Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Great Reenactment (Dialogue Column 3.31.09)

I wrote this for The Dialogue, the newsletter of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in St. Joseph, MO. Often, I'll post here on the blog my columns for the weekly newsletter. I mention it just so that folks who read the snail-mail version can skip this post if they've already read it.

Flip around on TV and you are likely to come across a dramatic reenactment that illustrates a famous court case or significant historical event. The best of these reenactments give the viewer a better understanding of what happened; while the worst end up blowing the illusion that one is viewing real events and leave the viewer laughing at the poorly paid actors trying to look like confederate soldiers or O. J. Simpson. Reenactments are used however, because our imagination is limited. We need actors to bring life to words and ideas. This is also the reason we have Holy Week.

Each year we reenact the events of Jesus’ last days. We begin with the waving palm leaves of the procession on Palm Sunday. Then we revisit the events of Jesus’ fateful last night: the Last Supper, the prayer at Gethsemane, the betrayal and the trial. In many churches, Good Friday is the time to reflect upon Jesus’ last words on the cross. Finally, we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. We carry out these traditions each year to bring life to the words we profess about Jesus Christ and the theology we live out as Christians.

This year at First Christian Church, we have a number of opportunities for members and non-members alike to reenact the last week of Jesus’ earthly life and the beginning of his resurrected power.

Children’s Craft Workshop--This Saturday morning children and their families are invited to make Easter crafts together.

Palm Sunday—This coming Sunday all are invited to come see the choir and children process into worship recalling Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Maundy Thursday and Tenebrae Service—On the Thursday evening of Holy Week all are invited to be a part of one of the most moving services provided by our church all year long. Church members will read by candle light the scriptural accounts of Jesus’ final hours as the lights of the church are extinguished to create the experience of darkness surrounding Jesus’ death.

Easter Sunday—The congregation will gather to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. We will enjoy a delicious Easter breakfast before worship and the children will have an Easter egg hunt in the park

The Labyrinth—This year FCC offers a new way to experience the power of Holy Week. A labyrinth or Prayer Walk will be set up in the Social Room. Labyrinths date back to the medieval Cathedrals and in recent years have become a way for Protestant and Catholic Christians to experience a time of contemplation and meditation. At different times during Holy Week, individuals can follow the path laid out to interactive stations that will offer activities for reflection and prayer. If you have never walked a labyrinth before, make sure you take this unique opportunity for spiritual growth.

Unlike reenactments on TV when poor production can spoil the effect, we have the grace of God to help us in our reenactments during Holy Week. The waving of a palm branch by a child, the lowering of lights in a church sanctuary or the reading of scripture given by an ordinary church member each have the power to evoke in us a new experience of the divine and a new appreciation of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace,


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