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18th May 2009
An Emmaus Walk
Cliff Harris has for the past 8 years organised, as the evening service at St. Paul's Bedford on the 2nd Sunday of Easter, an "Emmaus Walk".
The idea is to find 6 people within the congregation who have come through some "Easter type" experience during the previous year and then get each one to tell others in about 3 minutes something of their experience. (We are a congregation who are not used to giving personal testimonies and so this has become a way of enabling testimonies to be given in the church without anyone objecting!). As a Reader I remain aware of pastoral concerns and personal events amongst our congregation throughout the year and have therefore always been able to find 6 people with a "resurrection" type experience they are willing to share every year.
This year's six people were:
A new congregation member who had just moved on his own to Bedford who had found friendship in place of loneliness,
A member who had experienced a period of stress and anxiety and had now found peace,
A member who had come through a serious operation so moving from illness to health,
A member whose grandfather had been murdered during a break in to the grandparent's home and was now gradually finding comfort;
A member who had spent some time working in a school we support in Africa,
A member who had lost a younger member of her family and was moving through the period of grief.
The Service is very simple. The Gospel story tells us the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus was 7 miles -hence 6 "milestones" at which to rest on the way.
I arrange a route round the church, starting in our Trinity Chapel (in any other church this is the equivalent of a Lady Chapel) and ending at the High Altar rails (where we received Communion on Easter Sunday). I then rearrange the chairs to make the 6 resting places -like benches at each milestone - see Milestone attached which I print out on card and simply put in the relevant miles to Jerusalem and to Emmaus.
At each stopping place we listen to the story/testimony then to a relevant Old Testament reading say a prayer for the person who has told the story and others going through a similar experience and after a short silence walk slowly on to the next milestone. At the Altar Rails we read the last part of the Emmaus Road story, use the post communion prayer for Easter 3 as the basis for our prayers and then as we sing "Thine be the Glory" move back to the Trinity Chapel before going back out into the world. The whole service takes about one hour.
The Service Sheet for this year is attached