Witnesses offer views on cross of JesusOMA’s Annual Lenten Series begins with Ash Wednesday observance in First UMC parking lot

Considering the Cross of the Crucifixion from the perspectives of those who were there is a good way to gain a deeper understanding for yourself, say speakers for the Odessa Ministerial Alliance’s Annual Lenten Series scheduled Wednesday through April 12.
The Rev. Andrew Arp will take on the challenging and, he says, somewhat disturbing role of Judas Iscariot during a 12:15 p.m. March 22 worship service at Bethany Christian Church at 4522 N. Everglade Ave. “It’s very disorienting,” said Arp, pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene.
“I will be entering into the person of Judas with his remorse for what’s taking place. He was almost out of his mind. The Scripture tells us he went and committed suicide.”
Referring to that disciple who took 30 pieces of silver to lead a mob to arrest the Messiah, Arp said, “I’ll be trying to analyze what led Judas to that point and why he felt that way after betraying Christ.
“One of the Gospel interpretations is that if Judas put Jesus in that place of weakness, His hand would be forced and He would become that earthly king that Judas wanted Him to be. It was only after Christ’s resurrection that the other disciples came to understand that Jesus’ kingdom doesn’t work like earthly kingdoms work. It’s a kingdom where we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.”
The Rev. Larry Hood will portray the Apostle Peter, who denied three times that he knew Jesus after the Messiah was arrested. “Peter is the true West Texas man that I grew up around,” said Hood, set to speak at 12:15 p.m. March 8 at St. James Missionary Baptist Church at 2212 E. 11th St.
“He is going to stand up and speak his mind first and then think about it later.”
The Lutheran Church of the Risen Lord pastor said Peter underwent a spiritual transformation between vowing that he would die for Jesus, failing Him and then having a conversation with Jesus after His resurrection in which Jesus asked three times if Peter loved him. “I know exactly what Peter went through,” Hood said.
“He was heartbroken, but Jesus told him three times, ‘Feed my sheep.’ I love that moment with Peter, and the Lenten Season reminds us that we can all have that moment. Before the Cross, the law only dealt with our symptoms. The Cross dealt with our sins.”
The season starts with an Ash Wednesday observance at noon March 1 in the First United Methodist Church parking lot at 415 N. Lee Ave., and the Rev. Buddy Monahan, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, will speak as Simon of Cyrene, who carried the Cross when Jesus no longer could, at 12:15 p.m. March 15 at Monahan’s 4901 Maple Ave. church.
OMA President Yolanda Fish will portray Mary Magdalene, one of the women who followed Jesus and took care of Him and His disciples, in a March 29 service at Refuge Ministries at 1211 E. 57th St.
The Rev. Greg Morris, Bethany Christian pastor, will be “the disciple on the Road to Emmaus” April 5 at All People Worship Center at 2000 W. University Blvd. before All People Pastor Christopher Hagger assumes the role of the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus April 12 at Highland United Methodist Church at 1808 N. Dixie Blvd.
Noting she will wear a scarf and that other speakers may be in costumes or partial costumes, Fish said a $6 lunch will be served at 11:15 a.m. at each church and that offerings will be taken during the services to help finance the OMA’s Family Promise program in which homeless families are temporarily housed at local churches.
“We thought, why not do something different this year?” she said. “I’m interested to see this through fresh eyes and different perspectives. The Cross is sort of an altar place where God meets man.”