This service was originally planned in 2016 for the first-ever Ash Wednesday service at CrossPoint Christian Reformed Church of Brampton, Ontario. I planned it with Scott Post—then CrossPoint’s youth pastor—and a young member of the congregation. In 2019 I amended and adapted the original service for our context at Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Brampton, a congregation that hadn’t observed Ash Wednesday for many years.
Holy Week at Covenant Life Church, a Christian Reformed church in Grand Haven, Michigan, has taken on a very distinct shape over the last twelve years. Prior to celebrating the glory of the resurrection, we create space to dwell with Christ by way of an immersive Stations of the Cross experience. The Stations of the Cross have a long, storied history within the Christian faith. For us, our goal is to create an interactive, meditative, and multi-sensory journey with Jesus, walking with him in the final hours of his life, leading up to his death and resurrection.
The lectionary cycle for Lent in Year A includes incredibly rich psalms. As poetry, psalms are full of sights, smells, tastes, touches, and sounds. They are a great launching pad for engaging all our senses in worship. This cycle of prayer stations takes advantage of that opportunity.
Props and Set
Eleven medium-size rocks, ten on a large black cloth at stage left and one at front, center stage. Metal wheelbarrow at back, center stage. Wooden cross, stage right. Lighted Christ candle on a high table next to Narrator.
Narrator; Person (dressed in black and wearing black gloves); Judas; Jesus; False Witnesses; High Priest; two Servant Girls; Peter; Observer; Pilate; Crowd (can be made up of False Witnesses, two Servant Girls, and Observer); Soldiers
Some time before Lent our pastor, Al Van Dellen, announced the theme of his Lenten messages: “Crucified—by My Hand.” The topics were Judas, Nicodemus, Peter, and the Centurion. I immediately thought of the wonderful readings from the drama “We Were There” by Marla Ehlers (see RW 58). We used Ehlers’s portrayals of Judas and Peter on the appropriate Sundays, and I wrote readings for Nicodemus and the Centurion, along with a service plan for the Centurion. I’m hoping others may find these useful!
The comforting smell of baking bread may evoke childhood memories of your mother’s kitchen or remind you of leisurely Saturday mornings sitting at the local bakery with the newspaper and a cup of coffee. But few people associate that lovely aroma with church services, even though bread figures prominently in worship.
This liturgy has three movements: confession, assurance, and rededication. It’s as though the reconciliation part of worship that is common in many Reformed churches is magnified to encompass the entire service.
Because I refer to him in the meditation, I used Saint Augustine’s words about finding rest in God as the opening sentences. This theme is immediately picked up again in the gathering hymn, especially in stanza 4. Another
communion hymn that echoes this theme is “In the Quiet Consecration” (PsH 302).