Easter Service (4 April 2021)

4 Apr 2021 by Rev Paul Bartlett (Service), Mavis B (Photo) in: Worship Services: 2021

 

CHRIST CANDLE ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Through him all things were made. In him was life and that life was the light of all humankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!’ (John 1:1-5) A candle is lit

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF COUNTRY

The Dharawal people have lived on and cared for this land on which we gather today since time immemorial. We acknowledge their stewardship of God’s creation and honour their elders past and present. May we together nurture this land and all her peoples on this day of new beginnings.

 

YOU ARE WELCOME

All people are made in the image of God.

If you know what it is to love and to be loved you are welcome. If you have spent your whole life searching for such love and acceptance you are welcome. I am welcome. You are welcome. We are all welcome to this safe place where Jesus is acknowledged as Lord. You are welcome in His name.

 

CALL TO WORSHIP

While it was still dark with hearts breaking.

Women carried embalming oils before the Sun was risen

Stone rolled away, our Yeshua is not here, more hearts breaking.

Bright raiment. He is Risen. Do not stay here.

Remember. Believe. Tell others. He goes ahead of you to Galilee.

There we will see him. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah!

Opening Prayer…

 

Opening Hymn TIS 380

Yours be the glory, risen, conquering Son

Endless is the victory over death you’ve won

Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away

Kept the folded grave clothes, where your body lay.

 

            Yours be the glory, risen, conquering Son

            Endless is the victory over death you’ve won.

 

See, 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 the Lord is living, death has lost its sting.

 

No more we doubt you, glorious Prince of life

Life is naught without you: aid us in our strife

Make us more than conquerors through your deathless love

Bring us safe through Jordan to your home above.                           Edmond Louis Budry 1854-1932

 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Lord, we gather today, not at the foot of your cross, but at the entrance to a garden tomb.

Love poured out, on a cruel cross, so we might be free.
Love poured out, infusing this world with rivers of grace and hope of rebirth.
Love poured out, and into these hearts, who drink from a stream that never runs dry.

 

When our faith stands at the grave, grieving for a stone that's rolled away, forgive us.
When our faith is short of understanding though the truth is there to see, forgive us.
When our faith, beset by doubt, sees no further than an empty tomb today, forgive us.

Bring to mind the cry of Mary, ‘I have seen the Lord!' and grant us faith to believe!

Running from the empty tomb, Christ opens wide the gates of life.

Let us dance and sing on this most special of all days. For our Lord is risen!

 

OF DANCING & BUTTERFLIES

HYMN TIS 242 vs 1, 3 & 5

I danced in the morning when  the world was begun

And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun

And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth

At Bethlehem I had my birth

 

Dance then wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the dance said he

And I’ll lead you all where e-ver you may be, and I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.

 

I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame

The holy people said it was a shame.

They whipped and they stripped and they hung me high

And they left me there on a cross to die.

 

They cut me down and I leapt up high

I am the life that’ll never, never die

I’ll live in you as you live in me

I am the Lord of the dance said he.                            Sydney Carter 1915 - 2004

 

1 Corinthians 15:1 - 8, 11 (NRSV)                  Ian Taylor

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.  Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

Mark 16:1 - 8 (NRSV)                                     Ian Taylor

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. In this is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Hymn TIS 382 vs 1 – 3

Now the green blade rises

From the buried grain

Wheat that is the dark earth

Many days has lain

Love lives again

That with the dead has been:

            Love has come again

            Like wheat that springs up green.

 

In the grave they laid him

Love whom hate had slain

Thinking that he never

Would wake again

Laid in the earth

Like grain that sleeps unseen.

 

Up he sprang at Easter

Like the risen grain

He who for the three days

In the grave had lain

Raised from the dead

My living Lord is seen:                                     John Macleod Campbell Crum 1872 - 1958

 

MESSAGE                                            “If death is not the last word…”

‘Terrified and afraid’ are the last words to the original ending to Mark’s Gospel, written in the form we have today, in the 60’s CE some 30 years after the life and ministry of Jesus.

This earliest of the Gospels displays all the hallmarks of those ‘untouched’ first Easter Day encounters. For while today’s Epistle Reading from 1Cor 15 is believed to have being written 15 years earlier it contains all the signs of being theologically massaged to what we now know so well.

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 apostle. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me”. 

 

All of the early disciples we know of by name were Jewish, steeped in the traditions of the Temple and its daily sacrifices to God to atone for their sins, to keep in relationship with God through the offering of sacrifices as instituted by Moses some 1,200 years before. That’s some tradition!

And this idea of seeing Jesus’ death as a substitution sacrifice (for us) permeated all their thinking just as was their searching within the OT for what must have been the clear signs, that nearly all had missed, of a Messiah who would come to redeem Israel through wood and nails.

 

Mark’s message is raw and brief but even still it contains the measured reflections and accuracies of three decades of sharing and insight. Nowhere does it seek to actually describe the resurrection.

What we have are faith inspired pointers: the stone rolled away – no body – grave clothes – angels saying ‘he is not here…he is risen…and has gone ahead’

And perhaps most historically important of all – that it was the women who first saw and spread the message. A most unlikely ‘credible’ source for the time: “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome”. And these women, just like Simon Peter in other Gospel accounts, are firstly and most profoundly terrified, overwhelmed, afraid and run speechless from the tomb.

 

All thought of Jesus’ teachings are as of nothing. Nothing is remembered in those first few hours, days and weeks. It is only after Jesus’ other appearances through locked doors, on the Emmaus Road, beside the Sea of Galilee and in the Garden of Gethsemane do those early disciples, always in community, effectively say “well, if we believe Jesus to be Risen and for him to be the Messiah & God’s Son then there must be clues in our Scriptures (the Old Testament).

So a searching they went. Devouring the OT. Finding the passages we know well today that are used especially by Matthew and John that what had happened to Jesus was ‘in accordance with the Scriptures’, that they might ‘be fulfilled’. Here is no out of left field brainwave but God’s persistent longing and ultimate intervention – I will send my Son! Yes I have a Son! A one and only Son full of grace and truth, with God in the beginning, who along with the Holy Spirit is God the 3 in 1. Though it would take until Tertullian 200 years later for the Church to put all of that understanding in place.

 

So why are the women terrified, fearful and afraid?

Because if death is not the final certainty in life like ‘death and taxes’ then human life suddenly contains countless and unnumbered possibilities. All things are possible. And if death cannot separate us from God in Christ Jesus then neither can all the other things which we associate with ‘separation from God’ especially around issues of health and happiness or their lack of. And Jesus obvious focus on the little ones with no voice, who lived on life’s margins, that focus is vindicated in Jesus’ resurrection; and must be part of our focus and interactions too. Such a focus – life giving!

 

Throughout the Gospels we hear Jesus saying again and again ‘Do not be afraid’, ‘I am with you’,

‘I will not leave nor forsake you’. And that promise has sustained God’s people for 2,000 years as it did in the hymn of Dietrich Bonhoeffer which we sang on Good Friday, written from prison.

 

But like the first disciples, this message we have received is only one generation from extinction or to put it in another sense, we are but one generation from the Risen Christ and if his life means anything to us then sharing that good news is an important and crucial part of whose we are.

 

Understanding this Easter story is not just doing Unit 111 of Religious Studies in a University course. What Easter offers is an invitation to a personal relationship with our risen Lord. It is that relationship that loves, trusts and hopes and through which we are transformed and empowered and not just for ourselves but with and for the whole creation. All life on planet Earth is precious.

Yes we can be justice and peace makers but if our own daily lives do not live out these qualities then our words can never truly point to Jesus.

50 years ago I joined 2 people on a hunger strike for Bangladeshi refugees. That action was precipitated by a clear voice. ‘Paul, I want you to represent me in this. These Bangladeshi’s are loved by me’. That encounter changed my life and is the main reason I stand before you today as a disciple of the risen Lord Jesus. Christ is Risen. He is risen indeed! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Amen

 

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE                               Bruce Hanna

HYMN TIS 495

Father we give you thanks, who planted

Your holy name within our hearts.

Knowledge and faith and life immortal

Jesus your Son to us imparts.

 

Lord, you have made all for your pleasure

And given us food for all our days

Giving in Christ the bread eternal

Yours is the power, be yours the praise.

 

Over your church, Lord, watch in mercy

Save it from evil, guard it still

Perfect it in your love, unite it

Cleansed and conforming to your will.

 

AS grain, once scattered on the hillsides

Was in the broken bread made one

So may your world-wide church be gathered

Into the kingdom by your Son.                                               From the Didache c 110 CE

 

HOLY COMMUNION   (with the communion table placed in the body of the church)

INVITATION

This is the joyful feast of Jesus. Bread for beloved children

A meal for those expecting scraps and a banquet for last-minute guests!

Come, your place is at the table. Here Christ meets you and calls you God’s own.

 

GREAT PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

The Lord be with you

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

 

With all we are, we give you glory; Trinity of love, the one and Holy God

Sovereign of all time and space. We bless you for this wide, red land

For its rugged beauty, its changing seasons, for its diverse peoples

And for all that lives upon this fragile earth.

 

You have called us to be the Church in this place, to give voice to every creature under heaven.

We rejoice with all that you have made as we join the company of heaven in their song:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

 

To Adam and Eve, children of dust, you gave the world and its wonders

But we misused your gift of freedom: we reached out rebel hands to be like you.

We bless you for your mercy, for you never cease to call our restless hearts

Until they find their rest in you.

Again and again, you raised up men and women to speak your word, to guide, to challenge and convert. At the last, Lord, you sent Jesus Christ, child of your love, God with us.

Born as one of us, he lived our life and died our death offering us, both now and forever, eternal life with you. Through him, in him and because of him, we affirm the Church’s faith:

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again!

 

WORDS OF INSTITUTION & DISTRIBUTION

Closing prayer…

 

PASSING OF THE PEACE

 

HYMN TIS 390

Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord

Alleluia, alleluia, give praise to his name.

 

Jesus is Lord of all the earth.

He is the King of creation.

            Refrain

Spread the good news o’er all the earth.

Jesus has died and has risen.             

Refrain

We have been crucified with Christ.

Now we shall live for ever.

            Refrain

God has proclaimed his gracious gift:

new life for all! Alleluia!                    

Refrain

Come let us praise the living God.

Joyfully sing to our Saviour.               

Refrain                                                            Donald E Fishel 1950 –

 

BLESSING & BENEDICTION – TIS 780 (sung two or three times)

May light come in to your eyes

May hope spring up in your heart

May peace guide all of your mind

And keep you in God

And keep you in God.