Monday, April 25, 2011

I Went to Church for a Song

Holy Week.  It's the one week of the year that seems to have a service of some sort all week long.  It doesn't, but it feels that way.  There's Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and then Easter.  I like the Maundy Thursday service, so I went.

Good Friday is also a service I tend to like, but a friend was in from out of town and I had made plans to meet her fiance and a group of friends for dinner.  That was before I saw the program for the service.

This past summer I helped chaperone confirmation camp for a week.  We went to SC, the camp that I went to when I was younger so I was so excited.  This camp does something pretty amazing, the staff and counselors put on a Christ Hike.  See, the camp is set in a beautiful valley in the mid-West.  Trees, hills, mountains, pastures, creeks and a waterfall all in one location.  It's breathtaking.  So on the last night of the week, the entire camp walks through the valley stopping at various points along the way.  Each stop holds a piece of the story of Christ's life.  The staff brings to life the story of Christ in a way that is great for youth to see.  It becomes not just something you read about in the bible, or hear about at church, but something to experience.

Towards the end of the hike up on a hill the counselor who plays Christ is "crucified."  It is made to look like he is hanging on a cross (let's remember there are littler kids here too so it can't get too graphic).  The campers are all sitting in front of the cross, surrounded by extra staff members, chaperones that have come for the week, and people from various communities that come to see the Christ Hike (it's that amazing).  So the students are in the middle surrounded by a 'u' shape of adults.  There is silence for a few moments after Christ dies on the cross.  

And then... from somewhere in the 'u' a lone voice starts... Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  Then, because it's a song that most of the adults know, or can catch on to, voices join in.  Tenors, basses, altos, sopranos... all joined together... Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  Oh, sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.  Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  The students are then encouraged to rise, and we walk down the hill, towards the pond, as the sun sets through the valley.  Students are handed an unlit candle, as the song is continued, and they circle the pond, creating a single line that hugs the water.  

It's amazing.  There are other verses that are sung, and it's really indescribable.  But this past year, for me, it was a moment.

So when I found out that song was to be sung at the Good Friday service?  Change of plans, that's where I went instead.   I went to church that night for a song.  

But left, really glad that I did.

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