Sunday Worship, 4 April 2021, Easter Day

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Welcome

 ‘We are here to give you the Good News, that God has fulfilled the promise by raising Jesus from the dead.”

Acts 13: 32-33

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed!
Hallelujah!

Hymn 410 Jesus Christ is risen today

All age time (for ages 0-100)

  • Something to do: hard boil an egg (make one for everyone if you have enough – otherwise just one) and decorate it. If you are brave, try rolling it along the floor
  • Something to make: if you are using a tray, put a plant on it and a candle. If you are making a frieze, put the empty tomb. If you have enough houseplants, a stone and a plant pot (laid on its side), try making an Easter garden

Opening Prayer

Lord

The cross is empty –

 it no longer bears a dying Saviour

The tomb is empty –

 no longer does the Master lie dead inside

He is not there, he is risen;

Jesus stands in the garden,

he walks on the road,

he enters a fear-filled room

Halleluiah! Christ is risen!

We sing our praise with joy,

 Jesus is risen and we shall rise with him;

 he is with us always,

 even to the end of the age

The Resurrection happened so quietly

 Jesus passed from death to life with so little fuss

Risen Lord we acknowledge you

 and we adore you

Fill us with the joy that comes from knowing

 that you have broken the power of death and sin

Fill us with awe as we face the love and power

 of a God who suffered and died for us

Fill us with the peace that comes from knowing

 that we and our future are in your hands

Through Christ our Saviour we pray. Amen

Bible reading

John 20: 1-18

Hymn 194 This is the day

Reflection

(what Jesus might have thought on Easter morning)

Sometimes, when you are really tired, you joke that you could sleep for a week. Occasionally when I was young I might sleep in after a particularly tiring day or late night, and certain members of the family would tease me by pretending that I had slept for a whole month.

At this moment I am awake: I’m standing in a garden, it’s dark, it’s cold, it’s damp. When I came to, I was lying on a platform in a cave, with cloths round about me, and a hint of light, the smell of damp earth, and the sound of a bird wakening up, somewhere outside, somewhere beyond that narrow gap with a large stone beside it. I don’t feel the least bit tired, the least bit sore, yet when I look at my hands I see scars. No, it wasn’t some horrible nightmare! I really did die, but now I am alive, as my Father promised.

I really did die, and it was a horrible experience. Some of it I can’t really remember – maybe the brain tries to shut it out, or maybe I was too weak to take it all in – but other bits seem so vivid. If I close my eyes I can see terrible scenes again, but now I don’t feel any pain or fear: all that has gone, and cannot come back. That was then, this is now, and everything is very different. But how long ago was it? One day ago? Or two, or three, or a week, a year, a lifetime?

*           *           *

The light, the dampness, the earthy smell, the birdsong all say that this is the start of a new day. Some people don’t like dawn: they don’t like the cold and dampness, with the dew on everything; some don’t like that partial light when it is still hard to make things out; some are just too sleepy at this time of the day – owls not larks. Personally I think it’s a lovely time of day. Many a morning I have been up at this hour to find some peace and quiet to pray, to talk with my Heavenly Father: sometimes expressing my thanks and praise, sometimes asking for his help for me or others, sometimes simply enjoying peace with him. Sometimes I like to reflect on those early mornings when the world was new, and life was new, when no one, when nothing, could voice it’s praise, and yet the whole universe was rejoicing in God it’s maker.

*           *           *

I hear voices. I see figures moving. I wonder who it is? Soldiers, come to guard the tomb, or dispose of the criminal’s body? Thieves, who think there might be something worth stealing? Folk hanging around the garden in the dark to cause trouble? I’m not afraid of anyone or anything now – why should I be? What can they do to me now? I have passed through death and have come back. I cannot die again. Hang on, I recognise those voices, the way they walk: it’s some of the women from our group. There’s Mum, there’s Mary, there’s Clopas’ wife. I hope Mum appreciates how much I tidied up the tomb, and left it to air. If I leap out at them and shout, ‘Hiya! It’s me!’ they are liable to collapse with shock, so I will stand quietly in the shadows behind this bush and take things from there.

They’ve seen the stone, they are frightened, they are screaming and running away. I suppose there will be a lot of running away, before people truly understand that I have risen from the dead. Mary has stopped behind. She’s crying inconsolably. I want to comfort her, I want to reassure the others. She’s spotted me, but she doesn’t recognise me, she thinks I’m someone who works here. She’s gabbling away. “Mary!” She’s recognised me. The tears turn from sorrow to joy. “No, don’t touch me.” Go and tell the others what you have seen and heard. They must learn to trust in me without my physical presence there all the time, and so it must be for all who believe on me because of their testimony. But go, go now, go everywhere and tell people that the values of God – love, goodness, truth – are mightier than those which oppose them. Nothing can overcome them. That news is for everyone: Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, those who met me before, and those who only hear because of the witness of my followers. I have been raised from death to new life, and all who trust in me will do so too. Go and say: “Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Halleluia!”

Prayers for others

Loving God

You see into the hearts and lives of people

 and see what their real needs are

We bring you now our prayers for others

 trusting that you know far better than we do what people need

 and yet you can take and use our prayers

 in your work of bringing healing and wholeness

We pray for those who are struggling with unhappy lives

 hurting, broken or abusive relationships

 for families not speaking

 who have lost contact

 for people who feel that their life is going nowhere

 that no one loves or values them

We pray for the Queen, the governments

 for all in positions of leadership in this and every land

We pray for those who don’t have enough to eat

 who don’t have somewhere to call home

 are worried about family, friends, money, job or home

 for all who long to live in peace and safety

 particularly in parts of the Middle East and Africa

 for those who have fled from their homes seeking safety

 for those who offer help

 and those who offer only indifference or harm

We pray for those who are lonely, feeling down or grieving a friend or loved one

 those waiting for or receiving treatment, and those for whom there is no treatment

 those who are ill, those who look after them, and those who worry about them

 for all who are affected in any way by the Coronavirus pandemic, here and around the world

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

Hymn 419 Thine be the glory

Blessing

Christ was raised from the dead

by the glorious power of the Father.

Set out, then, on a new life with Christ,

 Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

 rest and remain with you,

 today, and every day, and for ever. Amen

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