From the Open Files of:

Southwestern Minnesota Resource Center, 507/637-3904

Contributed by:

Sue Hamly, Pastor, Faith United Church of Christ, International Falls, MN

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Nail Table
Lenten/Ash Wednesday/Good Friday Idea

This is not strictly an Ash Wednesday idea. On Good Friday we do a Service of Nails where each participant is invited to place a nail in a cross. It would be powerful for that nail to be one they have carried since Ash Wednesday. A reminder of our sin, driven into the cross.

We plan on using a small, triangular-shaped nail small enough to carry around in pocket or purse, which is what will be suggested that people do during Lent. These nails will be available on the "Nail Table" on Ash Wednesday.

Nail Table Reflection

Scripture: Mark 15:22, 24, 29a, 31-32

Reflection: Crucifixion was probably the most cruel form of punishment ever invented. It is unknown in the Old Testament. The cross as instrument of execution seems to have originated with the Persians, who passed it on to the Greeks and Romans who used public execution as a deterrent against rebellious slaves and seditious provincials.

There were wide variations, according to the whims and sadism of the executioner, but by Roman times, several features were fairly standard. With a placard proclaiming the crime hung around the neck, the condemned prisoner carried the crossbar of the cross to the place of execution where the upright stake was already in place. The offender was stripped and flogged and his arms were affixed to the crossbar with ropes or nails. Then the crossbar was raised and attached to the upright stake. The feet were also affixed to the stake with ropes or nails.
Death came slowly, often taking several days.

Because of the extreme suffering and public humiliation, it was viewed by the Romans as the supreme penalty, the "most wretched of deaths," according to Joesphus. It was generally reserved for the lowest classes and the most heinous crimes.

Action: Take one of the nails and a copy of Ann Weem's poem, "No Dances" with you. Carry the nail in your pocket or purse throughout the season of Lent to remind you of what Jesus endured because he loved us. Let it also remind you that even in the darkest days of your life, you are not alone and God's love will always be present with you to sustain you. Bring your nail to worship on Good Friday.

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