Easter 2000

Metamorphosis: A Caterpillar's Tale

This story was used very successfully as part of a child-centred homily on Easter morning. The original illustrations were made into overhead projector transparencies and the children came and gathered closer to the screen to see.

It could also be used in children's Liturgy of the Word, Sunday School, classroom or home to inspire creative worship.

Prepare the basic structure of a Garden - as a wall/ board-display - on a table.
If space permits, consider creating a real garden. We simply used troughs planted with daffoldils and primulas.
The children can complete the display by making flowers, blossom, etc - but, more importantly, a caterpillar, cocoon and butterfly each.
Tell the Story - and allow the children to decide where to put their "Caterpillar" - and later, where to hide the cocoon.
When the Butterfly emerges, they can then decide where to put their own butterfly. In a real garden, it can be taped onto a thin stick and stuck into the compost.

In some communities it may even be possible to use the story for two sessions: Palm Sunday or Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
In the first session, the Garden should be fairly bare - just enough leaves for the Caterpillars to find a home. Tell the first part of the story - and invite the children to suggest what the human equivalents of caterpillar activity might be. Ask if they can guess what the flashes of colour might be - or the fragrance. Don't labour the point - just help them to begin to engage with the symbolism of the story. Talk about how Jesus did a lot of those things too - he was, after all,  well-known for his own love of a good dinner!
Allow the children to choose a home for their own caterpillar.

Move onto the next stage of the story where caterpillar life becomes less comfortable. Depending on the age and experience of the children, think about some of the human equivalents. Again, don't labour the point - allow the story and their symbols to speak to the children - simply help them to see that it isn't just about caterpillars.
Talk about what happened to Jesus - the Last Supper and how hard it must have been for him to eat it - but also, what he did with it.
Say something of his suffering - and of how, in the end, he handed his life over into God's hands.
Remind the children that his friends took his body and buried it - and allow them to choose a place to bury or hide their own cocoon.
Allow a little time of quiet - perhaps speaking of the sadness his friends felt - and how we can feel that too. Tell them that what his friends did not know was that God was working on a great surprise - something so new they wouldn't believe their eyes... You could suggest something along the lines of: We know what it is - but let's not say today - let's keep that Good News for Easter Sunday.
Give the children their butterfly - sealed in an envelope. Tell them to take it home and to find a quiet place to open the envelope and do something wonderful with what they find inside. (We gave out the sticks at the same time which totally confused them!) Remind them to bring them back on Easter Sunday.

On Easter Morning, refresh their memories about the story-so-far - and then finish it. They then decide where their butterfly is going to fly to and add it to the Garden - which should by now be full of flowers!
Tell the story of Mary weeping in the Garden - and then meeting the Risen Jesus.
Talk to the children about Jesus' resurrection - of his spiritual body and how it was the same - and how it was different. Remind them that not everyone could see him - rather like our caterpillar earlier in the story - and like those still too busy eating their leaves, etc. You may want to help them to think about how the caterpillar could have no idea what being a butterfly woud be like - and so with us - we don't know what resurrection is going to be like but we know it is real. (You could refer to Paul's letter to the Corinthians - what we see as a dim reflection then we shall see face to face - or his teaching about the physical and spiritual bodies).

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