Pilgrimage helps drive home message

by Jim Boyle


Parishioners at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Elk River took turns pounding a nail into a cross at the close of the church’s annual Good Friday Tenebrae service.

It was one of many symbolic measures throughout the night designed to help Christians dig into their faith and reflect on Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.

Gary Lenz felt the nail pierce the wood a little more clearly. The sound of the hammer hitting the head of the nail may have been a little louder, too. He was one of the 60 to 70 who went on the pilgrimage from one Elk River church to the next until seven had been reached. He carried the cross on one of the legs of the jaunt.

Gary Lenz carried the cross for part of the pilgrimage with his son, Anthony, 11, and his daughter, Kayla, 13.

“When you think of what he went through, it’s hard to believe,” Lenz said of the thoughts that raced through his head while he carried the cross from St. Andrew’s Catholic Church to Elk River United Methodist Church.

Emmanuel Lutheran’s Tenebrae service transitions from lightness to darkness as candles are extinguished one by one.

Once complete darkness fell on the sanctuary at Emmanuel Lutheran, the Rev. Terry Grzybowski symbolically punctuated Christ’s death on the cross by slamming a large Bible against a lectern.

“It gave a fright,” Grzybowski said.

Then the light of Christ, depicted with the lighting of a single candle, was brought back out to remind people of the hope of resurrection.

Parishioners quietly filed out of the church, each given a chance to pound a nail.

“It really hit me this year,” Lenz said, noting he has been coming to the service for years.

But this was his first year he had taken part in the community-wide pilgrimage. His children — Kayla, 13, and Anthony, 11 — had been on it before, and they encouraged him to join them this year. Kayla was also involved in the lighting and extinguishing of candles for the Tenebrae service.

The weather kept more people away than usually take part, but it still brought people of various ages out again this year.

No matter how chilly it might have felt, the weather didn’t dampen the spirit of the walk.

“It was cloudy, but it was a real nice day to do it,” Lenz said.

The walk started at Central Lutheran and made stops at The Crossing, St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, Union Congregational, Elk River United Methodist, Emmanuel Lutheran and Holy Trinity Episcopal.

Those involved heard a scripture reading and sang a song at each of the stops. Participants also recounted in their minds Jesus Christ’s last moments on the cross.

“Our sins put Jesus on the cross,” Grzybowski reminded his congregants during their Good Friday service.


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