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).

NECN in conversation with Andy Greiff

St Aidan's Buttershaw Estate

Buttershaw Estate in Bradford is most famous for the setting of Rita, Sue and Bob Too film and the birth place of its author Andrea Dunbar. This gritty comedy/ drama shows what life can be like on a northern estate, but there are many other stories that paint the picture.
It’s been so encouraging over the past 12 months that those of us who care for the community have worked together to help the great need that exists with donations to the food bank, clothes bank, baby bank etc. Those involved were a mixture; Buttershaw Baptists, the local Catholic Church, Sandale Trust, Bradford Bulls Rugby Club, ourselves at St Aidan’s and St Michael’s, local council officers plus many volunteers. That has been the success story of the last 12 months and nothing demonstrated that better than when we all got together with Santa (the Baptist Minister) on a big truck and slowly rolled around the streets of the estates, carols and Christmas songs blasting out, giving generously donated brand new toys to excited and happy children. Looking forward to the mega Easter Egg hunt in a few weeks.
To find out more about how St. Aidan’s is reaching out on Buttershaw estate watch the interview on You Tube: https://youtu.be/Du1qRw3No70
Foodbank Donations
If you live locally to St. Aidan’s you may wish to donate to the foodbank collection box outside the church. You can also join St. Aidan’s Facebook Group.

Rev Andy Greiff (St Michael’s Shelf with St Aidan’s Buttershaw

Praxis Labs Centre for Hope and Activism

Praxis Labs run courses to help you turn your faith into action. They are starting another one on 8 April. It’s hugely accessible, really inspiring and welcomes all theological perspectives. It’s also ‘pay as you can afford’ and so accessible from a finance perspective too.

Praxis Labs

“As lockdown (hopefully) comes to an end in the next few months, you might be thinking through what activities you’ll do when things open up. Maybe you feel that God wants you to start something new, or revisit some of the things you did pre-covid – or maybe you want to get more engaged in justice and activism but don’t know how to get going. 

If that’s you, can I recommend the Labs course from the Praxis Centre (home of the Hopeful Activists’ Podcast)? It’ll give you space to reflect and plan in light of God’s big story while hearing from some excellent activists and theologians. Starts on 8 April. They’re a great bunch :)”

Rich, Founder of Praxis Labs

Find out more at www.praxiscentre.org/labs.

Managing Finances and Your Mental Health Webinar

Mentoring Advocate Network

 

The Mentoring Advocacy Network is a project which promotes positive male role models whilst raising awareness of toxic views of masculinity.

They are hosting a series of webinars to raise awareness of and engage with men’s issues. The upcoming webinar will look at managing finances and mental health, particularly during the pandemic. Although the focus is on men’s mental health the webinar is open to everyone.

The free webinar on ‘Managing Finances and Your Mental Health’ is on 25th March at 1.00 pm.

To register for the event visit here:

 

 

Who’s who @NECN

Introducing Emma Ash – Trustee

Emma Ash

From living in a high-rise building in Hong Kong and travelling back to the U.K. staying with my Mum in her council flat, trying to discern my calling, I ended up writing a piece for the Church Times on the financial barriers that ordination places onto the work-class. Andy Delmege emailed and soon I was invited onto the NECN trustee board.

Three years have now passed, and the majority of that time has been spent in London working for the Church on two different housing estates, one Evangelical and another, Anglo-Catholic. Here new ministries were launched and people came to faith. Ecumenicalism remains at the heart of NECN and I believe  it is vital as we continue to build worshipping communities across England and Wales. I’ve not long completed a year with the Community of St Anselm, Lambeth Palace and have a passion to see more partnerships made for the glory and kingdom of God.

*Photo taken by the Community of St Anselm, Lambeth Palace.

Coming in September – 1st Annual Charles Gore Lecture

Charles Gore Social Teachings Lecture

A new lecture series in memory of the first Bishop of Birmingham, Charles Gore, will be starting this September at Birmingham Cathedral.

Charles Gore was known for his concern for justice for people living in poverty in urban areas. When St. Philip’s Church became a cathedral he decided to allocate diocesan funds to meet social needs rather than on increasing the size of the building.

The free of charge evening ‘Anglican Social Vision: Past, Present and Future’ will be led by the Right Reverend John Perumbalath, Bishop of Bradwell.

Reserve your place by emailing enquiries@birminghamcathedral.com.

 

Help for Families in Mixenden for Half Term

Good News
From the left, Revd Robb Sutherland, Ash Green Community Primary School headteacher Mungo Sheppard and Halifax MP Holly Lynch, delivering vouchers to students’ homes.

As half term approaches we have some good news about how Holy Nativity Church in Mixenden have stepped in to help hungry families.

Ash Green Community Primary School provide breakfast packs and food parcels to the most vulnerable families and families have been able to access the government free school meals vouchers.

