Eastertide at our church began with a moving Tenebrae Service at 12noon on Good Friday led by our minister, the Revd Mark Lawrence. This was an ecumenical service and we were pleased to welcome members of other Christian churches in Ashley. The church lights were dimmed and eleven candles lit in the shape of a ‘V’. There were eleven readings from St Matthew’s gospel, chapters 26 and 27 recounting the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus and after a short pause following each reading, the readers extinguished a candle until the final candle was extinguished. The readings were interspersed with verses from the great and much loved hymn “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died”, composed by Isaac Watts. This was a solemn time of worship reflecting the supreme sacrifice made by our Lord on the Cross of Calvary as we left in silence.
Easter Sunday’s service was quite different, joyful and uplifting as we placed our daffodils on the cross, and as it was led by Mr Peter Williams one of our local preachers. Our steward Rosalind read the story of the empty tomb and the women and his disciples discovering the wonder of this as they approached the place where he had been buried and yet was now alive again. “ He is risen” was the cry as Peter read a poem about love on resurrection day when God made all things new. We sang the great Charles Wesley hymn “Christ the Lord is risen today Alleluia!” before Peter led us in prayers of praise, adoration and thanksgiving. There were two bible readings, the first from 1 Corinthians, chapter 15. Here St Paul writes about the resurrection of Christ and what it means for him. The second from Revelations, chapter 21, read by Rosalind and here the writer speaks of a New Heaven and a New Earth following on from the life-changing events of Easter Day.
Our prayers for others followed and in his sermon Peter asked if Jesus had died on the cross and not risen would we bother to worship him? The bible teaches us that as followers of Christ we need to be tested so that when we go through hard times we know that our faith will pull us though. Peter then examined the events on Easter Day and said what we believe about the future determines how we live today and only the resurrection puts the hardship of life into context. “A hopeless end to an endless hope”, he said. We are a resurrection people as love is true and darkness is dead.
We shared in the Sacrament of Holy Communion the elements of bread and wine being administered by Peter and Jill Harrison before our closing hymn “The strife is o’er the battle done; now is the Victor’s triumph won”, thus closing a memorable service.