We have not been in the habit of going to Church on the Eve of Holy Week but the Evening Service of Meditation was really worth the effort.
It is not possible to post here the quiet, contemplative atmosphere in the Church, or the sublime music provided by the choir but the whole effect was, for this Parishioner, quite special.
The five readings are reproduced below and are worth a ponder.
The full order of service with hymns and prayers can be downloaded through this link.
Love's Welcome (George Herbert)
Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
'A guest,' I answered, 'worthy to be here.'
Love said, 'You shall be he.’
'I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.'
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
'Who made the eyes but I?'
'Truth Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
'And know you not: says Love, 'who bore the blame?'
'My dear, then I will serve.’
'You must sit down: says Love, 'and taste my meat.'
So I did sit and eat.
Prayer card from Liturgical Institute, Trier
Jesus rose from supper, laid aside his garments,
and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water
into a basin, and began to wash the
disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel
with which he was girded. (John 13:4-5)
You can't wash someone else's feet with one hand. You've got to
let go of everything and bend down and set to with both hands.
As Jesus did at the Last Supper. As Jesus did when he abandoned
everything and gave his life away for us.
Lord, you humbled yourself.
You bow down like a servant.
You give yourself away for us.
Teach us to learn from you
how to love
how to hold nothing back
how to give ourselves.
Fill us with that Spirit of yours,
that Spirit of loving and serving
All our brothers and sisters
Sincerely, without counting the cost.
Respectable Sins (P.W.Turner)
The sin of Pilate - cowardice and political time-serving.
The sin of Caiaphas - spiritual pride and ecclesiastical time-serving.
The sin of the soldiers,
and of the crowd,
the lust for blood,
and blind following the majority.
These sins are not museum specimens,
impaled on pins in glass cases,
to be examined at leisure by those interested in religion.
Strange reactions of long-ago people
in faraway places.
No. Far from it. They are the sins of Acacia Avenue and Laburnum Grove;
Neat, semi-detached sins - of respectable citizens - living in respectable rows.
The sins of the milkman - and the neighbour who borrows your mower,
and the one who sits next you on the eight-fifteen.
The sins of ordinary people, going daily to ordinary jobs,
and returning by six to unspectacular homes and lives.
Your sins and my sins.
The sins of the children - of our various parents.
The sins of the face in your bathroom mirror.
It is these,
the penny-plain treacheries of Jean and John and their unglamorous spouses,
which flame in the heat of the moment,
and flare to the sudden murder of God.
Cockcrow (Peter De Rosa)
Proudly the cock began to crow,
'They may desert you Lord, not I, not I, not I:
wherever you go I will go,
even should I die.’
'Peter,’ his Master sadly said,
'Three times before the cock crows you will me disown.
Prepare to weep and bow your head:
I will die alone.'
A God Who Suffers (Helen Waddell)
Calvary was only a piece of it,
the piece that we saw - in time.
But the dark ring goes up and down
the whole length of the tree.
We only see it where it is cut across.
That is what Christ's life was:
the bit of God that we saw.
And because Christ was like that,
kind and forgiving sins and healing people,
we think God is like that.
And we think God is like that for ever
because it happened once to Christ.
But not the pain. Not the agony.
We think that stopped!
All the pain of the world was Christ's cross.
God's cross. And it goes on.
The Good Thief (Peter De Rosa)
A cross is a strange place for making friends -
there isn't a great deal of time -
and strange, this desire to make amends
at the end of a life of crime.
But he liked this carpenter by his side,
who thought of himself as a king,
so he who had stolen, murdered and lied,
determined to do one kind thing.
'Remember me, Lord, when your Kingdom is here',
he thought him deluded, but nice.
Strange how the pain went, and even the fear,
with that promise of paradise.
The thief smiled 'I'll see you later', he said.
He'd never before felt so fine.
'If you could remember to bring the bread,
I'm sure I can manage the wine.’