Every year our church hosts a Maundy Thursday service. I have been given the grace from my congregation that I can try new things, as long as I stick within the holy week theme. One year we had a kind of foot-washing service Last year we had informal stations of the cross where I used the various senses to recreate in people’s minds, Jesus’ last days (ie. jingling coins to simulate the 30 pieces of silver, pita and olive oil to call to memory the last supper, etc.). This year, as part of our (re)discovering spiritual practices, I decided to use a prayer labyrinth.
Our sanctuary is a multi-use auditorium, so I thought I might move the chairs out of the way and temporarily draw, paint, or tape a traditional labyrinth pattern on the floor. Then it struck me that it might be easier to construct the labyrinth out of our movable chairs. I played with a few designs. It seemed to me that it would lose a sense of purpose without a visual symbol, so I put a cross at the middle, and built it from there. There wasn’t room to do much else, so it was a fairly simple design.
Generally we have 2 sections of 9 rows of chairs for a total of 162 chairs. This design calls for 178 chairs, so we had to bring out of storage. The chairs that made up the cross were covered with banners and tablecloths (otherwise most people would miss the imagery), but other devices (ie. other coloured chairs) could accomplish that separation just as well.
I didn’t ancitipate any more than 30 people would attend, so turned the chairs in the last/bottom row toward the back and then added another row of 15 chairs so there was a place for everyone to sit without disturbing the maze setup.
Ideally, in a prayer labyrinth, people can go their own speed and reflect on whatever God puts on their heart, but in a worship service with a group of people, many of whom would prefer to get home before the sun completely sets, I felt I needed to add a little structure. I composed a series of writings for each of eight stations within the maze. The PDF is available here. I simply used a scriputre passage from the Luke account of the Holy week narrative and asked people to reflect on their own journeys.
This meant that people walked through quite slowly which meant a lot of reflecting/waiting patiently and a lot of background music for the pianist. This was a new experience for everyone, and all the comments I heard were positive.
If anyone has questions about the details, I would be happy to respond in the comment section.