Being back in Cambridge for Holy Week evokes rich memories. Yesterday, on Maundy Thursday, I was at my former church to lead a service for older friends, several in wheelchairs, who are brought in especially to share communion as well as enjoy tea. It was announced at the beginning that I had begun the tradition in 1982 - and several of the older folk are still going strong (including one at 93!)
Today, Good Friday, I joined a March of Witness down the High Street of Histon (just north of Cambridge). Several congregations from different churches processed behind crosses to meet on the Library Green for an open-air service. The Salvation Army band and a music group accompanied us, with songs, prayers, reading, drama and an address. I was on the edge of the crowd conscious of the busy traffic flow and pedestrian passers-by - often visibly surprised at our presence. It was good to sound out the gospel message right in the middle of the community.
On Easter Day, I shall be preaching back in my former church - an opportunity that thrills me to the core. Every preacher longs to be able to proclaim good news on Easter Day....and I'm one!
However, one thing struck me forcibly today. One of the songs we sang was Graham Kendrick's 'From heaven you came'. It tells the gospel story and the last verse with chorus ends:
So let us learn how to serve,
And in our lives enthrone him ;
Each other's need to prefer,
For it is Christ we're serving.
This is our God, the Servant King,
He calls us now to follow Him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.
I remember a phone conversation with my father one Sunday evening. He could be astonishingly transparent. He said that they had sung this song in his church and everybody joined in gustily with loud accompaniment. He paused and softly said: 'You know I just couldn't sing it. Those words about 'enthroning', 'prefering other's needs' and 'bringing lives as a daily offering'. I couldn't do it. It's too much, today. We should be so careful!'
I have never forgotten how that cut through my often thoughtless singing, mouthing casually such monumentally demanding words that only Christ can command and by His Spirit begin to make practical in our lives. This Easter I want to be real in my response.