So, now we are on the brink of Holy Week and I need to whiz to Leicester to purchase palm crosses, try to locate some myrrh (or bitter aloes) and work out how to transform an inflatable palm tree into an inflatable fig tree for Jesus to curse during Sunday's service!
The last few months have been exhausting, there is no other word for it, and I simply don't have the energy to write anything any good for Palm Sunday, so I have opted to let 'scripture speak for itself' in an interactive, visually stimulating (I hope) exploration of Holy Week. We will have the chairs arranged in rows facing each other with a wide central area in which the action will take place. Using coloured cloths and blow-up palm trees to create some sort of ambiance we will try to enter into Palm Sunday before moving on into Holy Week according to Mark's gospel (which brings back scary recollections of Greek translation lessons when only two of us, one who was good at Greek and me who wasn't even remotely, had done the necessary homework. I sat with my pre-done translation hidden under the desk so that I could do my share! Sorry Gerald the Methodist Greek teacher... In the words of Ronnie Corbett, I digress). So, our Jesus will curse the fig tree and overturn tables in the Temple before returning to the withered (hopefully!) tree. We will then have the widow's offering immediately before our own, the command to love one another before our intercessions, and our communion will take place in the context of the Last Supper narrative. A minor miracle has occurred in that I've managed to get my communion 'ladies' to agree to supply pitta bread for this purpose. I am excited about the prospect of this service - I just hope it works! Then again, my people have never let me down yet.
On Good Friday we have our 'Encounter Easter' outreach event at the Community Centre - muti-media and multi-sensory and a real draw for non-Church folk. This year I am overseeing a prayer labyrinth for which we are borrowing the EMBA's labyrinth mat. I am adapting some ideas from Multi-Sensory Church to fit with the space and mat we have available. One of the Methodists is doing something with images of Easter; one of the Anglicans is doing an intercessory prayer wall. For children we have all sorts of lovely messy activities - Easter gardens and chocolate nests, music making and story telling. For everyone there are free hot cross buns and drinks. I really love this outreach opportunity and the many folk who take an hour or so to connect with the heart of what we are celebrating. At the same time, I miss the aching beauty of a traditional Good Friday meditation, drawing me closer to Calvary, so will probably sneak off to one of the local high Anglican or RC churches in the afternoon. I don't think it should be either/or with these service styles but both/and - after all for 99.999% of the world the original Good Friday was just another day. What I'd really love to do, one day, is to have a 'sacred space' set up for all of Holy Week which can move through different themes and reach the climax/nadir on Friday afternoon then close leaving people to wait for dawn on Sunday.