Holy Week is a time each year when Christians reflect on the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ before his crucifixion on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
It is also a time when local churches reach out to their communities and welcome visitors who want to be part of Holy Week activities and Easter Sunday celebrations.
Some North Alabama United Methodist congregations are offering creative opportunities tied in to ancient celebrations of Holy Week as a way to open their doors to people in their communities.
Almost everyone is familiar with the famous painting "The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci. But few people know that the painting is as big as a billboard and was painted on the dining hall wall of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. Visitors are awe-struck when they first view the massive size of the painting. The section of the Disciples and Christ at the table is nine feet by twenty-nine feet.
A screen is being built by Aldersgate United Methodist Church on Lakeshore Drive in Birmingham to display the true size of this great painting. The public is invited to view the work of art on Holy Thursday, April 1, in the sanctuary of the church at 7 p.m.
Carroll Andrews will present facts about the painting. He will also explain how Leonardo depicted the moment when Jesus announced one of the twelve disciples would betray him. All twelve disciples show different reactions to the news, with varying degrees of anger and shock. Each disciple will be described to the audience along with his history, his work, and his death. Dr. Burt Davis has written a brief book on the disciples which will be given free to each person who attends.
The event will feature music, narration and will come to life through the talents of many people.
Pastor John Mount invites the public to participate in this unique Holy Week event.
He says, “This is probably the first time a full scale presentation of the famous picture has been reproduced and shared as a teaching point of the Last Supper. Holy Communion will follow the forty-five minute presentation.”
Discovery UMC in Hoover is offering a Stations of the Cross experience -- a self-guided, indoor walk through the last days of Jesus’ life on earth.
At Discovery UMC, the Stations of the Cross feature 14 stations which include many artistic works created by church members. The multi-sensory experience allows people to see, hear, taste, touch and even smell moments of Christ journey to His crucifixion. Each station allows time for meditation on a particular event during Jesus’ last week before his Crucifixion
Last year Interpreter magazine mentioned Discovery’s Holy Week tradition in the article Ancient traditions create Holy Week 'experience' http://www.interpretermagazine.org/interior.asp?ptid=43&mid=13333
This year, Discovery will offer the experience from Wednesday March 31 through Good Friday April 2 from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. For more information visit www.discoveryumc.org.
The Church at Cahaba Bend in Helena is also offering the Stations of the Cross made up of a series of 14 representations depicting the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. The church offers meditations for each of the stations in the guide book visitors receive as they enter the church.
At the conclusion of the Stations experience, visitors are invited to walk a Prayer Labyrinth laid out in the center of the room.
The church website explains, “A labyrinth is a sacred path that represents both a pilgrimage and a path. A labyrinth is in a shape somewhere between a circle and a spiral. Often a labyrinth is confused with a maze. A maze is a problem to be solved and is mainly meant to trick and confound the traveler. Walking the labyrinth is a way of meditation and spiritual centering. The hope is that walking this way helps the traveler to become refreshed and renewed.”
The Church at Cahaba Bend’s Stations of the Cross and Prayer Labyrinth will be open Sunday, March 28 through Thursday, April 1, 2010 from 6-9 p.m. For more information visit www.cahababend.org
If you are a North Alabama United Methodist, Post a comment below to tell how your congregation is opening its doors this year during Holy Week to share the good news of Jesus Christ with your community.