EASTER DAY SERVICE

17TH APRIL 2022

OPENING SENTENCE

He is not here: He is RISEN!’

Alleluia. Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

HYMN

GREETING

Alleluia Christ is risen.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

He has given us new life and hope

by raising Jesus from the dead.

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God
to whom all hearts be open
all desires known
and from whom no secrets are hidden;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

CONFESSION

Jesus Christ, risen Master and triumphant Lord,
we come to you in sorrow for our sins,
and confess to you our weakness and unbelief.
Like Mary at the empty tomb
We fail to grasp the wonder of your presence
Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

Like the disciples behind locked doors
We are afraid to be seen as your followers.
Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

Like Thomas in the upper room
We are slow to believe.
Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

ABSOLUTION

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
sung by Sue St Joseph

COLLECT

Almighty God, who through Son, Jesus Christ,
have overcome death
and opened the gates of eternal life:
grant that we,
who celebrate with joy the day of his resurrection,
may be raised from the death of sin
by your life- giving Spirit;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, world without end. Amen

FIRST READING
ACTS 10: 34- 43
read by Billy Dewar Riddick

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts people from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”

We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

SECOND READING
1 CORINTHIANS
15:1-11 read by David Kerr

The Resurrection of Christ

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

HYMN

GOSPEL READING
John 20:1-18
read by Rev Janice Aiton

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John chapter 20 beginning at verse1

Glory to Christ our Saviour.

The Resurrection of Jesus

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. 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.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 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. 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.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to him in Hebrew, Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 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.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel.

Praise to Christ our Lord

SERMON

“Don’t cling to me”, “do not hold on to me” were words that Jesus spoke to Mary shortly after the resurrection. At first glance, these words “do not cling to me” might seem strange or even harsh. After all, Mary had seen her Master die a most horrible death. She had watched as he was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb. She had seen the great stone rolled in place to seal the doorway. Then she had thought that his body had been stolen by grave robbers. Now that she has found him again, she cannot stop holding him, overcome by emotion. She has encountered the risen Christ and now she wants life to go back to normal – life as she had known it. Yet it cannot go back and it will not go back. Life will never be the same again.

This was true for Mary and it is true for us too. We have experienced so much these past few years, more than some generations have-we have had a pandemic; we are witnessing a brutal war in Ukraine; we are concerned about soaring numbers of refugees and displaced people; we are anxious about rising costs, and we are continually faced with rapid changes; all of which makes it hard for us to move forward and not hanker for what was. But we need to accept that life will not return to what it was pre- covid. As Bishop Kevin said here in St John’s and at other churches, we will not go back to normal, instead we will have a new reality. We need like Mary to embrace this new reality, and not cling to the former ways of doing things; not hold on to the old ways of worship or of being church but rather we need to be open to God’s Spirit working in new ways.

Mary accepted this new reality but not straight away. It was Jesus’ words that challenged her and brought her to a new place of being. Throughout Jesus’ public ministry, Mary had rightly reverenced Jesus as teacher and rabbi, but now Jesus the Lord is doing more than merely leading an earthly life and fitting into earthly categories. In effect, Jesus is saying to Mary, “Don’t go on clinging to what in me is familiar to you. Step back, take a good look, and then go tell my brothers what you see.” In other words, Jesus’ ascent must take place in Mary and in every other follower. He is far more than a man resuming mortal nature. He is more; He is Lord. We must come to see Him as Lord and God. He must ascend in our sight. We must see him at a higher level and in a higher way. He is no mere sage or rabbi; He is Lord and God! He must ascend in this way, in our understanding. From now on, Mary’s and our communion with Jesus will be by faith through the Spirit. This communion will become possible through Jesus’ ascending to the Father.

As Mary takes Jesus’ words to heart, and steps back and takes in this encounter with the Risen Christ, she does see and regard Jesus differently. We see this in how she related the good news to the disciples. She, a woman in those times, is greatly honoured and privileged to be entrusted by Jesus with the greatest news ever and how does she tell the disciples about this amazing miracle of the resurrection? Note that she does not say I have seen the Teacher or I have seen the Rabbi, no she says “I have seen the Lord.”

