Building of a Tour Day 3/ Week 1
The Crown of Thorns Cantata (no, we’re not kidding)
I call this opening session sequence of video, live drama, music and theatrical props, “The Crown of Thorns Cantata”. Partly in jest, partly not. We have been struggling to come up with a term that communicates these little experiences in our sessions that are like rides at a theme park. It’s not just a video or a sketch. It’s a everything we have in our tool bag to communicate. I realize all the negative connotations that come to mind of painful Easter play moments but it’s time we reclaim the true beauty of the term. Cantata can freaking ROCK!! That really is what it has developed into.
Since October of last year the Believe team has had in the back of our minds the nagging question, how do we top the Brent moment from last year’s tour. I know all the Sunday school answers here about how it’s not our job to top it every year blah, blah, blah. Yeah, I get it. I tell myself those things all the time and at a certain level believe them too. But, we have 9 months to plan one event that people give a whole weekend to come to! It should freaking ROCK! We are sons and daughters of GOD- the greatest creative mind EVER! It should be awesome. Not to mention that this year we are telling kids about the Messiah.
Well, this has been an amazing week and I can’t wait to see kids experience this for the first time in Anaheim, CA! In a nut shell, this Cantata will be the crucifixion from God’s perspective. We’ll start with God drawing texts that confronts us on our misinterpretation of Jesus and then move to a dramatic presentation of Eric drawing a crown of thorns. This will culminate in God (Eric playing the role of God) turning his back on Jesus as Jesus is taking the upon the weight the world’s sins. We don’t stop with that. The music keeps going and we transition with scripture leading the way into a beautiful crowning ceremony. (Remember the Mosaic statue of Christ we have been creating throughout the weekend? It is revealed live here and kids see God applaud the work of His Son. God will invite all of us to acknowledge the full work of Jesus.) There are some secrets we want to hold onto for the live event; but here is what the session is going to look like and how the Cantata will set up everything perfectly.
The teaching moment:
As with many things related to God we don’t understand much. Jr high kids are no different to the 1st century Jew when it comes to placing expectations upon the Messiah. We can go through the general list of things that were expected for the Messiah to bring and see the parallel expectations that jr high kids and people of Christ’s day have. Jews under Roman occupation wanted justice. They wanted a political and physical redemption for themselves in their lifetime. Jr high kids find themselves needing this same kind of ‘saving’. Perhaps they are picked on, made fun of. They literally get what it means to need a physical Messiah to meet a present need. There is a sense of urgency that both the 1st century Jew and a Jr high student understands.
Likewise, we all have our personal boxes that we try to put The Messiah into. Eric will be painting these thoughts in text on a canvas with our point of reference coming from the canvas:
We want a Messiah that makes us popular, who gives us more video games, who makes us rich.
The Messiah is more than a cosmic cop, kill joy, vending machine, genie in a bottle, or a nice person
The Messiah I sent gives more than happiness, eternal life, forgiveness, justice, a church to belong to
The Messiah is my Son. He is the way, the truth the life YOU NEED. He is MORE.
This session happens on day two of Believe after lunch. Up to now we have had an incredible amount of energy on the screens with Eric acting as God. Eric will be communicating directly to the kids in a calm manner thus setting up the storm that is to come. We get a picture of God working through all types of means to bring a plan for reconciliation together. We don’t understand how God works. It’s mysterious. And as soon as you think you have it figured out you can bet you’re wrong.
God is essentially saying that the Messiah He gave us is SO MUCH MORE than anything we would have been able to construct. Our incomplete version of the Messiah is false because it doesn’t come close to describing the whole work of Christ. God is screaming through the life, death and resurrection of His son that His better is always better.
The crucifixion scene:
After Eric is finished painting text in this teaching moment the music will change drastically taking us into a new and more intense direction. Here the kids will see Eric portray God’s wrath, justice and righteous anger. Eric will put the tiny text brush down and force himself upon the painting ferociously painting with all his energy this messy crown of thorns. This could lend itself to being to abstract so we will constantly be firming up what kids are seeing on the screens with concrete explinations. Another differentiating jr high intentional quality of Believe is that our speakers don’t come into the program with a huge agenda to communicate apart from the already singular focus of the main session. I like Kurt Johnston’s statement about speaking at believe, “we really more of a tour guide pointing out and clarifying again for kids what they are experiencing during the weekend”
The disciples thought that the Messiah had failed. They had to be questioning everything he had said to them. But when the world saw disaster God foresaw victory.
We saw a crown of thorns.
God was creating a crown of jewels for His son who redeemed everything that was previously destroyed in Genesis chapter 3 at the fall of man.
So in our sequence of events we just saw a depiction of the crucifixion from God’s point of view but the story isn’t over. For a time we are going to shift our attention from the screens to the island stage in the room. While the screens have shown Eric painting a crown of thorns, he has been painting live also the entire time what we thought was a version of the same thing. In fact, Eric has been painting the foundation for what will be a different type of crown. The music will morph into more triumphant themes as Eric really starts to show that the live crown is NOT one of thorns. As he starts to get into revealing a jeweled crown the screens will start to direct our thoughts to a scriptural picture of Christ’s completed work. The music, Eric’s theatrical choreographed painting and the scripture on screens will all pulse. This resounding chorus will culminate in Eric crowning the mosaic Christ. Just to give you a glimpse into the whole effect, the canvas that Eric is working on is a round canvas that he maneuvers around vigorously creating a literal crown. As all the elements rise in intensity the crown Eric has painted live will start to rise off the stage with all the other mosaic pieces falling into place under the crown. This will lead into an anthemic worship set where we celebrate the Messiah. OFF THE HOOK!