Approximately 2,016 years ago, God couldn’t walk. He had to be carried everywhere, like most babies.
2,015 years ago, God took some staggering first steps, fell, and scraped his knee. He cried, and his mother wiped away his tears and told him to try again. Or maybe he still crawled everywhere. Some toddlers are late bloomers.
2,010 years ago, God ran across the street in a small town with the other kids, perhaps playing a version of soccer. He might not have been very good at it.
This service of shadows follows Matthew after he abandoned Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. We imagine that Matthew follows the path that Jesus took, speaking with 12 people who each tell him a part of the crucifixion story. As they talk about the events that have taken place, Matthew is reminded of prophecies from Isaiah, from the psalms, and from the words of Jesus himself as he foretold his death.
This service, entitled “It is Over. It Begins,” was billed as an art-filled evening of remembrance and hope. It included music, poetry, dance, and visual art arranged around the traditional Tenebrae structure centered on the seven sayings of Christ on the cross.
This service is comprised of seven movements, each of which focuses on one of Jesus’ seven last words and consists of a gospel reading, a meditation, and a congregational response. It combines elements traditional to the Stations of the Cross, Tre Ore, and Tenebrae services, as well as a few subtle dramatic devices of the Passion Play.
Honest faith requires expressions of lament. Most of us do not have to ponder too deeply to realize that something is wrong; the world’s not all as it should be. However, this feeling, this sense of discomfort and frustration, is not often expressed in our worship. Shouldn’t we be able to express ourselves honestly in worship, asking God the difficult questions—the ones that keep us up at night due to our lack of satisfying answers?
While reading Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods and contemplating a series of messages on idolatry during the Lent season, I realized that perhaps each violation after the first two of the ten commandments (you shall have no other gods; you shall not make idols) points to some expression of idolatry. And then I read Keller’s reference to what Martin Luther wrote in his Larger Catechism: “The fundamental motivation behind law breaking is idolatry.”
While Isaiah 53 was written with the captivity of Israel in mind, its verses contain a prophetic account of the sufferings of Christ, including the design of his sufferings. Jesus suffered for our sins, in our place. This atonement is the only way of salvation. By his sufferings Jesus purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God. We will endure if we love him who has first loved us.
This service was designed to include the following elements: