Monday, 17 January 2022

Meaning of Easter requires whole story

VERY often when flying into or out of Heathrow Airport, we get a fleeting glimpse of

VERY often when flying into or out of Heathrow Airport, we get a fleeting glimpse of London from a view that is difficult to experience by any other means.

We see something that we wish we could stay with and look at more closely but, of course, as soon as we see something, we have frustratingly moved on to something else which also catches our attention.

We had an experience recently that overcame this. For a present, our son gave us a day out which included a trip up the Shard, near London Bridge station.High-speed lifts took us in two stages to the 68th floor and a further four floors can be climbed on foot to a height of 800ft (244m). So high is the building that at 1,016ft (309.6m) the very top encroaches into air space.

And, of course, you do then have time to see London “from the air”, to see what is happening on the roads, on the railways and on the river. Not only can you see the view of London as it is now but using the interactive telescopes you can see London as it was in Roman times and several other ages since then and how the city has developed over the centuries. So many familiar landmarks can now be seen from a totally different perspective. If you look straight down you get a bird’s eye view of the roof of Southwark Cathedral.

In the middle distance you see St Paul’s Cathedral and get an impression of how it stands above the buildings around it and further along the Thames you can see Westminster Abbey.

As it turned out, there was a rehearsal taking place in Southwark Cathedral for a concert that evening, so going in and listening to the choir and to the organ finished off a memorable visit.

As an occasional organist at our village church, I take great pleasure in hearing big organs being played in large cathedrals, knowing that my playing and our organ both have their limitations.

To compensate for this, I am building up a collection of CDs of organ and choir music every time I visit a cathedral both in this country and abroad. The organ can change the ambience of worship by the way it is played. I am writing this on Maundy Thursday, thinking about the music for Good Friday which will have a solemn nature but mindful of the fact that when you read this the Easter Sunday celebrations will have come and gone.

If people go to church only on the Sundays, then they will experience the jubilation that was aroused by Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the glory and resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday and the uncertainty and then excitement of the disciples at seeing Jesus again on the following Sunday. If they haven’t been to church between those Sundays, they won’t experience the story of the Last Supper and the events of the crucifixion. This is why very often the whole passion story is read on Palm Sunday.

Just as with seeing the full story of the history of London from the top of the Shard, so hearing the whole story of the events in Jerusalem all those centuries ago is important for us to experience the whole meaning of the Easter story, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We need every part of the story to be able to appreciate the meaning of what we have experienced at Easter.

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