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  • Doing Easter Creatively

    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.

  • Batty

    Yesterday I had a phone message from the solicitor conveyancing the sale of our defunct chapel, sale due to complete on Monday.  She had just spotted that the forms that had been signed and sealed in February were now obsolete and so not legally binding and she needed us to get a new set signed PDQ.   According to her it was the other solicitor's fault but frankly I didn't much care who was technically at fault, bottom line was that she hadn't checked the paperwork until the last minute and now everything goes on hold until it's resolved.  Thankfully the buyer is being understanding (but then he has invested a fortune already in surveys and bat escape routes and bird prevention measures) and will evidently still pay on Monday.  And where will the money reside?  With the (expletive deleted) solicitors who between them have created the delay.  So, if their interest is accrued daily or even weekly they make out of their error.  Grrrrrr.

    I also checked on line to see the planning application for the new housing to go on the site - nine very small houses to be built for/by a housing association to provide much needed lower cost housing for people in this area.  They look very tiny but pleasant as starter homes and incorporate solar panels on the south facing rear roofs (I'm sure it was 'rooves' when I was a child) which should be very beneficial for the residents.  So, a development of nine houses and one 'bat house' as we have christened it.  The bat roost (it's official name) has a floor plan almost as large as the smallest of the houses - and all this for three juvenile, male, long-eared bats spotting hanging around (groan) in the chapel building (according to the bat survey).  Now that is batty!

    At 'thing in a pub' someone asked, half tongue in cheek, 'so where is God in all of this?'  Where do you think?  I replied.  Well, either saying 'you shouldn't be doing this' or laughing at the stupidity of humans.  We noted that some people would indeed interpret hitches and glitches as signs of divine disapproval and some would see it as signs of demonic attack (and hence vicariously divine approval).  We decided we preferred the idea of divine laughter at human behaviour and (all too briefly) pondered ideas of how/if God intervenes in human affairs (cf Rowan Williams in recent weeks).  One person arriving to sign the paperwork and finding us chatting more generally said 'oh, I thought I'd find you in deep and meaningful discussion.'  I think it was meaningful if not especially profound - and I think I heard a divine titter as the comment was made!

  • Bothered?

    Easter advertising campaigns are upon us once again.  They range from the banal to the beautiful and in amongst them are the disturbing/dangerous.  One of the latter category this year is discussed to here and if you are in the UK and want to do something quick in response go here.  More importantly if you have up coming local elections (and we will all soon have European elections) get out and vote for a reasonable party (some of my colleagues would try to tell you which but as floating voter myself I'm hardly placed to!).

    Baptists stand for freedom of conscience and freedom of speech - and I would defend the right of those who are blatantly wrong to be permitted a voice - but freedom carries responsibility and therefore we must also speak out for truth and justice whilst praying for - not about/against - those who are 'enemies' of those things.