Stirred by the Spirit: Seniors lead moving Good Friday service

By: Noah Hermansen

On Good Friday, many hearts were changed as people from all around the Cedar Valley gathered to hear testimonies from CFHS seniors and other seniors from surrounding schools. Good Friday is a Christian religious holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 2.13.36 PMFriday, March 25, at Nazareth Lutheran Church, many people were impacted by the powerful words of scripture, worship and testimonies. The speakers were given a Bible verse. All the verses were Jesus’s last words before dying. The service included a worship band of high school students singing multiple songs, art, dance and senior students telling their amazing stories.

Two separate services featured Chris Hintzman, Aaron Iehl, Jacob Leisinger, Katelyn Soska (Dike-New Hartford), Gus Marty, Ellie Burken, Annebeth Ahrenholz, Emma Gerdes, Lauren Morlan, Conrad Nichols, Isaiah Barney, Gabi Petry (Hudson), Ben Hertz and Nic Gronowski (Dike-New Hartford).

Speaking in front of a lot of people is not an easy task and can be very nerve wracking for students. Though some of them were nervous, after getting warmed up on the stage, some claim to have had a really calming experience come over them and not even remember talking.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 2.13.50 PM“When I got my verse, I had no idea how it would relate it to my life, but God really revealed himself to me the past few weeks, and I learned a lot about myself during this process. Luke 23:34. ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’ I was really nervous, but once I got up there, I experienced a huge calming feeling and the nerves were totally gone. The Holy Spirit was so present, and it was a crazy feeling. I know he was speaking through me because I don’t remember over half the things I said. It was awesome,“ senior Emma Gerdes said.

Along with each Bible verse, several students drew, painted or photographed pictures to help illustrate the verses. “The art gives the audience a visual to ponder over while listening to the speaker. It also can show a deeper or different perspective to the verse,” senior Jackson Reynolds said.

Junior Aliya Rabune contributed to the art for the Bible verses, as well as Reynolds. “I think art on Good Friday is important because it allows artists to interpret scripture in their own way and express it in a way that not everyone may see it in their own eyes. It also helps people viewing the art to better understand what certain verses really mean and how they can view scripture differently by viewing the Good Friday art,” Rabune said.

Ahrenholz agreed that the Holy Spirit was present and God was at work throughout the night on Friday. “That whole day and night I was so nervous and jittery. One minute before I was supposed to go on stage to sing, I was literally so nervous that I started crying. I went out to get a drink and ran into an old friend who then prayed for me that I would have peace for the night and let God speak through me. After that, throughout the night as I sang and before I spoke, I was continuously praying for peace and trying to stay calm. People had been telling me all night to just breathe and take a breath to calm down. When the time came to speak, I took a deep breath and felt God’s presence come over me, and after that, I don’t really even remember what happened, but I know for a fact that I couldn’t have done this on my own. God was with me the whole time, and I am so thankful for the peace that I felt while speaking, “ Ahrenholz said.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 2.14.06 PMAnother speaker was Hertz, who had a great and relatable story. “I felt like God wanted me to tell it, mostly for those who needed to hear it and are struggling. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was true, and I wanted to give other people who are confused or uncertain hope. Also, I just think that our eternal destiny is really important, and I know many people don’t spend much time thinking about it. I honestly thought I would appeal to just a few people, and that’s all I wanted, but a ton of people have reached out to me telling me how relevant it was to them. That’s been really encouraging for me, and it’s awesome to see God at work,” Hertz said.

In between the talks and music, there was a dance performed by Jessica McMurrin and Katy Lockard. Maddy Wright and Hope Chestnut led the song, along with a small choir, drums, a guitar and a piano.

“A very calming feeling came over me during the dance. I wasn’t nervous anymore, and the moves just came to me,” Lockard said.

Before and after the dance, the worship band sang and played music. Avri Anderson, Ahrenholz, Wright and Chestnut led the singing for both the 7 p.m and 9 p.m services.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 2.14.46 PM“Good Friday was indescribable. Hearing my peers pour out their stories to hundreds of people and allowing themselves to be vulnerable for a few minutes was amazing and life changing. Leading worship was truly the best time of my life and something I’ll never forget. I felt God’s presence shed over me like nothing I’ve experienced before and was allowed to be a small part of a huge story. I’m so thankful,” Wright said.

This Good Friday service was very moving to those speaking and the audience. “It’s great to see your peers speak about their faith. I thought the service really impacted some people and showed the spirit of Good Friday,” senior Madison Hall said.

Many people were impacted by this service, including senior Sara Ashar. Ashar comes from an Islamic family, and she used to be religious. She entered high school and was introduced to a whole new world of science and natural doubt. She said she became overwhelmed with depression and anxiety throughout high school, and she believes that the absence of faith and God in her life may have something to do with the emptiness she has felt.

She attended the service Friday. “It was very different. I felt awkward at first. I truly only went because I wanted to hear friends speak at the service, but I left feeling more than that. I’ve been going through a tough time these past few months of my life.  I’ll admit that faith and God has been absent from my life for a while now, but it’s like I could feel a part of me filling back up after the service. I don’t know what this means, but I really wanna find out,” Ashar said.

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