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  • Pageant Leadership

For Christ’s disciples, “good Friday” was anything but good.  Their whole world fell apart in less than 24 hours. Scripture doesn’t tell us much, but that Sabbath was likely full of sadness, questioning, and fear as well.  It was truly the darkest weekend.



I recall once how difficult it was for my wife and I to celebrate my niece’s first birthday when we had just suffered a miscarriage days before.  Our grief seemed to lock out the chance of entering into anybody else’s happiness. It was all we could do to walk by the stack of baby clothes without sobbing at our unfulfilled dreams. Surely for those disciples trying to celebrate Passover, they felt similar but worse.  It was as if the angel of death had struck their personal home! Jesus was gone, and so was their abundant joy experienced on Palm Sunday.


To quote the great preacher S.M. Lockridge, the disciples didn't know “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’!”  And praise God it did.


While they lingered in despair and confusion, their hope stole away.  Simultaneously, the powers of evil were having a victory dance unseen to the human eye.  Their mission was half accomplished: Jesus was dead. Now...just keep Him dead.  Fallen angels certainly lingered hidden at the tomb, since Satan knew Scripture even better than we do.  But it was time for a showdown!


One of the highlights of the Resurrection Pageant’s final scene is observing the brief choreographed battle between angelic forces at the tomb.  My palms sweat a little as I see the smiling, white-robed messengers of peace get assaulted from all angles by their demonic counterparts. As the music crescendos, though, I rejoice to see Gabriel himself command a strong victory as evil is sent retreating, defeated.  (By the way, that battle is real and we are immersed in it on a daily basis. Have you felt it?)


 

They say it’s darkest just before dawn.  In those early morning hours so long ago, before the S-U-N had a chance to brighten the rocky hillside of Jerusalem, the S-O-N burst back on the scene.  A brilliant angel rolling away the stone and a resulting earthquake made sure that no soldier guarding the tomb could miss the truth: the lifeless One they had been trying to hold down was God.  (Really? A creature hold down its Creator?)  They fell “like dead men” (Mt 28:4)



And just like that, Hope was reborn.  Jesus exited the tomb.


Game over.

Finissimo.

Roll the credits.



The first one He greeted was His most devout follower, Mary Magdalene. Through tear-filled eyes, she observed the one Malachi had called “The Sun of Righteousness” who would arise with “healing in His wings.” (Mal 4:2)  She traded her despair for hope that morning. She handed in her confusion for truth. She returned sadness for joy. She was amazed at how quickly her immeasurable sorrow could be transformed. It all came from the nail-scarred hands of Jesus.


Do you have grief or anxiety in this present time of uncertainty?  Exactly one year after our miscarriage, God provided hope reborn as we saw a positive result come through on a pregnancy test.You can experience Hope reborn, too!  Wipe away your tears and listen for Jesus’ voice like Mary.  You’ll be glad you did!


Written by Travis Patterson Pastor for Family & Children's Ministries Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church

  • Pageant Leadership

What do you see when you think of the cross? My image has frequently been the beaten, bloody, miserable man drooped and hanging, almost lifeless, as portrayed in so many crucifix paintings, carvings and jewelry. The ultimate victim of hatred and jealousy. 



When I represented people accused of crimes there were many times I had to go to trial with individuals who had, in fact, done what they were accused of doing. By the trial point in the process they have really given up all power to affect the outcome. It’s up to the judge, jury and lawyers. When I would prepare for those trials, my wife would pray that I would honor my profession and that justice would be done. Not that my client would be acquitted, but that justice would be done.


Many family law clients would be fighting for influence over their children’s lives. Struggling with the person that they had sworn to share their lives with over the primary leadership of their children. What does one pray before such a trial, as the parents walk into court and lose all control of the decision process?  It is anguish I hope you will never know.

Both of these situations describe people in no-win, no-choice dilemmas. This is not what happened to Jesus on the cross. There is a frame in which the image of Jesus, the victim, I described above is fair; but that is a very small piece of the picture we see if we understand all the forces at work.


Unlike the criminal or family litigant, Jesus always had a choice. The Gethsemane experience describes the choice. The plan laid before the foundation of the world that required intense pain and overwhelming humiliation, OR, a revelation of Jesus’ glory that would require none of that.


Matt 27:39: The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. 40 “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!” NLT


The irony is that the mockers were convinced that Jesus was a fraud and could not do what they challenged Him to do. And yet, of all the victims, ever, He was the one who could. He could, with a thought, have revealed a fraction of His glory and all would have known… (and perhaps perished from the knowledge of) who He was. Look at the guards in the garden who were literally blown away by the mere mention of Jesus’ identity. Jesus could have done exactly what the mockers thought He could not do. 


And yet He chose to be beaten, humiliated and suffer pain that we will never know, and eventually be killed. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually, He accepted a humiliating and painful defeat that was unnecessary for Him to suffer. A defeat that was really for me. And you. He suffered what we deserved. And what only He didn’t deserve…. By choice.

We find ourselves in many trying circumstances, some of our own making, others against our best efforts. Most come to us as dilemmas with no outcomes that are good for us. But Jesus had an outcome that was good for Him, and available to Him, and which He had the power to accomplish. And He chose you and me.


It changes my picture of the Man on the cross. Not the Victim, but the Victor. Hanging by choice and thinking of a victory, not His own, but yours and mine. Same pain, humiliation and all the rest, but willingly endured for a time such as this and a person such as you.


Written by Pastor James Winegardner Senior Pastor at the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church

  • Pageant Leadership

As a spectator of the Resurrection Pageant, watching the scene play out at Pilate’s palace, my emotions are fragile. The shouts of “Crucify Him” from the actors standing in the crowd doesn’t help. My instinct to turn to them and say, “Stop that, don’t you know who that is!” Is tempting.


With almost 15 years of being involved with the Keene Resurrection Pageant, either as a spectator or helping lead behind the scenes, there are several things that have changed my life being involved with the pageant. At the top of the list are the sounds. In particular, the sound at Pilate’s palace and the walk to the crucifixion scene. Many people, after going through the pageant for the first time say that with the visuals and the actors, everything comes to life. For me, it is the sound that has had the biggest impact on me.

The book of Mark describes the scene between Pilate’s palace and the crucifixion of Jesus:

“The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. 21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.”

Mark 15:16-21

When we read scripture, we can see the humiliation that Jesus, our Savior, endured for us. In our minds, we can see the bitterness in the words used to mock Him, but do we hear the sounds?

Do you hear the sounds of the mob mocking Jesus?

Do you hear the voices choosing Barabbas over Jesus?

Do you hear the voices saying, “Crucify Him”?



Of all the sounds that I hear, the one that moves me the most is one I never really thought about before experiencing the pageant. Yes, the music of the song Via Delorosa is beautiful. Yes, the murmur of the crowd is noticeable as the scene moves from Pilate’s Palace to the long walk leading to the path of the cross. The most impactful sound I hear is a simple noise.

It is a “thud.”

It is the “thud” of the cross falling down to the ground as Jesus stumbles. It echoes and it is haunting. In one Bible verse, it simply says that Simon picked up and carried the cross. What I hear in that thud is the broken body of Jesus going through this because of His love for you and me. Even though his body is broken, he is steadfast in his resolve to keep going forward.

The sound of the “thud” is the one moment in the pageant that has changed my life.

By Pastor Rick Weaver Pastor for Administration at the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church


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