Ruth Gettinby is a member of New Kilpatrick Church and writes about the joint services which the two congregations held over Holy Week and Easter.
This image of Jusepe de Ribera’s Penitent Saint Peter flashed into my mind as I watched the Gethsemane scene played out in the performances of The Passion, the start of our journey of reflection on Jesus’ last days on earth. The three actors told the stories of the main characters with deep conviction, yet with a simplicity that made them as accessible to the primary school pupils and as to the oldest members of our congregations. A few aspects stood out for me: Mary in the upper room; the Centurion (great West of Scotland accent to make it more real!) moving from Dixon of Dock Green’s old fashioned taking note of the facts as they presented to Columbo’s reflection of what was really happening here; Gethsemane and Christ’s emotional turmoil and then to the gentle awakening of realisation of his resurrection in the other garden.
It was wonderful to talk to the 5 members of Lamps about their experiences of performance while sharing food and wine after the evening session.
The fact that folk from outside our two congregations came along is perhaps indicative that these events work and might even be needed in our goal of linking church and community
The Passion, and then music and words for Passiontide on the evening of Palm Sunday, led by our very talented choirs directed by Chris, set us on our path towards the reflective afternoon services of Holy Week. Spoken word, images and music were carefully chosen to lead us to focus our own thoughts on the familiar stories from Mark’s Gospel: as bystanders, how would we have responded to the events? I love these services. On Sundays the ministers again do all the hard work of preparation and delivery of the message, but we contribute too: in singing, in chatting, in being involved in duties or just making sure those around us feel included if they look isolated. The reflective services demand nothing of us except that we be and be ready to hear the still, small voice.
The numbers in the afternoon were small but that did not matter to those of us who were there because we were there by, for, and with ourselves.
In contrast, the symbolism at the heart of Maundy Thursday was particularly powerful, as we ministered to friend and stranger in washing each others’ hands and feet and in serving the elements to our neighbours. It also gave me my first experience of stripping the church before Good Friday. It felt stark and hopeless. I was moved. The emotion stayed with me into the following day, with continuing reflective words, images and music and the wrenching sound as the curtain was torn mid-afternoon as we are told happened when Jesus took his last breath. Onto the cross we placed our broken pieces of everyday items, representing our broken lives and world, and were invited to take away a shell painted with a cross. Powerful stuff.
I should add that I love the contrast in a brightly adorned All Saints when I returned for the Easter Carols service on 8th April .
We are blessed that Kirstin and Roddy share ideas and traditions to allow us to get to know each other and explore and develop our faith in our community.