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Six years ago, I spent Holy Week and Easter on the Scottish island of Iona. The Iona Community, founded by George Macleod in 1938, follows in the Celtic Christian tradition of St Columba. Each year, thousands of visitors make their way to this small Hebridean island, and each group of “pilgrims” joins the resident community eating, working and worshipping together.

We made a pilgrimage of the island, covering 8 miles, singing, eating and praying as we went. On Good Friday, our “Stations of the Cross” started at the bay making stops outdoors and indoors along the way at stations created by fellow pilgrims. I will never forget the sight of all the children rushing forward to help Christ carry the cross as he staggered under its weight. It was an un-rehearsed moment of natural response on the part of those children. At midnight on Easter Eve, we gathered in the dark in the 
Abbey for our Easter Vigil. It was a wonderful opportunity to share in a very different kind of Holy Week and Easter.

This year will again be different for me as a member of new communities here in Dunmow and Barnston. I look forward to journeying with you through Holy Week, through the pain and sorrow of Good Friday to the joy and hope of Easter Day. This is a journey we have to make if we are to truly understand the power and promise of Easter. We can’t really miss any bits out, as it simply doesn’t make sense. We can only rejoice fully in the new life that Jesus brings through his resurrection, if we face his death on the cross and ask what that means for us.

I welcome you to join us for our Holy Week and Easter services and to make the pilgrimage with us to Easter Day, from darkness into light, from sorrow to rejoicing. There will be a service each day, either at St Mary’s or at St Andrew’s (you can find full details of these services on page 9). As last year, we also have a special “Messy Church” service on Good Friday at 4:00pm at St Mary’s, which is particularly suitable for families and children. Our “Service of Light” at 8:00pm on Easter Eve will be at St Andrew’s this year. We then gather in joy on Easter Day, with services in both churches for the whole church family, full of splendour in sight and sound, to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. 

Wishing you all a blessed Easter.