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Blessed Redeemer offers ‘passport’ to last weeks of Jesus’ life
‘Journey to the Cross’ to benefit local food pantry
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

April 03. 2014 9:40AM
A simple can of soup or a package of spaghetti noodles will gain you access to the last two weeks of Jesus’ life. The donated non-perishables will nourish those in need of the assistance from Brandon Area Food Pantry and the story told in Redeemer Lutheran’s “Journey to the Cross” is intended to feed the soul.

Co-organizer Lonna Smith said the congregation’s first attempt at the seasonal program is intended to enhance the understanding and appreciation of the events leading up to Easter using their senses.

“If I say something to you, you might remember it. If I say something to you and show it to you, you might remember more of it,” she said. “But if you hear it, you see it or your taste it, then you’re much more likely to remember it long-term.”

Smith hopes that “Journey to the Cross,” which was suggested by co-organizer Jackie Eigenberg, who’d seen a similar program at a Nebraska church, is a meaningful experience for all ages.

“It’s a lot like a live nativity, but only for Easter,” she said.

“Journey to the Cross” utilizes the senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell – to help people understand and appreciate the events leading up to Easter, with the idea of making it “more real,” Smith said. People will be led by members from the congregation to each of the 11 stations. In addition, they’ll be armed with a “passport,” which briefly describes the meaning behind each station.

“There will be something to smell, something to do, something to hear, something to taste, something to feel,” Smith said, adding that groups will be kept to about eight for interactive purposes.

At the various stations, people will lay down palms, feel the coins Judas was paid to betray Jesus, taste matso, an unleavened bread, and charoset, a lumpy brown concoction that mimics the mortar used by the Israelite slaves in their building endeavors.

A live donkey will be in the church courtyard for petting, vinegar from a sponge will be tasted and hands will be washed in similar fashion of Jesus, who washed His disciples’ feet prior to the Passover meal.

“Journey to the Cross” will run from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Smith estimates it will take about an hour to go through all 11 stations. Early on, planners thought the “journey” would be much shorter.

“When we first started talking about this, we were going to do five stations,” Smith said. “But we had such a good turnout for people signing up and willing to help, that we decided to do them all.”

Smith said that willingness to help has spilled over to members coming up with period-appropriate props. “We put out a list of things we need, and all of sudden, I have people leaving me bull whips at church,” she said.

Congregation member Martha Smith stepped up to help with costumes. “I thought that was great, because she has so much experience with that,” Lonna Smith said.

Pastor Dan Deardoff says “Journey to the Cross” is a way for his congregation to reach out to the public.

“I thought it was a wonderful idea because it’s a way of sowing gospel seeds in the community,” he said. “It’s a chance to give everybody a deeper appreciation of what Christ suffered for us. Sometimes we just hear that Jesus died for us on the cross but to see some of the actual things – or something similar – of the actual things that were involved, can make it more real for people.”

The admission – a donation to the Food Pantry – Deardoff adds, is yet another way the congregation is branching out to the community.

“It’s a way of putting our faith in action,” he said.
What: Journey to the Cross

Where: Blessed Redeemer Lutheran Church, 7-5 S. Sioux Blvd., Brandon

When: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. – Palm Sunday, April 13

Cost: Canned good or donation to Brandon Area Food Pantry

Blessed Redeemer Lutheran will tell the story of Jesus' "Journey to the Cross" on April 13. The program, which takes participants from station to station, will let them use their senses to discover the true story of Easter and the depth of Jesus' love. Pictured with a sample of the items particnats witll touch, feell, taste and smell are (from left) Landon Smith, Sydney Kuhnert and Ruth Kreiutner. Photo by Jill Meier

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