Union Church has long owned a life-size bare wooden cross, which is carried in procession through Shenfield every Good Friday.
This year, though, the cross has been displayed at the front of the church throughout the 40 days of Lent, and each Sunday morning children of the Church have placed on or beside it a symbol of the period leading up to the crucifixion.
We started with a bag of money, reminding us of Jesus’ clearing of the Temple’s money-changers. A bowl and towel represented Jesus’ humble washing of the disciples’ feet, and a cup and plate were added on a Communion Sunday. A rather impressive metal cockerel was a reminder of how Peter denied Jesus “before the cock crowed”, and then a purple robe and a crown of thorns represented the cruel mocking of Jesus by the soldiers. Finally on Palm Sunday palm branches were added to the cross.
For our Good Friday meditation all these items will be removed except the crown of thorns.
But then on Easter morning all the congregation will bring flowers, which will completely cover the cross in colour and new life as we celebrate together the new life that the risen Jesus brings us.
Besides the morning congregations, the cross has been seen by over 100 people in the building each Saturday to rehearse the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, reminding them both of Lent and of the New Testament account while they sang of an Old Testament story.
So both through Lent and on Easter Day we have shared a visual reminder of what our Lord Jesus endured for us.
On Easter morning, as a symbol of the joy of the Resurrection, and new life, members of the congregation brought spring flowers to place on the bare wooden cross, transforming its bleakness to a blaze of colour.
May you too know the deep joy of Easter, and of death defeated by our risen Lord Jesus!
Our display is also showing signs of new life; a lamb, flowers and butterflies
The annual Walk of Witness organised by Churches Together in Hutton and Shenfield, whilst leaving from Hutton and Shenfield Church, included Christians from many churches in the area. The walk remembers the first Good Friday over 2000 years ago, when Jesus had to carry his own cross to his crucifixion.
"Today we remember that Jesus’s death on the cross was the greatest act of love in human history. He died so that we might be forgiven and free of all that separates from our heavenly Father." The Archbishop of York - John Sentamu
The walk made its way to Shenfield Library where there was a short outdoor service, before heading back to the Union Church where Hot Cross Buns (a symbol of the cross) and coffee were served.