‘WE will wait at the Cross, a hungry generation’ declared a slide on the screen during the playing of ‘At the Cross’ by Croydon Citadel Band prior to the corps’s Good Friday meetings, led by the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham) and World Secretary for Women’s Ministries (Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham). It was a statement of truth.
The four-day Easter celebrations began on the evening of Maundy Thursday with a meditation of Easter music by the corps sections. The inspiring Bible address by Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham was a foretaste of what was to come.
The Good Friday meeting began with another slide on screen, declaring ‘Thank you for Good Friday’ – the meeting’s theme – with the songsters singing ‘Thank You for the Cross’.
The Chief of the Staff began by declaring, surprisingly, ‘I struggle with Good Friday.’ He explained himself by saying he always wanted to fast-forward to the joys he knew would follow on Easter Day. But, said the Chief, Good Friday was a day of victory in itself, which needed to be fully appreciated. Jesus’ sacrifice, he said, was foretold in the Old Testament and it was complete. Christ took our place – not for us, but instead of us. ‘I want to cheer at the Cross as well as at the empty tomb,’ he declared.
After the meeting the international guests accompanied Croydon Citadel Band and other members of the corps to the crowded town centre to take part in open-air Easter witness together with other Christians, organised by Churches Together.
On Easter Saturday, while Messy Church and a coffee morning took place, Croydon’s Salvationists transformed the hall with a blaze of hundreds of white and yellow flowers, ready for Easter Day, which began with a corps breakfast.
The morning meeting began with the music of ‘Superman, Superstar’ played by the young people’s band, augmented by the four newest learners making their first public performance. They waited patiently throughout the piece to join in the last eight bars – and they made all the difference!
Bandsman John Laird in his testimony painted a picture of Croydon rather different to the mean streets which are many people’s perception of the town. Instead, he said, it is a wonderfully cosmopolitan place which it is the corps’s privilege and pleasure to serve.
The singing company, songsters and senior band presented helpful contributions in the form of, respectively, ‘There’s No One Like Jesus’, ‘Risen King’ and ‘Easter Praise’, before Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham gave an inspirational Bible address.
‘I have the best news for you this morning,’ she declared, before reminding the congregation that the angel who brought the news of Jesus’ resurrection had a special word for the apostle Peter, who had so recently denied knowing Jesus. ‘Tell the disciples, including Peter …’ the angel said. Or as one translation has it, ‘especially Peter’. ‘Write your own name there,’ said the commissioner, ‘because Jesus does not give up on any of us, however great our mistakes.’
Following heartwarming moments of reflection and commitment, the meeting ended with the triumphant singing of the anthem ‘In Christ Alone’.
Report by Charles King