Holy Week marked with poppies and shoeshine

17 April 2014

Phill Hopkins

Redeemed: Easter (Gas Variations) is on show at St George's, Leeds, throughout Holy Week. The artist, Phill Hopkins, created it from cardboard that had been sat on by people begging in the street. "Cardboard is certainly not gold, frankincense, or myrrh. It is worth-less, but the people who beg, and use it as insulation from thecold, imbue it with value," he said

Redeemed: Easter (Gas Variations) is on show at St George's, Leeds, throughout Holy Week. The artist, Phill Hopkins, created it from cardboard ...

FROM Passion-inspired artwork set in 12 shipping containers across the north-east of England to 500 new poppy fields in Devon, the closing days of Lent are being observed in a variety of ways around the country.

The Queen, or her representative, visits a cathedral or large church on Maundy Thursday every year, with the members of the Royal Almonry - including the Lord High Almoner, at present the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge - to present specially minted coins to men and women aged 70 or above. Today, she and the Duke of Edinburgh will visit Blackburn Cathedral to continue the custom, which originated in the 13th century, when the reigning monarch would give food and gifts to the poor, and wash their feet.

It will be the Queen's first visit to Blackburn Cathedral; and to mark the occasion the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery has opened an exhibition of the special coins, some dating back to Queen Victoria's reign. It includes examples of Maundy Money given to local people over the years.

In a variation on the custom of foot-washing, the Dean of Manchester, the Very Revd Rogers Govender, will today polish the shoes of shoppers at the Arndale shopping centre in the town.

An ambitious BBC production, The Great North Passion, consists of 12 art installations in shipping containers placed across Northumberland, Middlesbrough, Tyneside, Gateshead, and Sunderland. On Good Friday, thousands will gather in Bents Park, South Shields, for a re-telling of the story of the Passion, involving local dancers, singers, and graffiti artists. The shipping containers will then be joined together with others to form a giant cross.

A similarly grand Lenten project has been unfolding in the diocese of Exeter, where 500 churches and church schools have been sent poppy seeds. These will be planted to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. The seeds come from the village of Northlew, which lost a greater proportion of its male population during the War than anywhere else in Britain.

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The Bishop of Crediton, the Rt Revd Nick McKinnel, said: "Filling our churchyards and church schools with poppies this year is a fitting way of marking the centenary of World War One."

The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, is to officiate at an interdenominational baptism service outside York Minster on Holy Saturday. The Archbishop and other church leaders will baptise 13 people from churches in the area by full immersion in tank of water.

"If you want to be baptised into Christ's death and resurrection, and haven't been [baptised] before, come along to the Minster on Holy Saturday," Dr Sentamu said. "All are invited - bring a towel, and take your step forward in faith."

The Church of England has launched its own Easter campaign on Twitter, asking users to tweet messages beginning #EasterMeans, to say what Easter means to them.A number of bishops will alsocontribute their own #EasterMeans messages.

The campaign follows on from the successful #ChristmasMeans initiative which a C of E spokesman said reached some four million people over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day last year.

Another Passion play will take place twice on Good Friday - at noon and again at 3.15 p. m. - in the shadow of Nelson's Column, in Trafalgar Square, in London. Together with doves, donkeys, and horses, the Wintershall Players, a group of volunteer dramatists from across London and the south-east will perform a play, The Life of Jesus.

Peter Hutley, the owner of the Wintershall estate where the company is based, said: "The two performances of Jesus's Passion in the centre of London, in such an historic venue, [will] bring theBible story to life in a creative way, and Jesus to the hearts of the enormous crowds on a very special day. They will discover the real reason for Good Friday, and that it is not just another Bank Holiday."

Also looking beyond bunnies and chocolate is the Anglican charity Us., formerly known as USPG It has been encouraging churches during Lent to study the Communion's Five Marks of Mission, drawing inspiration from the Anglican Church in Burma.

Us. is also asking for donations to its Lent appeal, which will support the Burmese Church in health- outreach programmes. Funded by Us., the Church has trained 80 rural health workers in one diocesealone, to travel to isolated villages, and provide health advice and basic treatment.

www.weareus.org.uk/lent

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