Holy Week is the most important time in the Church and here at St Martin’s we had a very busy week starting with Palm Sunday on 9th April and running through to Easter Sunday on 16th April. Here is a resumé of the week in case you missed any of the services, and if you did then do please make a note to join us next year at this most Holy and special time in the Church calendar.
On Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week, a cross made from palm leaves was given to each member of the congregation attending the Eucharist. The cross, blessed with holy water, is a powerful symbol of peace and victory. As part of the service, there was a procession led by Father Nicholas, as singing a hymn to the glory of God, we walked a short distance down Oak Road, to and from the church. This ritual reminded us of Jesus’ victorious entry into Jerusalem. He rode on a donkey and jubilant crowds spread branches and clothes on the road in his honour. (J Collins)
On the evening of Monday 10th a small congregation joined together for reflective worship through singing Taizé chants and through prayer. Accompanied by Matthew on the piano, Catherine on violin, Adriana on oboe and Helen on flute, we sang “Stay with me”, “Wait for the Lord”, “Jesus remember me” and “Bless the Lord”. During the singing of “O Lord hear my prayer” the congregation offered prayerful intercessions for the needs of the world and the local community. We were also read a meditation on Pontius Pilate and the difficult position he found himself in by having to condemn Jesus to death. It provided us with an opportunity for contemplation ahead of the upcoming week. (H Sanders)
Stations of the Cross
On Tuesday of Holy week some members of our congregation along with Father Nicolas and Rev. Jane gathered in church to follow the Stations of the Cross.
The stations of the Cross show in pictures or other forms the journey Christ took from him being condemned to death to his burial following his crucifixion.
Rev. Jane led the service and began with a prayer. We then proceeded to the first station. As we arrived at each station a prayer was said by Rev. Jane with a reply from the congregation. She then told the story behind the image, followed by a relevant prayer. At the conclusion of each station another prayer was said before we sung a verse of the Stabat Mater as we moved between stations. After we had visited all 14 Stations of the Cross a closing prayer was said followed by the hymn “When I survey the wondrous cross”. It was a very emotional experience and showed the suffering Jesus endured on his journey to his cruel crucifixion. (M Idle)
Tots Easter Service
On Wednesday of Holy Week, our friends from three local nursery schools, plus one of the littlest members of our congregation, came to church to hear the Easter story. We sang and waved palm leaves as we thought about Palm Sunday, we were sad and said prayers when we thought about Jesus dying on the cross. Then we stamped and clapped and sang ‘Alleluia’ when we heard about how Jesus rose from the dead. And we learned that we eat Easter Eggs because they are hollow like the empty tomb, and the sweets inside are for us all to share – like we can all share Jesus. After a healthy snack of fruit and juice – plus a little chocolate – we said goodbye and the little ones went back to nursery school.
It’s always lovely to have them, and they love coming to church. They will be back with us in October for Tots Harvest. (Revd Dr J de Gay)
As Fr Nicholas told us in his sermon, Maundy Thursday is the day when the world turned upside down: Jesus became a servant and washed his disciples’ feet. And in a dramatic re-enactment of that evening, Fr Nicholas himself went down on his knees and washed the feet of 12 volunteers – many of whom were from our newly-formed Youth Group. Maundy Thursday was also the occasion when Jesus instituted Holy Communion by sharing supper with his friends, commanding them to ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ It is therefore always poignant to celebrate Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday: as we did, the choir sang a moving rendition of Steiner’s ‘This is the Night’, before we stripped the altar and sat in silence in the near-darkness. Even the sudden intrusion of fireworks from a group down the road didn’t spoil the evening, as the violent bangs brought us appropriately to our final reading: the arrest of Jesus in the garden by soldiers bearing swords and clubs.
(Revd Dr J de Gay)
Good Friday 10:30 am: Children’s Service
The children’s Good Friday Easter Garden service was a lovely event which was well attended. Jane led the service by taking us through the Easter story. Some of the children put together the Easter jigsaw puzzle that Jane had made. We also had palm leaves which we waved when we sang a song and paraded around the church. The children were really engaged in the service and enjoyed it very much. After the service the children fetched the stones and the jars for the garden, we then built it. As you can see from the photo they did a really good job! Afterwards we had hot cross buns and drinks at the back of church. (C James)
Olivia aged 6 ¾: “It was really entertaining for us kids, getting to know all about Easter, especially when Jesus was put into the tomb. We had lots of fun putting together the Easter garden, we got lots of exercise.”
