When I arrived at the church I immediately saw yellow police tape blocking off the entrance to the church. It was an eye-catching reminder that something special was supposed to happen, and that it wasn't going to start in the sanctuary. Posters directed anyone who hadn't heard about the starting place for the service to go around back of the church.
In back of the church a crowd was milling around on the patio, some warming their hands over a fire. Others were sitting inside the fellowship hall with a view of the activity that was going to take place outside.
We sang a praise song from newsprint being held out of upper windows overlooking the courtyard. Then the drama began.
Young people in the crowd were asking questions. Checking whether anyone had heard about Jesus, and what had happened to him.
An unmarked police car drove up, lights flashing. Judas (played by Colin Yuckman, the pastor) identified Jesus (played by one of the young people)to the officer. The officer arrested Jesus, who went along peacefully. Meanwhile the crowd made comments about how it was about time somebody did something about Jesus.
Some people in the crowd recognized Peter as one people standing around the fire. Peter denied he knew Jesus when challenged by the crowd and the police officer; after the third denial he ran off.
Then we all moved inside to the fellowship hall where scripture was read and we sang more hymns. We were invited to complete a statement on a piece of paper: "I denied Jesus when I ..." The unsigned sheets were collected and pinned to a wall. Kathy Davis spoke to us about our denials and our forgiveness.
We turned our chairs to the side and Colin Yuckman offered a dramatic first-person monologue portraying Judas as he defended his choices and contemplated what he had done and was about to do.
We then moved ourselves upstairs to the vestibule where we joined in a litany posted on newsprint on the walls, committing ourselves to follow Jesus.
After singing another praise song we proceeded into the back of the sanctuary, where we watched Pilate conduct the trial of Jesus. At the conclusion of the trial we moved to the front of the sanctuary where we watched the crucifixion.
The young people did a great job in organizing this service. I am sure that everyone walked away from the experience with insights to ponder.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Good Friday at TUPCNK
Last night I attended the memorable and meaningful Good Friday service at the United Presbyterian Church of New Kensington. The service was organized by the youth group, included leaders of all ages, and was well-attended by a broad spectrum of people from the church.