Easter 2018 at St Paul’s

Holy Week was celebrated with a variety of services across the Team. It was a busy week, with something to suit everyone. Monday to Thursday there was a Eucharist at 10 am each morning, with Evening Prayer at 5 pm. Monday evening at St Mary’s, Allithwaite, there was an opportunity for quiet personal reflection in the ‘prayer spaces’ which had been set up in the church and also in the school grounds, while on Tuesday St Mary’s hosted a Passover Supper for about 40 people. Wednesday evening at St Paul’s we walked the Stations of the Cross with Jesus on his last journey, and on Maundy Thursday the Eucharist of the Last Supper, also at St Paul’s, included the washing of feet, during the singing of the hymn ‘Brother, sister, let me serve you’ and finishing with the prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do also for you: give us the will to be the servant of others as you were the servant of all, and gave up your life and died for us, but are alive and reign, now and for ever. Amen

At the end of the service the sanctuary was stripped bare as verses from Lamentations were read . Some of us then moved in silence into the candle-lit Lady Chapel for Tenebrae (Latin for ‘shadows’). The purpose of this service is to remember the sombre events that occurred in Jesus’ life from his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the night of his burial on Good Friday. Gradually the flames of the candles are extinguished one by one as Scripture readings tell the story of Holy Week. This gradual descent into gloom is a representation of Jesus’ increasing sorrow as the events of Passion Week unfolded. After the last verse is read, the last candle is put out, and the room is plunged into darkness. At that point a loud noise sounded in the blackness, representing the closing of the tomb. Then, finally, a lit candle, which had been hidden from view, was placed on the top of the altar symbolizing Jesus’ resurrection. Altogether a very moving and emotional experience.

The following day we had devotions from noon, with the liturgy of Good Friday at 2 till 3 pm, during which the large wooden cross was carried up the main aisle and placed on the chancel step. Another very moving service.

On Saturday the flower ladies were busy decorating the church with Easter flowers in time for a wedding at 1 pm, after which the altar was turned round and the Easter garden set up. At 8.30 that evening members from across​ the Team gathered at St Mary’s, Staveley-in-Cartmel, for the Easter Vigil and the first Eucharist of Easter. A fire was already blazing outside the front door as we arrived, and we were each given a candle. The Revds Derek Jackson, George Wilson and Andrew Norman officiated, and at the start of the service the congregation followed Derek as he carried the unlit Paschal Candle outside. Andrew blessed it saying: “Christ, yesterday and today, the beginning and the end. To Christ belongs all time and all the ages; to Christ belongs glory and dominion now and forever. Amen”, as he traced out 2018, the symbols alpha and omega, and pressed in 5 grains of incense for the 5 wounds of Jesus. After several attempts because of the wind, the candle was finally lit from the fire, and we all then processed back into the darkened Church following Derek as he raised the candle three times, chanting “The light of Christ” to which we responded “Thanks be to God”. Following the procession Derek sang the Exultet, before our individual candles were lit from the Paschal candle; the service continued in candlelight until we renewed our Baptismal vows around the font, including being sprayed with water!

At the end of the service, representatives from the different parishes brought their Paschal Candles to be blessed and lit, and they led the procession outside where the service ended. All the candles are now in their parishes to signify Christ’s light spreading around the world. They will be lit at each service of worship throughout the Easter season – which ends officially at Pentecost – and at baptisms and funerals throughout the year. (The stand for our paschal candle at St Paul’s was given by the family of Peter Utley who served as Verger for several years under the Revd Alan Gibson.)

He is not Dead
He is Risen Alleluia!

A wonderful start to our Easter celebrations.