Emily aged 5 ¼: “I thought it was really good and loved the bunnies. I especially loved building the Easter garden with the boxes and stones. Running up church to get the stones and boxes was really good fun! Hot cross buns are my favourite.”
Good Friday 2 pm: Veneration of the Cross
One of the central elements of our Good Friday Liturgy was the Veneration of the Cross, an ancient tradition where one-by-one we kneel before the cross as a sign of reverence for all it represents. As we venerated the cross, the Reproaches or ‘Impropria’ were sung, expressing the remonstrance of Jesus Christ with his people. This was followed by ‘Faithful Cross above all other’ – extolling the triumph of the cross – sung to Plainsong. The Hosts consecrated on Maundy Thursday were brought from the Altar of Repose to the High Altar and the congregation received the sacrament. The Mass is not celebrated on Good Friday as it is the day Christ sacrificed himself on the altar of the cross and is it not appropriate therefore to celebrate his death. Moreover, Holy Communion is a joyful and comforting sacrament and so is not celebrated on Good Friday because of our mourning. The starkness of this most holy day of the year was emphasised by the sanctuary having been stripped and by observations of silence. There were no candles lit, signifying that the Light of the World was – effectively – extinguished on that day. The music during the Veneration was unaccompanied, with the organ being used very sparingly in the two congregational hymns.
Easter Sunday 5:30 am
At 5:30 am on Easter morning we gathered around the fire at the church door. The fire was blessed and the new Paschal Candle was lit and processed into the dark church. The Exsultet, the Easter hymn of praise, was sung by Rev Jane and the Gloria was sung preceded by an organ fanfare. During the Gloria the church was illuminated, marking the start of Easter. The powerful symbolism in this service comes from the extremes of darkness and light; we start in a completely dark church and use candlelight with the Paschal Candle symbolising the risen Christ as the Light of the World. Our liturgy takes place as the sun rises and streams through the windows, again symbolising our transition from darkness to light. We leave the church in daylight and it feels like a new beginning. After Mass we partook in a lovingly prepared breakfast in fine company. (M Lazenby)
Easter Sunday 10 am Eucharist
There were a few bleary eyes at the 10.00 am service, having been present earlier for the 5.30 am service! On entering church we were greeted by the vibrant Easter garden and beautiful floral displays including daffodils on all the window sills, leaving us feeling like we were surrounded by sunrise. A rousing rendition of the hymn ‘Christ the Lord is risen today’ saw us off to a joyful start, lifting the energy of the congregation (136 adults & 12 children) creating a joyous atmosphere.
Our readings were: Jeremiah 31:1-6, Acts 10:34-43. The Gradual hymn was ‘The strife is o’er,’ which took us to the Gospel: John 20: 1-18 Mary Magdalene discovering an empty tomb and what followed. Rev. Jane gave the sermon, in which she discussed the individual observations and reactions of Mary, Simon Peter and John once they had realised Jesus was no longer in the tomb. Mary knew she would no longer be able to physically embrace Jesus as a friend. Simon Peter and John reacted differently: one ran ahead but could not bring himself to go in, whereas Simon Peter, who had lagged behind, went straight in to the tomb.
Then followed a long ‘peace,’ where we not only shook hands but also hugged one another to show how special this Easter morn was to everyone present. Mathew struck up the organ ready for the Offertory hymn, ‘Alleluia, alleluia, hearts to heaven.’ During the communion the choir sung the anthem ‘O sons and daughters’ by H. W. Davis and led the congregation in singing; ‘Now the green blade riseth.’
Fr. Nicholas then invited the Sunday school youngsters to join him in front of the congregation. He complemented their hard work in preparing the Easter garden. He asked them to look and see if Jesus was still in the tomb? They looked and said “no!” “Where do you think he is?” he said. “Up in heaven,” said the children. “Where else is he?” Fr. Nicholas asked. The children, paused and thought about it, and tentatively gave their answers. Fr. Nicholas then enthused, “in our hearts, and if in our hearts then he must be in every single person’s heart too!” Well we all agreed with that!
Our Recessional hymn, ‘Thine be the glory’, saw us on our way. Alleluia the Lord is risen!