Getting Ready for Easter: First Christian Church, Albuquerque, NM

The Table, the Throne, and the Cross

By Tim Neuenschwander, worship minister, First Christian Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico

The theme was “The Table.” The four weeks leading up to Easter highlighted the table that transformed into a throne, and to a mess, and to the cross, and then, on Easter, back into the table.

In the weeks leading up to Easter, First Christian Church’s service themes focused on “The Table.” Wood was transformed into a table, and then a throne, and then a mess (above . . . the result of individualism edging out the throne of Christ), and then a cross.
In the weeks leading up to Easter, First Christian Church’s service themes focused on “The Table.” Wood was transformed into a table, and then a throne, and then a mess (above . . . the result of individualism edging out the throne of Christ), and then a cross.

Senior minister Tom Caffery and I went to our Christian camp here in New Mexico and cut down a tree, split it into lumber, and hauled it back to our church. We videotaped all this with the theme song, “There’s a Table in the Wilderness.” We had legs/supports for a table made in advance.

The first Sunday we showed the video (click here) and then placed the planks on the stage with the supports. As Tom and I taught about community and the importance of each person’s story being heard around the table, we actually built the table on stage (it was about 4 feet by 12 feet). We finished the service by placing Communion on the table; everyone came to it and served themselves and others. It was very powerful.

The table was on the stage at the start of the next week’s service. We explained how the world attempts to put individualism on the throne, but we stressed the importance of placing Christ on the throne of our lives. We took apart the table and built a throne.

The third week we began with the throne on the stage, and as we taught about what happens when we attempt to live a life without Christ, the throne began to come apart and fall to pieces. We added junk (pieces of baby dolls, fake money, sports equipment, clocks) into the mix.

We transitioned into Communion, and we asked people to come forward and pick up a piece of junk that might represent an aspect of their struggle that they could contemplate during Communion. I then taught about the woman lavishing Jesus with the sweet fragrance, and we began to sing “Alabaster Jar”; as we sang, I poured oil over the whole mess.

Then came Good Friday, and the mess turned into the cross. I had asked everyone to make a cross in any medium. We had whole families produce wonderful representations of what the cross meant to them: there were paintings, doors, a decorated cake, a cross made out of a rose bush—so, so, so many.

On Easter morning the cross transformed back into the table, bringing the whole series full circle.

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