Easter Sunday

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! ALLELUIA!

Collect

Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity.

Reading

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.

11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

John 20:1-18 (NLT)

Guest Sermon from the Rev’d Sherine Angus

This Easter, as we hear the readings and encounter again the familiar story we come afresh carrying all that has happened in the past year.  We come today after a year that has, in many ways felt like an extended period of Lent and wilderness.  I suspect we share some of the feelings that the women and disciples had.  Whilst they had heard from Jesus his many promises, the promises that his death wouldn’t be the end but the beginning, promises that he would be with them forever.  In the reality of his death, in the confrontation of the empty tomb I suspect they wondered just for a moment whether those promises were true, before reminding themselves that people don’t rise from the dead, that the darkness will continue.

And we remember that there have been times during this pandemic, and even now as restrictions are reducing that we wonder if it will be true, if we can believe the promises, if we won’t be plunged back into the darkness of another lockdown.

Yet, in the midst of all the confusion and grief, there is an encounter in a garden.  An encounter that marks a new beginning, new hope, new life.

And we remember that this year, that encounter in the garden seems so poignant after months of not being able to see people or chat to friends in person we too can now meet in a garden and enjoy that precious contact once again.

You might have expected Jesus to approach Mary and say look it’s me!  But instead he says, ‘woman why are you weeping?’ and after a year of so many tears, so much loss, so much grief we can understand those tears of exquisite pain, Mary had come to do the last act of care for Jesus, to prepare his body and found that she couldn’t do that, the body had gone. 

And again, we remember the thousands of people who died alone during this pandemic, without family and friends, without them being able to carry out that final act of care for their loved ones and the intensity of their pain.

The first thing that Jesus did was recognise the pain and grief that Mary was experiencing, he didn’t say, look everything is fine, pull yourself together, get over it, I’m here. He knew that time needs to be taken to allow us to deal with trauma, to process all that those he loved had gone through as they witnessed his death on the cross.

And we remember, the loss that we all carry, lost love ones, lost livelihoods, lost connection with family and friends, lost life events such as weddings and funerals, anniversaries and leaving schooling. And we know that we will need time to recognise that loss in order to move forwards, that we can’t just ‘get over it’ and move on as if nothing has happened.

Jesus then said to Mary, who are you looking for?  A question that resonates with meaning and significance, what is it that we look for, where is the meaning without God, what is it that she was searching for? her love, her teacher, her sense of purpose.

And we remember that so many have turned to prayer during this year as we’ve realised that exotic holidays, shopping trips, meals out, expensive cars are not what we are looking for, as we have searched for something to making meaning and give hope in this time of pandemic.  Realising that seeking God, finding solace in prayer is our only source of sustaining hope.

Finally Jesus says ‘Mary’, and in the confusion and muddle of grief that turned her world upside down, that consumed everything and seeped into every part of her life, through that one word, the calling of her name, she knew it to be true.  As Jesus called her name, Mary knew that the source of all love was calling her, that even through the darkness of despair she could hear the voice of Jesus breaking through the pain.  The realisation that all that had gone before, the pain, the loss, the death was healed by a God who knows us each by name. 

That by his resurrection everything that we know to be true has been transformed the normal order of things has passed away. Death now leads to new life, pain to transformation, suffering to hope.  And this is why we are all here today, and in fact why we have kept worshipping either online or in person throughout the pandemic and every week to come.  We are here because we believe that whatever darkness we encounter at the cross, beyond it the transforming power of Jesus brings new life when all seems lost, brings light into darkness and above all else he calls each of us by name.  We believe that the tomb is empty and that God dwells amongst us and within us, we believe that by his death on the cross we are redeemed, forgiven and transformed to new life.

Take a moment to close your eyes now, to hear the voice of Jesus, the voice of love calling you by name……

He is speaking into the depths of your heart, ready to transform and renew, to heal and restore as we carry on our journey as Easter people in the knowledge that whatever we encounter He is there with us..

Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Prayers

In joy and hope let us pray to the Father.

That our risen Saviour may fill us with the joy of his
glorious and life-giving resurrection …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That isolated and persecuted churches
may find fresh strength in the good news of Easter …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That God may grant us humility
to be subject to one another in Christian love …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That he may provide for those who lack food, work or shelter …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That by his power war and famine may cease through all the world …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That he may reveal the light of his presence to the sick,
the weak and the dying,
to comfort and strengthen them …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That, according to his promises,
all who have died in the faith of the resurrection
may be raised on the last day …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That he may send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon his people,
so that we may bear faithful witness to his resurrection,
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father,
you have delivered us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
grant that, as his death has recalled us to life,
so his continual presence in us may raise us to eternal joy;
through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Closing Worship

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