Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Palm Sunday Gospel

The first time I saw it, I didn't like it.  Chairs lined up in the chancel.  Kids helping with the reading of the Gospel. 

But it didn't take long for me to change my mind.

We're used to the Christmas pageant, where the kids help tell the story of Christmas.  Why not do something similar for Holy Week?

The Gospel reading for Palm Sunday is long -- the entire Passion account according to Matthew, Mark, or Luke.  Here we have a tradition of the story being read in different voices.  Pastor is the narrator.  One boy reads the words of Jesus.  Other boys take the parts of Pilate, Peter, Judas, Caiaphas, etc.  Girls speak the sentences of servants, crowds, or groups.  There are no costumes; the kids simply wear their choir robes (cassock and surplice).  There is no "acting out"; they just sit in their seats, and rise when it's their turn to speak.  There is none of that "Oh, isn't he cute?!" that you so often hear with regard to Sunday School Christmas programs.

Benefit 1:  It's easier to stay tuned in for the reading, without the mind wandering, because the voices change.

Benefit 2:  Easier on Pastor's voice, with a week of many sermons coming up.

Benefit 3:  The kids learn the story well.  No, seriously, I mean, really!!  The story is ingrained in them!  Pastor works with the kids (approx ages 10-14) for a couple of weeks ahead of time so that they speak clearly, no mumbling, no stumbling over words, no improper inflection to mislead.  They practice; they talk about what's being said and why; they discuss doctrine; they understand the importance of presenting God's word to the congregation.  And they learn story and remember it.

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