As a second Easter in the context of global pandemic approaches, worship services and activities will be different again this year. Though traditional egg hunts may not be taking place this Easter, congregations across the diocese are being invited to participate in a creative new activity called “Easter boxing.”
Laura Marshall, the director of religious education at All Saints’ Church in Chelmsford, originally brought the idea to a recent gathering of children's formation colleagues after being inspired by a geocaching activity that her congregation did this past summer.
“What I witnessed was that it worked really well for the pandemic because families could go out to a site and, in most cases, there was no one else around,” Marshall said in an interview. “It worked really well for being outdoors and being engaged in this time where you have to be careful how you engage so that everyone stays safe.”
Congregations that wish to participate are asked to decorate a wooden egg and hide it in an accessible place outside on the church property in a weather-safe box--along with a logbook and other items, such as Easter Scripture, stickers to take and information about the church. They are to write a clue to the location of their box and send it to Marshall, who will then post all of the clues on Easter Day on a central website she has created for the project. Over the course of the six weeks of Easter, congregations will maintain their boxes, and anyone can use the website to go around visiting churches and searching for eggs.
Seekers are simply asked to follow basic rules to respect the sacred spaces they are visiting, and follow all COVID-19 protocols, including masks, physical distancing and hand sanitizing.
Marshall said she sees this activity as a creative and energizing way to engage people, especially children, with the Easter message of Jesus' resurrection, and to provide a model of “seeking” behavior that is part of the lifelong faith journey.
“One disservice I think we do to kids sometimes is we oversimplify the Easter message, and I think sometimes that’s out of a desire to protect them from the things that are complicated about Easter,” Marshall said. “I think one of the ways we can address that is by kind of emphasizing the mystery. It’s about wondering and searching; it’s not always about the answers. Maybe it seems a little cheesy, but to literally go and seek for something is important to do, to actively follow your faith. I think you can do that with kids by providing them real experiences of seeking.”
In addition to providing these seeking experiences for children and adults who may already be part of a congregation, Marshall sees the Easter boxing activity as one of the ways that congregations can actively welcome newcomers, by taking an action to show that they’re interested in connecting with others and they have something to share.
“It might actually bring people to your church who would never come to your church, and they can see how you connect with the world and how you care about the world and God,” Marshall said. “People who like to go out to find these things, they have sort of a seeking nature anyway. So if someone’s seeking, we can resonate as a place where you can find something of real value.”
--Bridget K. Wood
For more information, or to sign up to participate, contact Laura Marshall at email@example.com.
A member of All Saints' Church in Chelmsford has offered their painting services free of charge for any congregations who would like help decorating their eggs. For more information contact Laura Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.