Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday... not really a day for blogging, but  I had promised myself  a London day, and describing our crowded London with people teeming along the wide walkways by the river in brilliant Spring sunshine under a blue sky is irresistible...

Good Friday began for me in Soho (oh, all right, it began  at home in the suburbs with a mug of tea and hot cross bun, and then a bus/tube journey to Soho). We prayed the Stations of the Cross around the streets, led by Fr Alexander Sherbrook and a team of young people carrying a large wooden cross. We gave out holy cards and medals to anyone we met. Most said "thank you", a few refused the gift, one nice girl offered a donation, one chap wanted to know the way to the Catholic Church, another quietly joined our group and knelt in the street with us to pray.

When handing out the cards, I tend to say just "It's Good Friday - here's your holy card", but sometimes when there are a lot of people it's quicker just to say "Good Friday"  and a couple of people said pleasantly "Er...hope you have a good Friday too"...

The last Station was in the church itself, where we pondered the Lord's body being laid in the sepulchre. The church was bleak, all the statues and pictures swathed in purple cloth for this Holy Week, the young voices solemn as they prayed together.

Then on to Trafalgar Square. A couple of weeks ago I had a most useful meeting with the wonderful Wintershall team who produce the beautiful outdoor Life of Christ each summer, the Nativity in winter....and for the past six years  a magnificent Passion Play in one of the most public places in the world. We were able to give them a modest donation from Christian Projects and they urged me to attend the Play and said they'd reserve a place on the Square's steps, where various guests are always accomodated in modest discomfort but with a chance to talk to one another afterwards and establish contact. I wasn't in time to take up the offer of a place on the steps - but it is in any case much more interestng simply to squeeze into the vast crowd that fills the Square and all the areas around...The Passion Play is superb, powerful and moving, beginning with Christ arriving to shouts and the waving of massive green branches by a Jerusalem crowd, and incorporating some healing miracles and some preaching (Beatitudes) and moving on through a Last Supper scene, and then the trial and crucifixion, gripping and realistic (they put a warning up on the screen to alert parents)...and on to the Resurrection.

It's all magnificently done: giant screen, superb sound, Christ portrayed by a fine actor with a good voice, Pontius Pilate arriving on a splendid horse and talking with a no-nonsense-let's-just-cope-with-this-spot-of-bother-with-the-natives heartiness that moves into awkward and embarrassed hopelessness in the face of the mob.

At the end Cardinal Vincent Nichols led us all in the Lord's Prayer. It is something to stand in your capital city with a vast crowd praying that prayer aloud together.

I finished Good Friday by catching a number 15 bus along the Strand and up Ludgate Hill, and then crossed by the "wobbly bridge" to the 3pm service at The Borough. On entering the church I was struck by  its silence after the noisy Borough Market and surrounding streets. Then,silently and completely, it filled up - every pew - and we were a great crowd listening to the account of the Passion and forming long lines to venerate the Cross...we sang "When I survey" and  the church's huge cruciifix was hauled back up into its place behind the high altar...and after the final prayers and blessing we poured out into the street...and my London Good Friday was over and I walked slowly back along the river...


Malcolm said...

I wrote a passion play.
It's designed for school performance and presents the crucifixion in a ritualised way, and it ends with a resurrection scene.

It's available for free

Or search for "Jesus the King" by Malcolm McLean.

grams ramblings said...

You do get about Joanna. Love the giving out of Holy Cards "Good Friday"