Welcome to the Upper Room

I was blown away just walking into the space our church created as the upper room, where Jesus at his last meal with his disciples. I got to play Jesus, and I had such fun welcoming people and greeting each person. The night started out light: "Celebrate!" I encouraged them. Later, I joked with Peter, before washing his feet, about not needing a whole bath since he'd had at least two or three in the past month. I even got to lead them in a song and dance (of sorts) with our host for the evening: Shoshanah (aka Pastor Linda Warren). As the night progressed the monologues became increasingly serious: "Stop arguing about who's the greatest." Simon, Satan has asked to sift you." By the time I told Judas to go and do quickly what he must do it was quite somber. Then our "servants" (close to 20, all dressed as they would have been in the original upper room) snuffed out the candles one by one. Mike Hood, who does too much at our church to give him a title, directed a piece he wrote. Pairs of people discussed the upcoming crucifixion: Romans, looking for the latest entertainment; zealots wondering why this guy is stealing the limelight from their hero Barabbas; true believers, of the religious leaders of their day, worried that stories of Jesus' miracles are turning too many heads away from the truth; followers of Christ, mixed about how to respond. Finally the Sadducees swing the crowd into chant: "Crucify him! Crucify him!" One by one each pair added their voice (except for one of his followers) and then our servants, now sprinkled throughout the room added their voices until it was a cacophony in the dark on every side.

Out of the ensuing silence I pounded a spike into a board.

I tend not to rely on method acting because I generally shift from one character to another without sufficient time to "get into character." Tonight, in the dark, I identified with his solitude and pain at a level I haven't experienced in my life. Afterward I had to be alone to cry for about twenty minutes, and even after that I was a mess. In the moment when the hammer fell I really was in an agony in every way but the flesh. After "It is finished!" there was silence...

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