The great week will soon be upon us. A week which defines who, what and why we are the Church
The services of Holy Week are unlike anything else in the Church year, and yet their form and content come from a very early time in Christian history. They were first described by the Spanish nun, Egeria, who visited Jerusalem probably between 381 and 384, where the saving events were commemorated in the places where they were alleged to have happened. It must have been a compelling experience, for Egeria repeated it several times!
It is thrilling to think that when we take part in the traditional services of this Week we are in touch with one of the earliest strands of the history of our community. But we are not engaged merely in an exercise aimed at re-creating either the events themselves or the ecclesiastical routines of the fourth century Jerusalem: God redeems us and call us into a relationship with himself through Jesus, and our presence at and participation in these services is tied up with our response to God’s self-giving love. That is why they are important. John Pritchard the author of this year’s Lent book talks about ‘standing inside’ and re-owning the event, which is exactly what we are invited to do as we participate in the services of Holy Week.
Please join us; better still participate by volunteering to read or pray, to provide food for our Maundy Thursday feast or walk with us on Good Friday. You will find all the dates and times in this e–bulletin.
In a recent Lambeth lecture on Evangelism, Archbishop Justin Welby said:
“I want to start by saying just two simple sentences about the church. First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ. Second, the Church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration. Some of it may be very necessary, useful, or wonderful decoration – but it’s decoration”
We’re often a bit uncomfortable about the word “discipleship” – it’s not very Anglican and it’s a bit, well, Evangelical. It can sound a bit trendy and we think of flashing lights and dry ice and drums and guitars! There was a fascinating report on discipleship discussed recently by General Synod, from the Faith and Order Commission. The two authors, Mike Higton and Loveday Alexander, wrote (alluding to Simon and Andrew)…
“[In Mark 1.18] Jesus sees what these two men currently are, and calls them to a transformation—to a strange fulfilment of what they are. They are fishermen (halieis), but he calls them to become fishermen (halieis anthropon: fishers of people, ‘fishers of men’ in an older translations). Simon and Andrew respond by leaving what they are, and beginning their journey towards this mysterious fulfilment—towards what they will be. They become, in that moment, disciples. They become learners…They are captivated by the possibility of transformation”
“Captivated by the possibility of transformation”. Isn’t that a remarkable phrase? One that can certainly get me out of bed in the morning! I wonder how we at St Nicholas can reach beyond our walls into our little corner of God’s earth here in W4 and do our best to ensure that all those who’s paths cross ours can be invited to experience the possibility of transformation?
As we journey through Lent, to the passion and drama of Holy Week, to the pain and sacrifice of that stinking rubbish dump in Golgotha on Good Friday, arriving at the majestic empty tomb on Easter Day, let us rejoice that all of us, wherever we live and whatever we do, have an open and everlasting invitation to be transformed by the resurrected Christ.
With every blessing,