How can we provide a meaningful way for people to connect with their faith and the community on Good Friday? This was the guiding question as ministers from Brentwood, National Avenue, and South Street Christian Churches met to plan our Good Friday activities. We’ve been hosting an ecumenical Good Friday service for several years, but we wanted to do something in addition to our service. We realized that Good Friday fell on First Friday Art Walk, an event where people flock downtown to check out the newest galleries and stores, which are very close to South Street Christian Church. How serendipitous that Good Friday and Art Walk would fall on the same day! We knew that there had to be a way to communicate the poignancy of Good Friday through art. After some brainstorming, we came up with the idea of asking the homeless, runaway, or at-risk youth from Rare Breed Youth Services to produce art for the evening and Rev. Jenn Simmons made the contact. Creating an art exhibit would be a way for the youth to give voice to their struggles, as well as, help our faith communities encounter Christ in the midst of those who are leading very difficult lives.
We decided to give the youth words associated with Good Friday around which they could create their art. They used cinder blocks, representing the weight of their struggles, complete with phrases and pictures that they had cut from magazines and newspapers. The art was striking. It gave us a window into their lives, which had been filled with hurt and brokenness. In addition to the art, there were candles laid out to form the shape of a cross, where people could light a flame to represent a prayer. People could also write a prayer, roll it up, and place it with others. Perhaps the most heart-breaking, yet hopeful part of the exhibit, however, was a short statement that the youth had written. The statement was placed next to several small stones in a basket with words like “crying,” “hungry,” and “tender” on them. Their statement, which encouraged us to take a stone with us, read:
Please take a stone with these words of reflection on them. Remember us, our journeys, our thoughts, hopes and dreams. Though our paths may not cross, we are sharing this life now. Our souls are experiencing the same love, the same pain, the same energy. Think of us often. We need to be loved. We need to be valued. We need to be worthy. We need you. All. Lives. Matter.
Indeed, all lives matter. It is in the faces, or in this case the art, of those on the margins that we encounter the living Christ, even on Good Friday…or perhaps, especially on Good Friday. Their lives call us to stand in solidarity with all those who are hurting. The exhibit drew around 150 people from local congregations, the First Friday Art Walk crowd, and loyal supporters of Rare Breed. We raised $636.05 for Rare Breed and we are grateful that were able to walk with them on their journeys.
Rev. Caleb J. Lines
South Street Christian Church