Holy Week Blog

Today is Maunday Thursday, and tonight, all over the world, Christians will be gathering together to remember the Last Supper, when Jesus broke the bread and shared the wine, calling us to do this in remembrance of him.

Holy Communion is a tradition which has been handed down in the Church for generations. And yet it draws its meaning from the Jewish Passover feast, which re-enacts the night of the first Passover, when God rescued the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. The big difference is that, instead of remembering the Jewish sacrifice of a lamb in the place of every firstborn son, we remember that Jesus offered his own life as the sacrifice, in the place of us all.

Three days ago, on the Monday night of Holy Week, Christians from all over South East Edinburgh gathered at St Catherine’s Church Hall for our very own ‘Passover Supper’. The tickets were sold out well in advance, and the hall was packed in anticipation.

Representatives of all the SEECAT churches were present, from which twenty had been selected to say the different parts. Before the meal, each speaker took it in turn to recite their words, explaining the meaning of the different elements in a traditional Passover meal, and relating them to the underlying message of salvation offered by Jesus. And so we learned once again about the bitter herbs of suffering, the bread shared in hope of redemption, and the wine of rejoicing.

In the course of the conversation, a child asks their father a series of questions about the symbolism of the meal, so enabling the knowledge of the tradition to be passed down from generation to generation. At last it was the time for the meal itself – shepherd’s pie! Delicious!

Following the meal there was an opportunity for us follow Jesus command to wash each other’s feet. If the thought makes you squirm, it was intended to. When Jesus tried to wash Peter’s feet he would have none of it. He was far too embarrassed. And yet, if you have ever humbled yourself to have your feet washed, you’ll know what a powerful experience it can be.

Chairs were set out, with basins and towels and jugs of warm water. Those who wished could come and sit in a chair and have their feet washed. They would then take a turn and wash the feet of the next person to sit in the chair, and so it continued, while in the background we sang some simple and well known hymns together. Not everyone took part, but for those who did it was a wonderfully refreshing end to the evening.

This was followed, yesterday, by our annual, joint ‘Stations of the Cross’ Service, when, through images, readings, and songs, we journey with Jesus on the road to the Cross. This year we hosted this service at Liberton Kirk. Well over a hundred people came and we were all deeply moved by the occasion. On leaving, many commented how special they had found the experience.

Friday, of course, will be one of the busiest days of the year. There will be the annual ‘Walk for Witness’ down to Morrison’s Supermarket, where we will be join other Christians for an outdoor service, followed by the big Good Friday Afternoon Service at Gracemount High School, and, for those who weren’t able to make it, a quieter reflection at the church in the evening. Saturday will be the day when we get our breath back, and focus our thoughts, as we prepare for Easter and celebration.

Be present, O risen Lord,
in this your church’s Easter praise;
that it’s anthems of joy
and its proclamation of your victory
may worthily celebrate
both the mystery of your redeeming love
and the majesty of your eternal glory

(C.N.R Wallwork)