St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bloomington, Illinois, typically conducts a worship service on Maundy Thursday entitled “Am I the One?” It focuses upon The Last Supper and Jesus’ new commandant to his disciples.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the live performance is not an option. However, St. John’s found an innovative way to still deliver this very important service.
I thank everyone who made this video possible. I’m sure it took a lot of technical work and patience.
If you would like a way to recognize this day, or simply to learn more about Jesus’ final meal and his disciples, I highly recommend that you give this a watch.
Today is Maundy Thursday, the day in which Jesus revealed one of the Twelve Disciples would betray him and issued his final command.
A few weeks ago, a woman from my church contacted me and asked if I’d like to fill in for the role of Simon the Zealot during their Maundy Thursday play. It’s a reenactment of The Last Supper. Though the thought terrified me, it also excited me, and so I said yes. I’ve always regretted not getting involved in high school drama, so I figured, hey, even though I’m 40, better late than never, right?
I practiced and I practiced and I practiced. The thought of messing up in front of my family and strangers drove me to perfection. By the time our only rehearsal rolled around, I thought I had my short paragraph perfectly memorized. As it turned out, I did not.
Fortunately, everyone involved were extremely nice with fantastic attitudes. They were a forgiving lot, assured me I’d get it down before the night of the performance, and laughed everything off. It wasn’t a terrible rehearsal, mind you, but it did not go as well as I hoped. I decided to practice even harder, even going so far as dropping by the church and getting in some private rehearsal. Spending some extra time working with the stage, playing with the room’s acoustics, and getting a feel for my body language renewed my confidence.
Tonight we performed, and it went splendidly. I had the shortest lines of anyone, and the guys amazed me not only by how well they knew their lines, but also by how committed they were to their roles, how much energy they projected, and how much they seemed to truly enjoy the moment. We did two performances — one at 5:00 p.m. and one at 7:00 p.m. Both were wonderful experiences.
After both performances, we stood in the lobby and greeted the audience. People were so appreciative of us! It really touched me how genuinely they seemed to enjoy the play and how gracious they were to us for performing it. Talking with the audience definitely made me realize how powerful acting out this seminal moment is for people. Several folks told me that seeing our expressions, hearing our voices, watching us interact — these things made The Last Supper feel all the more tangible. It reminded them that it’s not just some story — it is truth.
Of course, it helped that we had a fantastic director. We were also shepherded by an amazing lead actor. The costumes were phenomenal. The backdrop actually looked like the backdrop from da Vinci’s famed painting. The sound and lights were top-notch. For a small, humble production, I think it made quite an impression.
For my part, it’s the first time I’ve ever done anything quite so public with my church, and certainly my first time acting on stage. I honestly hope they will ask me to play Simon again. It felt good to be on stage. It felt good to deliver an important message. It felt good to see my family in the front row. It felt good to work side by side with such devoted, kind men and women. It felt good to give back to the church.
Happy Easter to all!