A Happy Easter to all.
I have spent Easter in Dunedin. It feels like the first time. I was here in 2010 but at that time I had only lived here a little over 3 months. I had just moved into my house and my sister was here to help. We went to St John's on Maundy Thursday and the Cathedral on Easter Day. My sister does not like the sadness of Good Friday services so we just went for a drive to Palmerston.
In my evangelical youth I remember occasionally attending communion on Thursday to remember the first last supper. Services on Good Friday were sometimes the Litany and sometimes Ante Communion. I took a while to understand that was not Anti Communion but merely the service leading up to but not actually consecrating and partaking of the bread and wine. It was instilled in me that Good Friday (and I guess Easter Saturday) were the only days on which one never took communion.
In the afternoon we often went into the city for the Procession of Witness. This began as a procession in opposition to the opening of the Easter Show on Good Friday but developed into a more general procession in which the parishes marched behind banners through the city. Occasionally I went to the cathedral for the 3 hour service from 12 to 3 in which there were sermons on the 7 Words from the Cross.
At home we had hot cross buns and I still continue this tradition. Friends laugh at me that under no circumstance will I eat a hot cross bun before Good Friday. I often went hungry at staff morning teas in the week before Easter rather than break this rule. The leftovers are eaten on Saturday then not again until next year. I think it is ridiculous to see them on sale in shops almost the day after new year.
Easter Day was just like any other sunday except the churches were more crowded and we went home to a special dinner and exchanged Easter eggs and bunnies.
Thankfully, my family has never gone into the commercialisation of Christianity in a big way. Once I grew beyond childhood we have never given gifts at either Christmas or Easter just exchanged cards and Easter eggs.
Most of my adult life has just been a service on Good Friday morning in addtion to the usual Easter Morning Communion.
I began worshipping at St James, King Street in 2006. It was too far to attend the Thursday evening service but I returned to the 3 hour service on Good Friday. The first year there was the familiar sermons and meditations on the Words from the Cross but in the following years they moved to more elaborate services, including a section where the cross is processed down the aisle and we all kneel. Not quite kneeling at the Cross itself which is forbidden in the Diocese of Sydney.
They also have communion, they use the elements consecrated the evening before and reserved (also forbidden) in the chapel. I have always left at this time as I still feel that Good Friday is the one day we do not take communion.
I would have liked to have gone to the Easter vigil on Easter Morning at St James but there is no public transport at that time. (unlike Anzac day when trains and buses are put on to transport us all to the Dawn Service starting at 4.30am). Easter Eucharist at St James has very special meaning for me with a great procession of crosses, banners and incense, singing "Jesus Christ is Risen Today".
In 2011 Easter Day was followed by Anzac day. In 2012 they were 2 weeks apart so I went to Sydney both years for both special times. This year there is nearly 4 weeks between so I am just going over to Oz for Anzac day.
I attended the Maundy Service at St John's. I find the stripping of the sanctuary and leaving the church in darkness very moving. I missed the music at St James.
On Good Friday I went to the 3 hour service at the Cathedral. The Dean reflected on 12 paintings with meditation and bible readings, mainly from Mark's narration of the Crucifixion. This was interspersed with 12 organ recitals.
Then on Easter Day I was able to drive to St John's for the morning Vigil and service of Light. We sat in darkness for an hour with bible readings by torch light and meditation. Again I missed themusic. I do not do quiet meditation very well, my mind wanders. However lighting the candle and then entering the lighted church was very moving.
Afterwards, I returned for Choral Eucharist and the opening responses of "Christ is Risen" and the singing of "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" meant I did not feel I was missing St James.
The whole liturgical experience from the Last Supper and darkening of the church on Thursday through the meditations on Friday and then lighting the candle and celebrating the Resurrection with Eucharist on Sunday has been a wonderful gift.
Oh and my sister has left me an Easter Bunny when she visited Dunedin 2 weeks ago
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