And, so is the Lenten series on a young Jewish girl called Hannah searching, first, for the meaning of life and, then, for Jesus.
I found the presentations riveting at the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake and tried to capture the essence of each of them. (See the bottom of the article for links.)
But, they all led up to Easter, the foundation of the Christian Church, the Resurrection of Christ from the dead.
When we left Hannah the day of Christ’s crucifixion, she was sobbing at the foot of the cross, having missed all of her opportunities to see or hear Jesus. She was surprised that many followers of Jesus had given up and were hurriedly leaving Jerusalem in great fear for their personal safety.
She was astonished that the followers were acting as we know Peter acted, denying even knowing Jesus.
Hannah went to Jesus’ tomb.
She fell asleep.
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
“They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightening stood beside them.
“In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them,
‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?
‘He is not here; He has risen.’
Using Hannah as a literary device, the narrator notes that missed by the writers of the Bible:
“…a young Jewish girl, probably from a town nearby.
“Probably there all night, hiding from the Centurion soldiers who were order to guard to the tomb, falling asleep during her watch, only to be awakened by the sorrowful cries of the women bringing spices.
‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?
‘He is not here; He has risen!’
“This young Jewish girl, let’s call her Hannah, comes to the tomb because she is still searching, still wanting to talk, to touch the man known to some as the Messiah.
“But, now He was dead.
“No chance to talk to Him, no chance to touch Him.
“For years, Hannah has been searching for Him, wanting an opportunity just to talk. Every time she got close, it just wasn’t close enough. Every time she came near, it just was a little too late, trying to lure Jesus in to her world with tricks or false pretenses.
“Is there not a little of Hannah in each one of us?
“Has there not been a time in our lives where we have felt a void, an emptiness in our hearts that we can’t fill, a loneliness or sadness that we can’t change?
“Where do we search for a solution?
“How do we fill our void?
“Maybe we try to find fulfillment in worldly things, our job, our relationships, money, hobbies.
“Nothing can fill the void like our Savior, our Lord, our Creator.
“For God so loved the world that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to be with us, to teach us, to show us how to live, to die for us that we might live.
“What are our thoughts at the empty tomb?
“What do you think, or how do you feel when you hear the angel say, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not ere. He is risen?”
“I never got to talk to you or touch you or see you face-to-face, but I believe by what you taught, what you did, how you loved that you are God, that you died for me and therefore have provided me the opportunity for life eternal with you in Heaven.
The narrator picks up,
Is your faith deep enough, strong enough, to believe what you have not seen with your own eyes?
Do you accept the greatest miracle of all, the miracle of salvation through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ?
May this Easter be a day of new beginnings for you, a day where you accept our Lord as your Savior, where you fill your heart and your mind with the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Next came Pastor David Seyller’s sermon, entitled, “Not a good day for grave robbers.”
“Easter has always been a bad day for grave robbers because nothing disturbs a grave robber more than an empty grave.”
“The valuable body is not in a tomb,” Seyller said. “It is out and about.”
Explaining that “hatred and cruelty and pain and suffering couldn’t keep God away,” Seyller said,
“The door is always open, because God is back.”
The pastor then outlined “four simple things you need to know and accept”:
- I am a sinner
- The penalty for my sin is eternal death.
- Jesus died to pay the penalty for my sins.
- If I ask Got to forgive me for rebelling against him and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, he will save me from death and for eternal life.
He suggest saying a prayer like this:
God of all Creation:
- Thank you for what Jesus did on my behalf and the meaning of Easter.
- Thank you for your plan that has never changed.
- Today I confess that I am a sinner and realize my penalty is eternal death.
- But I also realize that Jesus died in my place to bring me forgiveness and to make me right with you.
- Father, forgive me. I turn away from my sin to follow you.
- In Jesus’ name. Amen.
After the message was delivered, the celebration began.
And a brass band blasting joyfully away.
You can see this grade schooler leading clapping in the front row. Contemporary Christian Education Director Jay Hemphill was also trying to get the congregation to clap, as you can see in the background.
The girl knew all the words to the songs. She really should be put on the stage.
There was even dancing in the aisles. Pastor Seyller dance with two preschoolers.
Eventually, their whole family joined in.
= = = = =
Jeannie Patterson wrote the script. Hannah was portrayed by first year Cary-Grove High School teacher Logan Fraser. The narrator was her mother-in-law Sueanne Fraser. The women at the tomb were Kristin Brandt and Sarah Fraser. The angels were Mike Fraser and Jeannie Patterson.
First Hannah meets Jesus in the wilderness at the end of his 40-day fast. She thinks he’s crazy shouting at no one she can see.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera, so my articles pick up Hannah’s seeing out Jesus’ family, friends and neighbors in Nazareth.
Next, we see Hannah at Lazarus’ house in Bethany, where Mary and Martha are throwing a big party celebration his being brought back from the dead. Hannah’s best line is, “He was really dead.”
Onto the Temple, where Hannah just misses the overturning of the tables, but meets more people whose hearts Jesus has touched.
Hannah decides to lure Jesus to her boat rental booth at the Sea of Galilee. You have to read the cover of the Enquirer-like magazine she reads while waiting for Jesus to come. (You’ll have to click on the image to make the headlines legible.)
Naturally, by the time Hannah figures out Jesus is teaching a bit away, she is too late to hear him.
Let me add here that the people who participated in the creation and production of this worship series are among the most creative folks I have ever seen. I hope our church will figure out how to share it with others.
From the Sea of Galilee, Hannah goes to Jerusalem, arriving just in time for Jesus’ praise-filled entry. This is a two-part story: Part 1 and Part 2. As I mentioned above, she again misses Jesus, as she does the day he is crucified.
All of the photographs can be enlarged by clicking on them.