Sunday, 27 March 2016
There were very few followers who were prepared to follow Jesus all the way to the cross and there were very few of us at this last beach hut on Holy Saturday because the weather was so awful. There is something very appropriate about focussing on death when the wind is howling around and the rain is lashing down and we had plenty of that on the seafront this day.
Helen Rawlings was the artist and we spent much of our time trying to protect her lithograph of soldiers and poppies from being damaged by the water whilst the poppy laden cross developed a beautiful shine from the water streaming down each flower.
We were reminded of Jesus words: 'greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends'.
A few hardy souls did make it down to see us and we huddled in the hut as we remembered Christ's death in the sharing of bread and wine. It all felt very appropriate as we thought back to the feelings of those first followers as they tried to process the events of the Friday crucifixion without knowing that there was going to be a Sunday resurrection.
As I write this the Easter dawn is beginning to shine through the rain clouds and I am happy to say: 'Christ is risen, he is risen indeed'.
Friday, 25 March 2016
On this Good Friday it seemed appropriate for us to consider persecution and so the good folk of The Village church in Kemp Town put some thoughts together on this theme. The day was clear and sunny but there was a bitterly cold wind blowing along the seafront which concentrated our minds and made sure everyone kept moving around to try and stay warm.
Mary and her team took the image of a hammer as their central motif because a hammer can be used to drive a nail home or to release it. In the middle of the hut was a piece of timber bristling with nails and as one of the team read a story about humanities propensity to try and nail everything down, another nail was hammered into the wood.
We were also treated to the story of Paul Harfleet, an artist who plants pansies at the sites of incidents of homophobic abuse to highlight the persecution LBGTQ people are sometimes subjected to. You can read about his work here.
Then we were all invited to come and release a nail and to collect a packet of seeds to plant wherever we like as a sign of our commitment to stand up to abuse and persecution.
Each night we have also had a simple sharing of bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus who was judged, burdened, faltered, loved, persecuted and eventually killed.
Tomorrow the final hut will focus on death as it falls on the day after Jesus has died and been laid in the tomb but before the day when he rises from the dead.
The theme on the fourth day of Holy Week was compassion but the weather was not very compassionate to us as it was rainy, cold and windy on the seafront for the first time this week. Fortunately artist Lizzie Edwards was ensconced in the hut, out of the weather, along with her installation which was a modern take on Jesus compassionate act of service of the disciples at the last supper.
This fourth holy week hut is on the day we call Maundy Thursday when the church celebrates the instigation of the communion meal in the breaking of bread and sharing of wine, commemorating Jesus last meal with his friends before his journey to the cross.
The gospel of John tells us:
This act of service showed us how we should behave towards each other, putting the other first and showing our love and compassion by serving them.
Wednesday, 23 March 2016
The theme tonight was failure and Martin Poole was the artist who seriously contemplated just putting a sign on the door saying 'sorry we've been unable to create an installation tonight' but that isn't an example of failure, it's just lazy!
The inspiration for tonight was the fact that there are three stations of the cross which feature Jesus falling. We don't know why this happens three times as this is not based upon the Biblical account which only tells us that Jesus required the help of Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross. But we all understand that it is human nature to fall and to fail and the installation in the hut tonight helped us to reflect on this in a variety of ways.
Inside the hut were pasted up images from controversial artist Kerry Skarbakka who creates images of people falling in very precarious and sometimes shocking ways. You can read more about his work here. Kerry Skarbakka was not a collaborator on this project. The appropriation of his imagery was used in context of this installation only. It should noted that his work is not intended to endorse any religious affiliation or association.
Alongside these was a video loop playing on a laptop which was created from a commercial for beer which has been slowed down and had an audio track called 'Falling Down' by Muse added.
Outside the hut was a board with a cross marked on it and an invitation to create the largest domino rally possible.
It was very hard to achieve a full cross of standing dominoes because invariably one of the dominoes would fall or the wind would blow them or a dog would jog the table. So everyone who tried this had lots of opportunity to experience failure.
At one stage Sheila and Martin began to work together as one of them held on to a standing domino so as to prevent a collapse while the other person worked at standing dominoes up. As soon as the Martin created the security of a domino barrier, Sheila commented on how she felt a sense of relief and relaxation which helped her building. This was a moment of epiphany as we both realised that working together helped to allay our fear of failure.
Each night we have shared a simple breaking of bread as a way of connecting us to Jesus own journey to the cross and tonight that became a symbol of our unity as we understood that being together we could help each other not to fall. This was accompanied by a George Herbert poem about rising and falling called Easter Wings and some prayers.
Tuesday, 22 March 2016
Tonight was a gorgeous, clear sunny evening which almost felt like summer until the sun began to drop towards the horizon and the temperature followed it down.
The theme was burden and the hut was filled with an assortment of baggage collected together by Kirsty Tyler as a representation of all the stuff we carry around with us as we journey through life. Some people seem to carry everything on their shoulders with the consequential weight this puts on their lives while others seem to be able to manage with hardly anything as they skip along the way.
A number of the suitcases had a luggage tag attached to them with a prayer asking God to help us with our burdens. We all need help with our burdens from time to time, even Jesus was not able to carry his burdens on his own as he needed assistance from Simon of Cyrene on his journey to Calvary.
Sitting in front of this hut gave us a chance to think about the things that burden us, the things that cause us pain, and Kirsty offered an opportunity to write about those burdens on brown card luggage tags so that we could reflect on them and then dispose of them in the burning fire that was waiting in the brazier in front of the hut.
It was very liberating to be able to discard some of our baggage in this way as we sat and watched the orange sun dip towards the sea and the full moon rose at the other end of the sky.
This isn't always the easiest thing to do which leads us into tomorrows hut which will be about falling and failure.
Monday, 21 March 2016
Our first ever Holy Week Hut debuted tonight as we begin the countdown to Easter. This is not quite the same as the Advent countdown to Christmas but it is important as we come to the end of Lent.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and is a time for austerity and abstinence as we remember the 40 days and 40 nights that Jesus spent in the wilderness before he began his life as a preacher, teacher, healer and mystic. (If you are very observant (and the kind of person that likes details) you might realise that 10th February to 27th March (Ash Wednesday to Easter Day) is actually 46 days but that's because Sundays are always treated as feast days as this is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus).
Christians have been walking the via dolorosa since the earliest times both physically and metaphorically. Sometime in the 15th centre the Franciscans put this story together as a series of tableau that became known as the Stations of the Cross. These fourteen scenes describe different stages in Jesus journey to the cross, some of which can be found in the Bible and others which have been handed down through the oral tradition.
For the Holy Week hut we have combined some of the stations into six themes as the focus for a series of artists to create something in Beach Hut 395 every night from 5.30pm-6.30pm.
Tonight the theme was judgement as the Easter story begins with Jesus being condemned to death by Pilate. Artist Lucy Lauener chose to look at social media as an example of the judgemental attitudes that many people have. Her installation showed us the story of someone on Youtube singing along to a Rihanna track and the comments posted about this as a result.
We were made to think about our own judgement of others as we saw our own image reflected in the mirrored back wall of the hut and we were watched by a large pair of painted eyes. The legend 'first take the log out of your own eye and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brothers eye' from the gospel of Matthew chapter 7 verse 5.
This provoked lots of discussion amongst those who came along tonight about the attitudes we have towards others and the way we make snap judgements about people and situations.
Tomorrow we're back at hut 395 once more thinking about burdens.