An expectant hush falls over the crowd. Eager anticipation is barely contained with fidgets and twistings for a better view. The air is full of sweet perfume and warmth. As the longed for arrival comes into view, a murmur begins to arise. What would they find? What would it look like? You’ll see, whispered those who had witnessed the miracle before. You’ll see! And then one nugget was plucked from the rest and held aloft for all to see. Carefully an end was removed from the fragrant brown oval. A spontaneous gasp from the gathering. It was true! The tomb was empty! The miracle lasted long enough for the teacher to swiftly distribute the remaining nuggets without fuss and disagreement. Then silence as the warm nuggets disappeared into anxious mouths. And discussion could begin – not always at a comfortable decibel. But always a lesson well-learned.
This scene is repeated year after year. And the reaction is always the same! I’ve taught mixed age children’s classes from five to fifty in a number of different churches and this is a lesson that always “works”. And it works beautifully at home or in other settings, as well. It is a hands on lesson that kids always understand. I stress that it is not magic. The dough does what it is supposed to do. The marshmallow does what it is supposed to do. And God’s love remains to be found in the sweetness that remains. Other symbolism includes:
- Marshmallow – the body of Jesus
- Butter – oils used in burial
- Cinnamon and sugar – the spices used to perfume the body
- Dough – the tomb
- Baked roll with empty center is, of course, the empty tomb following the resurrection
Also known as Easter Rolls or Empty Tombs, I first saw this recipe in a church school teacher’s guide. Some clever Christian Educator took a popular Pillsbury Bake Off recipe from ages ago and gave it new meaning. Some tips I’ve gathered: Have fun! Guide the kids, but remember it is impossible to do this wrong. Pass around a bottle of hand sanitizer as you begin. Pinching the dough around the marshmallow is key. I usually have kids put the marshmallow on the narrow tip of the crescent and roll toward the larger end because it’s easier to pinch together and completely cover the marshmallow. Use Pillsbury Crescent Rolls because they seem to stay pinched better (leak less!) than other brands. Line the baking sheets with aluminum foil or parchment paper for quick cleanup – because, in spite of your best efforts, some marshmallow will leak out of at least one roll! You may have leftovers of butter and the cinnamon sugar mixture – but that allows for possible loss due to “mess”. Just before rolls are done, begin to build the anticipation as the rolls are removed from the oven and the first one opened. Have fun!
These are also a great addition to any dinner, or as an accompaniment to a light soup or salad. The original recipe called for a confectioner sugar glaze and chopped nuts on the top to make a breakfast treat.
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