Students Celebrate Holy Week: Resources from Two High School Chapels

This past year Unity Christian High School in Grandville, Michigan www.unitychristian.org/ about.htm#mission), planned two chapel services during Holy Week. The first chapel was a time of reflection on Luke 22-23. The Good Friday chapel included a moving juxtaposition of a Christmas carol with the reading of the Passion narrative (see box).

The first chapel was based on an assignment given earlier by art teacher Lori Hernandez to the upper level drawing class. Students were asked to read Luke 22-23 and create a drawing that displayed one theme from these verses. The students then had to write a reflective paragraph about their artwork. When the drawings were complete, I took digital photos of all the work and used them in a PowerPoint presentation.

Call to Worship: Reflecting on the Cross

We began in the darkened auditorium with a cello duet of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” while displaying a picture of a crown of thorns.

The Word: Spoken Reflections

After the cello duet, we had five students describe and talk about their pictures, which were projected on the screen.

One of the students said that she surrounded the cross in the picture with her fingerprints in charcoal, since it was her sin that put Christ there. Another created an incredible picture of a man with his arms around a woman, grief on both their faces. This student went on to share that she couldn’t imagine what it would be like for a mother to see her son crucified, and how even in Jesus’ agony, he still showed his love for those who loved him (John 19:25-27).

Our Response

After these five students spoke, the orchestra (which was sitting on the darkened stage throughout) put on their stand lights (so it was still mostly dark) and played “Fantasia in F” by Tracey Rush, a very moving piece. While the orchestra played, I showed the rest of the PowerPoint presentation of pictures from the art class, fading to black between each picture.

This service turned out to be much more personal and effective than I ever imagined. Afterwards, a teacher came up to me with tears streaming down his cheeks. I believe that the personal aspect of this chapel is what made it so special. I am always amazed at the spiritual depth that students display if only given the chance to do so.

 

Excerpt

This, This, Is Christ the King

A Christmas Song and Reading for Good Friday

[Soloist walks onstage on one side, reader on the other. Piano plays through “What Child Is This” (one time). During the playing, the screen projects the following:]

Screen 1: For unto us a child is born, a son is given.

Screen 2: And the government will be on his shoulders.

Blank screen.

Screen of Christ (student drawing)

[During the following solo/reading, the piano plays the entire time, following along with the soloist. There is no delay between the soloist’s part and the reader’s part. The soloist sings the part slowly; the reader reads loudly.]

Soloist: What child is this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping.

Reader: While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. . . . The men stepped forward, seized Jesus, and arrested him.

Soloist: Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,while shepherds watch are keeping.

Reader: The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

Soloist: This, this is Christ the King,
whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
the babe, the son of Mary.

Reader: “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder.

Soloist: So bring him incense, gold and myrrh,

come, peasant, king, to own him.

Reader: They stripped Jesus and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews.” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.

Soloist: The King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone him.

Reader: Above his head they placed the written charge against him, “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.”

Soloist: This, this is Christ the king,
whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
the babe, the son of Mary.

Next screen: three crosses

[The following scene is read slowly.]

Reader: From the sixth hour until the ninth hour, darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” [pause for five seconds] And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. [pause five seconds] When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified and exclaimed, “Surely, he was the Son of God.”

Soloist: This, this is Christ the king,
whom shepherds guard and angels sing,
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
the Christ who brings salvation.

[Silence while the last five screens are shown (from Isaiah 40)]

Screen 1: Comfort, comfort my people says your God.
Screen 2: Speak tenderly to Jerusalem
Screen 3: and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed
Screen 4: and that her sin
Screen 5: has been paid for.

[Soloist and reader exit. Blank screen.]

 

Artwork top row from left:

“John and Mary’s Anguish” by Alicia LeFebre;
“On the Mount of Olives” by Keala Overweg;
“Shadow of Denial” by Marc Eberlein

Artwork bottom row from left:

“Passion in the Crucifixion” by Jared Lambers;
“Reaching for Christ” by Terra Scholma;
“His Final Moment” by Katlyn Rozema;
“Breathing His Last” by Ryan VanDyke;
“Grief in the Garden”