Following the Cross…

On Good Friday we participated in a Witness Walk down Beckenham High Street.

Malia asked me,

“You know how people feel about Christians here, isn’t it going to be awkward walking down the street behind a man carrying a cross?’

“I don’t know,” I said, “I’ve never done it.  Let’s find out.”

So we did.

In Beckenham there are eight churches that belong to Churches Together, an ecumenical group linking Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Anglican and non-denominational places of worship in the local area.

We pray for them, they pray for us, we meet with each other, open our churches and arms to one another, share cups of tea and biscuits, and generally darken one another’s doors on a regular basis, sharing space, fellowship and opinions.

We met at the Catholic church next to Sainsbury’s, our favourite supermarket.   A few words were said by the priest concerning the walk.

The fact that police were involved was good news.

We were told that since we were walking in the road to keep up the pace!

We were also asked to smile and be friendly because we were bound to arouse questions and encounter arched eyebrows.

A Baptist minister led us in prayer, we sang “O Sacred Head Surrounded,” read scripture from Isaiah, The Suffering Servant Song, and were told about the focus of the day, to fast from food and other distractions in order to make extra room for prayer and reflection.

We ended by saying the Our Father together and turned to follow the cross outside.

Once on the street the crowd seemed to have expanded, there must have been as many waiting on the pavement as there were in the sanctuary.

The police were in their yellow jackets on bicycles.  The cross was already too far in the distance to catch a glimpse of.

The procession was on its own, holding up traffic, a 227 bus breathing down our necks!


It was quite a spectacle as we walked through red lights, some cars parped their horns, pram pushing Mums stopped to watch, we took photos.



We arrived at the village green, now called Beckenham Green since we are no longer a village.

It adjoins the graveyard of St. George’s and we heard the clock chime half past eleven.

Here, led by the Methodist Minister, assisted by large microphones, amplifiers and an electric piano we sang, heard more scripture, said the Lord’s Prayer again and finished with, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

The beautiful surroundings enhanced the service.


The weather was kind and the crowd was large.

In Trafalgar Square, at about the same time, there was a re-enactment of the crucifixion.

Ours was as heartfelt if not as spectacular.  What a witness to this most holy of days!

Afterwards we entered our church, St. George’s,  and spent three more hours in veneration of the cross and listening to our magnificent choir sing the Reproaches and Crux Fidelis.

After the formal service the choir high tailed it out of there and we spent the rest of the afternoon in meditation led by our parish priest, interspersed with silence, prayers and hymns.

After the first 20 minutes I moved to the Lady Chapel at the East of the church and sat with the reserved sacrament on a more comfortable seat amidst the flowers and candles of the Altar of Repose…alone.


When we were finished, Malia texted her older brother,

“I’ve just done 4 hours of church, it was no fun!”

To which he replied, sagely,

“I bet it was no fun for Jesus hanging on the cross two thousand years ago either.”

Later we did our grocery shopping at Sainsbury’s and Malia remarked,

“The last time we walked this way we were in the road following a cross.”

I nodded, she was right.

Hopefully we’re still following the cross, I thought…

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