Sunday, April 16, 2006

Celebrating Easter

Yes, well I still think it should be re-branded Resurrection Day - which sounds much cooler and is more relevant to what we celebrate.... nonetheless Happy Easter.

So how did I mark Easter here in the town of Alcester? It's been a long weekend:

On Thursday night I spent an hour or so, either side of midnight... quietly contemplating and meditating in my own church at Great Alne. It's a personal tradition of mine to do this somewhere. The way I see it, Jesus is my friend.... and 2,000 years ago all His friends deserted Him. I know I can't turn back the clock, but I like to pray for Him during the time He was alone in the Garden... yeah I know it sounds stupid but he died for my sins, offered me eternal life and is my friend and king... so I figure the least I could do is pray for Him during the time He had it rough (God is not bound by time, so I do not believe it matters that I pray after the event. It's a bit like in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - when they don't have time to travel back and change the past for their jailbreak... so they say they'll do it afterwards... and sure enough everything materialises as needed). Staying in the church also gave me time to write down a lot of my mental, spiritual and emotional baggage over the recent past... and it enabled me to pray through it and settle it with God. I did all this under the shadow of the cross which we had moved to the centre of the chancel. The church had also been decorated with articles that would help people meditate on the Passion of Christ. Things like a crown of thorns, a purple robe, a staff, a bowl of water, hammer and nails... you get the picture.

On Friday I took part in the annual March of Witness, where I learned that an old leader and friend of mine was severely ill with gall bladder complications - (please pray for him). I always like to bear the cross we carry on that march, on the final stretch to the Anglican church. It kind of feels right, seeing as I'm named after the place. We were joined this year by the BBC who had come to do a story on the daffodil cross (more later). If you live in the midlands, you may have noticed my conspicuous mug cropping up in one or two of the shots at the end of Midlands Today.

Later that evening I watched the live Manchester Passion. Some of the songs felt a little weird and not entirely accurate... but I was moved by the atmosphere and the acting. They had a giant cross procession taking place as the play was being acted simultaneously. This served as a reminder to me that... while history was being played out - the cross was ALWAYS coming. Before the nativity, before the exile, before Moses, before Abraham... yes even before Adam... I believe God was always intending to demonstrate his love for us in the most excellent way.

On Saturday I joined a party of individuals who were travelling to the hillside daffodil cross that was planted last year (and has bloomed in time for Easter once more). It's immense and watches over the passing traffic below - a constant reminder by it's shape, of Christ's sacrifice... and yet also a poignant reminder of his resurrection because of the new life in the daffodils. We listened to scripture, prayed and sung a few worship songs (I suggested When I Survey The Wondrous Cross) which I found very moving.

Last night I took part in the Easter "Fire" service. It's the Easter equivalent of Midnight Eucharist at Christmas... it's not as well represented, but it is very contemplative. I got soaked by the Rector who splashed everyone with baptismal water from the font. i breathed a sigh of relief at that point because last year there was an amorous couple in the churchyard... and it had echoed through the whole church - thankfully no repeat this year. At the end of the service we proceed out singing Latin stuff... but the best part is at midnight you come out of the church and yell "HE IS RISEN INDEED.... ALLELUIA!!!!" Now most Anglicans are quite sheepish and don't want to wake up the neighbours. not me. Oh yes... I went for it. The way I see it, every weekend the drunks yell all the time - either obscenities... or their undying love for a lamp-post.... so if people are prepared to put up with that, why shouldn't it be okay for us to do likewise?

Went home and got up in time for another service at my regular church. that about sums up my Easter so far.... now comes the chilling out that goes with the territory that is, the Bank Holiday.

I pray and trust your Easter was equally blessed. I've posted some photographs of the walk to the daffodil cross (you can see more pictures of it in one of my Easter blogs of last year).

Here is a link to a BBC story about the Daffodil Cross (but fortunately not the one with me in).

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