Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A close-up Journey to the Cross March 29, 2015

Palm branches.

Palm branches.

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."

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.

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 just as Christ washed his disciples' feet .

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 reprsentative of food from Jesus' time period.

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 crow of thorns similar to the one Christ wore on the cross.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Actress Diane talks about Jesus gathering with his disciples and washing their feet.

Rather than washing feet, hands were washed.

Rather than washing feet, hands were washed.

Stickers were handed out for placement in the passport after 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:

Sings marked each station.

Signs marked each station.

Participants could sample various foods such as horseradish, matzo, grape juice and more.

Participants could sample various foods such as horseradish, matzo, grape juice and more.

Grape juice ready to be served.

Grape juice ready to be served.

Stop #5, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane:

A sign marks the station focusing on prayer.

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.

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.

Wayne played perhaps the most memorable role, that of a soldier whipping Jesus.

The whip cracked across the floor, toward the mannequin representing 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. Christ was nailed to 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.

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 my church, Trinity Lutheran, Faribault.

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.

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

 

Seeking a book about Lutheran hymn writer Paul Gerhardt October 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:12 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

SEVERAL WEEKS AGO I met a nice woman from Washington. Well, I didn’t actually meet, meet her. Rather she e-mailed regarding an article I wrote about homelessness in Faribault. That piece published in the September issue of The Lutheran Witness, the national magazine of The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.

Anyway, aside from the fact that Donna and I each attend LCMS churches, we also share a love of books.

“I am a book worm! I love books!” this West Concord, Minnesota, native wrote in one of many e-mails we exchanged. “I love to get books into people’s hands!”

Notice all those exclamation marks at the end of Donna’s sentences. That’s absolute proof to me that this retired library aide enjoys books.

Donna had a purpose for mentioning books to me. She wanted to buy an ad on Minnesota Prairie Roots seeking a specific book, Paul Gerhardt—His Life and His Hymns by William Dallman. Concordia Publishing House published the now out-of-print volume in 1921.

The problem: I haven’t yet reached the point of selling advertising on this blog. Believe me, I’d like to earn some money considering all of the time and effort I invest in blogging, but…for now it remains a passion of mine with no financial return.

But back to that book and Donna’s request. Although I’ve been a Lutheran all of my life, I’m not a musically-educated Lutheran. I cannot read a note nor do I know much about the Lutheran musical heritage. However, I can sing, from memory, all of the words to my favorite hymn, “Beautiful Savior.”

This, of course, does not help Donna. I offered to publish this post with the hope that someone out there—and you don’t even need to be Lutheran—has a copy of Paul Gerhardt—His Life and His Hymns. This musically-knowledgeable Lutheran wants to give the book to her pastor during October, Pastor Appreciation Month. If you can’t make that deadline, Donna’s fine with that. She has other ideas and can wait until next October.

Donna has already tracked down a few copies of the elusive 80-page rather plain brown book, so copies are out there. She found one for her church library and, after advertising elsewhere, located one in Great Britain. But the price is higher than she’s willing to pay. A retired pastor in Oregon also has the book, but it’s written in German. She wants English.

So, if you have an English copy of Paul Gerhardt—His Life and His Hymns e-mail your contact information in a comment (which I will not publish) and I’ll forward it to Donna in Washington.

I’m sure if you ask, Donna will tell you that Paul Gerhardt, born in 1607, was trained to be a Lutheran pastor at Wittenberg, Germany, where Martin Luther studied a century earlier. Gerhardt wrote more than 130 hymns including “Come Your Hearts and Voices Raising,” “Upon the Cross Extended,” “Awake My Heart With Gladness,” “Evening and Morning,” “I Will Sing My Maker’s Praises” and “Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow.”

Right off hand, I can’t say those hymns sound familiar to me. Remember, though, I’m no musician, simply a Sunday morning singing Lutheran.

Donna’s pastor, however, based his March 2010 Lenten sermons on Gerhardt’s life and hymns, using those as a window into the life of Christian devotion. That explains why Donna wants this certain book for her clergyman’s private collection.

So if you have a copy of Paul Gerhardt—His Life and His Hymns by William Dallman, in English, not German, e-mail me now.

Danke Schöen.

#

HERE’S ANOTHER INTERESTING story from my new Washington friend. Donna volunteers at her church library and her daughter, also a bookworm, gave her a book, Hymns of the Evangelical Lutheran Church for the Use of English Lutheran Missions, published in 1896 by Concordia Publishing House.

Said daughter bought the book for $1 at an American Association of University Women book sale.

But here’s the really odd, coincidental connection to me. Inside the book is the name Martha Schultz, Faribault, Minnesota, and the date, January 10, 1903.  So…, if anyone in Faribault, where I’ve lived since 1982, knows anything about Martha, Martha’s ownership of this book and how it ended up in Washington, Donna and I would very much like to know. Send me a comment.  Thank you.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling