As you walked into the sanctuary last night, you could feel this wasn’t your typical Sunday morning service. An altar decorated with the makings of the last supper surrounded by thirteen empty chairs was the focal point. Pastor Nancy Davis began the service with a summary of the night of the Last Supper, Jesus’ betrayal, and his arrest. A lovely prelude filled the sanctuary from Deb Eidam which lead into the song ‘Does He Still Feel The Nails’ by Ray Boltz and sung by Paul Dritely. The ceremony proceeded into communion, a cornerstone to the Maundy Thursday service as it was this night when Jesus broke the bread, stating ‘Take it, this is my body.” and pouring the wine to offer to his disciples saying “This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many. (Mark 14:22-24)
The heart of the service was filled by a dramatic telling of the disciples tale of the night Jesus was arrested. Each account, wonderfully portrayed by members of our own congregation and staff, was a perfectly described account of each of the disciples thoughts, emotions, and actions as they shared in the last supper with Jesus. Actors included Music Director Tyler Hughes as Younger James, Paul Dritely as Peter, Greg Gillham as James, brother of John, Pete Kaufman as John, Brett Heckens as Phillip, Tom Beeson as Andrew, Steve Bell as Jude, Mike Ough as Doubting Thomas, Bob Heliker as Matthew, Howard Bergman as Bartholomew (Nathaniel), and Dick Parcher as Simon the Zealot and Bryan Fraser as Judas Iscariot. The drama culminated with the portrayal of Mary by Brenda Klanderud. Mary was not known as one of the twelve disciples, but she was with them, and Jesus, every step of the way, playing an equally important role.
The service ended on a quiet, yet powerful movement known as the ‘Striking of the Altar’. Emily Gale, with the help of Tyler Hughes proceeded to strip the decorations piece by piece until nothing but the altar table remained. The congregation sat in silence with only the song “My God, My God, Why Have You Abandoned Me” played overhead. “I didn’t really feel the emotions of what I had planned until we were about half way through striking the altar,” said Emily. “I had prepared the wine and bread before hand for communion, but I noticed that when I struck it from the altar, it was heavier than I remembered. That’s when it hit…what I was doing was for Jesus, to bring his suffering and sacrifice into today’s life.”
“It’s one thing to hear something said to you, but to see it in front of you, in person, can bring a whole new level to the experience. I hope it was as moving to the congregation as it was to me,” Emily commented on how she felt about the striking of the altar.
As the service concluded, not a single word was said. Some lost in thought, others speechless from the powerfully moving worship, some even silently in prayer as we moved from the sanctuary. It was a night not soon to be forgotten as we remembered the night of the Last Supper, when our King was betrayed and arrested.
Song: ‘My God, My God, Why Have You Abandoned Me?”