PALM BRANCHES AND HOSANNAS. For the Christian church, both mark Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.
Small groups participated in 45-minute tours on “Journey to the Cross.”
This morning at the church I attend, Trinity Lutheran in Faribault, Holy Week also began with a “Journey to the Cross” event. I was blessed to be a volunteer in this journey which led attendees through Christ’s final days to his glorious resurrection on Easter.
Participating kids (and some adults) carried passports. At nearly every station, stickers were distributed to place in the passports.
With passports in hand, kids and adults traveled from station to station, listening to performers role-play the parts of towns’ people, a temple worker, soldiers, an angel and others.
Participants had their hands washed by volunteers, following the example of Christ washing his disciples’ feet.
But this was about much more than sharing biblical history. This was about hands-on activities that reinforced the spoken word. This was about engaging the senses and experiencing Holy Week.
Matzo, unleavened bread from Jerusalem, was served as representative of food from Jesus’ time period.
And therein lies the strength of “Journey to the Cross.” Participants received palm branches, felt the weight of the 30 silver coins Judas received for betraying Jesus, heard the crack of the whip against Jesus’ back, pounded nails into wood, tasted vinegar like that offered to Christ suffering on the cross, raised their voices in “He is risen!” at the vacant tomb and more.
A volunteer crafted this crown of thorns similar to the one Christ wore on the cross. Tour participants saw it close up and could touch the crown.
I left with a deeper connection and understanding of what Christ endured. I could hear, see, feel, taste and smell the events of that final week. It was a memorable morning and the perfect contemplative beginning to Holy Week.
THE JOURNEY IN MORE PHOTOS:
Stop #1, Jerusalem on Palm Sunday:
Volunteer Theresa speaks to participants about Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
Stop #2, Judas betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver:
Randy, role-playing a temple worker, tells how Judas betrayed Jesus.
Making coin rubbings in passports to remember how Judas betrayed Jesus with 30 pieces of silver.
Stop #3, Before the Passover meal on the Thursday of Holy Week, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet:
Actress Diane talks about Jesus gathering with his disciples and washing their feet.
Rather than washing feet, hands were washed.
Stickers were distributed for placement in the passport after the hand washing.
Stop #4, Remembering the Passover meal, Jesus’ last meal with his disciples:
Signs marked each station.
Participants could sample various foods such as horseradish, matzo, grape juice and more.
Grape juice ready to be served.
Stop #5, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane:
A sign marks the station focusing on prayer.
Stop #6, Jesus was whipped, beaten and teased:
Volunteer Leann talks about the torture Jesus suffered even prior to his crucifixion.
Wayne played perhaps the most memorable role, that of a soldier whipping Jesus.
The whip cracks across the mannequin representing Jesus.
Stop #7, Christ is crucified on the cross:
The stage was set with a cross, hammer and nails. Participants pounded nails into wood to remember how Christ was nailed to the cross.
This artwork and nails were placed at the base of the cross.
Stop #8: As Jesus died on the cross, he said he was thirsty. He was given vinegar to drink. (I don’t have any photos from this station.) Participants could taste vinegar.
A photo of Christ’s face from a stained glass window in Trinity Lutheran, Faribault. This depicts Him after His resurrection.
Stop #9: Jesus’ tomb is found empty on Easter. (I don’t have any photos from this station.) Those on the tour joined the angel and the woman at the gravesite in celebrating Jesus resurrection with these words: He is risen!
Stop #10, The final check-in station allowed participants to talk and write about their experiences:
What a young girl, Jennifer, wrote.
FYI: “Journey to the Cross” is available for purchase through Concordia Publishing House. Click here for more information.
It’s described as “an outreach and educational event for your congregation and community. Through activities based on Scripture, participants experience the joy of Palm Sunday, the disappointment of Judas’ betrayal, the devastation of the crucifixion, the jubilation of the resurrection, and so much more. This family program invites children and adults to walk the path that Jesus walked.”
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling