Our Easter Experience

You’ve probably figured out that we didn’t go to England in January, as has been our MO for some time now. With Theresa helping out with our first grandchild and the fact that neither of us wanted to face the winter weather conditions, we said no to the January trip. We had planned on a June trip, but these plans failed to materialize as we had wished. So, we decided to go by ourselves in April. We had a marvelous time and in the next few blogs, we’ll share our trip with you. But before too much time lapses, we’ll share our Easter experience.

Theresa was not happy to be away from family at Easter; it’s her favorite holiday, both religious and secular. So, we celebrated with our family one week early (she says it wasn’t the same) and we headed off to the midlands of England for another antique shopping trip. Since we were on our own, we booked a townhouse in Lincoln, around the corner from the castle which holds the Magna Carta, where we could walk to various pubs and restaurants after full days of shopping.

It was odd to be shopping during Holy Week and even on Easter Day. We bought some of our best items at several small fairs that we shopped on Easter Sunday. But we reserved Saturday night for the Paschal Vigil at the Lincoln Cathedral just a few blocks away from our townhouse.

The night ended up being one of our cherished memories in all of our UK trips. We arrived at 8 in the evening and entered the 13th century west front into the massive, cold nave. It was dark and folding chairs held the parishioners. Everyone turned towards the west. The choirs filed into the nave through the huge West door, followed by the deacons and The Rt. Revd. Christopher Lowson, the 73rd Bishop of Lincoln. We began with the Service of Light. Here, near the door, the bishop lit the first fire and marked the Easter candle and the light was passed up through the congregation, until the flickering lights lit the massive entry of the cathedral. The light chased the shadows from the arches, vaults and marble pillars. We were worshipping in this Holy place where people have worshipped since 1073.

The Lincoln Cathedral shines against a dark night sky.

The Lincoln Cathedral shines against a dark night sky.

Following the Bible readings and the Gloria in Excelsis, the organist played a fanfare and the parishioners pulled out bells and rattle and made a joyful noise. A smartly dressed woman a row in front of us pulled out a soccer rattle and swung it around her head for several minutes as those around her smiled at her noise. The lights came on! Next, were the baptism of five people and the confirmation of nineteen. All renewed our own baptismal commitment to Christ. The clergy and bishop used long branches to sprinkle the entire crowd with Holy Water, walking amongst everyone, so no one was missed. We exchanged the sign of peace with those around us and many eyebrows were raised when they heard our accents. We have a little hillbilly in our voices.

The church gathers around the baptismal font in the nave of the Lincoln Cathedral at the Paschal Vigil 2015.

The church gathers around the baptismal font in the nave of the Lincoln Cathedral at the Paschal Vigil 2015.

Then, the ushers led the congregation forward through the next set of doors into the Hugh’s Choir, which separates the nave from the sanctuary and altar. Here, we sat in the individual wood carved choir stalls built in 1210 and the communion mass began. Quiet and orderly, everyone partook in the first bread and wine of Easter, kneeling at the communion rail on the marble floor, where so many have knelt before us.

The doors between the nave and the sanctuary at Lincoln Cathedral.

The doors between the nave and the sanctuary at Lincoln Cathedral.

The carving on the arm of our choir stall.

The carving on the arm of our choir stall.

Following the nearly three hour mass, the congregation was invited to the Chapter House for refreshments of hors d’oeuvres and champagne. We walked through the North Gate, pass the cloisters in the dark and entered into the Chapter House. Since 1255, the Chapter House has served as a meeting hall for assemblies and Kings Edward I, II and III held parliament on three occasions. It’s an inspiring building. So impressive, that it has been the setting of several movies, including The DaVinci Code and The Young Victoria. As you look up, the vaulted ceiling reminds one of an opened umbrella.

Toasting in the Chapter House following the Paschal Vigil 2015.

Toasting in the Chapter House following the Paschal Vigil 2015.

The Chapter House of the Lincoln Cathedral.

The Chapter House of the Lincoln Cathedral.

The Gothic architecture of the cloisters.

The Gothic architecture of the cloisters.

The Cloisters of the Lincoln Cathedral.

The Cloisters of the Lincoln Cathedral.

As the evening drew to a close, we headed home through Bailgate, over the cobbled streets, where Romans walked just a few years following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Feeling happy and joyful that we had celebrated our religious traditions, we were uplifted by the past.

People often ask if we’re growing tired of England. No. We share a love of architecture and history and it is in England where history is a visible living thing. A quote by Nikolaus Pevsner sums up our experiences “Englishness is of course the purpose of my journey”.

People often ask if we’re growing tired of England. No. We share a love of architecture and history and it is in England where history is a visible living thing. A quote by Nikolaus Pevsner sums up our experiences “Englishness is of course the purpose of my journey”.

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