Friday, March 26, 2010

Perspectives from the Field: the End of Lent or a New Beginning?

I’ve talked about Lent with my youth, explaining that it’s not just about giving something up. Instead, when they crave the thing they gave up, they should remember how Jesus Christ suffered for us. As an alternative, they might also consider adding a new habit as they commit to spending time with God.

Throughout the month of March, the Friday “Perspectives from the Field” blogs have focused on Lent and Youth Groups; however, this blog appears right before Holy Week.

So, I’d like to talk about a week that runs a roller coaster of emotions from the excitement of Palm Sunday to the somber Last Supper, through the devastation of the Crucifixion, finally to the astonishment of the Resurrection and Easter’s new beginning. It is important to understand that we don’t have Easter without the pain of the Cross where Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

For me, the most important worship services of the year are Christmas Eve and Maundy Thursday. Through the years, we’ve involved the youth in these services a few times. If they weren’t involved in the church service, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t be there for the service on a weeknight.

The Maundy Thursday service tends to be very dark. Seeing the contrast between the darkness of how things end on Thursday evening and the brightness of Easter Sunday drives home the point of what has happened.

One of the most powerful services involved a Reverse Advent. The service came out of Group magazine (although we modified it) and it started with the Nativity scene and one by one, the characters in the familiar scene left the sanctuary. Finally, “Mary” turned and looked at the cross and dropped the blanket (representing the baby Jesus) and walked out of the sanctuary.

Another service involved the youth using pantomime to show the final events in the life of our Lord. By acting out these events, the youth remembered what happened in a way that they wouldn’t have from just hearing scripture readings and a sermon.

by Mark Whitaker
Youth & Young Adult Director and Communications Coordinator
Avondale United Methodist Church in Kansas City, MO (North of the River)
Advisory Board for youTheology / Marketing Coordinator
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

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