Holy Week Cross is
front page news
It was Good Friday morning in McDonald’s. A dozen of us sat inside with a warm coffee while two of the team had volunteered to miss the drink and stand outside holding up the 11ft tall cross facing the drive- through customers.
The two men hadn’t met each other until today. While the rest of us sipped away I noticed through the window that they seemed to be hitting it off. Break over I went out to them “You two seem to be getting along well out here”. “Yes,” they said, “we have something in common…. we were both in the same prison – at different times.” One was a local church member, and the other had become a Christian in prison and only released three weeks earlier. They both smiled and quipped “Look at us…. the two thieves either side of the cross!” This was the power of the cross drawing people together which we saw in a new way on a daily basis in our city this Easter time.
The city of Stoke-on-Trent comprises 6 historic towns. We don’t have an official Churches Together for the city though there are smaller gatherings of local leaders spread around the towns. But this Easter time for 6 days from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, a unique cross brought our city churches together in public witness at Easter for the first time for many years. The cross made up of sad front page stories over the past 12 months from our local newspaper, appropriately called “The Sentinel”, was walked each morning from one town to another until the whole City had been circled. Each day it was passed from one group of Christians to another, like a baton in a relay - and like a magnet drawing iron filings, it drew together Christians of different ages, backgrounds and denominations – Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal. Together we felt bold and strong, and proud to be seen as followers of Christ.
The cross was walked, stood, and prayed beside, outside shops, schools, homes and business parks and then stood in each town for a short noon service followed by afternoon witness. People were invited to cover up the sad stories of violence and crime with daffodils representing the love, prayers, hopes and dreams of the people, for the people, of our city and symbolising the transformative power of the resurrected Jesus who took all our bad news stories upon himself and covered them with his love.
Three years ago the cross stood in one town. Two years ago it stood in three towns and was walked by 6 people. This year it stood in all 6 towns on 6 days and was walked and carried the 20 or so miles between all 6 towns by 60 people. Next year is already being advertised and it won’t surprise me if 600 are involved in the walking never mind the gatherings.
This year we walked in heavy rain at some stage most days! Like Gene Kelly we found ourselves singing and dancing in it; it seemed the rain was prophetic of the spiritual soaking that Christians have been praying for over our city for many years. Could it be that God is preparing to answer those prayers sooner rather than later? Are we ready?
See the walk on YouTube:
Captain Frank McGregor, Church Army. Tel:07952318685
Parish Creative Missioner with the Hanley Team Ministry, Stoke-on-Trent.