Online Sunday Service – Sunday 12th April 2020 – Easter Day

12 . 4 . 20 Week 4 – Easter Day

Please look out for an Easter Reflection called – Why did Jesus fold the napkin?

It will be posted tomorrow morning – Easter Monday.

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Good morning folks,

I sincerely hope and pray that you and your loved ones are managing to keep safe and well at this most difficult time.

It’s a challenging time isn’t it? As we worry about family and friends, try to keep ourselves out of harms way and use this ‘down time’ as usefully as we can.

It’s so easy for us to nap throughout the day or watch TV to pass the time but keeping ourselves healthy is important for our overall wellbeing mentally as well as physically. I have a wee thought about all this in my ‘Thought for the Week’ at the end of the Service.

Today is of course, Easter Day – the day of Resurrection, when Christians celebrate the day that Christ rose from the dead, the most important day in our Christian calendar. Yes, even more important than Christmas! For our faith is not that Jesus was born (as important as that is) or died (as important as that is too) but that he He rose again!

We will hear about that in a moment – but first, let us pray ~

Almighty God, it is with joy and praise, with awe and wonder, with gladness and celebration, that we bring you our worship on this Easter Day. This day of Resurrection.

We lift up our hearts, we lift up our thoughts, we lift up our voices, we lift up our souls, recognizing once more, all you have done for us, in and through Christ.

We rejoice in the message of this day, the Good News at the heart of our faith —light after darkness, joy after sorrow, good after evil, life after death!

Almighty God, speak to us again today through all we read and pray.

May the truth of the Resurrection inspire us with new hope.

May the victory of Christ fill us with new joy.

May the reality of His presence fill us with new faith.

And so may we serve you with new enthusiasm, to the glory of your name.

Loving God, we freely admit our faults and failings.

We acknowledge that we are far from perfect..

And we ask for a healing and a renewal in our lives……

We ask for a cleansing, a refreshing of all that has become jaded and routine in our worship – in our lives – in our love for you….

Forgive for our wrongdoings, restore us through the love of Jesus – revive us in the Holy Spirit – strengthen us through your Holy grace – so that we might better serve you and so live to your honour and your glory – through Him who died and yet rose again for us – our dear Lord Jesus – in whose name we pray.

Lord, we know that you hear us when we pray to you in faith – and so hear us now as we pray together, the family prayer – the Lord’s prayer ~

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. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever. Amen.

The Bible reading this morning tells us what happened on that very first Easter day.

It’s a well enough known passage but there’s much more to it than first meets the eye!

Let’s read it together ~

Luke 24 : 1 – 12

 News That Jesus Has Risen From Death

Very early Sunday morning, the women came to the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. They brought the sweet-smelling spices they had prepared. They saw that the heavy stone that covered the entrance had been rolled away. They went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They did not understand this. While they were wondering about it, two men in shining clothes stood beside them. The women were very afraid. They bowed down with their faces to the ground. The men said to them, “Why are you looking for a living person here? This is a place for dead people. Jesus is not here. He has risen from death. Do you remember what he said in Galilee? He said the Son of Man must be handed over to the control of sinful men, be killed on a cross, and rise from death on the third day.” Then the women remembered what Jesus had said.

The women left the tomb and went to the eleven apostles and the other followers. They told them everything that happened at the tomb. 10 These women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, and some others. They told the apostles everything that happened. 11 But the apostles did not believe what they said. It sounded like nonsense. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb to see. He looked in, but he saw only the cloth that Jesus’ body had been wrapped in. It was just lying there. Peter went away to be alone, wondering what had happened.”

Amen.

Well, here we are, Easter Day. It seems no time since we were putting away the Christmas decorations!

A wee boy in my Sunday school said to me “Mr Ramsden, Jesus couldn’t have been very old – if he was born at Christmas and died at Easter!” Bless….

Time certainly does fly. And for Jesus those few short days between the ‘Triumphal Entry’ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday with shouts of “Hosannah!’ from the cheering crowd – to the dark jeers of ‘Crucify Him!’ on Good Friday must have seemed like an instant. How quickly the mood had changed.

But as always, Good News in never far away when Jesus is around. And so the bad news turned once more into Good News when – “…on the third day, He rose again!…” Where were the cheers of “Halleluiah then!? How fickle our human ways can be.

