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Prop Illustration for Good Friday Service

Texts: Assorted texts from the Passion accounts of the Gospels and Isaiah 52:13–53:12

Principle: The weight of the sins we have committed and the sins committed against us have been placed on Christ.

Objects: Multiple bricks, multiple notecards, a copy of Frank Warren's Post Secret, a wheelbarrow, and a tall wooden or metal cross

Experience: A number of bricks are piled on one side of the stage. On the other side of the stage stands a large wooden or metal cross that is securely anchored to the floor in some manner. A wheelbarrow rests between the pile of bricks and the cross. Each brick has a notecard taped to it (explained below). The preacher takes the stage, stands between the bricks and the wheelbarrow, and begins to preach:

A few years ago, a man who owned a small business in Germantown, Maryland, started what he called "a community art project." His name was Frank Warren, and he began handing out postcards to strangers and leaving them in public places. The postcards asked people to write down a secret. The secret had to be true, and it had to be something they had never told anyone. Then people were supposed to mail their postcard to Frank Warren, anonymously. Thousands of people sent in cards, and they still do to this day. In fact, Frank now has a website called PostSecret.com. He has also written several books. I've taken entries from his book Post Secret, and I have put them on these postcards. To give these postcards and their confessions some visual weight, I've taped each postcard to a brick.

The preacher then begins to pick up the bricks, one-by-one, reading the notecard that is taped to the brick before throwing it into the wheelbarrow. Some examples from Frank Warren's collection of secrets:

  • "When my friends go on diets, I discourage them. This is because I really just want them to be fatter than me."
  • "Sometimes I wish that I was blind, just so I wouldn't have to look at myself everyday in the mirror. "
  • "I'm jealous of her baby."
  • "I started shooting heroin again."
  • "People think I've stopped lying—but I've just gotten better at it."
  • "I go to fraternity parties, wait for everyone to get drunk, and steal all their stuff."
  • "I waste office supplies, because I hate my boss."

The preacher can use secrets from Frank Warren's "collection" (using the suggested opening lines in this illustration), or the preacher can create his or her own list of sins based on Scripture or pastoral experience (with a different introduction to the sermon). Should the preacher choose to create his or her own list, the key is to create a list that identifies both personal sin and the pain caused by the sin of others (examples: "I cheated on my wife" [personal sin] and "My husband cheated on me" [pain caused by the sin of others]).

As the preacher reads the notecards on the bricks and places them in the wheelbarrow, the preacher should pause from time to time—perhaps after two or three bricks or just after reading one notecard that is particularly dark—and read a selected verse from the Passion accounts of the Gospels. For example:

(Brick #1) I'm jealous of her baby.

(Brick #2) I started shooting heroin again.

(Brick #3) People think I've stopped lying—but I've just gotten better at it.

After the third brick is placed in the wheelbarrow, the preacher reads a verse from the Passion account: "They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,' he said. 'Stay here and keep watch.'"

Continue to alternate between reading the confessions taped to the bricks and reading the verses from Scripture concerning the Passion of Christ, all while placing the bricks into the wheelbarrow. As the pile of bricks grows smaller, the readings should shift to verses from Isaiah 52:13–53:12.

When the preacher has read all of the confessions and has placed all of the bricks in the wheelbarrow, he or she should then roll the wheelbarrow over toward the cross.

One final verse is read, Isaiah 53:6: "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, we have turned, every one, to his own way, and the LORD has laid on him, the iniquity of us all."

As soon as Isaiah 53:6 is read, the preacher should dump all the contents of the wheelbarrow at the foot of the cross with a large crash. (As noted earlier in the illustration, the cross needs to be securely anchored to the floor in some manner. You don't want the cross to fall over!) This concludes the Good Friday sermon. The preacher might want to offer further explanation or let the power of the scene stand on its own.

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