Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Holy Week and Easter at Seal April 1 - 8

The service and activities of Holy Week and Easter help us to “walk through” the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry as we think together about his arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection.

All human life is here; friendship and betrayal, courage and cowardice, suffering and love, loss and new beginnings. These are things we all experience. They are as much a part of our world as they were of Jesus’ world. Reflecting on them helps us to see our own stories, and the challenges we might face in a new way.

Why not come along to some of our Holy Week services this year to join with us in this journey of prayer and meditation?
You will be very welcome.


10 am Sunday

 Our Palm Sunday service begins with a procession from the lychgate, entering the church through the West Doors. We carry palm crosses as we walk, singing a hymn together. When we enter the church the crosses are blessed and we hear the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey a week before he died.

The crowds which shout hosanna and greet him as a king then will soon shout just as loudly for his death, and as the service goes on we begin to think about his coming death.
Instead of a sermon at this service a group of readers share in a dramatised reading the “Passion” story – the account of Jesus trial and crucifixion - this year from Luke’s Gospel.

8 pm Mon – Sat (not Thurs)

Compline is a short service (about 15 – 20 mins) each evening at 8pm in the Lady Chapel from Monday to Saturday of Holy Week (except Thurs.)

“Compline” means “completion” and it was, and is still, the last service of the day in monasteries, completing the day’s worship. We use a modern form of this ancient service of prayers, psalms, Bible readings and silence. There are no hymns, so you don’t need to worry about singing!

There is some music to listen to beforehand to help us be still, and everything you need for the service is clearly laid out in the service booklet.

It is a reflective, intimate service, ideal if you feel in need of peace and quiet!

8 pm Thursday

Our Maundy Thursday service is an informal service of Holy Communion, recalling the Last Supper which Jesus shared with his friends on the night before he died.

We hear the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet and telling them that they too must be the servants of others. We remember also his words of reassurance to them that whenever they eat bread and drink wine together in the future he will be with them, the origin the Christian practice of Holy Communion in which we share bread and wine.

The service ends as we all go into the Lady Chapel for TENEBRAE. The lights in the church are turned off, except for one at the back for safety. The only other illumination comes from 12 candles on the Lady Chapel altar.

We then hear 12 readings from the Bible, telling the story of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane, of his arrest and trial. After each reading one candle is blown out until we are in darkness, reminding us of the darkness which Jesus faced.

The Maundy Thursday service lasts for just over an hour.


10 -11.30 am

Children’s craft activities to help us think about Good Friday and Easter. 

We meet in church, where there will be a variety of activities for all ages exploring various Holy Week themes. Some of the activities could be quite messy! Wear old clothes!

At around 11 o’clock we break for hot cross buns and a drink, and then we finish with a short, very informal act of worship to share what we have made and thought.

Everyone is welcome, but we can’t take unaccompanied children as we aren’t set up to cater for them. (Actually mums, dads and grandparents usually have as much fun as the children anyway…!)

2.30 pm Friday

The afternoon service on Good Friday is a mixture of traditional hymns, readings and prayers reflecting on Jesus’ crucifixion. It lasts about 30 minutes.

During the service we reflect on the meaning of Christ’s death for today and pray for those who suffer from injustice and oppression as he did. There will be a short, reflective talk during the service and a chance to light a candle as your personal prayer.

12 – 8pm Friday

During the afternoon and early evening of Good Friday there will be a number of different reflective “stations” in church. These displays encourage us to reflect and pray on various themes relevant to Holy Week and Easter. There will be quiet recorded music playing to create a reflective atmosphere.

You can drop in at any time and go at your own pace – there will be leaflets to guide you around the stations, but the church is not manned, so you can have privacy to reflect as you want to.
N.B. There will be a Good Friday afternoon service from 2.30 – 3pm, preceded by a choir practice from 2pm onwards.

Holy Communion, Baptism & the lighting of the Paschal Candle

10 am  

 This joyful service of thanksgiving for the Resurrection begins as we light the new Easter (or Paschal) candle, a reminder of the light of Christ which even death could not put out. We light small candles held by the congregation – we all carry that light of Christ out into the world.

Easter was the traditional time for baptisms in the early church, because in Baptism we claim God’s promise that there can always be a new beginning and a new life, a promise rooted in the story of the death and rising of Christ. That is why, every year during our Easter service, we reaffirm our baptismal vows.

6.30 pm
Our Easter evening service uses the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer.
The choir will sing special settings of the evening canticles, the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, as well as anthems and a psalm.

There will be Easter hymns to join in with, readings from the Bible and prayers. There is no sermon at this service; we let the words and music speak for themselves!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Canterbury pilgrims...

We had a wonderful pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral on Saturday, and were made to feel very welcome indeed throughout the day by the Cathedral staff. We began with a short service in the private chapel dedicated to All Saints, which had once been the place where the boys who pumped the organ had sat, and still bore their ancient graffiti. It was reached by a narrow staircase built into the walls and we would never have known it was there if we hadn't been shown to it. It looked down onto the nave from a great height - but I averted my eyes from that, not being one who likes heights.

We then found odd corners of the Cathedral precincts to shelter in and munch a sandwich before being taken on a guided tour of the cathedral by three very skilful guides, who adapted their message very well to the three groups, one of which had a lot of our children in it. They showed us all sorts of features of the Cathedral we might not have notices, and told us the story of Thomas Becket (one thing I learned was that calling him Thomas a Becket was a Victorian invention!) who was murdered in the Cathedral in  1170. I was particulary interested in the development of Canterbury as a site of pilgrimage to Becket's relics, since this visit was designed to be part of our "Holy Ground" Lent course, in which we are thinking about the way we find God's presence with us where we are.

We finished our pilgrimage with Evensong in the Cathedral, gloriously sung by their choir. We were included in the welcome at the beginning of the service; I am sure we were tempted to give a cheer when we heard our "shout out", but I am glad to say we resisted...
We took a couple of rather blurry photos - below. If anyone who was there has any more, please send them along.