Jesus has ascended in her heart – he is her Lord. a new thing has taken place, her world view and perspective has shifted and it is now on a different plain. Jesus has done a new thing in her life through the resurrection. Mary perhaps is the first to experience this new reality for her world’s horizons have infinitely expanded and her perspective on life has changed. It will never be the same. The door has opened, the new day has arrived, and the very heart of God, which had ceased beating, will never be quiet again in her life and in that of others. Today we too are offered a new perspective on life that will change our lives forever.

The new perspective is that there is life beyond the grave. The resurrection proves in Justin Welby’s words that “death is the greatest and most devastating liar. The lie that the final breath is the end, and that there is nothing more. The lie that we will always be separated from those we have loved, ultimately losing those we love for ever.”

We all know the finality of the death of a friend or family member, especially during the pandemic. When something special happens, our instinct is immediately to tell them, to call them.  Then we remember. They’re not here. Death is brutal, terrible and cruel, but it lies when it claims to be the final word. The resurrection is the final word.

So today, our gospel reading calls time on the lie. The women in Mark’s gospel had believed the lie, after all they are going to the tomb to anoint a dead body. Yet all their fears were based on a false assumption about the power of death and an inadequate understanding of the power of God. Instead, right there in the grave there were signs of the resurrection. The action of God was revealed through angels who greeted them, reassured them, and told them that Jesus of Nazareth is not here. He has risen.

This news changes everything – casting aside every assumption about the way the world works. Mark tells us that “they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them!”. Well, they might! Their whole understanding of things was changed. Changed forever. It was a massive paradigm shift in their comprehension of life and of death.

This paradigm shift in understanding says that the resurrection and its truth set us free. Lies bind us, enslave us and no lie binds more tightly than the lie of death. If death is telling the truth, then we may as well live for ourselves but because Jesus who was dead is alive: death is a liar. The truth of risen Christ is the reality, and now we have a certain hope and a changed future. We will be reunited with those we love. We are offered forgiveness and freedom to live God’s new life as a gift, given through costly grace.

For each of us can receive this new reality. Jesus, crucified and risen, is alive today and brings life and hope. The joy and purpose he gave to the disciples is exactly the same as is offered to us today. We are each and all invited to accept that new reality, welcoming the living dynamic presence of God into our lives – allowing the one who conquers the greatest lie to give us the greatest life. This greatest life is life in all its fullness, freely and graciously given.

In accepting this abundant life, there are certain demands made upon us as Christ’s followers. We as a church community in St John’s, are invited to live with the risen Christ, doing what he calls us to do. This will invariably mean getting involved in fighting injustice, tending the environment, caring for the needy, reaching out to the lost and lonely and touching lives especially of the marginalised and excluded with compassion and love as our Christian ancestors did throughout the centuries. Christians and the church exist to be Jesus Christ to the world. We are in effect his hands and feet in a broken and damaged world.

The world desperately needs to hear this good news that death has lost its sting and in Christ we have victory through his resurrection. In a world caught up in so much darkness we can as Christians bring light and hope. The empty tomb is not an answer to the war in Ukraine or to all the questions and problems you bring this day, but it is a powerful and hope- filled response. It is an opening to a new beginning, a fresh start, an unimagined possibility. Whatever the circumstances of your life are today, whatever has been done or left undone, whatever has or has not happened to you, the empty tomb prevents the present from closing in on you, from closing you up. It offers an opening and promises the possibility of something new and the chance of something different. It offers us hope and purpose, as well as a new world view and perspective, that asks and encourages us not to cling to what was but instead like Mary to look to what will be through the eyes of our Lord and our God, Jesus Christ. Amen

NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

PRAYERS

In joy and hope we pray to the Father
Hear our prayer.

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
my find fresh strength in the good news of Easter.

We pray to the Father
Hear our prayer.

That God may grant us humility
to reach out to one another in Christian love.

We pray to the Father
Hear our prayer.

That we 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
Thinking especially of Ukraine

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 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

That we might be known
as disciples of the Risen Lord
by our love.

We pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer

as we say the words your Son taught us

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN

BLESSING

God the Father,
by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead,
strengthen you to walk with him in his risen life;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be among you and remain with you always. Amen

DISMISSAL

Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

In the name of Christ,
Alleluia! Alleluia!