Easter Sunday 2020

Sunday 12 April 2020

John Spooner

Introduction and Welcome

Good morning

Easter blessings be with us all

The restrictions on our lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic continue and that unfortunately includes our ability to gather together on Easter Sunday — whether that be for worship in the sanctuary at the usual time, or whether that be for an “open air” celebration at an earlier hour at – or shortly after sunrise.

Whilst we yearn for these restrictions to ease and ultimately to be lifted completely, we must accept their necessity and wait with patience for this dark times in our lives to end – that we might live again in the brightness of the freedoms of being able to worship together – of being able to spend time and share company with friends and relatives – and to resume our involvement in activities and pleasures which take place outside the confines of our homes.

Holy Week was an increasingly dark time – as we travelled with Jesus towards Jerusalem and as we saw him crucified on a cross, set on a hill outside the walls of the city.

Today is the day of resurrection — a day of brightness because the Son has risen.  Although we are not physically together – we are bound together in our Christian faith – in God’s love – and on this special day, we can still worship together by sharing in a common act of worship.

Last week for Palm Sunday, Maria recorded the hymns and Stephen embedded them into the printed text – all of which put together, Stephen posted onto our Church website, with a link to it from the Facebook page.  All being well, I hope that we can offer the same this week.

So welcome to this Easter service, provided by Glenburn Parish Church.  We trust that for all of us, this will be a time of encouragement and blessing.    

Easter Greeting

“Christ is risen”

HE IS RISEN INDEED

“Christ is risen”

HE IS RISEN INDEED

“Christ is risen”

ALLELUIA

Call to Worship

This is the day that the Lord has made

     let us rejoice and be glad in it

This is the day that he rose again

     let us rejoice and be glad in it

This is a day of new life and new beginnings

     let us rejoice and be glad in it

Let us worship God

Praise Our first hymn is “Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia ”                       

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia,
our triumphant holy day; alleluia,
who did once upon the cross; alleluia,
suffer to redeem our loss; alleluia !

Hymns of praise then let us sing; Alleluia,
unto Christ our heavenly king; alleluia,
who endured the cross and grave; alleluia,
sinners to redeem and save: alleluia !

But the pains which he endured; Alleluia,
our salvation has procured; alleluia,
now in heaven Christ is King; alleluia,
where the angels ever sing: alleluia !

Sing we to our God above; Alleluia,
praise eternal as his love; alleluia,
praise him all you heavenly host; alleluia,
Father, Son and Holy Ghost: alleluia !

Let us pray

Almighty God

     we gather together – not in one place – but in many places

     we gather together – knowing that we are not alone 

            we gather together — knowing that we are part of your living church

                   stretching across the continents of this earth –

                   present in the realms of heaven

                   crossing all limits of time and space     

     we gather together –acknowledging Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord

     we gather together to worship

            with joy and with praise 

            with awe and with wonder

            with gladness and celebration

Redeeming God

     we rejoice in the message of this day – the Good News which is at the heart of our faith : that there is light after darkness

            there is joy after sorrow

            there is good after evil

            there is life after death

Speak to us this day Lord

     through what we read

     through what we may choose to sing

     through all that we think and ponder

May the truth of Jesus’ resurrection – inspire us with renewed hope

may his victory over all that would separate us from you – fill us joy

may Christ’s living presence with us – be the rock of our faith

On this new day – as we look forward in faith to a new future before us –

     we confess our failings of the past

          that we so readily forget all that on this day

              inspires us with hope

              fills us with joy

              forms the foundation of our faith

Forgive us Lord

     when we forget all that you have done for us

     when we lose sight of the deep truths of our faith

     when our vision is narrow and our response is weak

In your mercy and forgiveness – fill us with

     new faith and commitment

     new purpose and new life

through the power of the risen Christ

These prayers we bring in his name and we continue to pray in his words – as we say

            Our Father, who art in Heaven : hallowed be Thy name

thy kingdom come : thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day, our daily bread

and forgive us our debts : as we forgive our debtors

and lead us not into temptation : but deliver us from evil

For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory : for ever.                              

AMEN

Scripture Reading : Matthew 28 : verses 1 to 10 (Good News Bible)

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 

His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 

The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 

Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.’

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 

Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him. 

10 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’

AMEN

Thanks be to God for his Word to us today

Music “I know that my Redeemer liveth” Handel : Messiah

REFLECTION

All of us have memories of events and things which have happened in our own lives — or in the lives of others.  Some of these memories are of things which were life changing and remain forever vivid.

Our reading from Matthew’s Gospel today tells us that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went early on the Sunday morning to see the tomb where the body of Jesus was laid.  In the accounts of both Mark and Luke it is further explained that they took spices to anoint the body of Jesus — but the important point is that they went at a time of quiet — in the early morning – when all would be peaceful.

However, something happened that disturbed that peace and which would remain forever as a vivid memory for the women – an earthquake occurred and an angel descended from heaven — rolled the stone back from the mouth of the tomb.

