Wednesday 14th March 2018

Ephesians 2:16 Be reconciled in one body through the cross

The morning devotion on Good Friday
is the Procession of Witness with the other local churches.
It is a devotion of solidarity.
Solidarity with Jesus who walked the journey to Calvary, to his cross.
We make that journey through the streets of our community,
carrying a cross as Jesus carried his.
It is also a witness of solidarity with the other churches in the area.
We may have differences from each other in belief and practice,
but we are all united by the Cross
and by the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
It is also an act of solidarity with our community,
it witnesses to those we serve that we stand with Christ in their midst,
a witness to God’s loving Presence among us and within us.

Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend,
– Albert Camus


Tuesday 13th March 2018

Mark 14:50 And they all forsook him and fled

Good Friday is one of the most important days of the Christian Year.
Along with Christmas and Easter it is at the heart of our Christian faith,
and yet many Christians choose to avoid the worship on this day.
I know the church will be full on Easter morning
but Good Friday sees much fewer numbers for its Liturgies.
And yet, without Good Friday there would be no Easter Sunday,
without Good Friday there would be no Christian Faith.
Perhaps the reason for poor attendance on Good Friday
is the emotional impact that the worship on this day has upon us.
Easter and Christmas are days of celebration and joy,
but Good Friday takes us into the region of sorrow, pain and vulnerability.
Maybe this lent it is time for each of us to explore
our feelings towards Good Friday, how we normally spend it, and why.
Reflections over the coming days will explore the devotions for this day.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was full of Easter Days
without the shadows of Good Friday surrounding them?
But then, without Good our Good Friday’s there would be no Easter Day.
The things in life that bring us the most joy and happiness,
also have the potential to bring us the deepest of pain and sorrow as well.
A particular friendship can fill us with wonder and delight,
but when we are close to someone we suffer when they suffer.
Without bitterness, nothing would taste sweet.
Good Friday and Easter Sunday belong together,
both in our worship and in our daily lives.
It is impossible to have one without the other.
We can’t avoid our Good Fridays they are the very thing
that help us recognise and truly experience our Easter moments.
Let’s not avoid this coming one if we can possibly help it,
it is the doorway to resurrection and life in all its fullness.

Monday 12th March 2018

Mark 14:37 Could you not watch with me one hour?

The vigil that follows the Maundy Thursday service invites us
to sit and watch with Christ during his anguished prayer,
and his pivotal decision in Gethsemane to say “yes”
to all that was to unfold in the coming night and day.
This night showed the human emotions of Jesus in turmoil,
and his willingness to completely surrender to love’s call.
We are told that he prayed that “the cup may be taken from him”,
yet, despite his anguish, also praying: “not my will, but thy will be done.”
As we sit with Jesus on this holy night,
we keep silent prayer in the chapel up to Midnight.
The silence is broken only by prayers at 10pm, Compline at 11pm,
and the Gospel reading of his arrest just before midnight.
You can come and leave as you wish during this time.

All of us have at some stage in our lives have sat keeping watch
with loved ones going through difficult times.
It may be by a hospital bed, or anxiously at home;
waiting for results of tests, or maybe exams, or news of a job.
We wait anxiously, hopefully, fearfully, or sometimes anticipating joy.
Those who have worked in schools know all about waiting for OFSTED!
Waiting, keeping vigil, can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally,
as the disciples who sat with Jesus in Gethsemane discovered.
We read that they fell asleep during the process.
Our vigil on Maundy Thursday
reminds us of the many vigils we keep in life.
But, as Jesus discovered, we never wait alone.
We read that angels came and ministered to him.
This night as we sit in vigil with our Lord, we are reminded
that in our own times of trial God comes to us
and strengthens us in our vigil, in a whole variety of ways.

Sunday 11th March 2018

Psalm 22:14 I am poured out like water, my heart melts like wax

At the end of the Maundy Thursday Eucharist
the scene changes dramatically.
We are reminded of the sudden change of mood at the last supper
when Judas leaves to betray him and Jesus takes his closest disciples
to pray with him in the garden of Gethsemane.
After the beautiful symbolism of the Last Supper, washing, and anointing,
we enter into the long dark night when Jesus
would be arrested, deserted, ridiculed and tortured
as the events of Good Friday began to unfold.
This is all anticipated in the stripping of the altar and sanctuary,
while that haunting Psalm 22 is read out loud
reminding us of what is to unfold in the coming hours.
The sanctuary is stripped of altar cloths, candles, frontals,
and made as bare as possible ready for the devotions of Good Friday.
It marks our own hearts being laid bare before the love of God.

