So as I said before I am spending Lent to Pentecost in the Harper’s Brook Benefice with Father Colin. Over the Easter period I had an opportunity to be a crucifer (the one who carries the cross during the procession at the beginning and end of the service. I was also a therifer on Easter Day Lighting the thurible and swinging it in procession. I also got to ring the sanctus bells during the Eucharist as well as assisting Colin as a server. I also got to wear a dalmatic as a liturgical deacon on Easter Day too.
However, it wasn’t the different traditions or outfits that got to me. Some of the ceremony really helped me connect with the Easter story and in a way I was not expecting. The stations of the cross were a great way to engage with the passion story but whilst Colin was stripping the alter and the rest of the church of the crosses and candles I was reading the Passion. It started OK but as I got to Jesus being flogged and beaten I started to really struggle to keep reading. The image of the challice and ciborium lying empty on the high alter in a church where there is usually reserved sacremnet kept in the tabernacle, really completed the picture of Jesus being dead and in the tomb. My emotions took hold of me and I felt totally drained after the service, it was like I’d been to Jesus’s funeral. This was contrasted with the joy and extravagance of the Easter celebration.
On reflection I think the traditions of an Anglo-Catholic church can really help people connect with Jesus’ story and often the ceremony really adds a layer of engagement. Interestingly when Colin was teaching me how to use a the thurible several of the young people wanted to have a go too. Just like we would do at St Benny’s enabling children and young people to get involved in the service helps them engage more with God. I guess in reality so long as the ceremony is authentic to the tradition and facilitates participation both incense and ceremony or craft and games can help folk get close to God and discover more about the story of Jesus.