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Jerusaleynsham reflections

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The idea was simple: read what happened to Jesus during the ‘last week’ at the time it actually happened, to get a sense of the timescale. And move between locations to get a sense of the physical scale. So, during Holy Week here in Eynsham, you could see a group of people — normally around 30 — standing in the playing fields at 7 am imagining they were in the temple; or walking from the ‘upper room’ location, across the fields to where Gethsemane would have been. Or meeting at 3 pm in the Car Park, where, if Eynsham 2007 had been Jerusalem AD33, a crucifixion would have taken place.

It was a simple idea, but I think it had a profound effect on those of us who took part. Normally, we ‘squash’ all our thinking about Holy Week into two or three events — a Good Friday service, or Easter Morning. This spread our thoughts and prayers across the week, allowing us to see how events built up their momentum. For me, it made all the days significant. I woke up, for example on Thursday, feeling the weight of what was going to happen. It occurred to me for the first time, that Jesus would have woken that morning, knowing he was going to be arrested that night, knowing, indeed, that the next day he was going to be executed. The whole day, for me, had a heaviness to it that just a Maundy Thursday service couldn’t hope to encapsulate.

There was also the sense of scale. By superimposing the traditional locations onto a map of Eynsham and moving between them, we could see how quickly the whole thing could have happened. The Romans didn’t waste their energy taking Jesus a long way from his place of trial to his place of execution. It was just a few minutes walk north, and out of the city walls. And, in our reconstruction, Jesus was executed at one end of the carpark, and entombed just a few yards away, at the other end.

I’m still really trying to process my thoughts about the week. One thing that did occur to me throughout was how in control Jesus was. He planned so much of that week. He knew what he was going to do and when. He knew what would be required of him and what the final outcome would be. To have that amount of courage, over days, not hours; that is the mark of what he did for us all.

I asked people to give me their comments about the week and [I’ve posted them here->]. I’ve put these up not to blow my own trumpet, but, hopefully, to inspire others to have a go. I’m not sure at the moment how I’m going to take the idea forward, but I do want to make it a resource for churches to try for themselves. [If you’re interested in more information you can find more here.->]