The Millville United Methodist Church will be celebrating the Lenten season by offering the community the opportunity to witness the Living Last Supper.
“One of the missions of our church is to reach everyone with the word of God, and what better way to do it? Entertain them into education. There’s nothing better than that. They come to see something nice and learn something at the same time. It’s beautiful,” said the play’s director, Marianne Smith.
“It’s so much fun and so educational — we cannot believe it. As many times as we’ve done it, every time we’re learning something else. There’s so much to learn. These men went through horror for us — these apostles. They saw Jesus go through horror, and to hear it out of their words… Everything is Biblical, everything comes right out of the Bible, so there’s no question but that it’s real.”
The free performance will be held at the church on Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m. Those who are in the play are members of the church, with Jesus being portrayed by the Rev. Brad Schutt.
“Our minister is Jesus. He doesn’t speak, because Jesus didn’t speak. So much happened at that last supper. We found out Judas was the traitor… I shouldn’t tell you too much, but we find out a lot of things.”
While those who attend will receive a program, no names will be listed.
“We don’t do it for ourselves; we don’t do it for self-glory at all. This is all done for the Lord and for helping people understand what Easter is all about. The bunny is cute, but Jesus is the reason for the season, just like Christmas. We feel very blessed to be able to do it.”
Smith praised the men who volunteered their time to perform the re-enactment.
“These men give of their time so willingly, and they’re so good. They’re just great. I marvel at the way they give up things to come and do it. Sometimes they come — ‘I’ve been working all day, I’m sorry I didn’t have time to change, but I didn’t want to be late!’ That’s how much it means to them. That’s pretty exciting.”
Smith brought the play from her former church in Dover, where she directed it.
“I had done it in another church up in Dover. Our minster at the time said, ‘Everyone is given talents, and everyone has something to give to the church. You have to decide what you have to give,’” recalled Smith.
“I wracked my brain trying to think of something I was good at, and I thought, maybe we could do a play. I called my girlfriend in Dover, who knew the man who had written the women’s play. I talked to him, sent him the money, and he sent it back. I went to the church and said, ‘My talent is in the theater. I’ve done Kent County Theater Guild, I’ve done plays in school — that’s what I know. I’d like to try it.’ They had never done a play of any kind. Some of them were very skeptical, but it worked out very well. And that’s how it got started.”
The Living Last Supper is performed every other year, alternating with “The Other Twelve Disciples,” a story about the notable women who helped Jesus and his ministry.
“Some cry, and some are overwhelmed. Some have been coming so many times and they always enjoy it,” said Smith. “Honestly, we all need it. The men need it, and they feel so good about what they’re doing because it’s refreshing them. We are a very close church, but this seems to bring us closer.”
Smith said the Easter productions are a way to spread the word of God to those in the church and outside of it.
“Jesus starts the Communion at the Last Supper. A lot of people don’t realize that — with the bread and the wine. All those guys had to remember it and carry it on.
“It’s really amazing to think about all that was done; if Jesus didn’t go through this, if he said, ‘Forget this stuff. I’m not going to die on that cross,’ none of us would go to heaven. If he didn’t die for us and take all of our sins with him to hell, which is kind of cool — he left them in hell when he was risen from the dead, right?
“We have the choice to make… but if he didn’t do that, none of us could go to heaven because we would all still have this sin. The sin he died for is still being accumulated, because he took on sin that you and I haven’t committed yet. And we will commit a sit today; everybody does. It’s just amazing to me. We’re very blessed.”
She said she hopes community members will see the play and feel moved to join the congregation of just over 100 members.
“The biggest thing that could happen is for someone to find Jesus for the first time and to accept Jesus Christ as their savior. That would be the ultimate,” said Smith. “We’re recruiting all the time. You walk in the door and you feel the love. You feel the love the minute you walk in the door. It is the friendliest, most wonderful place I have ever been, and I’ve been to several churches.”
Millville United Methodist Church is located at 36405 Clubhouse Road at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue (Route 26) and Clubhouse Road in Millville. For more information, call (302) 539-9077.
By Maria Counts