St George's, Battery Point
Sing Christ Risen
The Easter season was so special at St George's Battery Point that we would like to share it with you.
There was a build-up as we studied St Luke's Gospel in our sermons and our Bible Studies from Christmas onwards. We walked with Jesus along the road to Jerusalem thinking about what it means that in Chapter 9 verse 51, Luke states, ‘As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.'
On Palm Sunday rector's warden, Arthur Wherrett, and his wife, Jeanne, led two donkeys into church and we enacted the first Palm Sunday as St Luke recorded it, with the parts being played by different people, including Sean Gaffney who had flown in from Hollywood USA, no less, and who was the narrator and his wife, Catherine. (It happened that they were staying with John and Roslyn Langlois for the week.)
When our Luke (Isham, who was representing the disciples) bounded up to Arthur and asked if he could borrow the donkeys and Arthur asked why, the response, ‘The Lord has need of them' really spoke to Arthur. He said afterwards that this sums up the whole reason for the Donkey Ministry started by Gayelene Harrower.
Then our Paul (Chew, who was representing Jesus complete with riding helmet) climbed on to the first donkey in front of the altar and we all went out on a Palm Sunday march through the flower room, past the new toilets (which aren't so new any more but have really enhanced our enjoyment of ministry and community activities), through the long room where the Sparkle kids aged 0-5 years and their parents joined us and outside on to the green.
There the Palm Sunday story was completed and the Photostar (kids aged 6-13) entertained us with a joyous song and dance on the lawn accompanied by Roslyn Langlois on her keyboard. This part included us all singing another hymn and prayer before Jesus riding on a donkey led us back into church and then he led all the Sparkles and Photostars out to Kids' Church. The children were amazingly productive as they painted and illustrated dioramas of the Easter story from Palm Sunday to Easter Day as well enjoying the popular donkey rides.
For the rest of us, the passion story continued in church and I found that the movement of the crowd outside on to the green (especially after a week where we had endured four solid days of rain and now the sun shone) and back into the church brought the contrast of the ‘Hallelujahs' shouted by the crowds on Palm Sunday and the shouts of ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!' into even starker focus than usual.
Next scene was Maundy Thursday - an evening service held by candlelight which commenced with the washing of feet by our three clergy for those who chose, which most did. After the first sermon in our Easter series, the re-enactment of the Last Supper in remembrance of Jesus included the sharing of flat bread and bottled wine. At the conclusion of the service all the lighting was extinguished and everyone left quietly in the dark and in their own time to go home - very different from our usual cheery fellowship and welcome.
Good Friday is a beautiful service at St George's which emphasises both the amazing sacrifice our Lord Jesus Christ made once and for all and also our response to His sacrifice.
After this service we can debrief over a cup of tea or coffee and a hot cross bun before we disperse to our own homes.
The culmination of our three-part series of services is on Easter Day. This year there was a real buzz for some weeks in the lead up as the choral group grew into a choir for the Easter season. They practised really hard to bring joy to us all, the high point being their rendition of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus' from Handel's Messiah.
How blessed were we!
There is more to tell as some of us joined the Easter Awakening March on Parliament House Gardens and ‘our Roslyn' got everyone of all ages enjoying themselves singing ‘The Lord of the Dance'. And what a wonderful way God honoured those who marched as a witness to our Christian faith in the reporting of this event by the media. This was an answer to prayer.
I should add that it didn't all stop there. The following Sunday, our rector joined us as one of the congregation in the pews on his last day of a week's leave as we all discovered anew how blest life can be by the Holy Spirit as we worshipped together after hearing the good news of Christ Risen at Easter.
I am not sure whether we think we are ready for what follows next but there can be no doubting that God has every desire to equip us with what we need to carry out His Plans for us...His story continues among us.
Photos: Anne Brown