For about two and a half weeks now, I have been working on and reworking and tweaking our Passion Sunday worship. Last year, our format was pretty much a lessons and hymns service – where we read the scriptures and sang songs in between chunks of the reading.
I’m always torn about whether or not to really focus on Palm Sunday or to span the gammit and do the whole Passion Sunday reading. Knowing my congregation, probably only 15% of those who regularly attend worship will be at our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. And that is only 5% of the whole church. So if we didn’t hear the Passion story on the Sunday before Easter, the depth of the journey, the betrayal and the sacrifice would go unnoticed. And Easter just isn’t Easter if you haven’t journeyed through the cross.
But how do you tell the whole story on a Sunday morning? I’ve been reading a lot of other pastor’s litanies, and how they have put together worship and used some ideas from here and some ideas from there. The main structure that has fed into the service we will be doing tomorrow is a responsive singing of “Were You There.” The verses are not the typical ones, but each one ties into the readings that have preceded it.
What I did end up doing however, was take each of the scripture readings and put any spoken words into particular people’s voices. There is a narrator, but then there will be someone speaking the words of Jesus, of Peter, of the Disciples, of the Crowd, of Pilate, of Judas, and of Caiaphas. And then as I continued to wrestle with the text, each of those voices tell a bit of their own story and give some context to the message as we hear again the story of Christ.
I’m pretty happy with the final script, and I’m putting it all in God’s hands for tomorrow morning – praying that the spirit will be in our reading, and will help everyone present understand the Journey Through the Cross.