Scripture comes to life at Maundy Thursday service
By Lindsay Peyton
The stage is set and rehearsals have started at FUMC Crockett for the upcoming performance of the “Living Last Supper.” Church members are building backdrops, finding props, building a table, rehearsing music and practicing their lines. “It takes some time to pull it together, and a lot of commitment,” Rev. Michael Bedevian said. The effort, however, is well worth it – as Scripture is brought to life.
Bedevian first witnessed a Living Last Supper when he started in ministry in the late 1980s. “I thought, I can bring this to churches too,” he recalled.
While other congregations he has served started their own Living Last Supper traditions, this will be the first at FUMC Crockett. The performance begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 14 at the church’s Family Life Center, 701 E Goliad Ave.
The production opens with narration; the setting is the last supper. Jesus walks in first and lights a candle. The disciples enter, and Jesus motions to them to sit down.
“One by one, He’ll wash all of their feet,” Bedevian said. “Peter is the last one. Then, they will have a discourse.”
The narrator will provide background on each disciple. Jesus will explain to them, as in Scripture,” “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
Jesus will also bless the unleavened bread and juice which will be passed to the disciples. After they take communion, the audience will be invited to come to the table too. Each individual will receive an olive wood communion cup as a souvenir of the experience.
“The disciples will serve the audience,” Bedevian said. “They go out in their costumes and maintain character the entire time. They will reflect loving, humility and welcoming that almost forces people to come forward. It will be very inviting.”
Afterwards, Jesus will tell the disciples of his betrayal and name Judas, who will then stand and extinguish his candle. Jesus will also foretell Peter's denial.
As the dinner ends, Jesus explains that the dinner was not meant to feed the body but to nourish their souls. He gives them a new commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
The performance is scheduled for Maundy Thursday. Bedevian explained that “maundy” is from the Latin word mandatum, or commandment, reflecting Jesus' words “I give you a new commandment.”
“Jesus knew His fate that night,” Bedevian said. He wanted to gather his disciples to ensure they would follow His example and commit to love.
There will be music and prayer. The performance will also address the disciples’ next steps, their feelings of shock, inadequacy, sorrow and fear. There will also be a scene of them reuniting, grateful to see each other.
“It’s a beautiful moment of them coming back together as a group to serve,” Bedevian said. “It conveys to the congregation, this is what fellowship is supposed to be about. This is what communion reflects – the body of Christ.”
“That’s what I want to capture and convey to the audience,” he added. “They can experience it. This play has always moved people in the past, and I'm hoping and expecting it will again. We want everyone to come to this.”