Reconciliation


Our parish weekend, scheduled just after Easter, was going to be based on the theme of reconciliation, so we decided to use Good Friday as an opportunity to lay the foundations. Our priest told me about a conference he had recently attended on 'Faith in Conflict' at Coventry Cathedral, so I used prayers and images from the cathedral, alongside passages from St Luke's gospel (which we had been reading during Lent) as the basis for stories and activities.

Gathering


During this service we will be travelling round five different stations. Each station looks at a different aspect of the Good Friday story. The stations also use the symbols and images created in the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral after the bombing in the Second World War.

The process of clearing away the damaged cathedral and creating a new sacred space produced a rich artistic expression of reconciliation, and also a ministry to promote harmony in areas of conflict.

The image of the cross is at the heart of this ministry. Christs sacrifice on Good Friday is the gift which enables us to strive for peace, justice and reconciliation.

The Collect for Good Friday:


Eternal God, in the cross of Jesus we see the cost of our sin and the depth of your love: in humble hope and fear may we place at his feet all that we have and all that we are, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Hymn:

There is a green hill far away

Whilst we sing the hymn, the cross will be carried up the central aisle, and along the road to the high altar.

Starting our journey:


In a moment you will have the chance to travel round the five different stations. Choose a station to start at, and move on to another when the bell rings. You will have the chance to journey round all five.

As we set off we respond to God's call:

This is the wood of the cross, On which hung the Saviour of the world. Come, let us worship




Station 1: Christ is nailed to the cross



Bible passage:

Luke Chapter 23, verses 24 - 33

Theme:

Hope rises out of destruction

Setting the scene:

This station was beside the cross at the high altar. The pictures used were: Christ on the cross; Coventry cathedral ruins; the Coventry cross of nails. As well there were: hammers and nails on black cloth; bread and chalice on a red cloth.

Story:

The crowd was shouting out "Crucify him, crucify him," so Pilate passed the death sentence on Jesus, and handed him over to his accusers, to do as they wished with him. The soldiers led Jesus away. When they came to the place called "The Skull" they crucified Jesus there.

(Show picture of Christ on the cross)

I wonder how they felt as they heard the nails being banged in, and listened to the creak of the ropes as the cross was raised upright? Perhaps for the mother Mary and the disciples it seemed like all hope had gone.

One dark night in 1940, Coventry was bombed by the German air force. As the cathedral caught light, and flames blazed in the darkness, perhaps people felt that it was the end of everything.

Show picture of blaze/ruins

But when one of the priests was sifting through the burnt ruins he found some undamaged medieval nails, and made them into a cross. More nails were found, and they were made into crosses.

These crosses have been sent all over the world, as a symbol of the hope that rises out of destruction.


The cross on the high altar in the cathedral has a cross of nails at the centre.

Show picture of Coventry cross of nails

Activity:


I wonder if you would like to make your own cross out of nails?

You need:

nails, wire

Prayer:


I wonder if you would like to 'nail' a flower to the cross? If you like, you could write a prayer of hope on it.

You need:

board, cut-out cross, drawing pins, flower templates, pens


Station 2: Christ requests forgiveness



Bible passage:

Luke Chapter 23, verse 34

Theme:

Forgiveness brings inner peace

Setting the scene:

This station was in the side aisle in the children's corner. A cross made out of charred wood was placed on coloured cloth. The pictures used were: the face of the crucified Christ; Coventry ruins; sanctuary cross; a cross made out of burnt timbers with "Father forgive" written behind.

Story:

As Jesus hung on the cross, he must have been in more pain than we can possibly imagine.

Show picture of the face of crucified Christ

He didn't cry out in agony. He didn't shout that he was innocent. Instead, he said one of his amazing things something that turned everything upside down and inside out. He looked down at the soldiers who had nailed him up there. He cast his gaze over the crowd who had come to make sure that Pilate's death sentence was carried out.

Then he called out to God for them: "Father forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing."

In the middle of violence, hurt and hatred, he spoke words of forgiveness, love and peace.