Psalm 22   KJV

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not;
and in the night season, and am not silent.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered:
they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn:
they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him:
let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb:
thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.
10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.
11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint:
my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws;
and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me:
they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren:
in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him;
and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation:
I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him:
your heart shall live for ever.
27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord:
and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations.
29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship:
all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him:
and none can keep alive his own soul.
30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born,
that he hath done this.

Saturday 10th March 2018

Luke 22:19 Do this in remembrance of me

For me one of the most beautiful Eucharist’s that we celebrate together
is the one we celebrate on Maundy Thursday evening.
Yes, there is immense joy in celebrating the Eucharist
at Midnight Mass, on Christmas Morning and on Easter Day,
but on Maundy Thursday we celebrate the Eucharist
remembering the very night our Lord took bread, blessed and broke it,
and took wine, blessed, poured and shared it,
and gave it to each his disciples saying: Do this in remembrance of me.
There is something very poignant and powerful
about the Eucharist we celebrate on this evening.
Although it came at the end of his life it marked a new beginning.
It tells us that the Gospel story is not just an historical event,
it is about you and me today continuing that story in our lives.

He was old, tired, and sweaty
Talking to imaginary people and poking around in the rubbish.
I wanted to tell him about Eucharist, but I didnt know where to begin.
So I said hello, I smiled, and gave him Eucharist instead.
She lived alone, her husband dead her family gone.
She talked at you, not to you; endless words gushed out.
So I listened; and gave her Eucharist.
The road busy with commuters, dying to be home
Noisy horns, careless gestures, angry words
all conveying the stress they were under.
So I said a short prayer for each on their journey.
And I gave them Eucharist.
I laughed at myself, and told myself:
“You with all your faults,
you with all your concerns and fears,
Its ok, you are loved and accepted for who you are.”
Sometimes its good to give yourself Eucharist.
Teach us, O God, that we cant talk Eucharist,
we cant philosophise over it, you cant dogmatise Eucharist,
You just live it and share it.
Sometimes we laugh it, sometimes we cry it, often we sing it.
We pause Eucharist in the middle of a busy day;
Squeeze it in a warm embrace;
Speak it with gentle words;
Listen it when a person needs to talk.
May each moment of every day be a Eucharist.

Source Unknown – adapted

Friday 9th March 2018

John 13:34 Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another

One of the most moving devotions in Holy Week for me
is the washing of hands at the Maundy Thursday worship.
We wash hands as a modern day equivalent to the washing of feet,
it is also a practical way of being able to involve everybody in the ritual.
Water is poured over our hands with a prayer of blessing,
it is a symbol of our willingness to serve and to allow others to serve us.
During this ceremony my mind is always taken to those beautiful words
from Graham Kendrick’s hymn, which we sing that evening:
“hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered”.
The hands of Christ which healed, blessed, and served
finally surrendered in love to the cruel nails that awaited him.
This simple ceremony asks us:
Will you surrender your hands to the service of love?

The Servant King   by Graham Kendrick

From heaven you came, helpless babe,
entered our world, your glory veiled,
not to be served but to serve,
and give your life that we might live.

This is our God, the Servant King, he calls us now to follow him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering, of worship to the Servant King.

There in the Garden of tears
my heavy load he chose to bear;
His heart with sorrow was torn,
“yet not my will but yours,” he said

Come see his hands and his feet,
the scars that speak of sacrifice,
hands that flung stars into space
to cruel nails surrendered.

So let us learn how to serve
and in our lives enthrone him.
Each others needs to prefer,
for it is Christ we’re serving.

Thursday 8th March 2018

Mark 14:15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready

Our Maundy Thursday worship takes us on an emotional roller coaster.
We are taken to the upper room
where Jesus shared the Last Supper with his disciples;
introducing what has become the Eucharist, in sharing bread and wine.
The meal also included the washing of his disciples’ feet
and his commission that they serve as he had served.
After the Eucharist the altar and the sanctuary area are stripped
in preparation for the prayer vigil that is kept until midnight;
remembering Jesus’s prayer of anguish, and betrayal in Gethsemane.
It ends with Gospel reading of our Lord’s arrest and the disciples fleeing.
Earlier in the day there is a service in the Cathedral
where the Bishops bless the holy oils that are used in parish ministry
and the clergy of the diocese renew their ordination vows.
We reflect more on each of these in the coming days.

On Maundy Thursday Holy Week changes its tempo.
The gentle easing into Holy week with the night prayers of compline,
begins to become a little more intense with Stations of the Cross on Holy Wednesday,
and then Maundy Thursday begins to take us into the very heart
of what this holy week is all about.
It places us in direct experience of the immense love that led Jesus to the cross
and calls us to open our hearts and allow God to lead us
into this profound spiritual journey.
I encourage you to do everything you can to join the worship on this evening
and throughout the coming days.
They open the door to God’s Holy Presence in life.