The theme for Holy Week services at LifeWay Church was No Other – exclusive claims from an inclusive God, and, on Maundy Thursday, 23 people gathered at Newcastle to enjoy a simple meal and take part in a reflective service No Other Love.
The tables were invitingly set, due to hard work by Pastor Mat and his wife Elise, with beautiful flower arrangements by Ruth Mac Connachie enhancing the experience. The simple meal of mutton and herbs in yoghurt and hummus, tabouleh and flat bread, similar to a Passover meal, but it was not a Passover meal in the true sense.
The object of this meal was to encourage conversation about God’s love to each of us.
The table was set so that conversation was encouraged by the simple task of passing the food.
After the meal, we all read in unison the account of the first Passover from Exodus chapter 12.
Pastor Mat then led with Bible readings, reflection, meditation and prayer. There was opportunity for discussion about how God leads us through seemingly insurmountable times, what things keep us personally and, the world in general, from wholly embracing and spreading the Good News of God’s love.
Clips from a very moving video of an ‘eyewitness’ report of the events of that Passover meal and Jesus’ actions were shown.
We then communed each other as the bread and wine was passed around the table.
The final rite was to strip the altar.
At the end of the service, all reflected quietly and then helped to tidy up, wash dishes and prepare the church for Good Friday service.
Good Friday theme was No Other Death – a service of Bible readings, meditations, confession and prayer and singing. The video, that was seen in part the previous evening, continued. Many of those attending, later commented how deeply they were moved by that service, in particular the closing sentences of the video.
He is Risen! Easter Day arrived with the theme No Other Life, and a beautiful rainbow of colour radiated from the crucifix, butterflies flew across the backdrop and over the congregation and, of course, beautiful flowers. This change was made through the hard work of a few dedicated people the previous day. This was a service of joyous singing and hearing the Easter Bible readings. Pastor Mat spoke of how Jesus’ followers managed that first Easter morning and asked, ‘How do we treat Easter? Is it another Festival, hearing the same message, following the same routine? Then forgetting and going home to watch telly, or go to a match or similar? Or will we value what Jesus has done for us, being thankful over and over for his overcoming death and giving us the promise of eternal life? Will we remember the Easter message and joyfully take that message into our everyday life and share it with others by our actions and with our words?’
At the end of service, morning tea was served and there was a chance to greet the many visitors and see children enjoying the spoils of the Easter Egg Hunt.
Thanks to the people at LifeWay, Newcastle, NSW, for sharing their Easter journey