Lancashire

Holy Week story remembered at Lancashire's landmarks

Reverend Mark Slaney at Cuerden Valley Park
Image caption Reverend Mark Slaney enjoys the peace of Cuerden Valley Park

Leading Christians across Lancashire have been utilising the landscape to illustrate the Holy Week story.

They hope today's Lancashire landmarks can inspire people to consider the historic events that took place in the Holy Land over 2,000 years ago.

Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter, beginning on Palm Sunday, and is the time Christians particularly remember the last week of Jesus's life.

The week of comparisons started with Canon Dick Cartmel in Blackpool.

He used the headland on Blackpool's sea front to remind us of Palm Sunday.

Canon Dick saw the adulation and joyous return of the newly-promoted Blackpool Football Club to the town last May as an indication of the welcome Jesus would have received on the first Pal Sunday.

Footballing improbable

"It had exactly the same feel to it," Dick told me.

A lifelong tangerine fan, Canon Dick suggested Blackpool had surprised millions with the footballing improbable. In his way Jesus had also amazed his followers: "He had performed all the miracles before and he was the guy."

The Reverend Sue Griffiths, from the Preston Central Methodist Church on Lune Street, used the city's Flag Market to get a flavour of how Jesus stormed into the temple to overturn the stalls and evict the corrupt money lenders.

Amid the unblemished traders of today Sue said: "The market place had become a place where there was corruption and greed. At that moment he swept away all that was old and brought in something that was new."

The Last Supper, when Jesus broke bread with his disciples, was illustrated by the Reverend Jeff Gould from Padiham's Nazarene Unitarian Church.

At Molly Rigby's, a pub on Mill Street in the town, Jeff told me: "It was at the Last Supper that Jesus identified himself with the wine and bread which he had broken and blessed.

"He said these basic elements of table fellowship represent me, the offering of love and sacrifice my fellow faith friends."

Image caption Rev Terry Young gave an account of the crucifixion at Darwen Tower

Following the meal, Jesus walked to the nearby Garden of Gethsemane on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which in Lancashire terms was represented by Cuerden Valley Park.

Reverend Mark Slaney from the Bamber Bridge Methodist Church looked out from the Sue Ryder House in the park and reflected: "I often come here to get a bit of peace and quiet. The landscape is not too different. You can almost hear the crunch of the soldiers' feet as they came up the hill to arrest Jesus."

Narrow streets

Eventually, Jesus found himself carrying a large heavy wooden cross, amongst the traders and violent crowds, through the narrow streets in Jerusalem.

On market day in Lancaster, Reverend Chris Newland from the city's Priory Church surveyed the shoppers and said: "What is remarkable about this street in Lancaster is the same journey was taken by people who were sentenced in the crown court to be executed in the city.

"They would have passed the crowds who would have thrown rotten fruit at them and that is just the way that Jesus would have been treated."

To get a sense of the crucifixion, the Reverend Terry Young climbed to Darwen Tower. From beneath the monument he gave a graphic account of the horror of Jesus's death. He said: "There would have been no cheering or jeering it just was too terrible. It was a horrific event."

The resurrection, where Jesus Christ's tomb is found to be empty and he had risen from the dead, is the high point of the Christian year.

Reverend Gill Dyer stood by one of the tombstones at St. Mary's in Whalley to illustrate the miracle. Pointing at the massive stone tomb Gill said: "This is an enormous sarcophagus. It would have taken six men to remove the stone top. Jesus's tomb stone was rolled away. How did that happen?"

Finally, beside the River Wyre in Fleetwood, Father Douglas Brier illustrated the symbolism of fisherman Peter looking up from his boat to see the distant figure of the risen Jesus.

As if to sum up how Christians throughout the county see the true meaning of Holy Week, Father Douglas reflected: "The risen life of Jesus doesn't make me someone different. It makes greater what I was created to be."

Joe Wilson presents the faith programme on BBC Radio Lancashire from 6am each Sunday.

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