The holy weekend of Easter was a marking of grief at the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday and the celebration of His resurrection on Easter Sunday. Below, each service is recounted in as much detail as possible.
The Good Friday service was entitled `The Last Hour`, and during the service the Revd Nicki Farr played two songs; the first was ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ and the second was ‘The Blessing’.The service throughout followed 10 stations (although the congregation remained seated but had visual aids supplied by Helen Uglow) each with a reading, a prayer and silence in between for reflection. The stations and readings were, in order of occurrence, as follows:
Jesus in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane - Mark 14:32-36
Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested - Mark 14:43-46
Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin - Mark 14: 55-64
Peter denies Jesus - Mark 14:72
Jesus is judged by Pontius Pilot - Mark 15:14-15
Jesus is crowned with thorns - Mark 15:17-19
Jesus carries the cross - Mark 15:20-21
Jesus is crucified - Mark 15:24
Jesus dies on the cross - Mark 15:34-37
Jesus is laid in the tomb - Mark 15:46
Each was interspersed with the response: 'Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.'
The joy of Jesus' resurrection was celebrated on Easter Sunday with a wonderful Holy Communion service, including the full Eucharist, in which appropriate readings and prayers were said and in which a sermon was presented by the Revd Alison Hardy.
During the service the `Sue Topp and Family Wind Ensemble` played the Easter hymns, which was a wonderful compensation for not being currently able to sing in church.
At the beginning of the service Alison blessed the Paschal candle, this followed by the renewal of Baptismal vows at the font and then the blessing of the Miniature Easter Gardens.
A short summary of Alison's sermon is given below:
Easter is the most significant day in our church year. It is because of Easter that we worship God communally on Sundays, the day when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb.
It was on the first day of the week they discovered that Jesus was risen and Christians hold this first day of the week as special because it is when Christ rose from the dead. Easter is the most important festival of our Church Year. Yet Easter is also one of the hardest seasons to understand.In comparison, Christmas is so much easier to understand. Christmas is God’s love, God’s gift of love, himself given to us. We are invited to respond to God’s love in loving a tiny baby given to us. We love as he loves us. But at Easter God’s love is tangled up with death, crucifixion, sacrifice, evil, injustice, wickedness, cruelty, anger, scorn, ridicule, betrayal, sin. It is hard to grasp that kind of love. It is hard to understand the love that triumphs evil through obedience, pain, shame, betrayal. It is hard to understand how gentleness, kindness, forgiveness, self-sacrifice can hold a greater power than dominance, retribution, force, or human authority structures.
Yet love is the gospel preached by Paul in our epistle and by Peter in Acts. A gospel of love stronger than evil, of death transformed into life, of sin turned into forgiveness. A gospel in which loving obedience and loving forgiveness hold the power of salvation. A gospel of forgiveness of sins, of reconciliation between God and people.
We are called to believe in Jesus Christ. We do this by walking in his way, following him as our role model. The two Mary’s and also Salome were witnesses to his resurrection. The disciples were witnesses to Jesus’ appearances until his ascension. Saint Paul and Saint Peter were witnesses to Christ’s risen power as they followed his example.
We are witnesses when we embrace that same attitude Jesus modelled, an attitude of loving obedience and forgiveness. We share in his crucifixion by crucifying our own selfish desires, our thoughts and wishes, our morals and values, our self-righteousness, our desire for retribution. Sharing in his obedience, vulnerability, suffering, shame, humility and embracing generous faithful forgiveness and hopeful loving obedience.
It is both the hardest thing we will ever be called to do, and yet the one path there is to life and joy!
The service closed with the entire congregation spaciously gathered outside the church under a beautifully sunlit blue sky to sing the Easter hymn `Thine be The Glory` accompanied by the `Sue Topp and Family Wind Ensemble`.
A collage of photos of the many, beautiful Easter flowers so lovingly created and displayed around the church will follow shortly and which will be downloadable for you to print off as a reminder of this beautiful day.