For those of us that stay for most of the evening while the Good Friday labyrinth is open there is something beautiful about the changes that take place as night falls and the ambient light drops leaving just the candle-lit pathway and glowing stops along the way. My thanks to all the members of the Magnification Action Group and for those others roped in to help set up (and clear up) last night's Good Friday labyrinth.
The labyrinth took travellers on a journey from Palm Sunday to the foot of the cross as we bore witness to Jesus' final week and hours. I got a chance, which sometimes does not happen, to travel around the labyrinth myself and appreciated that opportunity. Despite having been so involved in the preparation of the labyrinth, it is wonderful how you completely change gears once you start travelling along the pathway and enter a time of worship.
I have been thinking a lot about the labyrinth, however, since getting home. [There's more...]
As some of you may know, I was a chorister in a cathedral choir as a boy and there would sometimes be nights at Evensong when the whole choir of some 30 odd men and boys was singing to the glory of God with perhaps three other people in the congregation. It was drilled in to us that we were there to worship God whether or not anyone else was there. And I think even in those young years I appreciated that at the time. It was a privileged position to be in to be able to worship God each night. We did it for God alone, it removed any sense of "performance for the audience" as often there was no audience but God.
It was, I suppose, a vicarious offering of worship and in that sense quite pre-Reformation - we worshipped God for the sake of the rest of the city. Even if no one else was there, we were there to sing God's praises.
Over the last years that the Magnification Action Group has been creating labyrinth worship experiences for Good Friday we have had more people come along each year, but last night by comparison only a handful of folks took advantage of the opportunity to bear witness to Christ's final hours through the labyrinth. The many hours of preparation doesn't change depending on how many people come along, so I felt for the rest of the Magnification team who had worked so hard in creating a moving and challenging experience within a deeply peaceful atmosphere. I have had the experience of spending hours in preparation for a time of worship to find that not a single soul comes to join you, and I have felt my childhood training kick in: I should just continue anyway.
That is not the purpose of the Magnification Action Group, however. The group's purpose is not to worship God on behalf of the rest of the people. The purpose of the group is to create ways for people to experience worship and God's presence, to explore different approaches to worship and to encourage people to think about worship and to expand our thoughts on worship. For worship is more than an hour on a Sunday morning, important though that communal time of worship together is for a congregation.
I am sure the group members of the Magnification Action Group would appreciate any feedback so that they know whether or not to continue with different worship experiences like the labyrinth. So please, let us know what you think, either personally by having a chat with one of the team or you can comment on here.