We did our Stations of the Resurrection on Pentecost Friday – 18 stops ending with Pentecost as the climax. Each station started with a response, then a bible reading, then various people made a tableau of the scene, and then a few words from me, a prayer and a response. Simple, except we didn’t want to have the service more than 75 mins and we did want to have something meaningful at each Station.
I confess that when I revealed to the choir the night before what I had in mind there was incredulity and laughter – was the vicar THAT badly in need of a holiday? When I said I’d like, for the first station, the earthquake, for them to sort of make a hill with a cave out of people, and for an earthquake sound to come from the keyboard, and for someone to switch the lights on an off (the angel had the appearance of lightning you remember) and three soldiers with swords (from the Nativity dressing up box) to fall as if dead, well, it all seemed rather silly and ridiculous. But ridiculous or not it was too late to back out now – I’d announced it – it had to happen – or I’d look silly and ridiculous. Don’t do it, I lose. Do it…well there was a chance it could work. All I could say was, when I went through the readings in one sitting, and saw it in my minds eye, it was a beautiful experience and I wanted others to have it.
On the day: We started with the earthquake from the piano, a volunteer flashed the lights, two families volunteered to throw dignity to the wind and fell down as though dead, swords in hand. And we were off. No turning back. Everyone was laughing, and it could have been very silly, only it wasn’t. I spoke a few sentences on the fearful things that God may even send us, but that through it he may open things up for us to see what we could not see before etc, then the prayer and response.
A volunteer for Mary Magdalene took a headscarf to look biblical and came to the tomb, cried out (sort of) and I told them, now run away! and they ran off. I’d practiced the disciple scenes with the choir as I needed them to do specific things so for the next stations, after the reading, ‘John’ ran on, followed by ‘Peter’ who went past John and peered in between the legs of the two volunteers making the cave entrance. Then the women all came to the tomb.
Four stations down, 12 to go. I looked up at the clock and wonderfully we were according to time! The congregation was really in the swing of the responses, the reading and action, but now we followed the women going from the tomb, guitarists leading us as we sang, ‘Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King’ until we got to the other side of church when Lo, Jesus was about to appear to the women! So soon! Then some folks carried on a table with three plates, and sat (Emmaus). A nice touch for this one was the Last supper pic on the wall of their dining room :-). They were so excited or course that they didn’t wait but went straight to Jerusalem (the centre of the nave), so off we all went singing away again.
In the centre of the nave we did the upper room Stations ending with the appearance to Thomas, who came on and said when Jesus came back again, Wow, is it really you?! Then we then moved off singing to Galilee at the back of church where Jesus was waiting for us by the charcoal fire, then the disciples came in with their nets (with a piece of paper inside them saying 153 – you think I was going to photocopy 153 fish?). For the Peter/Jesus exchange (do you love me?) they themselves said the words and the bible reader just gave the intro and ending – very moving. Then when Peter headed off and pointed back and said ‘What about him?’ it pierced the air and was hanging there very poignantly somehow, and I talked of how we look at others and wish we might not have the hardships (just promised to Peter) we have, or wish we were as closely intimate with God (as John was with Jesus) but we have to get on and live our OWN lives with/for God, which seemed to strike a chord with a number of people.
Then we headed back for the mountain near Jerusalem (a box in front of the altar) for the Commisioning (Matt 28), the Ascension, and Pentecost. The Ascension was a bit tame – a sheet (cloud) carried on and held in front of Jesus who then walked off behind it – but what could I do? We don’t have a winch in the ceiling above the altar table! But the two in white cassocks coming on to say ‘Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again’ was a nice reminder both of the words the angels actually said, and the weekly reminder of the whole thing in Communion. After the Pentecost one we all split into small groups and prayed in our own languages (of which we have many in our congregation) and ended with the Lord’s Prayer.
I also mentioned the 19th Station in the order of service for folk to follow up later, as Jesus did that later too – his appearance to Saul.
The pictures below will hopefully give you a better idea.
18 Stations, with meaningful meditations, plus church notices, in 75 minutes – we did it! Thank you to all the volunteers who jumped up on the day, and to the choir who turned up to do it even knowing what they were letting themselves in for! It was a wonderful and meaningful morning.
We also had a wonderful service on Pentecost Sunday too in Korean, German and English (simultaneously) with the three congregations joining together. I’ll have to tell you about that another time.
Click on any of the pictures for a bigger image – you can also see the full size pictures from this service (and many other events from Christ Church and the Chaplaincy) on our Flickr Account.