Last Sunday, fog hugged the ground in the early Autumn morning.
I walked to the broken church, boarded up and fenced off, a red label on the door. A small blackboard sign said “Church” with an arrow pointing to the adjacent hall. Pews were laid out in the small wooden hall. Although a visitor, felt like I was among family.
The liturgy stirs the distant recesses of my memory. The words and prayers are familiar, yet the distance of time has made them fresh again to me.
We do not presume to come to your Holy Table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness.
I’m a long way from being worthy. I’m not even close to being the kind of person I’d like to be. My patience runs short. There are times I rub up my husband and children the wrong way. I open my mouth and speak when I should listen.
I file forward. The wafer softens on my tongue before I swallow. I take a sip from the silver chalice, just enough to taste the strong wine on my lips. The familiar words of the ritual are spoken.
The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for you. Broken bread, broken body. A city of broken buildings and broken hearts.
The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for you. The sprinkled blood of sacrifice. I receive and accept again the sacrifice that was made for me.
Good Friday, a field on the outskirts of the city. A wooden cross, a crucified saviour.
I walked the road to the cross, reading placards that tell the story of another road, 2000 years ago in Jerusalem.
I knelt at the foot of the cross.
Others have written prayers on paper, and stuck them on the cross. I laid my hand on the wood, letting go of my failings, my weaknesses, my sins, to receive and accept again the sacrifice that was made for me.
Footnote: I had a lovely chat to the widow of the man who built the “Jesus”. The Halswell Cross has been running now for seven years at the Halswell Quarry Park, near Christchurch. It is put up on Good Friday each year, and runs until Easter Monday, supported by nine local churches. If you’re in Christchurch at Eastertime, I’d recommend a visit.