is just as important to realise that he died to himself long before he died on the actual cross) but He also had the most beautiful, glorious resurrection which we will be hearing more about on Sunday. Easter is full of joy. It is to be en-joyed!
This is what happened at Easter time. Joy was set free. Forever.