All of these stories are found in the Bible and are told in a family-friendly October series at Trinity Reformed Church in Grand Haven.
You might call them "Tales From The Script(ure)."
The modest-sized church is in the midst of an ambitious outdoor, drive-in program stretching over every Saturday night of the month. Each evening features one of the "weirdest, oddest" and sometimes "scariest" of Biblical stories.
"Some of these are the least talked about stories in the Bible," said church co-pastor Wally De La Fuentes. "We'll dive into what the Lord was trying to tell us about himself and our morbid curiosity."
The month concludes with a Halloween night capped off with a drive-thru "trick-or-treat" distribution.
The series with its clever title (borrowed from the "Tales From the Crypt" book and film catalog) is part of Trinity's effort to increase connections with the wider community.
A 'SCARY' IDEA?
The planning for the series began when the church's mission team pondered what it might do this Halloween season, especially given current COVID-19 restrictions.
"Someone asked, 'What about all the scary stories in the Bible?'" recalled De La Fuente. "And the idea continued from there."
The pastor crafted a series of story-messages – one for each Saturday of the month, while church member/volunteer Gwen Bierman prepared separate stories for younger children.
As in Trinity's Sunday morning drive-in worship, the "Tales" series also is aimed at families who can remain in their vehicles in the church parking area during the program.
"We have a giant screen set up, and people can listen in on their car radios. We also have a portable sound system," he said.
If weather permits, families can come out of their cars and sit on their lawn chairs or strategically distanced straw bales to watch and listen.
TELLING THE STORIES
Opening night Oct. 10 jumped right into the spirit world. "There's a witch (medium) who says she can conjure up the dead," said the pastor about the curious tale in 1 Samuel 28. A disguised King Saul consults a medium for help in trying to speak to the dead prophet Samuel. Mysteriously the technique works and Saul and Samuel have a brief but terrifying conversation.
Another story borrows from the pop culture concept of "day (or night) of the living dead." "The moment that Jesus died, there was an earthquake and the tombs broke open," De La Fuente said of the passage in Matthew 27. The effect was dramatic as the formerly dead "went into the holy city and appeared to many people" (NIV). (presented Oct. 31)
And for a zombie experience check out Zechariah 14:12. (We dare you to look it up)!
Onlookers shouldn't worry about the stories being too intense. This is not a haunted house kind of fright.
"We're not making this scary or glamorizing these things," the pastor noted. "We're trying to point people in the right direction and show through all this that there is no fear in Christ."
The program for the younger children is geared for their age group. "For example, on one night the leader will tell a story while carving a pumpkin, and we'll be giving out pumpkins to each child," De La Fuente explained.
PART OF A LARGER EFFORT
In April, Trinity was one of the first Grand Haven churches to begin a Sunday drive-in service (highlighted in a Grand Haven Tribune article ). The church hopes to build some momentum with the Saturday "Tales" series. If response is sufficient, when their worship returns indoors next month, a Saturday evening service could be added.
Several years ago Trinity hosted a successful "glow-in-the-dark" Easter egg hunt which was welcomed with a large turnout. "We're a small church but we happen to do big things," said the pastor.
"With this series we're following all the (cornonavirus) guidelines we can while still having an atmosphere where people can come and gather together safely."
"Tales From The Script(ure)" -6pm each Saturday in October, at Trinity Reformed Church, 1330 South Ferry St. Grand Haven. No admission charge. For more information.