Show picture of ruins


When Coventry Cathedral was bombed and burning on that dark night in 1940, two huge medieval beams crashed down from the roof to the floor.

The following morning, Jack Forbes, one of the cathedral stonemasons, climbed up what was left of the tower, and looked down on the ruins below. He saw something that amazed him. Those two huge beams had fallen down and landed in the shape of a cross.

Jack saw that cross as a sign from God of hope and resurrection. He knew that something good could rise out of the ashes. He tied the beams together and planted the cross into the ground.

Show the picture of the cross in the Coventry ruins

There is now a replica of that cross made from the burnt beams on the altar in the ruined cathedral .On the wall behind it are carved the words "Father forgive." I wonder how easy it is to forgive? Or to be forgiven?


Activity:


Here are two ideas artists had about the Lamb of God: Show pictures of Lamb of God

Jesus Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Jesus, Lamb of God, give us peace.



I wonder if you would like to wrap some sheep's wool round a stick?


As you are doing it, you could remember the words of the Lamb, calling out to God for us the words that have the power to change everything.

Prayer:

I wonder if you would like to put a white petal or feather by the image of the burnt timber cross as a symbol of hope and forgiveness leading to inner peace?

I wonder if there is someone you would like forgive, or something you would like to be forgiven for?

Station 3: Christ is mocked



Bible passage:

Luke Chapter 23, verse 34 - 38

Theme:

What kind of king? Jesus is mocked for being a servant king. How do we serve? How do we operate in heavenly terms whilst being of the world?

Setting the scene:

Jewelled crown on purple cloth/crown of thorns on red cloth, pile of clothes and dice; pictures of Christ on the cross and of the Czech cross.

Story:

The soldiers divided Jesus' clothes among themselves by throwing dice.

Roll the dice

The people stood there watching while the Jewish leaders jeered at him:

'He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Messiah whom God has chosen!' The soldiers also mocked him: they said 'Save yourself if you are the king of the Jews!' Above him were written these works: "This is the king of the Jews!"


Jesus turns everything upside down and inside out. He came as a king, but not the kind of king the people were expecting. They wanted a warrior to throw out the Roman army, and Jesus arrived riding on a donkey.

He didn't give out royal commands, but knelt down and washed the feet of his followers. People thought that a king who would dress up in fine robes, and sit on an ornate throne wearing a jewelled crown.

Show picture of Christ on the cross

But Jesus' earthly throne was the cross, his crown was made of thorns, and his clothes were divided up among gamblers.

The shouts of "Hosannah" became mocking jeers, but as he was humbled Jesus was raised higher than anyone could ever have expected.

Show the picture of the Czech Cross

This crucifix was given to Coventry by the Czech artist Jindrick Severa. He carved it at the start of the Second World War, very simply, in a Slovak peasant style.

He sent the crucifix to Coventry in 1968, to say thank you for the peace ministry which had grown after the Second World War.

It arrived just weeks before the Russian tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia, and many churches were closed for over 20 years.

Activity:


I wonder if you would like to tie some knots in a piece of string, to remember Jesus' suffering? You could tie some simple wooden beads onto the string, to remind you that he was a king who came to serve.

Prayer:


Sand tray with cross/crucifix in the middle.

Christ chose the cross as his throne he chose to die to save his people, rather than dress up in fine robes and sit on a jewelled throne.

You could place one of the people of God figures in the sand tray to represent yourself at the foot of the cross choosing to worship rather than mock; to serve rather than exert power over others.


Station 4: Christ offers grace and mercy to the penitent thief



Bible passage:

Luke Chapter 23, verse 34 - 38

Theme:

What kind of king? Jesus is mocked for being a servant king. How do we serve? How do we operate in heavenly terms whilst being of the world?

Setting the scene:

Chicken wire with handcuffs attached. Pictures of the three crosses and the Coventry reconciliation statue.

Story:


Two other men, both of them criminals, were also led out to be put to death with Jesus. The soldiers crucified Jesus and the two criminals, one on his right and one on his left. One of the criminals hanging there beside Jesus hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!'

