Share |

Hear It, See It, Feel It, Take It

An Intergenerational Lenten Event

For Ash Wednesday, the ministry team of Princeton Christian Reformed Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan) created an intergenerational event for Ash Wednesday which could also work at any other time during Lent. You will need one plastic egg for each person you expect to attend and can adjust the rest of the supplies accordingly. You will also need at least four readers for the gathering time, a few people for imposition of ashes, three station leaders who read the “Hear It” script, one or two helpers for each station, and three ushers.

Before the event, acquaint the ushers with the locations of the three stations and explain the order of rotation. As people leave the gathering space, an usher leads the first third to the first station, with the second and third ushers taking their thirds of the group to the second and third station. After ten minutes, ushers lead their groups to their next station. Allow transition time between each rotation. Once every group has been at all three stations, everyone returns to the gathering space.

Supplies

  • Refillable plastic Easter eggs in which participants will put a:
    • purple paper square
    • pretend coin or penny
    • small cross on which to write their name or initials
    • small stone on which to write “He Is Risen”
    • crouton
  • Ash
  • Markers/crayons to write on paper
  • Coin coloring page
  • Giant hands cut from butcher paper
  • Strips of cloth from rags
  • Markers to write on fabric and small cross
  • Easily rippable cloth
  • Cake, hot cross buns, or other refreshments
  • Station signs

Gathering

(about 25 minutes)

Supplies: “Hear It” script, dishes containing ashes (enough for each person putting ash on the paper squares and for the imposition of ashes), purple squares, hollow Easter eggs

Singing

“Open the Eyes of My Heart” Baloche, LUYH 537, GtG 452
“Blessed Be the Name of the Lord” Moen
“Mighty to Save” Fielding and Morgan, LUYH 611

Opening Learning Time

Hear It

Each year Jesus traveled to celebrate a special feast with his family and friends. This feast was the Passover. On Jesus’ last trip to Jerusalem before his death and resurrection, the disciples were worried about him. They knew that some people wanted to hurt him. They told Jesus that it was not safe for him to go to Jerusalem. But Jesus knew that he must go. Because the disciples loved Jesus very much, they followed him as he traveled.

During the journey other people asked Jesus if they could go with him. Jesus told people that it would not be easy to follow him. He said, “When you decide to follow me, you must not keep looking back when things get hard. You must not make excuses and say you have other important things to do. Come now and tell everyone about the reign of God.”

The forty days before Easter (not counting Sundays) are called Lent. It’s a time when we get ready to celebrate Easter. During Lent we journey with Jesus. And as we journey with Jesus we intentionally work on developing practices that help deepen our relationship with him and hope that these habits will carry on into the rest of the year. During Lent we think about Jesus’ warning that it will not be easy to follow him. We look at how we are living and ask Jesus to help us. We try to help others, even when it means we must change our plans. We try not to make excuses or to find other things to do when it is time to pray. We ask Jesus to give us the courage to do what is right even when it is hard. Following Jesus means learning to live for others by putting the needs of our neighbors, friends, classmates, and even people we don’t know ahead of our own needs. When we do this, we are following Jesus’ words. In Mark 8:34, Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Jesus is reminding his disciples that if they want to be his followers, they must leave everything else behind and trust only Jesus.

When Jesus says, “Take up [your] cross,” he means two things.

First, Jesus means that we must choose to follow him. In response to all that Jesus has done for us and because we love him, we choose to take up our crosses.

Second, our love for Christ makes us willing to pick up our crosses to help others. Jesus gave us many examples in the Bible that show how Jesus took up his cross. We are going to look at a few of these stories. Listen closely to them. At the end of each story, I will say “Jesus says to us . . .”, after which you are invited to finish the sentence by saying, “Take up your cross and follow me.” [You may want to practice this a few times.]

First Scene

Reader: Once Jesus was in a town where there was a man suffering from a dreaded skin disease. When he saw Jesus, he threw himself down and begged him:

Man: Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean!

Reader: Jesus reached down and touched him.

Jesus: I do want to. Be clean!

Reader: At once the disease left the man. Why did Jesus do that? Didn’t he know what chance he took? Skin diseases can be very contagious. Touching a person with a skin disease could make you sick too.

