For Good Friday, our youth at United in Christ, Lewisburg, PA, designed a service of darkness focused on the seven last words of Christ. The older youth divided into pairs and wrote sermonettes on each of the themes which they preached as dialogues with each other.
The First Word: Forgive
The Second Word: Paradise
The Third Word: “Woman”
The Fourth Word: “Thirst”
The Fifth Word: “Forsaken”
The Sixth: “Finished”
The Final Word: “I Commend My Spirit”
Our seminarian Felicia Swartz and I worked with the youth to write these sermons, and choose music to perform with the youth and our guitarist, BJ Koch. And we came up with ideas for the banners which were then created by Felicia and other adult volunteers with help from the youth.
After the opening hymn, the sanctuary was darkened. We had a battery-powered spotlight on each banner which was turned off after each sermon, increasing the darkness as the service progressed.
Finally, the only light that remained was the final candle, as the youth led the congregation in whispering the Lord's Prayer. A thundering drum roll signaled the earth shaking and thunder in the darkened sky as the cross was carried by the youth out of the sanctuary.
This service was prepared over the course of five weeks during the season of Lent. It is a great way to have youth involved in the planning and leading of worship during Holy Week. A dedicated group of parents and adult volunteers is a must, but the format for the service is fairly straightforward. And it is very effective. Many parishioners noted how much they were moved by the students' reflections, and how meaningful the service was for them.
To request the service outline and sermon samples to give you ideas for how to do this in your own congregation, post a comment to this blog post for more information.