Making more of Easter
Two Cardiff based brothers are throwing down a gauntlet to church leaders in Wales' capital city and their challenge is very simple: make more of Easter this year. While churches celebrate Advent and Christmas to great effect, communicating the story creatively and widely, Easter often passes quietly. Blink and you'll miss it.
So the Harris boys have come up with a smorgasbord of projects from which are good to go. Jonathan, who works for Operation Mobilisation, thinks it's high time that churches learnt the art of telling the greatest story ever told. "We all love Christmas and it's great the way churches engage with their communities at that time of the year. But it should be no different at Easter time. It seems to me that as Christians we have the best tunes and songs in praise of resurrection hope, but no one apart from churchgoers know the words. This is our moment to spread the joy that's ours in Jesus."
And there are plenty of ways in which the joy will be spread. Eye catching initiatives include church leaders offering free shoe shining on Maundy Thursday and a photography exhibition giving modern versions of ancient paintings.
There will be interesting collaborations between local churches and some of the city's evangelists. These will be particularly seen in a presentation called 24. This will go into five of Cardiff's secondary schools and is an account of the last 24 hours in Jesus' life. Based on the popular and dramatic 24 series, the presentation traces the timeline and key episodes building up to Jesus' death.
A dramatic version of Mark's gospel will also be performed in two of the city's churches. Members of Rhiwbina Baptist Church and St Mark's Church in Wales are joining forces to stage a production over several nights. Produced by Andrew Page, the author of the Mark drama, the audience will be taken through the life, teaching, miracles, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - and all in 90 minutes.
After only three rehearsals the makeshift theatrical troupe will enact the good news on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 April. All the interior space is utilised. Through special chair layouts, the whole church becomes the stage and the audience part of the crowd witnessing the rise and fall and rising again of Jesus.
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Jonathan's brother Steve is equally effusive about this project. In addition to being part of the pastoral team at the City Temple, he also edits the Net Cardiff, a news and information website for the city. "These ideas and events will be available to anyone with internet access. By visiting the site not only will people find out what's happening and where but we hope they will be inspired to do something in their own locality," he said.
One of the more ambitious projects involves the production of a cardboard testimonies video. Twelve people drawn from a range of churches have been selected to share their faith stories silently. Using one side of a piece of cardboard to describe the nature of their problem and the other to show how Jesus met them, they become powerful and mute witnesses to to the Easter miracle.
Steve said: "You can find lots of these cardboard testimonies on YouTube but we want to produce something for Cardiff local churches can use. It will be posted online and we hope it will go viral across the city."
Another dynamic event will be a planned choir flash mob on Easter Eve, Saturday 19 April. But that's being kept under wraps at the moment.