Leader: Jesus says to us,

All: “Take up your cross and follow me.”

Second Scene

Reader: One day while Jesus and his disciples were traveling through Samaria, he sat down by a well. A Samaritan woman came to draw water.

Jesus: Please, give me a drink of water.

Woman: You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman—so how can you ask me for a drink?

Reader: Good question. For one thing, Jews and Samaritans hated each other. They would not even eat or drink from the same plates and cups. For another thing, men did not speak to women in public—especially women they did not know. Jesus not only talked to a Samaritan woman, but he even asked her for a cup of water. When Jesus’ disciples returned and found Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman, they were greatly surprised.

Leader: Jesus says to us,

All: “Take up your cross and follow me.”

We have a special symbol that helps us remember we need Jesus. On our own, we remember we are like Adam, made from dust. We all need a rescuer. That person is Jesus. We are about to begin a journey with Jesus. Just as a luggage tag identifies your suitcase when you travel, you can now be marked as a follower of Jesus. As you leave the sanctuary and move on to the prayer stations, you are invited to mark a cross on a piece of paper with ash. If you’d like we will also mark your forehead with ash. [If needed, include directions here about what aisle(s) to use to come forward and to leave. You can also provide directions for the prayer stations.]

Imposition of Ashes

[Those marking people’s foreheads with ash say to each person: “(Name), now you are marked as a follower of Jesus.”]

See/Feel It

Ashes on paper and/or forehead (optional)

Take It With to Remember

[Each person leaving the gathering space receives a hollow Easter egg in which to put his or her ash-marked piece of paper. Those gathered will split into three groups to be ushered to different stations.]

Station: Jesus At Gethsemane

Supplies: “Hear It” script, coin coloring pages, large outline of “God’s hand” with the text from Isaiah 49:16 written on it (if groups are big you might want one for each group), markers/crayons, small coins.

Hear It

To rescue us from sin, Jesus let himself be arrested.

Let’s hear the story of the night Jesus was betrayed by his friend Judas. (Read “On The Mount of Olives,” Chapter 3 in Walter Wangerin’s Peter’s First Easter (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000).)

Jesus was praying the night his friend Judas handed him over to the people who wanted to kill Jesus. Jesus knew he needed to die on the cross to save us from our sins. I imagine Jesus was thinking of us when he was praying in the garden. God promises us in Isaiah 49:15–16, “I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

We have two activities for you to do. One is to draw a picture of your face on this coin coloring page. Judas was given money to betray Jesus. Judas was Jesus’ friend, but he was sneaky and unfaithful, and he double-crossed Jesus. We are going to draw our faces on these coins because we do those things to Jesus too. We sometimes are sneaky trying not to get caught in a lie. Or we can be unfaithful with what Jesus has asked of us. And when we double-cross Jesus, we aren’t a good representative of him.

The second activity is to trace your hand within the big hand of God, remembering the verse from Isaiah: “I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” God loves you so much that God doesn’t want anything keeping you and God apart. God knows you can’t get rid of your sin on your own. So God had your name in mind when God took your sins away.

See/Feel It

  • Draw your face on a picture of a coin because we all betray Jesus.
  • Trace your hand within the big outline of God’s hand and write your name inside your tracing.

Take It With to Remember

[As people leave this station they are given a pretend coin or a penny to put in their egg.]

Station: Jesus on the Cross

Supplies: “Hear It” script, strips of cloth from rags, markers to write on fabric and small cross, large cross, little crosses

Hear It

Has anyone ever done something to you that you didn’t like—mean words, mean actions, or other hurtful things? Scripture calls those things sin. They are things we do that aren’t the way God intended us to act. You know we’re all pretty quick to come up with sins someone else might commit. But now I want you to think of a time you sinned—a time you did something wrong or failed to do the right thing. You don’t have to tell anyone; Jesus already knows.

We all have sinned. Every single one of us. Every person—except Jesus.

[Pass out strips of cloths torn from rags.]

These rags represent our sins—the wrong things we do. We can try to do good things, but even the good things don’t make us holy before God. Because no matter what we do, we can’t get rid of our sin on our own. Only Jesus can rescue us from our sin.

