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The Homecoming Feast

I tied the last knot on my piece of leather string and handed it to my friend sitting next to me. Nicky Nix, one of my best friends and my brother in Christ tied the string around my left ankle. I turned to my right and tied a similar string around the ankle of another of my deacon friends. We were to wear the strings around our ankles for several weeks as we prepared for the production of “The Deacon Led Living Last Supper”.

That was many years ago and I marveled at the deacons who had never been on stage in their life showing a reluctant willingness to portray one of the disciples seated at the table with Jesus on the night of His last feast with them. For weeks we practiced together, we prayed together and we drew closer and closer as a deacon body until the night of our performance.

Our educational minister and associate pastor at the time was Bruce Edwards. Bruce had brought the script to me and asked me to update the language for a more modern audience. The original script was written, I believe, in 1953. The script Bruce handed me didn’t even have the author’s name on it. I took a stab at the script bearing in mind which deacon would be playing which disciple. This meant that some of the monologues would have to be significantly shortened!

At Brookwood Baptist Church we performed the Living Last Supper at least a half a dozen times over the early years of the 1990’s. Nicky always portrayed Jesus. I always portrayed John. A towering, powerful friend of mine, Don Ashley, always portrayed Peter and he stood behind me with his hand on my shoulder. We had to freeze in the exact position of the disciples in the famous painting of the Last Supper. We could only move when it was our turn to talk. Let’s just say Don leaning on my shoulder was a continuous exercise of weight lifting! And, when he talked and brandished his knife, I was always afraid he would accidentally stab me in the back!

Those were wonderful times as a core group of deacons came together each year not only to BECOME the disciples to BECOME as close as the disciples. It galvanized our deacon ministry. We cherished the time in preparation for the Living Last Supper.

Years passed and Bruce left our church. One year, I had an inspiration. The traditional version of the Last Supper ends with each disciple wondering if they were the one to betray Christ and to utter words of despair, “Lord, is it I?” Those of us familiar with that “Maundy Thursday” night know the disciples would soon desert their Master and run away to hide in the shadows while Jesus was handed over to be crucified. It would seem that they had betrayed Jesus after all.

But, I knew the story didn’t end with those dark moments. After the crucifixion there was the empty tomb. After the darkness of that day, Jesus would return to encourage his disciples and to forgive Peter for denying Him in the courtyard the night of His trial. How could we tell that story? How could we celebrate the painful beginnings of the church and the miracles of the apostles?

At the end of Jesus’ celebration of the Passover Feast he said this,

“I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matt 26:29)

What had Jesus just promised? He had told his disciples there would come a day when they would gather again with Jesus to celebrate at the table but it would not be in this world. It would be in his Father’s kingdom. That meant there would be a homecoming feast for them! As I thought about that possibility I tried to imagine what Jesus would say to each apostle as he showed up at the feast.

From this idea God moved me to write “The Living Last Supper: The Homecoming Feast”. In this version of the Living Last Supper, each apostle arrives in heaven to a table set with a feast. Jesus awaits each of them as they arrive in the order in which they perished. Each apostle then gives their account of what happened after the night of Jesus’ betrayal and through the early years of the church ending with how they died. This gave me the opportunity to tell “the rest of the story” as seen in the end of the Gospels and the book of Acts.

We performed that version once at Brookwood Baptist Church as the last drama performed in our former campus before moving to our new location. This was sometime in 2001 or 2002.

I have long since forgotten about the Homecoming Feast. Our drama ministry has faded and no longer functions at Brookwood Baptist Church. So I was shocked and surprised to receive a recent email asking questions about “The Homecoming Feast”. It appears a group of churches have come together and are performing the play at Prescott Valley United Methodist in Prescott Valley, Arizona this coming Thursday night. Here is a link to their website: link.

It is so strange to me how God works in our lives. Here is a drama I wrote almost twenty years ago and it has surfaced at a church in Arizona for a new generation to witness. God is so faithful. This brings me great joy to know that some random idea God planted in my crazy mind can be used by God to further His kingdom.

If you are in the area of Prescott Valley, Arizona plan on checking out the production. I am hoping and praying that God will use this production to bless everyone’s life. “The Homecoming Feast” reflects the ending of the story God is telling as written in Revelation but it is the beginning of an eternity in the presence of our Lord!

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About Bruce Hennigan

Published novelist, dramatist, apologist, and physician.

Posted on April 16, 2019, in Steel Chronicles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Carole Fox Hartfield

    A true blessing of God!

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  2. Annie Alexander Peevy Miller

    Bruce, what a beautiful piece of writing, and what special memories it brought back to me, along with a big smile, as I think of Don leaning on you and the concerns (that I never realized before now) that you had. Your writings and our drama ministry were such a blessing to my life! I don’t know if I ever told you that, but I am telling you now. I loved participating in the dinner theaters, and I loved watching the ones that I was not participating in. I loved the camaraderie and friendships that deepened because of those wonderful “dramas” that we were blessed to be in. Sadly, I never saw “The Homecoming Feast”, but what a precious legacy to your GOD-given talent as a writer, and to the glory of our LORD, that this message has spread to other places. Thank you for continuing to use your talent to glorify the LORD, and to bless the lives of others.

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