Worship at Home Resources for Holy Week and Easter

Holy Week

This time last year, we were trying to get our heads around not being in the church building for Holy Week and Easter.

Actually, that’s not quite right: we were trying to get our heads around not being able to gather for Holy Week and Easter. In Hodge Hill in recent years, many of the ways we have journeyed together through Holy Week have happened in spaces other than the church building: Palm Sunday has included a raucous, rag-tag ‘procession’ across Hodge Hill Common; Holy Saturday evening has been around a fire-pit in one of the patches of local ‘wasteland’; and we’ve greeted the Easter dawn by walking the Paschal candle through the streets of our estate, yelling ‘Alleluia!’ loudly on street corners. So what we missed, in Holy Week 2020, was even the opportunity to root the story of Jesus’ passion and resurrection, together, in the ground of our neighbourhood.

Our church community is well-connected in many ways, but not digitally. Only around 1/3 of our congregation have been able to use Zoom over the past year, and fewer than that are on Facebook. And in line with our ‘guiding principles’ to shape our communal life during COVID, which we first articulated together in May 2020, we have resisted making our ‘core activities’ anything that we were not all able to participate in, in some way. So our default position has been (and remains) ‘worship at home’: a weekly worship pack delivered to doorsteps, and via email / Facebook / Whatsapp for those with access, for us all to use, ‘together, apart’. Soon after Easter, that was complemented by a weekly audio recording of readings and reflections, that could be accessed via a local phone number of downloaded as an MP3 file.

Paschal Candle

The worship packs included relatively simple liturgies on paper, designed to be said by one person or more in a household, but the words were accompanied by physical resources, and suggestions for bodily actions and movement as well. Over the course of Holy Week and Easter, worshippers would have lit candles, held crosses, waved branches, kindled fires, held and decorated stones, and sent text messages or made phone calls to share an Easter greeting of joy and promise. They might have sat at their kitchen table, but also on their balcony or doorstep or in their garden (if they had one) – and gone for walks in our wider neighbourhood. We tried to use lots of pictures, and not too many words (we’d all been bombarded with too many words already, even back then).

We also wanted to recognise that the ‘great interruption’ that has been COVID-19* had done something very strange to our living-through-time. Lent had been interrupted by lockdown, and yet in a sense the deprivations of Lent were enduring well beyond Easter. Good Friday arrived on a particular day, and Easter Day followed two days later, and yet our lives, from the most local to the most global levels, seemed to be wave upon wave of ‘Good Fridays’, seemed often to be stuck in the waiting, grieving space of ‘Holy Saturday’ time, and ‘Easter Day’ was only ever arriving in the faintest, most elusive of ways. And so we offered liturgies for Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Dawn, with exactly the expectation that they would be used both on those particular days, and on days that felt like those days in the weeks and months to come.

Revd Dr Al Barrett, vicar at Hodge Hill and author of the blog  This estate we’re in

To download the worship packs designed by Al for Holy Week and Easter click on the licks below:

Palm Sunday 2020 [home worship version]

Reflective prayers for Maundy Thursday 2020 [worship at home]

FRIDAY – Stations of the Cross (Koeder & O’Tuama)

SATURDAY – Grieving & Waiting [worship at home]

SUNDAY 1 – Greeting the Easter Dawn [worship at home]

SUNDAY 2 – Eastertide booklet 2020 [worship at home]

SUNDAY 3 – Emmaus Road reflection [worship at home]

 

* Ruth Harley and I explore this ‘great interruption’ further in our book, Being Interrupted: Re-imagining the Church’s Mission from the Outside, In (SCM Press, 2020).

Prayer from the Estates

Prayer for NECN

This beautiful prayer has been written by Revd Sophie Cowan, as she has reflected on the sense of constant waiting whilst living on and ministering on estates. She has also journeyed alongside people who have experienced poverty in other contexts.

The prayer speaks of the void when people don’t stick around, and the disappointment when they do stay but fail to notice how much people living on estates have to offer the wider church, not least the prophetic voice.

God of course fills those gaps, and this we can witness to.

The image has been designed by Xu Haiwei on Unsplash.

Retreats at Home during COVID-19 and beyond

Retreats at Home

 

Are you looking for an alternative way to deepening your prayer life or do you know people who long to draw closer to Jesus?

Residential retreats are very expensive and not always feel possible for people who may have family or work commitments. Many retreat centres are closed due to COVID-19, though some are beginning to reopen.

Retreats at Home

An alternative is to make a retreat whilst staying at home or carrying on with your day-to-day life. Manresa Link is an ecumenical network in the Midlands which gives retreats based on Ignatian spirituality. The retreats last around 6 weeks and during that time people meet with their prayer guide once a week to share how they have got on with their prayer.

During lockdown Manresa Link organised Retreats At Home so that people could speak to their guide over the phone, Whats App, Zoom or any other internet app they had. As lockdown eases some face-to-face meetings may also be possible. The good news is that Manresa Link will continue to offer more remote support if needed.

Manresa Link Candle

Why make a retreat?

Does this sound a bit scary? You might be thinking,

“Help! My prayer life is rubbish!” or “I am not ‘holy’ enough to have a special guide.” “Who would want to listen to me?”

A prayer guide is there to just listen and to help you to discern where God is in your experience.

Even the phrase ‘Ignatian spirituality’ might sound a bit intimidating. What on earth is this, you might wonder. It is simple a way of praying that focuses on Jesus using some insights from St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556). One of these is

“Pray as you can.” He was very practical and down-to-earth.