The other one, however, rebuked him, saying, 'Don't you fear God? You received the same sentence he did. Ours, however, is only right, because we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but he has done no wrong.' And he said to Jesus, 'Remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus said to him 'I promise you today you will be with me in paradise.'


Jesus was tied up like a common criminal, but through his suffering, and death, he became the King of Heaven. His sacrifice opened the gates of heaven, so that all can go in.

Show picture of Coventry Cathedral reconciliation statue.

This is the statue of reconciliation in Coventry Cathedral. It shows two former enemies forgiving one another.

The statue is seen as a symbol of peace throughout the world, and there are replicas of the statue in Berlin, Northern Ireland and Hiroshima.

Show the picture of the sculpture of Christ crucified

This sculpture of "Christ Crucified" was made by Helen Huntingdon Jenning, from the remains of a crashed car, in which three people died. She called it: "The crucifixion of man by man in careless driving, as in war, are only redeemed by love."

I wonder what we can do to follow Christ's example of showing mercy and grace to offenders?

Activity:


I wonder if you would like to add a white stone to the pebbles, to symbolize Christ's mercy? I wonder what happens when we work together, and each play our small part?

Prayer:


I wonder if you would like to tie some red wool onto the rope to show Jesus transforming the bonds? His captivity and sacrifice paid the price for our freedom.


Station 5: Christ places himself in God's hands



Bible passage:


Luke Chapter 23, verse 44 - 46

Theme:


Committing self to God setting off on the paths of peace

Setting the scene:


The model of the temple on black cloth; pictures: Christ on the cross or Salvador Dali's Christ on Cross; Coventry baptistery window

Story:


Drop a black cloth and let it float to the ground

It was about twelve o'clock when the sun stopped shining, when darkness covered the whole country until three o'clock; and the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two.


Make a tearing gesture with your hands

Jesus cried out in a loud voice: "Father! Into your hands I commit my spirit!" He said this and died.

I wonder how we can follow Jesus' example of committing ourselves to God? Where will the paths of peace lead us?

Show picture of Coventry Cathedral baptistery window

The artist John Piper designed the window in the baptistery at Coventry Cathedral to show 'the light of truth breaking through darkness and confusion.' The rising sun shines through 200 glass panels and sheds light onto the font below.


Activity:

I wonder if you would like to tear some strips black paper and glue them onto the yellow card to think about Christ's death on the cross?

Then, perhaps you would like to glue some coloured paper onto the black card to think about a way forward committed to God.

Prayer:

I wonder if you would like to find your way through a finger labyrinth?

When we set off towards God, we don't know where we are going to end up! Jesus laid out the paths of peace for us to follow.

Re-gathering/sending out:



On Christmas day in 1940, Provost Howard made a national radio broadcast from the ruins of Coventry cathedral. He declared that when the war was over he would work with those who had been enemies 'to build a kinder, more Christ-child-like world.'


As we sing the hymn 'The servant king', the Christ Child from the nativity set will be carried up the aisle and placed by the font.

As you go out, you might like to pause, and think about the way we can carry the love of the crucified Christ and the Christ-child out to the world.

Hymn:

The servant king


Coventry Litany of Reconciliation:


After the bombing of the mediaeval Cathedral in 1940, Provost Howard had the words 'Father Forgive' inscribed on the wall behind the altar of the ruined building. These words are used as the response in the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation, which is prayed in the ruins every Friday at noon, and is used throughout the world by the Community of the Cross of Nails.

We finished the service by saying the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation.

How well did it work?


I was doubtful at first how people would feel about being told when to move on as they are more used to moving freely around prayer stations. However in practice this worked very well.

There was some constraint on time but people came back during the quiet hour to finish off things they had begun.

People of all ages made positive comments about how moving they found it. Everyone now wants to go to Coventry!

If I did it again I would have a designated toddler area with play activities so they didn't have to keep moving around.

Victoria


(with thanks to Lesley Mackie, Adrian Layer, Mary Allwood, Rosalind Moir, Nick Moir and Sarah Douglas)