Jesus was willing to die on a cross to take the punishment for our sins. God is holy and pure. We can’t be close to God because of our sin. But Jesus was willing to take on our filthy rags of sin onto himself. Write your name on a rag.

[Invite everyone to lay down their rags on the large cross.]

When we believe in Jesus, he cleanses us from our sins. He takes away our sin and says we are like him, made holy for God. [Distribute smaller crosses.] You can write your name or initials on this cross to put in your egg. And remember that with the cross Jesus gave you victory—freedom from sin and a relationship with God.

See/Feel It

Write your name on a torn rag, representing sin, and lay it on the cross.

Take It With to Remember

[As people leave this station they can put their crosses in their eggs.]

Station: The Resurrection

Supplies: “Hear It” script, cloth that can be torn, stones, markers that can write on stone

Hear It

[Hand pieces of cloth to people as they enter.]

Did you know that before Jesus the Israelites couldn’t be in the presence of God? To be in God’s holy presence could cost you your life. To protect the people there was a big curtain in the temple in front of the Holy of Holies. Sin had separated people from God. They weren’t holy enough to be in God’s presence, so the curtain was hung between them and God. Like the people of Israel, we are not holy enough on our own either.

But when Jesus died, that curtain was torn apart [tear the cloth]. Jesus made it possible for us to have direct access to God. If we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are made holy and clean. We become a part of God’s family. Jesus made it possible for us to have a relationship with God. Our sin doesn’t need to block us from God any more. [Allow time for others to tear their cloths.]

As amazing as that is, there is more! When Jesus died, soldiers placed his body in a tomb and then put a huge, heavy stone in front of it so no one could get in or out. The stone was definitely too big and heavy for any one person to move. The day after Jesus died, some of Jesus’ friends went to visit his tomb and were surprised to see not only that the big heavy stone had been moved, but that Jesus’ body was missing. You see, Jesus didn’t stay dead. Our God is stronger than anything on earth. Stronger than the heaviest stone; stronger even than death. And just as Jesus came back to life, anyone who believes in Jesus as their Lord and Savior will also come back to life. The fact that Jesus overcame death assures us that it is possible, that God’s promise of eternal life is true. That is why Easter gives us so much hope and why on Easter Christians across the world excitedly proclaim, “Christ is risen,” to which others respond, “He is risen indeed!” Let’s do that now. I’ll say “Christ is risen,” and you respond “He is risen indeed!”

[Invite each participant to take a stone and write “He Is Risen” on it.]

See/Feel It

  • Rip a cloth
  • Write “He Is Risen” on a stone

Take It With to Remember

[As people leave this station they can put their stones in their eggs.]

A Family Celebration

(about 10 minutes)

Supplies: “Hear It” script, croutons, hot cross buns or cake with small icing crosses on each piece

Hear It

Each of you should have received an egg to remind you of the lessons we’ve learned together. When the egg is closed it reminds us of the sealed tomb.[Show them a closed egg that is empty inside.] On chicken farms the eggs don’t stay closed though, do they? Eventually, the egg cracks open and a chick comes out. From what looks like a sealed tomb, life emerges. When we open our eggs, we are reminded that the tomb is empty, that Jesus is alive. [Open the closed egg to show that it is empty inside.] The big word we use to describe this is “resurrection.” Jesus was dead, but now he is alive. The tomb was closed but now it is open. “Christ is risen!” All: “He is risen indeed!”

Because we are all called children of God, we are a family too! In the family of God, we all need each other. That is why we have weekly worship and events like this one. We all come together to learn about Jesus and to become his disciple or follower.

We celebrate our family of God when we worship by sharing a meal we call the Lord’s Supper or communion. Before we eat and drink, we thank God for the world God made and the hope God gives. We thank God for creating us, loving us, saving us, and helping us grow.

Tonight we aren’t going to celebrate communion, but we do have the opportunity to fellowship together as we share some [buns/cake/other food]. As you fellowship together, look around to see those Jesus loves. The joy and fellowship we experience tonight is imperfect and pales in comparison to the banquet we will eat when Christ comes again.

To remind you of our hope in the heavenly banquet, you are invited to take a crouton and put it in your egg.

Take It With to Remember

[As people go to get food, hand them a crouton to put in their egg.]

Taste It

Share buns or cake with the family of God!

Article Resources: