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12:54 AM Wed, Oct. 17th

Local churches celebrate Easter

Courtesy photo<br/>Members of the First Nazarene Church will present “After the Hosannas! – Seeing and Believing the Messiah” on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.<br/>

Courtesy photo<br/>Members of the First Nazarene Church will present “After the Hosannas! – Seeing and Believing the Messiah” on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.<br/>

"The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, 'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" - John 12:12-13

The year was about 30 AD, and it was springtime in Jerusalem. The throng had collected for the annual Passover celebration, and excitement spread with word that Jesus would be in town for the great occasion. The people who gathered to greet him waved branches of palm trees, a sign of victory for their messiah, and spread their coats on the path that he trod.

Christians around the world observe this coming Sunday as Palm Sunday, the day that begins Holy Week and an era in biblical history that abruptly changed from jubilance to profound mourning and then celebration with the resurrection of Jesus.

First Church of the Nazarene will follow Jesus through his final passion in its production, "After the Hosannas! - Seeing and Believing the Messiah" on both Palm Sunday, March 28, and Good Friday, April 2.

The performance will be "upbeat," said Merlene Neil, worship arts director, with nearly 60 of the church's Celebration Singers and actors on the sanctuary's stage in a setting abounding in colorful flowers signaling spring and rebirth.

"When people walk in, they will see spring and hope," Neil said, describing the scene as a "wonderful garden" and the cast as overjoyed at Jesus' resurrection.

The drama features actors who will see the messiah, his betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection through the eyes of Peter, Simeon, Mary Magdalene and Judas, all dressed in biblical garb. In juxtaposition, modern-day witnesses will narrate the lessons and teachings of these events.

Music for "After the Hosannahs!" is by composer David Clydesdale, who writes "big" music, Neil said of the well-known composer of Christian works. Virtually the entire congregation has come together to prepare for the performance. "The church people do everything," she said, from seamstresses who pitch in to make costumes to members who create the garden setting and the crew who feeds the singers and actors during rehearsals.

"Sometimes we look at Christianity as archaic," Neil said. "After the Hosannas!" is for today and both the modern-day worshipper and the biblical worshipper.

"After the Hosannas!" performances are at 9 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday and again at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 2. The church is located at 2110 Willow Creek Road, Prescott. The public is welcome to attend this 13th production for Easter.

Other churches in the Prescott area also plan special observances for the Holy Week and Easter.

Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church parishioners will participate in an Agape Meal Festival at 6:30 p.m. on Maundy Thursday. This will combine a meal and worship service recalling when St. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth "to help them understand the Lord's Supper properly," said Pastor Hal Teuscher. People of the time were doing it wrong, he said, because the rich were discriminating against the poor. St. Paul narrowed the sacrament down to the basics of Holy Communion for the Corinthian people, the pastor said.

The service will be in the church's Fellowship Hall, and the meal will emulate biblical times, with a Greek/Jewish lentil soup, roast beef, potatoes and vegetables - foods of that day that were popular.

The public is welcome, and those who would like to attend should call ahead so that the church can plan for food it needs. The church is located at 1202 Green Lane, Prescott, and the phone number is 778-9122.

Shepherd of the Hills will commemorate the death of Jesus at 6:30 p.m. on Good Friday with a Tenebrae service of songs, scriptural readings, prayers and reflections on the Passion story, Teuscher said.

The congregation will have the opportunity to write their habitual sins on a small piece of paper and nail them into a wooden cross and ask the Lord for forgiveness as a reminder that He died for their sins, too, Teuscher said. As the service continues, the lights will get dimmer, while the focus will turn to a wrack on the altar, simulating a farmer's harrow. The wrack will hold 14 candles and the Christ candle.

The service will lead the congregation through the seven stages of Jesus' journey to the cross, the candles will be extinguished at each stage and the final two in observance of his crucifixion and resurrection.

The Heights Church, 2121 Larry Caldwell Drive, will devote the entire Easter weekend to the Christian festival.

From 5 to 8 p.m. on Good Friday, the church plans an open house with the pastors during which people may come and go as they please. The church has cancelled Saturday services, because of a full day of activities on Easter Sunday, beginning at 5:45 a.m. with a continental breakfast and then a sunrise service at 6:15 a.m. at the cross on the east side of the church.

On Sunday, the Heights Church invites the public to its annual Easter worship and contemporary music service at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.

The United Methodist Church, 505 W. Gurley St., will celebrate Easter Sunday with special music at a 6:30 a.m. sunrise service in the amphitheater of Sharlot Hall Museum, 415 W. Gurley St. From 7 to 9 a.m., the church's youth group will serve a sunrise breakfast in the church's Esther Hall before the regular services in the church's sanctuary.

American Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1050 Scott Drive, plans a variety of Easter Sunday programs.

A sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. will feature the Youth Choir, singing "Easter Day," and the Hosanna Ringers will ring "Now the Green Blades Rises." At the 8:30 a.m. service, the Sanctus Choir will sing "Victory," and the Peals of Praise will ring "Now the Green Blades Rises" with percussion. During the 10 a.m. service in the sanctuary, the Jubilate Choir will present "I Will Sing unto the Lord," with combined children's vocal and bell choirs.

The brass quartet, along with the pipe organ, will accompany the hymns for the 8:30 and 10 a.m. services.

The church's contemporary services at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall will feature guest speaker Jake Madlock who will discuss his personal struggles and tragedies that he has experienced and how the faithfulness of God saved his life. Madlock, the leader of the church's Praise and Worship Team, and his testimony will include a time for questions and answers.