The guards were in fear and fell to the ground and no doubt the women were also terror stricken.  The angel – sitting on the stone – told them not to be afraid as he knew that they had come to see Jesus – but he wasn’t there.

Jesus had risen and he had gone ahead of them to Galilee – a place away from Jerusalem and a place where Jesus felt at home and comfortable.    The women rushed away – still fearful but also joyful – to do as the angel had told them as they went to tell the disciples about this news.  

On their way to find the disciples – Jesus meets them and as the angel did – he tells them not to be afraid.  He also commands them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee where he will meet them.

In our world today – there is much fear – not least about the Coronavirus pandemic

     the extent of its duration and possible resurgence if not adequately countered at present

     its impact on families and communities

     its impact on the way we live life as we know it 

     its economic impact      

And of course there are many other fears and concerns about environmental issues, climate change, terrorism, mass migration from persecution – and lots of others – each with their own enormous challenges.

In the resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter – the God who apparently was silent on Good Friday is having the last word – as he is beginning a new world promised long ago. 

This was an event which changes the hearts of people and although we cannot meet Jesus in the way that these women did – we can meet him in spirit as we get to know him and develop our personal relationship with him.

The angel told the women to “go and tell” his disciples. Jesus also told the women to “go and tell” his disciples where they would see him and when they did meet up – Jesus told his disciples to “go and tell” throughout the world – in the assurance and promise that he would be with them always.

At Easter – God has defeated death and just as he told his disciples then — Jesus tells us – his disciples of today –  not to be afraid – but rejoicing to” go and tell” – to share the good news.

And God knows – that there is plenty of need and opportunity for his church to do exactly that – both as our nation emerges from the current crisis – and also as it adapts to better serve in our world  and thereby – to better serve and honour our Risen Lord

May we all rise – in love – in joy and in unity – and without fear – to meet and fulfil this challenge which awaits us            

AMEN

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession

Let us pray

Great and mighty God

     we praise and thank you for the great surprise of Easter

              that you transformed what seemed to be the end into a new beginning

              that you turned what had seemed to be the triumph of evil into the victory of love

     we praise and thank you for the way you changed the lives of Jesus’ followers

          turning sorrow into celebration and doubt to faith

          turning questions to answers and confusion to confidence

          turning darkness to light

Lord our God

     we pray for our world today in all its needs

          for peace and harmony among the nations and for wise leadership and governance within them

          for peace and harmony in communities and for all the efforts to achieve that

          for the relief of suffering – of hunger and malnourishment

          for justice and fairness for all – irrespective of background or belief

          for equity in the distribution of scarce resources

          for healing of pain and illness   

     we continue to pray about the Covid-19 situation – across the world

            to give thanks for the ongoing commitment and unstinting effort of so many people

            as they care for others and  as they strive to maintain as much of ordinary daily living as is currently possible

            we give you thanks for all that is done to overcome the virus and for the healing which flows from that work 

     we continue to pray that you will keep in your love and care

            all who are ill, those known to many and those known only to immediate family and friends

            all who are worried and concerned about loved ones and who can only wait – as they remain at physical distance 

            all who are working tirelessly in the medical, the caring and the research professions

            all who work in other vital jobs, such as the food industry, transport  and countless others, to maintain daily living – as much as is possible 

            people who endure the pain of isolation, loneliness or bereavement – and those who seek to bring them support and comfort

            people who are currently without work and are adjusting to reduced income

            everyone in positions of influence and leadership – decision making and authority 

Eternal God

     we pray for the church in all its variety and branches across your world

          that it may understand and remain true to its mission to go into all the world,

          to make disciples – teaching them to obey all that Christ has commanded

          and to do so –  in the assurance of the Risen Christ that he will be with us to the end of the age

Gracious God

     Having prayed for others – we pray too for ourselves and for those we love

     Lord – you know our needs and also the desires of our hearts

          so we pray only for the blessings and the gifts which we need

              gifts of love and care 

              gifts of courage and strength

              gifts of hope and peace

Hear these our prayers and answer them according to your will – O God of love         

AMEN

Praise

Our closing hymn is “Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son ”      

Thine be the glory, risen, conqu’ring Son;
endless is the vict’ry Thou o’er death hast won.
Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave-clothes where Thy body lay.
Thine be the glory, risen, conqu’ring Son;
endless is the vict’ry Thou o’er death hast won.

Lo, Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb.
lovingly He greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let His church with gladness hymns of triumph sing,
for the Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting.

No more we doubt Thee, glorious Prince of life !
life is nought without Thee; aid us in our strife;
make us more than conqu’rors, through Thy deathless love;
bring us safe through Jordan to Thy home above.

Blessing

May the blessing of the Heavenly Father be with us

may the presence of the Risen Son live in us

may the power of the Holy Spirit enable us

to live – to love and to serve

to the honour and glory of the Eternal God

in whose name and with whose blessing we go

AMEN