Easter weekend began with our Good Friday worship which was led by Major Karen Smith
Beginning with words from Isaiah 53:3-6 she continued with the song ‘Here is love, vast as the ocean’ and prayer:
- Open our eyes Lord to your suffering.
- Open our eyes Lord to your sacrifice,
- Open our eyes Lord to your love
Major Karen introduced her theme of the words spoken by Jesus whilst on the cross and invited the congregation to join in the song ‘O sacred head once wounded’. Scripture including each word (or group of words) was read and after each she spoke for a few moments highlighting the message she felt appropriate for this occasion. The words and extracts from scripture are as follows:
1st Word – Luke 23:34 – Father Forgive – “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”
2nd Word – Luke 23:39-43 – Paradise – One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. ”Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
3rd Word – John 19:26-27 – His mother Mary – When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[a] here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
4th Word – Matthew 27:45-46 – Forsaken – From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
5th Word – John 19:28-29 – I thirst – Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.
6th Word – John 19:30 – It is finished – When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
7th Word – Luke 23:44-46 – Into your hands – It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
After the second word the Singing Company sang ‘All I know’. After the third word the congregation sang ‘My Lord, what love is this’ and after the fifth word a video was shown featuring the song ‘Above all powers’.
Some final words and two further songs, ‘You laid aside your majesty’ and ‘There is a green hill far away’ concluded the worship.
Following the meeting the Band and a number of other Salvationists joined with members from other Medway churches to march through the town proclaiming the Easter message in word and song. Sadly the weather was most inclement which clearly affected the number of people witnessing. Those who were present got very wet indeed (and cold) but this was nothing compared with the suffering of Jesus on the cross. No pictures are available this year.
Sunday began with breakfast at the hall followed by the Easter Day celebration led by Major Nigel Schultz.
In order not to interfere with the flow of the worship reference was made to the fact that this was the last meeting to be led by Major Nigel at Chatham as he and Major Judy (who was leading her final meeting at Strood yesterday morning) will be moving to take charge of the Sittingbourne Salvation Army church next month.
On behalf of the corps Corps Sergeant Major Tim Scott spoke words of thanks for their ministry of the last two years and wished them well in their new appointment. As Major Nigel makes it well known that he likes his tea made in a teapot (no dunking of tea bags in the cup please) a small personal pot was presented to him by Major Karen in case the kitchen at Sittingbourne does not have a suitable item. Major Nigel responded briefly and commissioned Penny Clay as Cameo Treasurer before commencing the worship.
‘Christ the Lord is risen today’ was, not surprisingly, chosen to begin the worship followed by the chorus ‘He is Lord. he is Lord, he is risen from the dead and he is Lord’. After a time of prayer and an introduction, scripture was read from Matthew 28:1-10 and the Singing Company (children’s choir) sang ‘He has risen’.
Before the children enjoyed an Easter egg hunt (as a number of such were hidden in the body of the hall) Major Nigel asked a group of them which of three different sized Easter eggs they would like. Naturally the largest was chosen and it was immediately put on the floor and stamped upon. All the chocolate was now in broken pieces and he used this as an illustration that Jesus was broken on the cross. However, there was still chocolate and there was still Jesus and both were available to enjoy.
The song ‘O joyful sound (He lives)’ continued the celebration and further scripture was read from 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 before the Songsters (adult choir) brought ‘Shout with joy!’. Major Nigel delivered his message saying (summarised):
What a wonderful message the Easter message is. This is a day of transformation because God changed the direction of the world. The power of the resurrection is central to our faith
However, the key word we should understand is ‘belief’, belief in the power of God who raised Jesus from the tomb. In these modern times our belief is constantly challenged. Not everyone believes what we believe but we must not allow our beliefs to be weakened. We must have a belief system and the two major Christian creeds are helpful in forming these. Despite this it is interesting that the Salvation Army Doctrines don’t actually mention the resurrection of Jesus. Death, yes, but resurrection, no.
We can believe many things in life but all of them will fail. Only our belief in the power of the resurrection will never fail us.
Matthew has the most positive account of the resurrection to be found in scripture. The statement ‘He is Risen’ and the part played by the angel are both very positive. The women who carried the news were also positive. In fact their words form the most positive part of the account.
If we see something in social media three times we assume it is accurate (perhaps wrongly) and in our account the belief system is challenged three times before it is wholly accepted as a certainty. Today we experience so much fake news which may contribute to our own lack of faith but despite this the resurrection of Jesus is central to the christian’s beliefs. We must experience this in our hearts.
Where do you sit with this today? Stop doubting and believe!
The chorus ‘Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me’ gave time for thought and some knelt at the Mercy Seat in re-dedication whilst the great hymn ‘In Christ alone’ concluded the worship and Majors Nigel and Judy’s platform ministry at Chatham.
Major Karen Smith will now be concentrating her ministry in Strood until her departure to Hastings in July. Chatham will be principally in the hands of the local officers until Major Ian Payne arrives to take charge in May. During this time Major Karen will be available to Chatham should matters arise which can only be dealt with by an officer. We pray for God’s guidance and control during this time of change.
Thank you for reading this website. God bless you and have a great week.