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April 15, 2006

Easter services

I think our Lord must have a terrific sense of humour. He made us, then He gave us religion ........

The Services over the Easter weekend are a complex set of liturgical events designed to focus our minds on the momentous events of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the ressurection at Easter Day. Naturally, as these are all uniques services they need pages of instructions for servers and ministers alike - and hours of rehearsal when no one else is around so that we don't mess it all up and destroy everyone else's opportunity for reflection, meditation and worship. These rehearsals can descend into farce as different groups try to blend in their actions and movements into the overall service plan. In a place like the Abbey the team is quite large and the number of tasks is proportionate. It is fortunate that the servers have a number of places where they are "out of sight" of the congregation - or the congregation would be surprised by the speed with which we sometimes have to move from one place or task to another - while the Deacon or Priest is leading prayers, reading a lesson or, as in the case of tonight, singing the Exultet!

The Server team always looks to see who is doing that as they have to get around the Abbey and light numerous candles, including those of the High Altar and the Lady Chapel Chandelier while he is doing it. Get someone who rushes it and you haven't time to get to everything and back to place - so we always pray for a slow singer and sprint like fury whenever we are out of sight! I am sure the Lord enjoys this - and occassionally throws in a wobbly, as on the occassion the Deacon turned two pages and skipped a huge section of the Exultet! Panic stations for the Serving Team!

The other bit we are always interested in preparing for carefully is the lighting of the Easter Fire at the West End. On occassion it has been known for the flames to threaten the Priest as he attempts to get a light from this to the Pascal Candle and to the Thurible for the incense. It is also not unknown for the wind to blow the candle out before we can get it indoors for the Deacon to proclaim "Behold the Light of Christ!" The congregation at large remain, fortunately, in blissful ignorance of some of the things the Servers have to do in order to ensure that we do not have an auto de feu among the Ministers, that the Paschal Candle is lit and stays that way and still manange to be everywhere we have to be in time to do whatever needs doing! Images of swans and the underwater activity spring to mind. Hence all the rehearsals - and we still have top be prepared for any little joke the Lord throws at us as well.

The last several days of services have gone extremely well - the congregations have left feeling truly uplifted and full of the Spirit, which suggests that the Servers and Ministers efforts have not been wasted and that the Lord has smiled on our poor contribution. As the serving team enjoy the first sprinkling (It's the Lord Abbot so we should get off lightly for a change!) of the new water of Baptism from the font as he asperges the church, uppermost in our minds will be the sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour - and His resurrection of hope and life of the world to come.


Posted by The Gray Monk at April 15, 2006 08:28 AM

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