Today’s Author: Carol Swanson

Music and art speak to our souls. Story and drama help us experience and connect with others. This Lenten season has been enhanced creatively in many ways. How have they touched you?

The chains wrapping the altar-table. 
A prayer station to write about what holds us captive and keeps us from experiencing life,
dropped in the baptismal bowl and added to the chain-wrapped cross as uplifted prayer.
The posted theme, UNBOUND and Set Free —with chain links broken by doves. 

The lovely works of our Lenten Artists.
A crown made of thorns, a model of a tomb.
A blue and yellow bouquet representing Ukraine, reminding us of the real and present brokenness and grief in the world.

The dramatic character visits we’ve had each Wednesday night: Mary, sister of Lazarus; the disciple, Andrew; Peter “the rock”; an unnamed Woman in the Crowd of followers; and tonight—Pilate. 

Once when I was an 18-year-old camp counselor, we decided to put on a simple passion play.  
We used Jester Hairston’s gospel-sermon song Amen made famous in the 1963 film Lilies of the Field with Sidney Poitier. (It’s actually Hairston’s voice dubbed in.) You can watch the 3-minute film clip below:

One of the counselor’s played guitar and sang the lead, and the rest of the counselors and kids sang the Amens. I remember it was the counselor Jess who played Jesus—he even looked like the stereotypical young Jesus with long hair and neat beard. Each verse would be acted out as a little vignette by a group of campers somewhere in the camp, and the rest of us sang the chorus over and over as we walked between the locations. 

Chorus: Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen. Sing it over.

Verse 1: 
See the little baby (amen),
Wrapped in a manager (amen),
On a Christmas morning (amen, amen, amen).

Verse 2:
See Him in the temple (amen),
Talkin’ with the elders (amen),
Who marveled at His wisdom (amen, amen, amen).

Verse 3: 
See Him at the Jordan (amen),
Where John was baptizin’ (amen),
And savin’ all the sinners (amen, amen, amen).

Verse 4:
See Him at the seaside (amen),
Talkin’ to the fishermen (amen),
And makin’ them disciples (amen, amen, amen).

Verse 5: 
Marchin’ in Jerusalem (amen),
Over palm branches (amen),
In pomp and splendor (amen, amen, amen).

Verse 6: 
See Him in the garden (amen),
Prayin’ to His Father (amen),
In deepest sorrow (amen, amen, amen).

Verse 7:
Led before Pilate (amen),
Then they crucified Him….

That’s where we broke it off: mid-verse, as we acted it out.  I was with the group of campers who yelled “Crucify him! Crucify him!” and we encouraged the rest of the crowd of campers to join in. “Crucify him! Crucify him!”  Then they put Jesus on the cross. And we all scattered and went off to some recreational activities.

I didn’t have any responsibilities the next hour, and I went a little way out in the forest to think about what we had just done. It had started out happily, almost like a parade as we moved from vignette to vignette, singing—until verse 7.  “Crucify him!” we shouted again and again. Suddenly, it hit me hard. I remember sitting on the large rock with tears of guilt and grief. The power of drama. 

Gracious God, thank you for the gift of creativity, for inspiring us with ways to see your powerful love story in fresh, and sometimes surprising, ways.  And we also pray for those caught up in tragic events and for Ukraine. We know you are there with them in their suffering and grief. Amen.

Mid-week devotions are authored by members of our community.  If you are interested in creating a trio of reflections to be shared on an upcoming Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, contact Pastor Peter.