Last year I blogged about the visits of some of our school children to the Experience Easter trail, and since the early Easter means that the school term doesn't end till 4th April it has been possible to invite the children into church during Holy Week itself this year.
It has felt a bit frenetic at times, as we weren't completely certain which schools were sending children until the very last minute, but I've been engaged with them for all of today, and it has been very good.
This time what struck me was not so much the stations themselves, but the children's thoughts and insights as they worked round them.At the Last Supper station, entitled Remember Me, they were invited to talk about special things that they might have at home that made them remember an important time or person, the idea being of course to lead them into thinking about the way we use bread and wine in the Sacrament....But one little girl told me about a photo of "our whole family, before my mum and dad split up" and another about a Bible that belonged to her dad before he died, and the conversations that opened up from there were quite amazing.
Then, when we came to the cross, the children were invited to sit and reflect on what they saw, and what it brought to mind. Mostly, of course, their answers were those they expected me to want (long ears, fluffy tail, - you know)
"It makes me think about Jesus and Easter"
But the response that struck me came from one of my Jaffa kids, who visited at the end of the day (by which time the cross was bearing a weight of post-it prayers).
J looked at it, and said quietly
"It makes me think that there are many sad and hurt people"
Indeed there are.
There are also some wonderfully affirming ones. A Jaffa kid's mother, who worships in another church in Ch Kings, took the trouble to come in specially to say some incredibly encouraging things, - the sort of stuff it really does help to hear when you're 2 weeks away from a new job. I then got to spend time with 2 of my dearest people at St M's, whose company made all the difference as I tried to put myself together having said my final goodbyes to the school children.
Much later, I've been trying to sort out a service for tomorrow night, using music and prayers from Taize (and some of the Experience Easter stations too)...and I just discovered this prayer by Brother Roger,- worth staying up for, definitely.
Risen Christ, you take us with our hearts just as they are. Why must we wait for our hearts to be changed before we go to you? You transfigure them. With our thorns, you light a fire. The open wound in us is the place through which your love comes streaming. And within the very hurts themselves, you bring to fruition a communion with you. Your voice comes to rend our night and the gateways of praise open up within us.