Lantern vigil at Silver Wattle

Lantern vigil at Silver Wattle (Photo: Helen Bayes)

By Jim Palmer, Victoria Regional Meeting.

This year, the long weekend of Easter and Anzac Day brought F/friends of all ages to Silver Wattle. The event was billed as ‘No Time for War: the Easter Story and Anzac’. The program was designed to be inclusive of all ages, and parents found this particularly valuable. The only ‘adult’ sessions were after 8:30 p.m. when Janet Scott, a Canberra facilitator of Parker Palmer’s Circles of Trust, helped us with ‘guided discussions’ in front of the fire in the sitting room.

Following breakfast, the days started with a 45-minute all-age worship. The grown ups needed to compromise by allowing a small amount of programming and the children compromised by being quiet in the gathered group. Then we had a presentation from Janet around the Easter story. Both children and adults listened carefully as they heard what Janet had to share. After lunch there was ‘free time’ which was generally spent outdoors. The weather was kind to us so there was no need for lots of changes of clothing between being indoors and outside.

The afternoon session often included an activity. One day we divided into groups where children and adults worked together to produce a newspaper reporting on the week’s events in Jerusalem as if we were present in 32 AD. I worked on the Roman Guardian where we were able to proudly report that ‘following close cooperation between the Roman authorities and the local religious leaders, three troublemakers had been successfully crucified and peace now reigns in Jerusalem’. The Galilee Gazette reported the death of Jesus to the Judean community, and the Temple Times celebrated the weekend’s successful collaboration with Roman rulers.

Another day the children made lanterns in preparation for an evening lantern vigil, led by Graeme Dunstan of Peacebus. Then as darkness descended, the lanterns were lit and we made a long procession to ‘the island’ where we sat around a friendly bonfire singing songs led by Tracy Bourne. Many of the group shared reflections about peace and hopes for the end of wars. Needless to say, we were late in returning for dinner. This activity mirrored the Anzac Eve Peace Vigil held at the Australian War Memorial on the Sunday evening.

Yet another time we divided into groups to devise and present short plays to depict the donkey ride into Jerusalem, the arrest of Jesus and the discovery of the empty tomb. Some of the children particularly enjoyed playing Roman soldiers with improvised swords and helmets.

Our cooks, Susan Girard and Elspeth Hull provided us with plenty of yummy food, gladly catering for more people than had been anticipated at most meals. However the real eye opener for me was the way that Janet, through her extensive biblical knowledge, guided us into considering who Jesus was. We were reminded that to be Christian is simply to be a follower of Jesus. As Quakers we do not need to embrace all the paraphernalia in which the churches have cloaked Christianity, nor do we need to work out the theology around such matters as the virgin birth, the resurrection or the Trinity. All we need to do is to try to live by the teachings of Jesus.

Easter time at Silver Wattle Quaker Centre has now been firmly established in the calendar as a time where F/friends of all ages can gather for a time of shared
learning and reflection.

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