A letter from the Vicarage – Rev’d Andy Stand
Some years ago now, I went away with a group of other young adults from the church I attended, to a Christian Conference called Spring Harvest. The event takes place each year, before, over or after the Holy Week and Easter period. This particular time we went for the 5 or 6 day period over the Easter weekend.
The conference took place at one of the Butlin’s Holiday camps. There was a full programme of worship, seminars, bible studies and the like, covering a wide range of tastes, targeted age groups, worship styles and spiritualities. Everything that was needed for our stay was accessible to us without us needing to leave the site, and it was a very easy for us to immerse ourselves in the conference. As is one of the draws of such a place, it was very easy to get away from and escape the routines of daily life and to lose track of which day of the week it actually was.
Indeed, because the same programme, with only minor variation was, as I remember it, offered for the 5 or 6 day periods before and after Easter as well as the 5 or 6 day period over the Easter weekend, it was very easy for us to forget that we were there for the Easter weekend and so while focussing on the programme for day 2, we would forget that, that was actually Good Friday. (It was though, it has to be said, a bit more obvious that day 4 was Easter Sunday!)
In those moments when it did come to mind, that it was Maundy Thursday, or Good Friday or even Holy Saturday. We did find ourselves pausing momentarily and saying to one another, if we were back home now we would be doing such and such: Stripping the Altars, or the Children’s workshop, quiet time before the cross, or the Holy Saturday vigil service starting gathered around the Easter Fire.
As far as I can recall there was none of that on offer at Spring Harvest! And it gave for a welcome change! Partly because having missed them that year, we appreciated them all the more the following year, when we were back at our home church.
I wonder is there anything that you might do to celebrate Easter differently this year?
If your usual practice is just to come to the Sunday services, Palm Sunday and Easter Day, why not take a look at the additional services that go through Holy Week:
If you value space and quiet, then why not come to the Maundy Thursday Vigil (at Whittington), that follows the communion service. Church is open until 10 p.m. so we can watch with Christ and his disciples as they prayed (and slept!) in the Garden of Gethsemane in the moments prior to Jesus’ arrest.
If you value that kind of symbolism within the worship, then come and have your hands or feet washed during the Maundy Thursday Communion service itself. (If you don’t want to have your hands or feet washed you are still very welcome to come to the service.)
Or maybe come to one of the three services that will mark Good Friday: The Good Friday project (at St. Mark’s) particularly suitable for young people, or the time spent around the Cross (Whittington) from 2 p.m. or the Tenebrae service (St. Mark’s)
Or why not make the effort to get up early on Easter Day and greet the dawn as we hail Jesus’ resurrection (St. Martin’s).
Or if you usually come to all of these services throughout Holy Week, why not consider next year (I suspect by the time you are reading this it will be too late for this year) going to Spring Harvest yourself.
However you mark Easter this year, I pray that you will experience the living Christ. May God Bless You All.
Revd. Andy Stand