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.”
For this litany David Gambrell took Psalm 22, a traditional psalm for Good Friday, and interspersed it with quotes from The New York Times (Good Friday, March 21, 2008). Consider putting together a similar service using current news articles. You could use two readers—one for the psalm quotes (in italics) and one for the news quotes (roman)—or use many readers by having
different readers for each of the news quotes.
Psalm 22. For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.
This service of Scripture, song, and Supper is intended for use on Good Friday. It is designed to help people walk with Jesus to the cross during his Passion as they hear various passages of Scripture from Luke’s gospel, ideally read by people of various ages. Sections marked TWS are from The Worship Sourcebook, available at www.FaithAliveResources.org.
Call to Worship