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- Page 8

  • Good Friday

    The lectionary goes into overdrive today...

    Psalm 22
    Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
    John 18:1—19:42

    Ever since I began to explore the way the New Testament, and especially the Fourth Gospel has been (ab)used in the cause of anti-Semitism, and ever since I spent an Easter working with an RC church where these most blatant of 'blame the Jews for Jesus death' were read in their entirety, I've been uncomfortable with the Good Friday readings.  I've known for since I was a child that it was not the Jews who executed Jesus (it was the Romans).  I've known since adolescence that in some way Jesus chose or accepted the path to Calvary as consistent with God's purpose, and that those who tried and executed him in some sense acted vicariously for, on behalf of, all humanity.  Curious that we can 'get' the vicarious in Christ but not in a group of first century middle eastern people.

    This morning we are holding a 'children's vigil' - a telling of the story for children, mostly aged under five.  it is challenging - to tell the story honestly and engagingly whilst neither terrifying or tantalising these little ones.  We will use songs and symbols, crafts and movements to journey through Holy Week one last time and end up, literally, at the foot of the cross (we have a life sized cross).  And we will leave everyone there, not racing ahead to Sunday, for resurrection joy cannot be had unless there is first the hour of death and the empty, aching void of separation.

    Whatever you are up to today, whatever readings you might be using two thoughts...

    One, don't blame the Jews, or even the Romans for what happened

    Two, don't rush ahead, stay with the place of death...


    Can it be so, Lord Jesus


    After the festal meal



    After the anguish of Gethsemane

    The traitor's kiss


    After the betrayal

    The court of powerful men


    After the ludicrous trial

    The cockerel crowing


    After the denial

    The mocking and beating


    After the scourging

    The labour of cross-bearing


    After the stumbling walk

    The crucifixion


    After the agony

    The stillness of death?


    My Lord, let me wait with Thee...

  • Seder

    A lot of work by some wonderful people and a wonderful evening for those of us who partook...




    Now I'm tired and ready to make lots of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Then back to church for children's vigil (and we gave ourselves permission to skip the grown-up one afterwards!)

  • Welcome... Wotcha... Ay Up... Hiya...

    At church we have a sign up that says 'welcome' in, I think, fourteen languages, spoken by members of our congregation or by people who live in the vicinity.  Last Sunday we had a complaint - I think in jest - that we had not included the Scots word (not that anyone seemed to know what it was!).

    Now it seems to me that the jury us out, even in Scotland, as to whether Scots is a language in its own right or a dialect.  Suffice to say opinions are hotly contested and I tend to keep my distance!

    In a moment of flippancy, I suggested we make an alternative poster with dialect words for welcome (or hello anyway) from around the UK.  Anyone want to profer their vairants?


    Wotcha - Northampton (origins 'what cheer' so I'm told)

    Ay up - Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire

    Hiya - North West England


    Oh, and we also thought of


    You'll have had your tea - Edinburgh

    (Eat up) You're at your auntie's - Glasgow/Lanarkshire (and my mother!)

  • Maundy (Holy) Thursday

    Today's readings:

    Exodus 12:1-4 [5-10] 11-14
    Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
    1 Corinthians 11:23-26
    John 13:1-17, 31b-35

    For those of us steeped in Christian tradition, these are all very well known passages - the institution of the Passover, the Institution of the Lord's Supper, the mandate to wash feet, even the psalm gives us words often used in communion services.  The danger is because we know them so well, they are rendered impotent.

    This morning at 7:30 my home phone rang - oh no, I thought, what tragedy has occurred?  None, it transpired, it was a friend calling to thank me for their Easter card and reasonably sure that at that time I'd be contactable...  This friend of mine is, I reckon, a sympathetic agnostic, certainly not a church-goer and not steeped in churchianity.  He has another friend who is a non-stipendiary vicar (and half time butcher!) who had evidently been telling him about his Maundy Thursday evening service of foot washing.  My friend was intrigued but bewildered, the whole raisson d'etre of the ritual was unknown to him.  So followed a short conversation about what it is meant to symbolise and why it is done, and even the Latin root of 'maundy' from mandatum.

    It gave me pause, cut through some of my knee jerk cynicism about the tokenism of foot-washing as I have seen it in C of E and RC contexts - squeaky clean feet in spotless socks, proffered to receive a trickle of warm water and a pat with a fluffy towel - and to recall what it is all meant to show, the greatest being the least, the 'priest' becoming the 'servant'.

    So, I wonder, for each of us busy preparing, leading or attending services today, who will interrupt our complacency, our familiarity, our cynicism, and draw us back to what it's all about?


    Lord, in my busyness of making Easter for others

    Bring into my consciousness once more what it is I am doing

    And why

    And turn my attention from creating to being re-created by you


    Servant God, kneeling at my feet

    Gently wiping away the dirt and dust of another year

    Slow me down

    If only for the time it takes to think these thoughts

    Allowing you to cleanse and refresh me.

  • And Now It Begins in Earnest...

    Maundy Thursday, Holy Thursday, Thursday of Holy Week, whatever you choose to label it, it sees the Easter activity step up a gear as the inescapable race to, and through, Calvary reaches its climax.

    Yesterday I had a hair-cut - poor hairdresser, snipping off the curls and taming the waves, trying to fulfil his professional desires on a customer who really does not 'do' hairdressing, who just wants a quick trim and a low maintenance result!  This morning of course the hair reverts to its wavy state, the smooth lines are lost and normality returns... some things don't change.  The idea was to be smarter for Easter - oh well!

    This morning I paused for a bacon buttie and a coffee in the place opposite church... a brief pause before the onslaught of wonderful and demanding activity that will fill the next few days.

    So... lunchtime reflection number four, they have been brilliant, thank you A & W for your contributions, and to all who have attended - never less than twelve.  The Passover Seder - the church fridge is groaning with Mediterranean delights and ritual foods.

    Tomorrow our 'Children's Vigil' to which we are anticipating around a dozen small people coming with their grown-ups and then, if energy holds up, off to a three hour vigil at one of our neighbouring churches.

    Saturday - the emptiness of Holy Saturday will be quite real after the busy days before it, yet there will still be stuff to be done.

    Sunday, has a running order of three services that goes something like this:

    Bacon and communion

    Beach BBQ and no communion

    Soup and communion

    Suffice to say Monday will be zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!