Saturday, 30 March 2013

Catching up ...

I don't imagine you expected to see anything here for the past few days!  Easter is upon us and Holy Week is a particularly busy time around the churches.
Starting backwards ... yesterday ... Good Friday ... ended with the traditional service of Tenebrae.  This year we were in the Methodist Church and enjoyed their facility to dim the lights gradually.
As always it is a very moving experience of the retelling of the Passion Narrative with the symbols of the candles being extinguished emphasizing the growing darkness from which the event gets its title: tenebrae (shadows).
Earlier in the day (from noon until three o'clock) we had the three hours at the cross vigil in Saint Nicholas'.  We took time to think about the different sounds that are associated with the events on Thursday and Friday in the story of the cross.  Being in the church when all the furnishings have been stripped away is a strange experience ... and for that one day in the year the beauty of the holy table can be seen.
It just so happened that the last Wednesday in the month fell in Holy Week ... so WOW (Worship on Wednesday) picked up the theme of Judas.  Traditionally this day is called "Spy" Wednesday and it provided an opportunity to reflect on betrayal.
A guessing game was this week's activity ... a table with food in groups of thirty which was revealed gradually ...
 ... thirty glasses of fruit juice ... and using these shot glasses made the Presbyterians among us think of the Communion Service ...

... thirty oat cakes ... grapes ... tomatoes ...
It was the tray with thirty silver sweets that gave the game away!
Thirty pieces of silver ... the price for which our Lord was betrayed.
And just to reinforce the message ... thirty pieces of silver on the central cheesecake!
Following a reflective meditation on betrayal, a confession, we took a moment to write down something that came to mind where we'd betrayed God, ourselves or someone else.  These small papers, rolled into a spy-glass shape were then burned in a dish in the Side Chapel.
 Nothing remaining of the sins that had been recorded.
All of the paper turned to ash.
What then?
We took it to the Easter Garden and spread the ash at the foot of the cross, hearing again Jesus' words of forgiveness and cleansing.
 This was a very moving moment as we recognised that the cost of forgiveness was the death of Jesus.
We then returned to the food table where we'd begun the reflection and enjoyed a time of table fellowship.
With the snow almost gone from Belfast (though not from the hills) there's been a bit of time to walk the dog ... and no blog would be complete without a few pictures of the happy mutt ...

So ... with a hot cross bun (or two) for breakfast ... they are the mini size ... it is soon off to Saint Nicholas' to open up for Saturday tea/coffee and to begin preparations for the transformation of the Easter Garden to its resurrection glory!  Pictures to follow!
May you have a wonderful Easter ... Good Friday is over and Easter Day is coming!
A prayer for Easter Eve:

Grant, Lord, 
that we who are baptized into the death 
of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ 
may continually put to death our evil desires 
and be buried with him; 
and that through the grave and gate of death 
we may pass to our joyful resurrection; 
through his merits, who died and was buried 
and rose again for us, 
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.


Nancy Wallace said...

Thanks for the pictorial details of your 'Spy Wednesday' service. Lots of food for thought here. I especially like the idea of placing the ashes at the foot of the cross in the Easter garden. May you have a joyous Easter!

Rev Elizabeth said...

Thanks Nancy ... and also a very Happy Easter to you.

ROBERTA said...

It's always great to see how our Holy Week customs differ across the globe and yet the message remains the same - god loves us! Thank you for the images.