Good Friday

April 18, 2014 in Dean's Blog

Upper RoomI have always struggled with Good Friday all-age services, but the one we used today really seemed to engage both adults and children. The service takes the shape of a journey with Jesus over the last 24 hours of his earthly life: beginning in the Upper Room (the Cathedral), moving to The Garden of Gethsemane (Deanery Garden), on to the Court of Judgement (Coffee Room) and back to the Cathedral – the place of execution. At each place there are introductory explanatory words, a Bible reading, an action involving the whole congregation and a hymn. The final action involved everyone writing their name on a heart-shaped post-it and pinning it to the cross. There was very positive feedback from both adults and children. It involved a lot of forethought and preparation, but was well worth the time invested and‎ provides very clear instructions for the service. I can certainly commend it as a pattern to be adapted for local circumstances.

CrossAt 12 noon we had a two hour service, each half hour on one of the last four Words from the Cross led by either our clergy or two Readers Tricia and Elizabeth – we had explored the first three of the Last Words last Good Friday. It was a more traditional Good Friday Service, and appreciated by those who came.


Maundy Thursday: Holy Communion and Foot Washing

April 17, 2014 in Dean's Blog

Maundy ThursdayThe washing of guests’ feet makes a lot of sense in the context of a culture, where people have walked in open sandals over dusty ground, but it doesn’t easily transfer to our own time. But in John’s account it is clearly more than an act of practical service that would normally have been done by a slave, but is also an acted parable of Jesus incarnation and ministry: John describes Jesus’ very deliberate acts (John 13:3-4) which have an echo of Paul in Philippians 2: He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness….he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. It was too an example of very practical service that none of the other disciples were willing to do, or for Peter, so often our spokesperson, willing to be done to…. which perhaps explains the reluctance of so many to come forward and have their feet washed despite the encouragement from the front.

The stripping of the altar at the end of the service leaving it bare for Good Friday always strikes me as a powerful end to the Maundy Thursday service.


Stations of the Cross Continued

April 16, 2014 in Dean's Blog

TombOn Wednesday Simon, one of our readers led us through the final four Stations, mostly at the Cross itself, but then finally moving to the tomb where Jesus laidOnce again the experience of journeying with others through Holy Week and literally travelling to different stations on the compound has been a very enriching experience and I am grateful to all who have made the effort to be there each evening. From Station 13: The greatest act of love was given in desolation and the most successful mission accomplished and finished when all seemed lost.

Holy Week – Stations of the Cross

April 14, 2014 in Dean's Blog

Stations of the CrossI find the journeying through Holy Week with a group of people a very moving experience and for the first three days, Monday-Wednesday, we are moving round the compound to various Stations of the Cross. The fifteen on Monday had swelled to twenty-three on Tuesday. With different voices reading passages of Scripture and others involved in various actions and taking responsibility, like Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross it is a shared experience. There is a lot of noise and distraction in the compound but that’s exactly how Jerusalem must have been during the Passover Festival, but though most people missed it, something of world-changing significance was taking place.

Living Room Dialogue with Ebrahim Al Sinan

April 13, 2014 in Dean's Blog

Ebrahim Al SinanEbrahim is a photographer with the Gulf Daily News who last year visited Syria twice with a couple of friends out of a sense of compassion for all those caught up in the never-ending civil war there. More often he is behind the camera taking pictures of our speakers, but this time he brought his photos of people whom he had met, especially children but also of elderly men and women who had lost all of their family members and women who had lost their husbands. The lack of men of working age was very apparent. Most families were living in plastic tents provided by aid agencies and overseas governments. The trips had clearly had a huge impact on him and he spoke of the hospitality of people who had so little but who were willing to give up a little bread to share or to offer their bed. What was sad to hear was that we were the only organization that had invited him to speak of his experiences.