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Ashes to Easter: poems, prayers & community activities

Letting go & embracing new life where we find it

You can download these readings as a printable pdf here.

Across Christian traditions, Lent is the season of reflection and preparation in the weeks leading up to Easter and its celebration of new life. Depending on your story, Lent might not be on your radar, it might be about giving up chocolate for a few weeks, or it may play/ have played a significant part in your spiritual practice. As we head toward another Easter physically apart, this Lenten season it feels important for us to explore Lent as a time of ‘letting go’ of what weighs us down as we embrace the strength and dignity that comes from being fully included and loved by God … whatever our stories.

You might want to download this Lent Calendar written by IGB folks for Red Letter Christians UK. It’s filled with daily readings and activities, between Ash Wednesday and Easter.

Glitter+Ash Wednesday

As Lent begins with Ash Wednesday (17th February, some of us will be missing the annual practice of receiving a cross of palm ash as a blessing on our foreheads. This year, we remember Ash Wednesday by posting these special stones marked with Glitter+Ash. You can read more about this practice here and find a Glitter+Ash Prayer.

Palm Sunday (28th March 2021)

10-11 AM- Palm Sunday Prayer & Meditation Walk

4pm – Palm Sunday Gathering on Facebook Live & YouTube with 5:15 Zoom. We will be joined by Jewish Feminist New Testament Scholar Dr Amy-Jill Levine discussing the Passion of Jesus in historical context.

Each triumphal entry

holds within it the possibility of crucifixion.

In each joy of our lives,

we are aware of the possibility of pain.

Blowing out the candles of our birthday cake,

we realise we are getting older.

As we hold a newborn grandchild,

our delight is deepened

as we ponder how generations come and go.

A pang of grief in the middle of a wedding

reminds us of those no longer with us.

Loading up the removal truck,

we leave behind many memories

even as we look forward to settling in our new home.

In the richness and complexity of our experience,

we remember Jesus, rooted and grounded in love

through both triumphal procession and way of sorrow.

Fiona McDougal

Maundy Thursday (1 April 2021)

God, we gather as an Easter people with resurrection approaching.

We remember, Jesus, that you stepped into death, oppression, and hopelessness, thereby giving us hope, liberation, and full life both now and forever.

But first, we must not bypass the Cross: your murder by the state and religious authorities, forever connecting you to radical martyrs, to people who speak truth to power, and to victims of fear and hate-driven violence. We acknowledge, Jesus, that your cross is not unlike the lynching tree, the refugee camp caused by genocides and holy wars, the terror inflicted at the hands of white supremacy, the abuse or threat of abuse felt by women the world over.

We can trust you as our Light because you have been with us in the most extreme darkness. Your entrance was less triumphal than a world-made-for-war had hoped. But that is because you came to make us more than conquerors; you chose to showcase a world where love wins and no one has to be destroyed. You rode a humble colt, waved onward by a parade of peasants’ palms. You were the people’s King, turning power on its head and debunking the systems that forget the poor, that damage whole groups of God’s image-bearers. Thank you for coming in ways we least expect. Give us eyes to see how you enter our world today.

Britney Winn Lee

Good Friday (2 April 2021)

On Good Friday, we consider the dissonance of this night of pain and loss being called ‘good’ (Mark 15:21-41). Remember, love conquers death. And there is nothing, NOTHING that separates you from the love of God.

7:30pm – Pause: An Evening of Worship & Reflection on Facebook Live & YouTube

God of the sealed tomb,

we cannot bear to leave

your dead and buried body.

But you send us away

to mark the long night

of our mourning without you.

You lie in death alone,

beyond the bounds of our feeble knowing.

Numbed by our grief and sorrow,

we cannot interpret you:

you have gone far from us,

down into darkness,

deep into death.

In your great love,

wait for us where we grieve in the darkness,

till we return to the grave to find you,

risen, released in the night.

Nicola Slee

Holy Saturday (3 April 2021)

2pm – Unorthodox Easter Walk

5:30-8pm – Community Meal on Zoom

On Holy Saturday (Matthew 27:57-66) we will be cooking and eating a simple meal together online. As part of this meal, we will light a candle together to remember the importance of hospitality. We long for the day we can sit together around the table.

God of life and death,

God of all the worlds that are,

God of dazzling darkness.

We wait for you in the darkness of this night.

Come to us in our troubles,

come to us in our grieving,

come to us in our fear.

By the fire of your love

may our hearts be warmed,

our voices unfrozen,

our stories opened,

our hopes stirred.

Amen.

Easter Sunday (4 April) 2021

9-9:30 AM – Morning Prayer & Reflection on Zoom

4pm – Easter Worship Gathering on Facebook Live & YouTube with 5:15 Zoom

This afternoon, take some time to plant Wildflower seeds as a celebration of life (John 11:25-26). If you received seeds as part of our Lent packs, you can use them. If not any will do.

God of all our growing,

take our roots down deep

in the long, dark winter season

of our grief.

Nurture the resurrection life in us,

in the secret places of the soil,

in the barren, frozen earth, underground,

where no eye can see.

Send your Spirit where the cold season rage

and speak to us the promise of spring.

Nicola Slee
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