Being listened to by someone who cares and is not there to judge can be a wonderfully affirming experience. It can also help you to discern how God might be calling you in your discipleship. You can read more about Manresa Link here.

People who make a retreat can make a small donation to cover costs of materials if they can afford it.

Grants to make a residential retreat

If you are feeling in need of refreshment and time completely away from home there is help towards paying for a residential retreat from the Society of Retreat Conductors.

Again, when you click on the grants tab this might look a little bit daunting. It is not as hard as it seems and the Society of Retreat Conductors want more people from estates to be aware that these funds are available. The feedback form you are sent to tell them about your retreat is short and easy to fill in. It could be a life changing experience.

They also offer grants towards helping Christians to train to listen as prayer guides and spiritual directors.

Below is an example of an Ignatian way of praying called the Examen or the Review of Day.

The Review of Day

 

Worship, Reflection & Prayer Resources

Below you will find a number of liturgies and prayers to use for children and families on estates.

House Blessing Liturgy

 

House Blessing

Debbie Collins from Holy Cross, Billesley has created this lovely liturgy for a house blessing.  Please visit https://pilgrimpace.wordpress.com/2018/06/18/house-blessing-liturgy/

Or, you can download a PDF file from the link below:

house-blessing2

 

Postcards – Reflective Exercise

Postcards

Ruth Atkinson at St Michael’s, Bartley Green has provided us with this excellent resource.  Collect postcards or the pictures from Christmas Cards and use them in the attached reflective exercise either with children or adults.

To get you started please download the PDF below for suggested questions that you might ask children:

a-reflective-exercise-of-the-nativity-questions-you-might-ask-the-children

You can read more about Ruth’s reflections on this activity on https://pilgrimpace.wordpress.com/2018/06/04/postcards-reflective-exercise/

 

Estate Baptism Liturgy

Baptism Liturgy

St Peter’s Church, Balkwell have worked really hard to adapt a Baptism Liturgy to make Baptism a more welcoming and affirming sacrament for families from the estate who came to the church. You can download it from

baptism-a5-final-cover

To find out more about the practicalities for arranging a Baptism Liturgy please visit https://pilgrimpace.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/estate-baptism-liturgy/

 

A Christian Meal Time Celebration

Click on the image below to download an enjoyable way of praying when having a meal as a family or Christian community:

A Christian Meal
A Christian community mealtime celebration

 

Thy Kingdom Come

Thy Kingdom Come

Thy Kingdom Come is global wave of prayer calling all Christians to pray between Ascension and Pentecost for more people to come to know the love and peace of Jesus Christ.

To find the latest resources for Lockdown visit https://www.thykingdomcome.global/

Try Praying

Try Praying

 

Try Praying is a booklet to help people who are not religious to pray.  You can also download a free 7 day app from https://www.trypraying.co.uk/

The website also features encouraging stories of people who have had the courage to pray with amazing results.

Estates Prayer

Estates Prayer

The Bishop of Burnley, the Right Reverend Philip North has written a prayer for the estates. On Saturday 22nd February people will be saying this prayer for the estates across the country. This will be the first anniversary of the Church of England Synod motion to have a loving Christian community on every urban estate in the nation.

Can we encourage you to join us. You might want to do a prayer walk for your neighbourhood or your street.

You can find out more by clicking on this You Tube link to the Neighbourhood Prayer Network.

Sharing the Gift of Meditation – Grants Available

Christian Meditation

Christian Meditation in the UK  are keen for more people to find out about meditation, help them develop their own personal and group practices and through this, reach out to the wider world. Through a generous legacy from Eileen Cox, a dedicated member of a group in Ealing, West London, they are inviting community members and organisations to apply for grants.

For more information about the grants available and how to apply please visit https://www.christianmeditation.org.uk/index.php/apply-for-a-grant/wccm-cuf-grants

 

Cafe Church at the Risen Lord

We’ve been running a Café Church in the Parish of the Risen Lord in Preston, a typical inner-city parish, since October 2018. I had arrived as vicar of the parish and was impressed with the weekly Work Club which was hosted by one of our churches, St Matthew’s Mission, and had been run by a group of keen church members for some 5 or 6 years, During that time they had formed some good friendships with many of the clients. The group were keen to introduce these people to Jesus and a few years ago they began a home group with the aim of inviting Work Club clients along. This didn’t really take off and so In June 2018 we discontinued a small Sunday morning congregation at St Matthew’s Mission and launched our mid-week Café Church in the same place where Work Club meets. We thought it would be easier for Work Club clients to come to familiar premises.

Café Church meets at 7pm on a Wednesday evening and is very informal. We start with a meal, move into introductory discussion about some life experience or another which opens up the theme for the evening. The theme has often been the Bible passage which was the basis for the previous Sunday’s sermon or at times we have used the ‘Unlock The Bible’ material. There is no sermon as such, but rather discussion, feedback and summing up by the leader. We tend not to use too much printed material and rely often on the Lumo Gospel Dramas which we download from Youtube. For the first couple of months we had just 2 or 3 work club or fringe members attending, but over the winter these dropped off and for around 6 months almost the only attendees were church members with numbers as low as about 8. We thought that the weather probably was the main deterrent! But we persevered and over the last couple of months numbers have steadily increased to around 14-16 with around half of them non-church people. So, just at the moment we are feeling encouraged as fruit now seems to be coming from this ministry. Please pray for us! Thank you.

– Alastair McHaffie