HAMMOND | As the observance of Holy Week leads to Easter Sunday, Christians throughout the region connect visually and spiritually with events that occurred some 2000 years ago in Roman-controlled Jerusalem.
For the last 30 years, the congregation of First United Evangelical Lutheran Church has re-created the Last Supper, Jesus’ final meal shared with his disciples, on the church’s front lawn.
The tableau purposely resembles Leonardo da Vinci’s painting to help motorists quickly identify the event, said Chauncey Daspit of Hammond, event co-chair with Joe Brett, also a Hammond resident.
“The costumes are made by the congregation,” said Daspit, who played one of the disciples during Wednesday’s outdoor scene. Part of the tradition is to not identify which disciple the participants portray, he said.
“The first one to leave is Judas,” Daspit said, referring to the disciple who betrayed Jesus to Roman soldiers for 30 pieces of silver.
To portray Jesus, Perry Cummings, of Hammond, lets his hair and beard grow starting in the winter. Seated in the middle seat at the long cloth-covered table, Cummings chatted with others, then became almost pensive, casting his eyes skyward.
Issam Haddad, of Chicago, participated dressed in his authentic Jordanian robes.
“I’m here to emphasize the opportunity and freedom in this country to participate in this kind of event without fear of reprisals,” said Haddad, a native of Jordan.
Wednesday’s 40-degree temperature and moist air provided a chilly backdrop for the outdoor scene and most of the Last Supper participants wore gloves.
“We’ve had all kinds of weather for this including 3 to 4 inches of heavy snow,” said Les Hoemig as he set up the flood lights to illuminate the long table and 13 chairs.
Passing drivers slowed down to view the scene and some honked. Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller stopped the squad car he was driving along the curb to take a photo with his cellphone.
The Rev. Lawrence Mosley, of Munster, was driving back from soccer practice with his 8-year old daughter, Laila, when they passed the Last Supper portrayal.
“We pulled over to see what was going on,” said Lawrence Mosley, snapping photos with his cellphone.
As Laila’s eyes widened, she pronounced the whole scene “cool.”