St Columba’s Church celebrated a baptism as part of the Easter weekend this year, echoing the traditions of the early centuries of the Christian church.
The weekend began with evening communion on Maundy Thursday round a table in an upper room, the Lishman Hall. This commemorated Jesus’ last supper, as told in all four Gospels. (Maundy Thursday gets its name from the Latin word mandatum or commandment, in Jesus’ final teaching at the last supper in John 13:34-35, “And now I am giving you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” – Good News Bible, Today’s English Version © 1966, 1971, 1976 American Bible Society.)
Then on Good Friday morning, Churches Together in North Shields held the traditional open air service in Northumberland Square, led by Baptist Minister Revd Liz Edwards. Civic greetings were given by Cllr Shirley Mortimer and Alan Campbell MP. The Salvation Army band led a procession round the town centre, pausing for a hymn in Bedford Street. Services were then held in the Baptist and Methodist churches as well as Holy Saviour’s, Tynemouth, whilst St Columba’s hosted a session of messy church, where children learnt about the Easter story through art and craft. Some of their paintings, including a tree of hands and an Easter garden, were displayed in the church over the weekend.
Easter began with an early communion service, followed by a fair trade breakfast in the hall, and then all-age worship, which included infant baptism and an Easter egg hunt. In an interactive talk, Revd Liz Blair explained that, unlike fictional character Victor Meldrew, the disciples did believe it when they met the risen Jesus on the first Easter morning. A wooden cross was decorated with spring daffodils as we were invited to remember people and situations that needed our prayers. After the service, worshippers gathered again in the hall for refreshments, as the baptismal celebrations continued.
Easter day ended with evening reflections from Revd Peter Heckels on what must have gone through the minds of the first disciples during the Easter weekend, at first mourning the loss of their leader, and feeling guilty for abandoning him when the authorities seized him, and fearing for their own lives, then the doubt and uncertainty with the news of resurrection, before meeting their risen lord in person, and receiving forgiveness and commissioning to spread the word to the world.