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Living the Cross: A Service of Word and Table for Late Lent

This service was the concluding worship of the winter meeting of the Discipleship Ministries in Nashville TN. We sought to add a more multisensory dimension to the service by use of digital media, crosses of various shapes and sizes, and nails. While it is not specifically oriented to Passion/Palm Sunday or Good Friday, it does pick up the journey of the church in deep Lent. Church worship planners may choose to adapt it or take parts of it for Holy Week services. Sound and video notes are included in the text for those who would like to add these dimensions to the liturgy. Digital resources for this service, except for "Stations," can be found here. The crosses in the montages were predominantly those that staff had brought for the tables and walls. If you can make your own montages of crosses from your community, it would more strongly contextualize the service to your setting. We put 2-inch masonry nails at each person's place.

Discipleship Ministries
Closing Service of Holy Communion
March 12, 2005

Living the Cross
+ Please stand as you are able.

In silence a large cross is carried in and set up at the front of the room.

Reader 1: (voice of a street evangelist) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

Reader 2: (voice of a prophet) "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

Reader 3: (voice of a mystic) For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

We actually used text from The Revised English Bible for readers 1-3, but we do not have permission to use it for this posting.

Reader 4: (voice of a pastor speaking to the congregation) Consider your own call, brothers and sisters:
not many of you were wise by human standards,
not many were powerful,
not many were of noble birth.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
God chose what is low and despised I the world,
things that are not, to reduce the things that are,
so that no one might boast in the presence of God.

—Adapted from 1 Corinthians 1:18-29

+ HYMN UMH 295 "In the Cross of Christ I Glory"

+ GREETING The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

The presider at the font scoops water recalling our dying and rising with Christ in baptism.

We have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer we who live, but is it is Christ who lives in us.
The life we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Song of God, who loved us and gave himself for us.
— Galatians 2:20, adapted


Here we used a prayer for the 6th Sunday of Lent, Year B fromRevised Common Lectionary Prayers(p. 89) © 2002 The Consultation on Common Texts. The text gives permission for congregations to use the prayer, but we cannot post it here.

OLD TESTAMENT Isaiah 52:13—53:5

We played "It Is Done" from The Passion of the Christ — fade out when the reading ends.
We projected the "Cross Montage"during this section.

A reading from Isaiah 52:13—53:5

See, my servant shall prosper;
he shall be exalted and lifted up,
and shall be very high.
Just as there were many who were astonished at him
—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of mortals—
so he shall startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.
Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.

The Word of God.

SONG TFWS 2112 "Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley" (stanza 1)

Here we projected the "Crucifix Montage"through the singing of "Were You There."

GOSPEL Matthew 27:27-50

A reading from Matthew's passion story.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.

After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews."

Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, 'I am God's Son.'" The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o'clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "This man is calling for Elijah." At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him." Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.

No concluding statement made as the reading will continue.

HYMN TFWS 2110 "Why Has God Forsaken Me?"

Matthew 27:51-61

Video:"Stations"(without sound or text) from Digital Glassplays during the singing, the following reading, and "Were You There".)

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, "Truly this man was God's Son!"

Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

HYMN UMH 288 "Were You There" (stanzas 1, 2, 4, 5)

A time for silent prayer and response.
During this time of contemplation, do as you are prompted, including coming to the cross. You may take the nail to the cross and leave it, or you may keep it as a reminder of your renewed commitment to live the cross in the challenges you face as a Christian disciple.

During this time, we again projected the "Cross Montage."

The presider stands behind the Lord's Table. Here, in keeping with This Holy Mystery, we used the Invitation, Confession and Pardon sequence from The United Methodist Hymnal, pp. 7-8.

During this sequence and the hymn that follows we projected "Multiple Crosses."

+ HYMN UMH 159 "Lift High the Cross"

Here we projected "Multiple Crosses"through the remainder of the service. Reflecting on it, it may have been a bit distracting and unnecessary during the communion.


The presider led the assembly using "The Great Thanksgiving for Late in Lent" found in The United Methodist Book of Worship, 62-63, and the people joined in singing Musical Setting D, UMH pp. 23-24. The deacon led intercession as part of the Great Thanksgiving, following the invocation of the Spirit: "Pour out your Holy Spirit ... that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood."

Here is the essential text of the intercessions, though the deacon adapted them for her awareness and in response to the promptings of the Spirit:

Remember, Lord, your one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church as in these Lenten days we recall your passion for us. Reveal your church's unity, guard its faith, and stir it up to love's risk and service for the life of the world. Especially remember chaplains ministering with military forces.

Remember the directors and staff of this agency set apart for the work of making and supporting disciples who live the cross in the world. Save us from forgetting the eternal gospel amid the temporal pressures of our these days. Like our crucified Lord, may we mount by the path of the cross to a higher glory.

Remember also the world for which Christ died and rose again, especially those who live the cross in daily suffering: the poor, the unemployed, the victims of ethnic cleansing, racism, and disease.

Remember those living the cross that we name before you aloud or in silence. (Pause for the assembly to pray.)



During the communion the assembly sings:
TFWS 2267 "Taste and See"
UMH 296 "Sing My Tongue, the Glorious Battle"

Life-giver, Pain-bearer, Love-maker,
Day by day your sustain us with your Word
and here you have nourished us in this Holy Meal.
Awaken us to suffering of those around us.
In your love
make us fearless to live compassionately and justly.
Send us into the world in peace. Amen.



The deacon, in these or similar words, sends the people out to serve:
Go now, all of you,
in peace to the places where God calls you.
Live the cross,
make disciples,
be attentive to the poor, the sick, and the oppressed.

The presider, in these or similar words, sends the people out with God's blessing:
The triune God:
Source of All, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit,
bless you with a holy discontent at injustice
and give you a holy peace
in the midst of tension and suffering for the gospel.

The people say, Amen. Amen.

Service design was based on "An Order of Sunday Worship Using the Basic Pattern" in The United Methodist Hymnal, pages 3-5.

Music during the Isaiah reading was "It Is Done" by John Debney from The Passion of the Christ.
Other projection graphics by Deb Smith. You can access these online at

Presiding Minister: Bishop Michael Coyner
Deacon: Rev. Betsey Heavner
Keyboard: Dean McIntyre
Service planning and coordination: Dan Benedict, Deb Smith, Jeff Roop, and Center for Worship Resourcing staff

Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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