Good Friday at ABC
STATIONS: The Way of the Cross
by Pastor George Van Alstine
There’s a cross on top of the church’s bell tower. There’s also a cross at the front of the sanctuary, the central visual focus for worshipers. Many of the women in any church service will be wearing crosses on necklaces. Some of the young people may have cross tattoos. The cross dominates our consciousness as Christians.
We think of Jesus dying on the cross through the lyrics of some of our most familiar hymns. Every month we participate in the Lord’s Supper, which draws us into a deeper understanding of the cross. And once a year, during a time we call Holy Week, we take time on Good Friday to look intently on the cross and consider how Jesus suffered there for our salvation.
Glenn Molina came to Altadena Baptist Church as a nine-year-old. Up to that point, he had been christened and brought up as a Roman Catholic, so his experience of the cross was influenced by the perspective and the practices of the Catholic Church. Now at ABC, he was looking at the cross in a new way. Being a very thoughtful and introverted child, he kept “pondering these things in his heart,” as Mary, Jesus’ mother did (Luke 2:51).
When Glenn’s musical side emerged and blossomed during his teen years, his thinking and feeling about the cross found expression through praise songs he loved and ultimately through praise music he composed. He became more and more involved in the worship/music program at ABC, and his musical gifts were confirmed by the congregation. After high school he began further studies as a music major at Azusa Pacific University and at Cal State LA. This was followed by his work at Fuller Seminary, where he finally received a Master’s Degree in Worship, Theology and the Arts in 2009.
During his Master’s program, Glenn’s ideas about the meaning of the cross came together in the development of the musical work which became his Master’s thesis, STATIONS: The Way of the Cross. The name “STATIONS” comes from the Catholic tradition of following the “Stations of the Cross,” praying at each of thirteen points along the way from Jesus’ trial to his crucifixion. For Glenn, this musical re-enactment expresses his faith more than mere words can.
Two musical sources inspired Glenn in developing “STATIONS.” The first was the classic oratorio The Messiah, by George F. Handel. He loved Handel’s way of expressing spiritual truths by telling a musical story. Glenn’s second inspiration came from movie scores, especially those by John Williams, which use repeated and interwoven motifs to carry listeners through the various phases of a narrative. The movie parallel also led Glenn to a further guiding principle: that music can be more effective when it is accompanied by visual artistic support, through drawings, or paintings, or videos.
All of this leads to what will happen at ABC on Good Friday evening, 7:00 pm, April 22, 2011. The ABC Choir, together with soloists, musicians and visual artists, will do the premier presentation of Glenn’s original composition, STATIONS: The Way of the Cross. It’s our hope that the entire ABC congregation will enter into the Good Friday experience. This would also be a wonderful opportunity to invite friends so that they can be exposed to the spiritual heart of ABC—loving God and others around us because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.