A huge thank-you to everybody who contributed to the prayer journey, from making the prayer stations, to hosting visitors, to visiting yourself and adding to the stations. It has been a great pleasure to watch the stations change through Lent, and taking them down made Good Friday seem even more bare than usual. The stations were:
The Burning Bush: We remembered God’s call to Moses and were invited to take off our own shoes as we entered a holy space. There were baskets of flame-coloured materials and we were asked to choose something to represent our own encounter with God and tie it to the bush. As more pilgrims came, the fire seemed to grow.
Slavery: We remembered the people of Israel in slavery in Egypt and slavery around the world today. Many people found the stories of modern slavery disturbing. God heard the cries of his people in Egypt and hears the cries of today’s slaves. We were invited to break a link from the paper chain and ask God to set us free from whatever enslaves us.
The Plagues: When Pharaoh refused to release the people of Israel, Egypt was struck by a series of devastating plagues. The stories of ten Christian martyrs from the 20th century were used to help us think about ways faith can be tested. We were asked to write our initials on a piece of paper and place it in a basket as a symbol of placing our lives into the loving hands of God.
The Passover: On the night that the firstborn males in Egypt were killed, the people of Israel marked their doors with blood and the Angel of Death passed over their homes. While they sat safely inside, the final plague struck Egypt. There were materials that provoked us to think about the things that are happening in the wider world today, outside the safety of our green and pleasant corner of England.
The Red Sea: When the people of Israel fled across the Red Sea, they carried a lot with them, including enough gold to make the golden calf and also to decorate items for the tabernacle. We were invited to think about the things that weigh us down, write them on a wrapped potato, carry our ‘burdens’ through the Red Sea, and then hand them over to God. People asked to be freed from things such as greed, housework, fear, school pressure, jealousy, depression, and bad memories.
The Oasis at Elim: It was a great relief to reach this place of relaxation and refreshment. The people of Israel celebrated in song and rested. We could rest on the sun-lounger and were asked to think about somewhere we had been happy. People wrote notes about their feelings and stuck them around the words of the song of Moses and Miriam. You can find some of their words on the next two pages.
Food and drink for the journey: God provided the people of Israel with manna, quails, and water as they travelled through the wilderness. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life”. We were invited to eat matzah (unleavened bread) and drink wine to sustain us as we continued on our journey through life.
Pillar of fire and cloud: The people of Israel were guided through the wilderness by a pillar that appeared to be fire at night and cloud in the day. Trees by the path were decorated to remind us that God goes with us as we leave the church building and travel through life.
Preparing the prayer stations, doing the walk, and listening to other people’s thoughts all gave me a much deeper insight into the story and feelings of the story of Exodus. This in turn helped me to understand more fully the wonderful Passover meal on Maundy Thursday.
May God call us, be with us, sustain us, and guide us, now and forever.
Thoughts from the Oasis at Elim
My burdens weren’t heavy when God helped carry them.
Thankful to God that he has helped me through my grievances and brought me happiness.
Praise you Lord that you’re God of the dishwasher and saucepan; God of the mop and the school run. The domestic landscape is home to you as much as the vast open plains or desert wilderness. You meet and love me there as much as anywhere. Bring to all those ensnared in terrible ways your FREEDOM!