Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
An Easter Hymn CH4 410
As you read this hymn you might like to sing/shout/speak the Alleluias aloud after every line….
Christ's Church Choir, Cranbrook Michigan
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
Unto Christ, our heavenly King
Who endured the cross and grave
Ruined sinners to redeem and save.
But the anguish he endured
Our salvation has procured;
Now in heaven Christ is King,
Where the angels ever sing.
Sing we to our God above
Praise eternal as his love;
Praise him all you heavenly host,
Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
THE EASTER GOSPEL
St John 20:1-18
20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14 When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
You might like to read that Bible passage again – more slowly. If you are familiar with it try and imagine that you are reading it for the first time. What do you notice? Does anything surprise you? Take a moment to ponder the resurrection mystery at the heart of our faith
Christ has died, Christ has risen
In Christ shall all be made alive
Blessing and honour and glory and power
Be to our God
Forever and ever, Amen
This year, Easter Sunday falls during the Corona virus pandemic. A time when we are squirreled away in our homes and when wandering out for shopping or exercise you'll get a wide-eyed look of alarm on the face of a passer-by if you get to close.
A few years ago, I was hospitalised by a serious viral infection called Hepatitis E. It turned my skin a deep yellow as it attacked my liver. Fortunately, I was fit and healthy and within a couple of months I was almost back to normal. But Corona Virus is a much nastier proposition.
Writing from an American perspective, this is how one Christian writer puts it:
This year, Easter Sunday falls during the COVID-19 pandemic. "The Beast" is what people are naming the virus. It attacks ferociously in the night with spiked fevers, aches, lung binding, and hallucinations. COVID-19 is a "breath-taking" virus. It steals the breath from people's bodies in a particularly terrifying way. It strikes suddenly leaving us frightened and breathless. With no cure in sight, the only thing we can do is hide away, covering our noses and faces with cloth, hoping to keep the aggressive beast away from our lungs.
COVID-19 is a death threat that has already made good on many lives.
This brutal virus makes us feel that we are locked up in a dark tomb for an impossibly long duration, as though the darkness of "Good Friday" might go on forever with little hope in sight. And yet all around us, we see signs of spring, signs of awakening, signs of hope, signs of resurrection. We know life as we know it may be dampened down for now, covered in what feels like "funeral clothing." And yet, spring blooms eternal. All around us: Birds sing, the sun bursts out from the winter clouds, trees bud, flowers unfurl, the ground thaws, and God unwraps an entirely new landscape of colour and life. But for now, we wait.
I wonder what it must have felt like for Jesus those "three days" in the tomb, knowing resurrection was imminent, yet waiting for dawn to come on that magnificent morning when the stone was rolled away, and the sun streamed through, when an "angel of the Lord" removed the funerary cloth from Jesus' face, and the Holy Spirit breathed again the holy breath of life into His stricken body and made it rise like Ezekiel's bones from the valley of the shadow of death. Three days of darkness. Then, new and restored life. Not the same life. But a restored, resurrected life.
Today, as we celebrate Easter morning, resurrection means so much more to us than it did before. For we have been living in darkness, confined to a kind of tomblike existence. Life as we have known it has stopped. We don't go out to work. We don't go out to play. We hide our faces; we guard our lungs. We walk zombie-like through our homes and streets, frightened, and covered in our own kind of "funerary" cloths, so that the cold breath of death might pass us by, that invisible breath-stealing beast that threatens us and keeps us locked away, for a time.
But only for a time.
Life in waiting is merely that, a time of waiting. And yet a time of expectation. For we know that no matter what, that beast has no power over us. God's resurrection breath will raise us up. A new day will dawn, soon. Very soon.... (Anon)
The hymn writer John Macleod Campbell Crum’s puts it this way (CH4 417)
“When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green “
Christ has died! Christ has risen! Christ will come again! Hallelujah!
PRAYERS FOR OTHERS
Lift to God now in prayer
All those whose lives have been impacted or changed by the pandemic
The Lord’s prayer
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, forever,
Thine be the Glory Risen Conquering Son CH4 419
Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son
Endless is the victory 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 conquering Son,
Endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won
Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
Let the Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing
For her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.
No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of Life
Life is naught without thee: aid us in our strife;
Make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love
Bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.
Until the current lockdown comes to an end and we are able to return to gathered worship, each day a reflection and prayer will be published on the church Facebook page and website.
Pastoral Care -The minister is still available to help with any pastoral issues, tel.07791 755976
Practical Help – There are a number of groups and individuals offering help and support at the present time. If you are need of practical help or know someone who does, please contact Sean who will be able to make contact with the appropriate agency.