March 1998: Alone in the Crowd
The service sits between, and is linked to, the service about Lent and the Easter communion service. Its focus is about personal choice; whether to go with the crowd or to take the more difficult course of action - the narrow gate. In our preparation for Easter, we look at two occasions in which crowds were very important. Firstly the crowd in Jerusalem as Barrabas is freed, the same crowd who had welcomed Jesus so recently. Secondly we see Jesus alone in a crowd as his disciples sleep.
The service includes a section in which people make a short meditative journey. This section will be quite lengthy and similar in nature to the labyrinth in as much as people can lead themselves through at their own pace.
Running order (songs to be added later):
1. As people arrive there is a signpost near the door. At the front, at the end of the central aisle there is a ‘wide gate’ erected through which people will pass. Matthew 7 : 13 and 14 is displayed on the screen.
2. Images of loneliness (use slide and video) - an introduction to the theme which explores (briefly) the difference between solitude and loneliness and relates the service to both lent and Easter. Mark will refer back to the Shakertown pledge etc from the last service and explore the whole notion of making decisions and having decisions made for us.
3. Group identity - a psalm (to be decided)
4. In the crowd. Reading from Mark 11 followed by a meditation focussing on the crowd in Jerusalem.
5. Jesus alone in the crowd - reading from Jesus’ perspective at the Mount of Olives on the night of His betrayal. He was tempted to take the easy route, even more so perhaps than we discussed at the last service.
6. Guided meditation. There is the opportunity for everyone at the service to focus on the wide and narrow gates. The wide gate can be ‘adorned’ with words/pictures from magazines etc which are people’s views as to what is keeping them from entering through the narrow gate. Along the side aisle there will be lots of card footprints and displays of biblical text leading to the narrow gate through which is a chalice and some bread to symbolise the gifts of heaven.
This section of the service will need careful introduction to relate it to the rest of the service. This is not about people making life-changing decisions but about accepting that wherever we are in our relationship with God we often take the easy route when faced with decisions.
Key texts :
Mark 10:25 / Romans 8:17 and 18 / Matthew 16:24-26 / Matthew 6:19-23 / Matthew 10:21 / Matthew 5:48 / Matthew 5:8 and 9 / Matthew 7:13 and 14 / Matthew 5:3-6 / Matthew 5:10 and 11 / Matthew 6:25 / Matthew 6:33 / Matthew 6:24 / Matthew 5 43 and 44