Last night was Maundy Thursday, the night when the church gets together to reflect on what Jesus and the disciples experienced in the days leading up to the crucifixion. I was asked to play Jesus in the Church’s play. It was an extreme honor for me, and though emotionally very difficult, portraying him was such a wonderful and spiritually filling experience.
As I practiced for the role in the weeks before, I didn’t really get into it emotionally. It all seemed a little surreal and I wondered if I could actually do this role in a way that would be meaningful the way that it should be for the congregation. Then, on the night of Maundy Thursday, as I came up into the chapel I thought heavily on what Jesus’ emotions must have been in those final days before crucifixion. He must have felt betrayed and so sad and pained by what was happening to him, and yet I picture this immeasurable happiness deep inside of him for the gift of forgiveness he was about to give the world through his death.
I love singing in services, but early on in the service I found myself with tears running down my face, unable to sing and sitting in my seat, eyes closed and taking in thoughts of what Jesus must have felt in those last days.
During the service I spoke twice. I washed the feet of ‘Peter’, which was emotional for both of us, and I also presented communion to the members of the church while acting as Jesus. This was the most emotional part of the service for me, giving the bread and wine that represent Jesus’ body and blood. I cannot express the honor I felt in doing that.
At the end of the night I heard from many people about how much the service and the acting by me and the other actors touched the congregation emotionally. I did not expect the fullness of it, but by the end of the night I felt God so fully within me and his forgiveness so deeply in my soul. It was breathtaking. I am so honored, and so humbled by what Jesus sacrificed so that all of us can truly live.
Scott J. Toney
What was given on the tree
the blood that’s shed for you and me
the tears he cried
the pain that seared as nails pierced his hide
the crown of thorns upon his head
the agony as his forgiveness bled
our savior dies upon the cross
but our good Lord knows, it is not a loss
because the most precious gift of all
is his pain, his blood, given for all
for our sins, our hatred and greed
for our lust and tyranny
he takes the pain we all would endure
for the blackness we’ve brought into this world
and as he dies
as the temple falls
light floods in and we are strong
renewed by what he’s given us
held so fully in the Lord’s hands
because of his light, we stand.