What a week – Monday to Thursday were all about preparation. As the days passed boxes were filled and resources collected in preparation for the events that would follow over the weekend.
On Thursday evening we gathered to remember the events of the Last Supper. After the complexities of last year’s Passover Re-enactment, the Agape (Love Feast) was a gentler affair. We shared together the practice that the early Christians enjoyed as recorded in Acts 2. There was good food, conversation, some art was created and bread was broken.
Good Friday began with our Messy Easter event. Over 140 people (adults and children) came through our doors to share in songs, games, stories and crafts. Finally everyone shared in some wonderful food, lovingly prepared by Graham and served up by our great team. It was delicious. The Co-op had provided hot cross buns for everyone for afters.
In a complete change of pace, there was our ‘Hour By The Cross’ service. We reflected on the things that Jesus carried to the cross. We discovered that we were carried by him into his death and therefore into his resurrection. In dealing with our sins, Jesus also dealt with the whole of our lives. This was illustrated by sharing in the thorns and bloody bandages of the passion.
Good Friday evening saw us participating in the Tenebrae. The Tenebrae is an adaptation of a service that was used in the early church. It is a meditation on the shadows that gradually grew darker and finally enveloped Christ in darkness as he journeyed towards the Cross. The service is therefore in a restrained and solemn mood. Readings from scripture are interspersed with music and periods of silence. Each of the eight movements through the shadows of anguish, humiliation, separation and death is played out through scripture readings, music, dramatic action and silence.
One candle after another is put out as the sign of the darkness closing in on Jesus. In retracing the steps of Jesus towards the Cross we meditated on his obedience to God. We also thought of our own life of sacrifice for Christ and those for whom he died. “If any person will come after me, let him deny himself and take up the cross and follow me. Whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it.” It was a really moving evening.
At 7.00am (6.00am in real time) over 100 folk from all the local churches gathered together outside Church on the Way to give praise to Jesus for his resurrection. We sang with joyful hearts and broke bread together as family. This was followed by a wonderful breakfast. The porridge was particularly good! Our thanks to David and his team for their hard work.
Our Sunday morning service was ably led by one of Worship Teams, with Stewart providing a powerful message about emptiness. Again we were joined by some of our new Iranian friends. We were delighted to offer baptism to Aboozar, Reza, Hossein and Reza. The two women we had hoped would join us had unfortunately been transferred to London – we pray that they will find a Christian welcome in their new place. The service proved to be very joyous and full of worship. All ages shared together in the occasion.
Our prayer this week follows the theme of Easter and was used at the beginning of our Sunday morning service.
PRAYER OF THE WEEK
We thank you
that Easter is not about a people,
but all people,
that your love and your Salvation
are for all who confess
with voices, hearts and lives
that the tomb is empty
because Jesus is risen,
that we might know forgiveness,
that lives might be reborn
and your name glorified
now and for eternity.