A few years ago I was converted to the idea of Holy Week – I wrote of it here and here. This year’s Holy Week has been interesting so far. The diary blocked out, fixed events and appointments banned, I found time to wander off to Abu Dhabi to visit a few folk I’d wanted to call in on for ages – some pictured here. We’ve been having an interesting series of services too each evening where I’ve been accusing my congregation of being thieves – and none of them have denied it! Having had my trusty helpers Kent (our ordinand) and Charlie (our Reader) assisting in allowing time to brainstorm ideas and arrange practicalities together, I’ve got myself 140 metres of metal car park chain – I’ve never arrested an entire congregation before but think it will be enough. Don’t tell them, but I plan to do it tomorrow on Good Friday. Thieves, the lot of them. I expect someone will set the blackguards free though. Jesus Christ. Cuh!
Of course there is the Maundy Thursday service still to go tonight and then of course the big day, Easter Day – service times here. If you’ve got something to hide, I won’t be arresting anyone on Easter Day so you’ll be safe then. Come to church. You need some good news.
Today we have conducted our first interviews for the Wedding Secretary’s job: four candidates from four continents, each delightful, each talented – it’s been lovely meeting them. I’d like the choice to be crystal clear, because then it’s an easy decision! We seek God’s guidance of course but perhaps he seeks our will too. We seek God’s clarification because we want to do his will, but the desire for clarification can mask a desire to retire from responsibility – if God makes it unambiguously clear, then any short comings are his fault then aren’t they! But he often seeks our will too – what do we want, and do we know ourselves well enough to answer?
Knowing ourselves can be difficult, but we have a week coming up when we ought to come face to face with ourselves and with God – Holy Week. Are you up to the job of making the last week of this month HOLY? Will you give it the time? Being a wedding secretary is fine, but being a disciple? Will you give God the time in Holy Week?
Join us in Holy Week
Friday 22nd Mar: 9.30am Palm Friday bring your palm leaves to wave
Saturday 23rd Mar: 9.30am Palm Saturday in our Academic City Church
Sunday 24th Mar: 7.30pm Palm Sunday bring your palm leaves to wave
I’ve always enjoyed doing something a little unexpected but sometimes it takes a while for plans to come to fruition. God takes his time sometimes in getting on with something - hundreds of years to decide what to do about Israel’s failure, but then He did something unexpected that first Easter Day - quite a lot more unexpected than we have managed, and His event will have an impact infinitely more wonderful than what we’ve ever done. But with God setting such a precedent it seems only fitting to do something surprising to celebrate Easter and so we did it.
I first heard The Easter Song (by Glad) years ago at university and loved it, but more recently, a few years ago, I heard it again and thought “hmmmm, I’d like to do a flash dance to that” (they hadn’t been thought of when I was at university). It seemed that an Easter Day service would be a good time. And this year’s Easter blessing was the moment! The video does not carry the surprise of the congregation – you really should have been there!
Still, it’s never too late to celebrate – come every Friday at 9.30am or Sunday at 7.30pm
Alleluia, The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Last year we had the Bishop here and he led us each evening of Holy Week in a series of reflections. It was the first time I’d had a Holy Week in the way I’d set the whole week apart rather than just half that week - you can see what was going through my mind here (http://christchurchjebelali.com/holy-week/). I found it such a rich experience that I decided to do the same thing this year.
It’s been a menace again for those who see an Easter break as simply a holiday, but I find my heart drawn closer to God the nearer I get to it – it’s a special time, like a holiday yes, but specifically with God. I am used to going away for retreats, for special times to be with God, but this is a special time with God with my Christian family in my normal office/work environment and my normal gathering place. Normally I travel to meet him, but in Holy Week he comes to my place. (Need I show how God in Christ comes to us more deeply even than this?).
And so I invite you to join me in a Holy Week. Do come for the services of course, and add more: find a way at home and at work to make it somehow a week set apart from all other weeks.
30th March: 9.30am Palm Friday
1st April: 7.30pm Palm Sunday
2nd April: 7.30pm Tenebrae – Hall 5
3rd April: 7.30pm Taize Night – Hall 6
4th April: 7.30pm Stations of the Cross – Hall 6
5th April: 7.30pm Maundy Thursday
6th April: 9.30am Good Friday
8th April: Easter Day
- 4.30am Meditation – The Watch
- 5.30am Early Service
- 9.30am if you missed the early rise
- 7.30pm for the late crowd
Don’t tell anyone, but until this year I had never had a Holy Week!
I have had plenty of Easters of course with Good Fridays, Palm Sundays and whatnot, but never a Holy Week, a whole week set apart. Up until this year I’ve booked the diary as normal for Sunday to Wednesday and kept only Maundy Thursday to Easter Day completely devoid of appointments (apart from services of course!), but this year I decided ages ago that I would book out the whole week in the diary with ‘No bookings for Steve – Holy Week’. I also decided it would be nice to have a service every night that week to meditate on the readings for each day and invited the Bishop to come and lead the meditations each night – and he accepted!
This plan for that week has been a menace to couples wanting to get married while relatives are out here on holiday. It’s been a menace to my office staff who keep getting asked to make appointments for marriage preparation, baptism preparation and so on ‘while we’re off work for the week’. It’s been a menace for my family who had planned to do this and that each evening while the school was on holiday. But for me, as I get closer to it, I feel in my soul more and more, that this is a week set apart, a holy week, and I rather like it! I hate that I won’t be able to be with my family at home those nights, but like that I am giving God the priority for one week. I’m hoping they’ll join me of course!
I invite you to join me, bringing a palm (or other branch) to wave on Palm Sunday, and then come each night until Maundy Thursday for a short service – each night it’s at 7.30pm. Let us walk with Christ together. Listening for what God might have to say to us – through the Bishop’s messages, through the readings, the prayers, and the fellowship meal of holy communion.
Have a holy week, not just a morning or so squeezed into whatever time you can spare for the Easter!
See you soon.
Be warned! Steve takes his responsibility very seriously, though with a generosity of spirit, warmth and humor.