I was going to write a lovely happy piece about a visits from our local schools this week.
Then I was going to produce a rant (which is largely undeserved) because Steve challenged my view of the Eucharist as the ultimate mission tool.
Then I thought perhaps I could try both,- because my experience of one supports my view of the other
Gloucester is having a diocesan campaign this year called “Experience Easter” The aim is to encourage those outside our churches to try Easter worship (the hope being that even the most struggling and weary rural congregation will probably manage some enthusiasm about the Resurrection at least). The thinking is that its easier to attract people if they realise that there is something major happening wherever you turn…and that all the somethings are related.
So we’re branding and marketing Easter this year! I'm told that the resemblance of the official logo to a "B.o.g.o.f" sticker in a supermarket is entirely deliberate, so I've swallowed my reservations. After all, it would be well nigh impossible to produce anything that would sum up the whole meaning of Easter in a way that would please everyone.
As part of the campaign, we’ve had stickers, posters, worship ideas…An awful lot of paper has been generated, some less inspiring than others but some genuinely good stuff too,- among which I’d class the Experience Easter trails.
These have been designed by the diocesan primary schools’ advisor, Shahne Vickery. A church invites its local schools to visit to explore the events of the first Holy Week via assorted interactive stations (and there's a pack available to save you the work of inventing the stations). I’d done something similar in my past life, with Holy Week Prayer Walks around the village, including tables overturned in church, feet washed at the village pump, and bread broken in the pub. However, this was a first for St M’s (normally rather taken up with doing Holy Week along more traditional lines), which has no church schools, but excellent relations with the infants and primary schools closest to us in the parish…
So this week has been Easter Trail week.
A few lapses communications meant a minoe panic on my return from the Spi.Dir course on Monday, and I did adapt some of the diocesan ideas slightly, but leaving aside the fun of washing 180 pebbles (and then drying them) most things were accomplished without too much trauma.
Then the children came....
Day 1 saw 3 classes of year 2 children, with teachers, assistants and a few parent helpers for good measure, worked their way round the stations, each of which had a brief chunk of supporting Scripture and some ideas to encourage reflection. Some worked better than others, of course, but overall the whole thing was wonderful - and to have the chance to share the Easter story like this was sheer joy.
Highlights of the trail included
Hopes and Dreams- Palm Sunday.
"If they were silent, the stones themselves would shout"
"When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the people believed that all their dreams had come true, that at last someone would help them to be free from the Roman soldiers who ruled their lives, free to live in peace and prosperity. Think of your hope and dreams for the future, then draw something to represent this on a stone and add it to the cairn..."
Servant King - Maundy Thursday 1.
These 2 words don't often go together....what do you think it might mean, that people sometimes call Jesus the Servant King.
"You call me Lord and Teacher, and rightly so, for that is what I am. If I have washed your feet, you ought also to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example..."
What do you think this might mean for you? Before you move on, if you wish dip your fingers in the water and make the sign of the cross on each hand as a visual prayer that God will help you to care for other people in a special way this Easter
Gethsemane - Alone
People often feel especially alone after dark...Think of Jesus alone in the garden while his friends slept, then think of a time when you felt specially alone, sad or afraid. Use the plastecine to make a model to represent this time, and hold it in your hands while you listen to some promises from God - then place your shape in the garden
"I have loved you with an everlasting love" "I have called you by name, you are mine."
Jesus said "Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor be afraid."
Good Friday - Sharing our Sorrows.
The cross reminds Christians of the death of Jesus, but because he rose again the cross is also a sign of hope for anyone who is suffering
Children are invited to think about a person or situation that they would like to pray for – write this on a post-it and fix to the cross
But, predictably, the station that had the most impact was the second for
Maundy Thursday, the point at which the children are invited to share in the breaking of bread. But perhaps that, and the thoughts that go with it, deserves a post of its own...there seems to be quite a head of steam building up on the subject.