United Church of Canada

Aylesford Pastoral Charge

 

AYLESFORD PASTORAL CHARGE

 

 

Aylesford United Church

PO Box 180, 2414 Highway 1,

Aylesford, N.S.  B0P 1C0

aylesfordunitedchurch@gmail.com

902-847-9624

 

 

 

 

Dear friends in Christ:

 

As many of you know, I have just returned from a ten-day trip to Israel   Among the things that our group was able to do was follow the probable route that Jesus took for his entry into Jerusalem on what Christian tradition knows as Palm Sunday.  We walked down from the top of the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley, and up to the Temple Mount.  In the city itself we were actually walking about twelve metres above the road that Jesus walked because Jerusalem has been rebuilt many times, the next city on the ruins of the last.

 

We also followed the Via Dolorosa, the “sorrowful way” of the cross, marked by the twelve stations of the cross.  Many of these stations are in the Arab market, the Souk.  This loud, crowded, jostling environment must be very similar to what Jesus experienced as he made his way to the place of crucifixion.

 

At the heart of Christian devotion is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the reputed site of Jesus’ empty tomb.  The tomb is housed in an edicule, a marble structure recently renovated.  You can go inside and view, not the place where Jesus’ body was laid, but a marble slab that protects it.  Ascend a few flights of stairs and you come to the Altar of the Crucifixion, supposedly built atop the selfsame hill where Jesus died.  There is even a hole through which you can reach to touch the rocky hilltop.

 

 A lot of people would argue that these “holy places” are pious inventions but the fact remains that Christians began building churches here as soon as the Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Toleration allowed them to have their own places of worship early in the fourth century.

We can reasonably assume that the faithful had been coming to pray where Jesus died and was buried a long time before that.

 

They are still coming.  You have to get to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre early in the morning if you don’t want to wait half a day in line.  Thanks to our Israeli guide, we were there

for the 7:45 am opening time and waited only about twenty minutes.  As we were ready to leave, the church was already full of people weeping, praying and singing in multiple languages.

 

What was my reaction to all of this?  I was certainly impressed by the devotion evident all around me and I knew that the emotional reactions of several people in our group were

undoubtedly genuine.  Nonetheless, the words of the angel to the women who visited the tomb on the morning of the third kept echoing in my mind: “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.  He is risen; he is not here.”

 

At Easter, we celebrate the reality that Jesus is not bound by death.  He is not confined

to any place, however holy.  He is as alive and real for us as he was for those who knew him twenty centuries ago.  We don’t have to go to the Holy Land to walk where Jesus walked because he walks with us right now.

 

If I had to name the holiest site I visited in Israel it would be Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, sacred to the memory of the more than six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis during World War II.  Jesus is always to be found where the need is greatest, where people suffer and die, where hate rules.  On the cross, he takes this unbearable weight on himself and, rising from the dead, he shows us that we do not have to be crushed by it.  He wants to lead us along the paths of healing to a world which rejects all that made the Holocaust and the other atrocities of history possible.   We are not there yet but the risen Christ goes before us, calling us to follow.

 

My friends, I hope you will find grace to truly enter into this holy season and be blessed.

 

(Rev.) John Moses

 

 

 

                                   HOLY WEEK AND EASTER SERVICES

 

Palm Sunday, April 9, at 10:30 am

 

Maundy Thursday, Seder Meal, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt and Jesus’

“last supper” with his disciples,  April 13, 6:00 pm.

 

Good Friday Service, April 14, 10:30 am  

 

Easter Sunrise Service at the French Cross in Morden, April 16, 6:30 am

(Followed by breakfast in the Morden hall.)

 

Easter Celebration Service with communion, 10:30 am.