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On the first day of the week, while it was still dark....
Although provision is made for the regular weekday services by the Church of England, today is best observed as a day of no worship. In our sequence of ceremonies spread over the 'Three Days' this period between Good Friday and the start of the Easter Vigil is a time for waiting and preparation. This is a good day for cleaning the church out thoroughly, getting rid of any clutter or rubbish and then decorating the building for the Easter festivities.
We return to church on Good Friday morning. The keynote of this day is a beautiful simplicity. It is silent and serious but not unremittingly sombre - this is Good Friday after all and not Black Friday or Grim Friday because we remember Jesus saving the world on this day.
The preparation time is over and it is time to begin the Triduum or Great Three Days. In reality this is not 3 separate liturgies held on 3 separate days but one very long liturgy which begins on this night with the opening Greeting and does not end until the Final Blessing and Dismissal of the Easter Vigil. So, one huge service with breaks in between things to allow time for some sleep and nourishment before the next installment. A fourth century pilgrim to the Holy Land called Egeria describes a similar experience in Jerusalem.
The gentle pace of Monday to Wednesday in Holy Week is now interrupted by a series of major liturgical events. The first of these is what is called the Chrism Mass held customarily on the morning of Maundy Thursday . In every Cathedral, Diocesan bishops gather with their fellow bishops, clergy and Lay Ministers and lots of lay people, many of whom come to show support to their parish ministers.
There are no set major liturgies for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week so you might be forgiven for thinking they are insignificant but that would be a mistake.
Travelling the road to freedom? Who wants to travel the road with me?
These are words we sing during our Palm Sunday Liturgy and this invitation comes from Jesus who is the centre of our attention throughout this Holy Week. Our purpose is to be alongside Jesus. We become one of the crowd of disciples going where Jesus goes, hearing what he says, noticing what others say to him, witnessing what happens in those last days leading up to and beyond the crucifixion.
You will find full listings of services going on throughout Holy Week under the News items on the home page in the section called 'This week at St Michael's' and also see the Events tab and Calendar. Under the entries in Events you will find a bare outline of what happens at each of the services listed.
The coming of Tesco right into the heart of our local community raises many issues. It is a long time since I ventured into any Tesco store - a personal decision taken after our truly eye opening Lent course on 'Food' a couple of years ago. Since then my thinking as well as shopping habits have gradually been evolving but in all this I have still accepted, alongside the majority of our population, that supermarkets are essential and indispensible.
Late February 2011:
I finally joined the face book generation this week. I had thought seriously about setting up my own internet portal for some time. I had even sat down at my computer more than once, on the verge of clicking on the face book site and working on my profile, but each time I just could not determine how much of myself I should 'advertize'. I may be an extrovert but that does not make me a total exhibitionist!