To fill the void during the holiday, Holy Nativity has secured funding to provide every child in the school with a £10 shopping voucher. The vouchers are being hand delivered, abiding by social distancing guidelines, by school staff, Reverend Robb Sutherland, vicar of Holy Nativity Church himself and school governors.

Ash Green’s staff members regularly undertake house calls during lockdown to check on children’s welfare, deliver food, hand out prizes for outstanding remote learning work. They support families with any concerns that can’t be dealt with by phone.

Revd Sutherland said, “We hope that a £10 Morrisons voucher for each child at Ash Green will help families across the estate and make being stuck at home in the coldest and darkest part of the year a little bit brighter.”

You can read the full story here.

Have you got good news to share about how your estate church is helping families during the pandemic? We would love to hear all about it. Please get in touch with christinem@cofebirmingham.com and we will put this on the website.

Who’s who @NECN

Over the coming months we are going to take a look at who the Trustees of NECN are, their passions, their skills and what they get up to in and out of NECN.

If you would like to get more involved, feel you have passion or skills which could be useful please do get in touch. We have work streams as well as trustee opportunities.

Introducing Robb Sutherland – Trustee

Vicar of Mixenden and Illingworth in North Halifax.

I spent my first three years as the first-time vicar of an estates church feeling quite isolated.  I was surrounded by ministers who were having completely different experiences to mine.  My colleagues are wonderfully supportive but my experience doesn’t easily correlate to that of The Minster.  I was introduced to NECN by a chance encounter a few years ago.  Discovering this network of people who share a similar life and growing a local network of practitioners, lay and  ordained has been an empowering experience.

I grew up in a mining family and married the vicar’s daughter of an estates church in Leeds.  That church community taught me the Christian faith and the love and generosity that truly comes from people who have little but give everything.  In hindsight it was probably inevitable that once ordained I would follow the call to a similarly wonderful estates church parish with all of our ups and downs.  It is my hope that in the coming years that NECN will grow as a supportive community, as well as a becoming a national voice for people on the margins.
Robb is a trustee of NECN and a member of the Estates Evangelism Task Group as part of Renewal and Reform.  He blogs at www.changingworship.com
 

Interview with Guvna B

Christian Rapper

Guvna B, a double MOBO Award winning rapper and author from East London, was recently interviewed at the Everything Conference, the focus of which is how Christians can renew culture. Guvna B has faced challenges and disadvantages in life but has nevertheless achieved some remarkable things. How has God has used these weaknesses or the disadvantages in his life to more effectively serve Him?

Here are some extracts from the interview as Guvna B reflects:


“Well, I grew up on a council estate in East London and a big disadvantage would be the lack of opportunity…

I actually started out rapping about girls, guns, drugs, and I realised that I didn’t do drugs, didn’t have a gun, didn’t get any girls…

I’d say the only thing more exhausting than standing out and being true to yourself is waking up every day and having to put on a mask and pretend that you’re someone that deep down you know that’s not you…”

His talk about being true to yourself and God, despite the pressures of growing up in a tough area is really inspiring and honest. If you would like to read more of Guvna B’s reflection visit:

https://www.wordonthestreets.net/Articles/598116/Interview_with_Guvna.aspx

Hope Community Witham

Estate Comunity Church

Once again churches and communities are having to dig deep into keeping hold of hope as we start the New Year with a third lockdown.

Today we bring you some good news of an estate church in Witham, Essex, the Hope Community. Their mission is ‘Bringing Hope, Being Community’. You can find their page on Facebook here.

Like many churches since March 2020, Hope Community have had to quickly learn how to put services online and go through a steep learning curve. Services are currently being streamed live every week via Facebook where engagement has grown from 70 views per week to over 500 views. A Zoom Alpha Group has also been set up by Revd Will Abbott for people to explore questions brought up in the uncertainty of this season which are advertised through Facebook and this group is growing.

Goody Bags Hope Community

As well as being flexible in how to worship God and pray, Hope Community have been reaching out to families in need through the Love Where You Live scheme. This scheme was originally set up in Wythenshawe by The Message. During Love Where You Live weeks in Wythenshawe, volunteers have been delivering food parcels, cleaning up rubbish and even sprucing up gardens. You can read more about the Wythenshawe project on https://www.message.org.uk/love-where-you-live-2/

In Witham, volunteers gave out  over 400 goody bags and food over Christmas to families who have been really touched by this act of kindness. Donations for the foodbank are coming in regularly and there is a Just Giving ‘Love Where U Live’ fundraising page to raise money towards outreach projects to support and care for the wider community. A recent appeal has been for funds to buy treats for NHS staff to show appreciation of their frontline work. A link to give a donation to this fund can be found here.

Hope Community have plans in the pipeline to launch their own website later this year as a charitable organisation. In the meantime if you would like some more details about Hope Community which works with St. Nicolas Church, Witham, visit https://www.withamparishchurch.org.uk/