Sunday 4 April 2021 Easter Day
God not only raised our Lord from the dead; he will also raise us by his power. 1 Corinthians 6: 14
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Hymn 410 Jesus Christ is risen today
- what baptism is
Baptism is all about Jesus:
following his example and following his command
At the start of his ministry, Jesus went from Nazareth down to the River Jordan and was baptised by John
After Easter the Risen Jesus told his disciples to carry on his work:
they were to go and get other people to follow Jesus too,
to teach them about him, and baptise them.
Baptism is a sign for us and for the whole world:
of how much God loves us
of God’s promises to us in Jesus
of God’s call and challenge to us
of our response to God’s invitation
Baptism is a sign of all these things
but it is also more than a sign:
in the waters of baptism Jesus meets us and makes us his own.
- what it means for Skye
- you have become part of Jesus’ family, a worldwide family
- you may know God as your Father, Jesus as your Lord and Friend, God’s Spirit with you always to help you try to live the way God wants
- when life is difficult, you can be assured that God knows and understands the challenges you are facing
- all God’s promises, about his love, his forgiveness, his help, and the life beyond this life, are for you
- God challenges you to follow Jesus all your days
Baptism is aboutSkye becoming part of Jesus’ family,
learning about him, about his values and standards,
his forgiveness and his love
We ask her parents to affirm that they will try to do this
and involve Skye in the life of the church, coming regularly to worship
We ask family and friends to help Malcolm and Wendy in this task
As we do so, we remember Jesus’ promises to us
that he is always ready to help us,
and to forgive us when we make mistakes.
Would Malcolm and Wendy and the godparents please come forward:
Will you help Skye to learn about God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? WE WILL
Will you helpSkye to learn about Jesus? WE WILL
Will you encourage Skye to be part of the church, sharing in its life together? WE WILL
Will you try as a family to live by Jesus’ values and standards? WE WILL
A question for the representatives of the congregation, speaking on behalf of the whole church of Jesus Christ:
Will you welcome Skye among us at all times, ensuring that here she find the love of Jesus, here she will be able to learn about Jesus;
and will you continue to hold her and her parents before God in prayer? WE WILL
Skye, for you Jesus Christ came into the world:
for you he lived and showed God’s love
for you he suffered the darkness of the cross
for you he triumphed over death
and rose in newness of life.
All this he did for you, Skye
though you do not understand it yet.
Skye, I baptise you
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
- Words of blessing for Skye
Skye, through all that life will bring
may God’s presence strengthen you,
God’s life guide your actions,
God’s joy lift your heart.
Through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Aaronic Blessing (Hymn 796)
Skye is now baptised into Jesus Christ.
We receive and welcome her as a member
of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ
As her parents we encourage you to remind Skye of her baptism
of the promises that are for her
and to guide and encourage her to walk in Jesus’ way
so that in due time she may respond to Jesus in faith and love herself
Bless and guide Skye
may she grow in strength, wisdom and grace
may she work to bring justice and wholeness to your world
may she be a bearer of peace and healing
may she come to the point
where she hears your call and follows in the way of Jesus our Lord
Bless and guide Malcolm and Wendy in the days and years ahead
as they try to provide a secure and happy home for Skye
as they try to keep her from all the dangers
that surround children growing up today
as they try to tell her about Jesus and his way of living.
Bless us all
that we may always welcome children and their families among us
that we may always remember them in our prayers.
Through Jesus our Lord. Amen
Hymn 137 All things bright and Beautiful
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
John 20: 1-18
Hymn JP34 Come and praise the Lord our king
A little earlier we celebrated Skye’s baptism. Baptism has been an integral part of the life of the church since its earliest days, and from the start it attracted all sorts of associations and allusions, many linked to stories in the Old Testament. There were no specifically ‘church’ buildings in those days – depending on where they were, and their ethnic heritage, they either worshipped in the Jerusalem Temple, synagogues or people’s houses. None of those had fonts like this one, so many baptisms took place in rivers or pools, with people going down into the water, and then coming back up. The first part was seen as identifying with Jesus’ death and burial, and the second with his rising again on Easter Day.
Today is Easter Day, the day when the church celebrates Jesus rising from the dead. It is the crucial part of the Christian story. Without it we would know nothing about Jesus of Nazareth, his sayings, his stories, the events of his life. The memory of him would have died with him. When he was executed the hopes and dreams that his followers pinned on him were all shattered. They were devastated and distraught. What was the point in remembering anything about a failed leader?
People of other faiths and none accept that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical figure, but only the Christian community declare that he died and rose again. It may seem a wild and even ridiculous claim, and we can’t explain how it happened (though, we would also point out that however much humanity has learned about how the universe works, there is far, far more that it still doesn’t understand). What we do know is that Jesus friends and followers became very changed people because of the Easter Day experiences.
From being in the depths of despair and disillusionment, they were soon full of confidence and commitment, from humble backgrounds they became leaders ready to stand up to critics’ challenges, to encourage a widely scattered community to remain faithful to their beliefs and share them with others, and to suffer and die for something they didn’t consider a dream or a mirage. Their lives were changed completely. Peace, plenty and prosperity for everyone didn’t suddenly break out, there continued to be political crises, the threat of war, difficulty in keeping families fed, the taxman and creditors paid, health problems and all the rest. But they now saw life in a new and different light – God had acted, and shown that those who are faithful to his ways will be vindicated.
So often – as on Good Friday afternoon – it seemed as though might was right. People who engaged in lies, cruelty, injustice, abuse, fraud and cold-blooded murder not only seemed to get away with it, but positively thrived. Now the man who was innocent, who told the truth, who showed and encouraged love and concern for others, had been raised from the dead. He had been vindicated. All who followed in his ways were and would be vindicated too. God had shown that those who pursued other ways would not triumph in the end. Life had a new perspective and meaning. There is justice, there is hope. They wanted to share that message, and it’s because of what they and subsequent generations did that we are here.
There are probably many times when it feels to us, and to those around us, that people who tell lies, commit fraud, abuse, violence etc seem to ‘get away with it’ and thrive: whether we are thinking about things like the situation in Ukraine or figures in public life. We also see the impact of things like rising living costs and climate change, with no sign of any change soon. Easter Day is God’s declaration that he cares and he is active, looking to put right the wrongs of nature and humanity, working to create peace, to enable people to have wholeness and fullness in their lives.
Easter gives us hope, in spite of all that we see going on around us. But God isn’t going to sort it all out on his own, with humanity being casual observers. He sees a part for each and every one of us in addressing the needs of the world, and looks for us to be committed and enthusiastic in working for change – whether we are Skye’s age, or at the other end of the age spectrum, or anywhere in between.
Hymn SGP51In a byre near Bethlehem
Prayers for others
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
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
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
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