A spiritual journey to the cross
Published 9:14 am Friday, April 8, 2011
AUSTIN — Many people wonder what it was like to live with Jesus 2,000 years ago. On Palm Sunday, April 17, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Austin, people will experience that, but they will need a passport.
The event is Journey to the Cross, which transforms most of St. John’s into a live depiction of the last week of Jesus’ life.
To start, visitors will get their picture taken and put into a blue passport booklet. Then they tour 11 different stations that lead them to the cross.
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The event, which goes from 4 to 6 p.m., is free and open to the public. Karla Muller, one of the event coordinators, said tours start every 10 minutes and last about an hour. Afterwards, guests can stick around for questions.
Although it’s in its third year, Journey to the Cross is open to the public for only the second time. According to the Rev. Tom Ogilvie, the first year was a dry run to see how smoothly things would go. Last year’s event saw crowds of all ages. Because of its success, Austin can look for this event every year during Easter.
But St. John’s isn’t cutting any corners in preparation. According to Ogilvie, the planning has been going on for months. Setup will take several days and cover much of the church.
“There is very little room in our church that does not get used for this,” Ogilvie said. “Even the entry ways are transformed; it’s a whole facility transformation.”
More than anything, it’s a hands-on learning experience. Visitors spend about six or seven minutes at each of the 11 stations, which go in chronological order.
Visitors get to interact with characters and see events like the last supper, the Centurions at the cross and the angels outside Jesus’ tomb. The interaction is the key part of the event, so everyone can leave with a clear picture of what really happened.
Guests will receive items along the way, such as stickers and replica coins from Jerusalem. They’ll also experience hand washing (representing the foot washing), a tasting from the last supper, and they will hammer nails into boards, giving them a sense of Jesus’ sacrifice.
“To be able to experience it, you’re bringing something to life, bringing it off the page” Ogilvie said. “Whether you can read or not, it really provides that opportunity.”