Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lessons "Behind the Scenes"

 Check out these really cool Roman soldier helmets!

Wouldn't they have looked awesome on the soldiers' heads in our Living Stations of the Cross presentation on Monday? That was the plan.... but that's not how it happened. I ordered these lovely soldier helmets in what I thought was plenty of time for them to arrive before the Stations presentation. As the big day drew near I began praying for the UPS man to come down our street. Is there a patron saint of package delivery? If so, he/she did not come through for me on this one. As we left for class on Monday we did indeed spot a UPS truck in our neighborhood. We looped around and prayed and waited.... but to no avail. We ended up presenting the Stations of the Cross with helmetless soldiers. And of course.... one day later.... the helmets arrived. I wore one as I cooked and ate dinner last night. I'm going to get as much use out of these things as possible!

The actors were disappointed about the helmets, but graciously accepted the fact that it really didn't matter all that much if the soldiers had helmets. They were excited to present the story of Jesus and they knew that the power of the story did not lie in the costumes, but in God.

But then we met an even bigger challenge. We arrived at the hall, set up the chairs, and prepared to practice one last time. I sent some of the students to get the cross from the storage closet where we had left it. (We hold our co-op in a Lutheran church and they allow us to store a bin there.) Well..... the cross was GONE! (Jon had made the cross and "Jesus" and his dad had painted it.) It was gone. We searched every room. We got help from the secretary, youth pastor, and even the pastor of the church. They all felt so bad. Who would take a cross? It was a pretty important part of the presentation.

The end of the story is that we found another cross in the sacristy. It worked perfectly. It was just a little bit smaller than the one we had made. The pastor eventually found our cross..... in the dumpster, broken into two pieces. I think the maintenance man went on a cleaning spree or something.

I believe that the devil was working against our efforts to present this story. But more importantly I believe that God used these mishaps to teach and inspire us. I could not have been more proud of the students. They remained calm and accepted the circumstances. They recognized that costumes and props.... and getting their lines perfect and remembering every stage direction.... were not the most important part of what they were doing. We discussed all this and prayed together before the presentation. I was touched by their sincere expressions of their love for Jesus and their gratitude for his suffering. I was inspired by their enthusiasm for this project. I think the mishaps kept them from getting more nervous and from focusing on themselves and their "performances."

The script that we used for the Living Stations came from my former work as a pastoral associate. We used to put on this presentation with 8th graders. The children in this presentation were 3rd through 8th graders and they were phenomenal! The boy who played Jesus is only in third grade. He is not a child who would normally want to be in front of an audience or draw attention to himself. But when I introduced this project he really wanted to be Jesus. He (and the others) worked hard to learn their parts and to re-enact Jesus' journey to Calvary.

In all the years that I have worked with children, I have been continually inspired by them. My own faith is enriched and challenged when I experience theirs. Each year the journey to Calvary has different twists and turns, different lessons to be learned. Thank you, Jesus, for suffering and dying for us... for giving us such amazing opportunities to walk with you on the road to Calvary... for giving us companions on this journey... for the deep and real faith of your little children. Amen.

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