Thursday, April 05, 2007

The desolation of Gethsemane

Unfortunately I'm not at church tonight as baby-sitting duties call, but from my youth I've always thought the Maundy Thursday communion service was the most moving and dramatic in the Christian calendar.

Back in my home town church of St Mary's, Hitchin, they used to - probably still do - conclude the service with the reading of Matthew 26, vv 47-55, a passage which ends with the baleful words: "Then all the disciples deserted him and ran away."

At this precise moment, the lights in the church would be extinguished, symbolising the total darkness and desolation of our Saviour as he prepared to face his forthcoming ordeal, alone.

It sent shivers down my spine as a 12-year-old choirboy, and it still does.

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Turbulent Cleric said...

I quite agre, Paul

i spy strangers said...

Yes, Holy Week is very special. I've sung Compline three times this week at Great Malvern Priory, so gave tonight's service a miss. Will be there tomorrow and for the Easter Vigil on Saturday though. Singing Compline is a wonderful experience, especially in what was a Benedictine foundation.

My spine-tingling experience as a 12-year-old choirboy was hearing the first strains of Bach's chorale "Wachet auf ..." during Advent. Of course, it might just have been the thought of Christmas presents to come, but I still love the piece.

Paul Burgin said...

Didn't know you were from my neck of the woods! :)

james higham said...

Yes, Paul, I should think it would be one of the nicest ways to experience it. Have a very happy Easter break.

Bryan McGrath said...

I've just got back from Stations of the Cross. Which, for the 1st time at the Church, was acted out by the children inside and outside the Church. Normally it would involve the priest stopping at each of the images of part of the passion to conduct a prayer and then moving to the next.

At least the congregation could get outside: Palm Sunday it was too wet and windy!

Honey Weeks said...

Who has not been through a time in their lives when they were betrayed: their friends did not stand by them and instead broke their agreements with the, deserting them and running away...? There is much truth in those words of Matthew.


M. said...

Viva Honey!

Remember the sabbatical Elections?


Paul Linford said...

It's not clear whether the last comment is addressed to me, or Honey, or both of us.

Could "M" please clarify?

Honey Weeks said...

To "M.":
What exactly are sabbatical elections?


P.S. I do still live... (vivo). Should I not, then???

Paul Linford said...


It's an election which takes place for a sabbatical position, most commonly in the context of student unions. I took part in one in 1983, when I was elected as a full-time officer of UCL students' union, enabling me to take a year's sabbatical from my course.