We would like to thank all those involved in leading our services, our activities, and in the preparations and support in so many different ways this Eastertide. As ever, there has been a rich variety of services preparing us for the glorious celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Special occasions for children included the Easter Service for St. Helen’s School at the end of term and an Easter-themed Messy Church at the start of the holiday. On Palm Sunday we had our regular services (8:00 and 9:30 at St. Helen’s and 10:00 at St. Peter’s) where the recollection of Jesus’ triumphant reception reminds us that he wept over Jerusalem and knew the darkness to come. In the evening we heard Stainer’s Crucifixion – an offering of concentrated emotion rather than a performance – reminding us of the central truth : “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life”.
Holy Week brought three services of Compline which were conducted with stillness and gave the space to stop and think intensely about the human aspects as Jesus moved towards his death. The talks invited us to see something of our own frailty as we heard about Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s denials – and to consider the simplicity of Mary’s anointing with perfume. The Maundy Thursday Holy Communion of the Last Supper invited us to re-live the original drama and the sermon reminded us of Jesus’ ministry to the outcast and marginalised. We symbolically washed and dried one another’s hands to demonstrate our readiness to serve.
Good Friday began with the Walk of Witness organised by Churches Together. As the line of people neared St. Helen’s, they heard the inspiring sound of the Salvation Army Band who traditionally accompany our open-air service – at which this year we recalled through scripture the sad and shattering events of the original Good Friday and thought about the way a glow in the darkness can grow towards a strong light. The afternoon’s Reflective Service of Music and Meditation enabled us to imagine the suffering – and the forgiveness – of Our Lord at the hour of his death.
At 5:00 on Easter Sunday morning, 46 of us gathered at St. Peter’s for the Sonrise service to celebrate victory – the victory of Jesus over sin, suffering and death. The birds tried to outsing us but we expressed our joy and heard a talk about the difference between “doing” and “being” – the occasion was one for celebrating what had been done for us. St. Helen’s hosted the 8:00 and then at 9:30 we had our All-Age Easter Communion – with children receiving chocolate and everyone learning about transformation as we all raised the roof with our Alleluias.
Yes, there is so much variety in our range of services that we may think we “do” Easter rather well. The greater challenge is to “be” Easter people with new life, rejoicing in the light and accepting Jesus’ way. To all those who helped us to think, remember and learn this Eastertide in so many different ways, an enormous Thank You.