FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT
Object: A bag of "silver" coins
[Using a cordless microphone, someone clinks coins onto a table.]
Listen! Someone is counting out coins. Big coins, coins that are probably worth lots of money. From the way they ring, they sound like silver coins.... Maybe even real silver, solid silver.
Listen! They're talking about how many coins there should be. Hmm, I wonder what they could be buying that's worth so many coins?
Hidden Voice: "How much will you give me iff betray Jesus to you?"
Oh, oh, is that the voice of Judas I hear? You mean, it's Jesus they are bargaining about?
Hidden Voice: "Twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty. Icount thiity pieces ofsilver here. Okaythen, it's a deal. I will find a way to hand him over to you."
Oh, come on! Thirty pieces of silver? Certainly Jesus is worth far more than that? Then again, why would anyone want to betray Jesus?
[Reader puts pouch ofcoins in the display area in front of small wooden cross.]
Song: "More Precious than Silver" Maranatha! Music Praise Chorus Book
Scripture Reading: Luke 22:1-6; Matthew 26:47-50; 27:1-10
SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
Object: A torn robe
[Reader holds up a colorful piece of cloth, then tears it.]
Now that sure is a strange sound. Why would anyone tear his clothes like that? Especially a high priest, who has such elegant robes! He must be very angry! I wonder why?
Hidden Voice: "He's angry because Jesus told him the truth!"
You mean to tell me the high priest is upset with Jesus?
Hidden Voice: I heard what happened. The high priest asked Jesus if he was really the Son of God, and Jesus said, "Yes, it's as you say." Jesus spoke the tmth, and now the high priest is angry.
I guess people get upset sometimes when they hear the truth. And I suppose that means that sometimes people lie so that other folks won't get angry with them. But that's not right. Jesus told the truth, and so should you and I.
The high priest should have known better.
[Reader puts cloth in display area, next to the pouch of coins.]
Song: "Worthy Is Christ" PsH 629, SFL 170
Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:57-68
THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
Object: A basin of water
[White reciting this piece, reader holds basin in one hand and uses other hand to cup the water and let it fall back into the basin.]
I hear water splashing again. Only this time it's not at somebody's baptism, and it's not water being turned into wine. Those were times when people were happy to have Jesus in their lives.
No, this time I hear Pontius Pilate washing his hands. He says this means he will have nothing to do with Jesus' death. But that's not true. Who is he trying to fool? He's just trying to save his own neck.
Doesn't Pilate know that you can't fool God? Doesn't he realize that you can't hide from the truth just by washing your hands?
Sometimes you and I act like Pilate did. We pretend something isn't our fault when it really is. But we can't fool God. God knows every time we do something wrong, every time we "mess up."
But you know something wonderful? God doesn't wash his hands of you and me. He keeps forgiving us—even when we hide from the truth like Pilate did. We belong to him, and he will never let go of us.
[Reader puts basin of water in display area.]
Song: "Baptized in Water" PsH 269, PH 492, SFL 60, TWC 758
Scripture Reading: John 18:28-19:16; Matthew 27:24-25
FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
Object: A whip
[Reader takes whip and smacks it against a brick wall or some other hard surface to produce a loud sound.]
Oh, it sounds so harsh! The whip . . . beating Jesus over and over and over again. Every blow of the whip must hurt so terribly! Why are they doing it? Why don't they stop? Don't they realize they are making a big mistake? Why would they set free a criminal like Barabbas and have you beaten and crucified?
Why don't you stop them, Jesus? They are the ones who deserve to be whipped, not you. They are the ones who are doing what is wrong. Lord, it hurts to see you abused like this. Why don't you give them a whipping? [pause]
Wait a second. Now I understand. You aren't going to whip them because then you would have to give us a whipping, too, wouldn't you? We're no better than they are; we're sinners too.
It isn't easy, Lord, but we're listening ... to hear how much you suffered in our place, what you endured for us.
"Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in our place condemned you stood, sealed our pardon with your blood. Hallelujah, what a Savior!"
[Reader places whip in display area.]
Song: "Man of Sorrows—What a Name" PsH 482, TH 246, TWC 226
Scripture Reading: John 18:28-19:16
FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
Objects: Hammer and nails
[Reader takes a short piece of two-by-four and proceeds to hammer three large nails partway into the wood.]
This is a sound that pierces our hearts and souls; it's the sound of the hammer striking the nails that were driven through Jesus' hands and feet. The sound of this hammer is loud and cruel. It echoes in our ears . . . and in our heads . . . and through our bodies. Every time we imagine hearing another hammer blow, we shudder. This is a sound we'd rather not hear. And every time we imagine the nails entering his flesh, we wince. This is a sight we'd rather not see.
But these are the sights and sounds that Jesus was waiting for. A long time ago, he had told his disciples that he would be "lifted up from the earth." That time had now come.
Lord, we want to turn away from these thoughts. But we can't and we mustn't. You said that when you were lifted up, you would draw all people to yourself. Well, it's working, Lord. Like a magnet you hung to that cross ... and, in spite of ourselves, in spite of our sorrow and shame, by your Word and Spirit we are being drawn to you ... as tightly as if nails were fastening and holding us to you.
[Reader puts wood with nails driven into it in display area.]
Song: "Were You There" PsH 377, PH 102, SFL 167, TH 260, TWC 218
Scripture Reading: Luke 23:26-34
SIXTH SUNDAY OF LENT:
Object: Palm branches
[Reader snaps some branches in half waves others to make a swishing sound.]
Listen to the snap as people break off palm branches. Listen to the swish as they wave them about like so many flags at a parade. Listen to the swoosh as they put some of them on the ground. And listen to the clip-clop as the donkey walks over them. I wish 1 had something to wave.
Wait a minute. I do have something to wave!
[Reader waves hand and encourages children to wave hands too.]
I have my hand. When something needs to be done—especially something Jesus might approve of—I can wave my hand and volunteer.
Song: "Hosanna! Hosanna!" SFL 160
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:1-11
[Reader takes some large dice (you may need to make dice that are big enough to be visible to the congregation) and drops them gently a few times onto the lectern.]
They took away everything you had, didn't they, Jesus? Only five days earlier, on the Sunday before your crucifixion, the people welcomed you into Jerusalem, shouting, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" Many spread palm branches before you, treating you like a triumphant warrior. Others took their own robes and spread them out in front of you, a gesture of honor and praise.
But now, here they are hurling insults. They are taking away everything you have, even your dignity. You once said that, unlike the birds that have nests and animals that have dens, you didn't really have a place to lay your head. But you did have the clothes on your back. And now those are being taken away too, as the soldiers gamble for you garments.
And so you gave up everything—everything you owned—to be our Savior. I wonder what we're willing to give up for you ...
[Reader puts dice in display area.]
Song: "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" PsH 384, PH 100, 101, RL 292, 293, SFL 166, TH 252, TWC 213
stanzas 1-2, 4
Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:32-44; John 19:23-24