Westwinds Community Church, Jackson, Michigan
Good Friday Service
Four figures, dressed in black, stand on plexiglas cubes, suspending them above the stage. The upward lighting emanating from the cubes creates an eerie feel as it illuminates the objects the figures are holding: a whip, a hammer and spike, a crown of thorns, and a spear. John Michael Talbot music floods the room as technicians project crucifixion art on the large screen. One at a time, the figures dressed in black speak and describe the torture inflicted on Jesus’ body by the object they are holding.
“The Roman soldiers used a whip, commonly called the cat-of-nine tails to pulverize Jesus ’flesh. The tails of the whip wrapped around His body, and when the solider snapped the whip, the stones and pottery pieces woven in the leather grabbed His flesh and tore it away, exposing His muscles, and sinews to the elements. . . . ”
As the impact of the first speaker ’s words sink into the hearts of the worshipers, the second speaker holds up a crown of thorns, and says, “When the soldiers thrust the crown of thorns on Jesus ’brow, they shredded the flesh on His skull. The thorns on this crown are one to two inches long and extremely sharp. Because the skull is one of the most vascular areas of the body, these thorns would cause severe bleeding when forced onto His head. . . . ”
Another speaker explains the pain Jesus felt when the Roman soldiers drove nails through His hands and feet. “The spikes were over six inches long and almost a half inch in diameter. The hammer drove the nails through His flesh. Besides the pain from the puncture and slow compression, Jesus felt severe shock waves of pain as the nailed touched his median nerve.”
The final speaker holds a spear and describes the soldier piercing Jesus ’flesh through to His Heart. When Pastor Ron Martoia rises to speak, he and the audience explore the question, “Why did Jesus do it?” Images continue on the big screen and on the small monitors scattered throughout the auditorium. Before communion, the worship team sings “Why?”
The worship leaders don ’t pass communion out to the crowd; instead, worshipers walk to a sixteen-foot, semi-oval concrete communion table, built especially for this service. Lying on the table are oversized pewter gothic chalices and large loaves. Interspersed with the communion elements are the whip, hammer, crown of thorns, spike, and spear. The silence is interrupted with three loud hammer blows, and the sound of a thunderstorm. On the screen, these words appear: “You are free to linger as long as you like or go as you like, but please leave in silence. ”The Good Friday service at Westwinds
Community Church in Jackson, Michigan concludes.
It is graphic and raw. It is also powerful.
At Westwinds, the use of art during a worship service is earthy and multi-layered. They don ’t use a painting or a poem to illustrate a point, or a drama as an element of a progressive presentation; instead, they weave several layers into a multi-sensory experience. The music, the art, the lighting effects, the powerful monologues and visual props form a tapestry that prepares the congregation to meet God at the communion table.