I keep typing various superlatives; "stunning". "Amazing". "Powerful".
None are adequate.
So, just the facts.
This morning, our 'Palm Sunday' service. We have never been traditional in our approach to much of anything, and we've never done much about putting the palm in Palm Sunday. But this year, we did.
But with a twist.
We handed out palms at the beginning of the service. Started with the 10B4 video announcements, and as it ended, the action started in the back of the room. Marc, Elijah and Jenn - drumline kids from the high school - started a beat, and they came down the aisles rocking. They hit the stage, and in a demonstration of extreme coolness, they riffed for a few minutes. It put me over the top - it was AWESOME! Elijah cued Matt with a nod of his head, and in came the guitar opening for Here Is Our King (Crowder). It was a GREAT opening - first time we'd done it at PCC, too.
We mixed things up a good bit, because our pastor came out after that song, gave a push for tonight's Unity Service (more on that later) and another event, and then launched into his message. He explained the scene in Jerusalem on that day - how Jesus entered town on a donkey, a humble king, and the resultant celebration - the "hosannas", et al. He spoke for about 15 minutes, and then led us right into a few celebration songs. We did We Stand (Lee McDerment) - which is a deadly awesome worship song, if you've got a great guitar player with great rhythm and a great crunchy tone (we do!) (Learned that tune at Unleash, by the way - thank you Tony Morgan and Perry Noble and NewSpring!)
Went straight from the energy of We Stand into You Are Good (Houghton), my favorite song EVER. Whooosh.
Offering prayer led into Hosanna (Fraser), another first for us. We struggled a bit in first service, but at 11:00 we found the groove and it was a good tune.
Then Brian came back to transition to part two of the message. Let me preface this by saying that we do not do any other services during holy week - for us, this is it until Easter Sunday. So, we addressed the aftermath of Palm Sunday today. Brian did a wonderful job explaining the "quickest slip in approval ratings in history", digging into the changing attitude of the crowd towards Jesus. He walked off the stage, and Sandy sang How Deep the Father's Love For Us (Townend), another first for our church. It was very clean and simple - her (amazing) vocal, piano, a little synth strings and light percussion. During the second verse, our stage hands brought up a 10 foot wooden cross and mounted it center stage, still in shadows. After the third verse, Brian reappeared - center stage, in front of the cross - and talked about the necessary death of Jesus for our sins. He directed the crowd to walk forward and exchange their palm branches for a nail; a black cloth stretched across the stage, and large nails were scattered across the length of it.
It was a somber crowd that moved forward to take a nail in each hand, and as they moved, Sandy sang the second verse of How Deep; the band (still just keys, synth and percussion) played over a droning bminor chord. We added evocative touches of other chords to create a powerful mood - sort of creepy, sad, overwhelming. Elijah had some sort of bizarre sound effect on the Motif - it was weird, but it really set the mood.
Behold, the man upon the cross
My sin upon his shoulder
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
She repeated the last line a few times, and words from Mark 15 came upon the screen: "And with a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last."
And Brian came back out and gently, quietly, sent everyone home; with a reminder that next week, we celebrate.
We kept the lights dim, and John played some beautiful celtic music.
It was a moment. More than a moment.
And that's just the MORNING service. Tonight, we hosted a Unity Service for our county.
I can't even begin to process that one yet.
This post is part of the bloggy carnival fun at Fred McKinnon's blog. Check it out!