Yesterday (Good Friday, 2014) I joined many other local Christians of different denominations in the annual Good Friday ‘procession of witness’ through our village. This begins with a 20 minute service at the Roman Catholic Church; the congregation, of maybe one hundred, then silently moves on in double file, with someone carrying a large wooden cross at the front, to the Anglican Church, where another short service takes place. And finally, the procession snakes its way back through the village to the Methodist Church, where another 20 minute service ends the morning. During the outdoor processing, the traffic is seriously held up on two occasions and it would be difficult for anyone in, or passing through, the village, not to notice it. Of course, behind the procession is an unspoken announcement ‘we Christians are still here in this village, and we want to remind you what this day is really about!’
So far so good. But the one thing at such events which bothers me is the fact that throughout the morning, not a word of prayer was spoken which wasn’t read out from printed sheets. This is so typical of the big denominations of course, but I always wonder… is this really prayer? And if these words are prayers, how can I make them my own too? Someone once said that we shouldn’t ‘say’ prayers, but ‘pray’ them. This seems so true for the individual; but how can we apply this principle to large, corporate services? And would it really always be more meaningful if the person leading the service prayed in an extemporary fashion?
I don’t have any clever answers to such questions. Maybe you do and would like to post a reply here? But the most important thing to remember is this; whatever type of service you take part in over the next couple of days, and however you understand prayer in such situations, have no doubt that Christ is Risen! Have a blessed and joyous Easter!