19 April 2019: Good Friday
The Christians in our city have held a Procession of Witness every year for the last 41 years. This starts at three churches on the outskirts of the city, where groups assemble to follow a cross down to the next church in the sequence to pick up another group. There is a short service at each place. We all end up together in the High Street for a final service at 11 o’clock. (See the photograph.)
This morning my wife and I joined the group outside our own church, which is the second on our particular route. There were Christians there from a number of denominations. When the group that started at the first on the route joined us we had a short service of a reading, a hymn and a prayer, before walking to the main road from this area into the city and walking towards the city centre.
The third church on the route was in our neighbouring parish. By this time, of course, the group had got much larger. We held a similar service there before all joining together to walk onward. We now had two crosses leading us.
Our next stop was not outside a church but in an open square outside what used to be a brewery a short way from the High Street. We had another service there.
Then we all walked to the top of the High Street for the main service there. As always, a stage had been erected for the music band and the service leaders. My wife and I both found the service much too “in your face” proving, as my wife commented, that there are good reasons why Christians can work together but may still need to worship separately.
After the service my wife and I walked back home for a quick lunch before going back to our own church for a service starting at 2 o’clock, at which both of us were reading Bible passages.
That service was much more contemplative and had been put together by our Director of Music. He based it around part of J H Maunder’s sacred cantata “Olivet to Calvary”. The choir pieces were interspersed with readings, prayers and congregational hymns. We did not have a large congregation but there were people there I didn’t recognise.
We have held a similar service for some years now. I find it a good way to remember the last hour of Jesus’s earthly life.