The Resurrection is something that many people struggle with, including devout Christians.   I mean, once you have passed away then that’s it, isn’t it!?  Our common sense might be saying ‘yes’ but our faith tells us ‘no’.

It was no different for those who knew Jesus well. Our Reading for this morning from Luke’s Gospel tells us what happened when the women went to pay their respect to their friend Jesus with spices and oils to anoint His body, ready for burial.

They were taken aback – as they looked inside and saw Jesus was gone – and then – as if all that wasn’t enough – verse 4 tells us that 2 men in shiny suits – 2 angels – suddenly appeared beside them !!

“And they were afraid.”

No wonder they were afraid!   Wouldn’t you be!?

Where is He…?” they asked…

And the angels spoke – verse 5 – “why are you looking for Jesus in here !” One said – “don’t you remember that he told you he would rise on the third day – have you forgotten so soon!?”

He said that all this was going to happen – so why are you so surprised?’ said the other angel.

“Oh ye of little faith” as Jesus had once said.

“And then they remembered His words”. They remembered bad news followed by the good news! see verses 7 & 8.

The Good News which is littered throughout the bible for us to see – if – we have the eyes to see them.

The clues to God’s great plan for His people – are all in the bible, like stepping stones to the other side….

And perhaps it was this that the women remembered too – where the men failed to see.

God’s amazing plan – God’s wonderful promise – unfolding – there at the empty tomb.

And with a new understanding and joy and excitement – they rushed off to tell the others.

But – in verse 11 – we hear that no-one would believe them – because, as it says – “their words – seemed like nonsense”

That’s still true today isn’t it!? – when we tell others the good news of Jesus Christ – about how He came to save us – how He died so that we might have the promise of eternal life – and not only that, how He died a horrible death – but that 3 days later – He rose to a glorious Resurrection – so that we too will have the hope of a new life when we pass from this life into the next.

Many listen and believe, but to others – our words “seem like nonsense” see verse 11.

But then, there are those – like Peter in verse 12 – who are curious – who want to see for themselves.

Peter, it tells us, went to the tomb, looked in and saw the proof for himself – Jesus was gone ! Perhaps he really had risen – just as he had said he would!?

Perhaps – like Peter – you are curious – unsure of the truth.   If that’s so – then this story is for you.

Perhaps someone once told you the ‘Good News’ of Jesus – and like the disciples in our text for today – you didn’t believe them – perhaps you still don’t. If that’s so – then this story is for you.

Perhaps you have a strong faith – like the women at the tomb – and believe that Jesus died and rose again – for you. Then this too – is your story too – as you accept with thanksgiving, the promises of life and life eternal – and all because of the resurrection.

It speaks to every one if us.

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And so – in these few verses from Luke’s gospel, we see the whole of Christian life displayed.

We see the ups and the downs – the faith and the doubt – the unconvinced and the certainty – the curious, the witness – the sadness of death – and the joy of the promised resurrection.

It’s all there for us – if we read it carefully – and let our eyes slip between the lines – and pick out the clues.

But this is no story of death and destruction – or fear and failure – this is a story new life and resurrection –

Love and hope, excitement and expectation.

This is a cosmic narrative – a Holy truth – a practical demonstration for all to see the great Power of our Holy and Almighty God. Jesus can overcome even death!      And through Him – so too can we..

That’s what the Resurrection is all about – that’s why it’s important – that’s why we celebrate God’s power over death – that’s why Easter is so significant to us – to all Christians – to the world – not that Jesus died – but that Jesus rose again!

Proving that nothing – is impossible for our God (see Luke 1 : 37)

It’s all part of God’s great plan –

And you are part of his divine plan –

You have an important part to play.

Your very life – your precious soul – are entwined – interlinked – interwoven – with the life, death and Resurrection of our Saviour –

Who was raised to new life – life everlasting – on this Easter day – this day of Resurrection !!

Now that really IS – something to celebrate!

Don’t you think??

I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Easter!!

And in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Let us Pray ~

Lord Jesus, as you made yourself known first at Easter to the people who most loved you and missed you, make yourself known on this Resurrection day to any who have felt cut off from you-any who are burdened by guilt, and do not understand how much you love them. Any who feel that joy has gone out of their life for ever. And as you dealt patiently with those who couldn’t understand, deal patiently too with all people who are handicapped by closed minds, all who fear that the resurrection news is too good to be true – all who are held back from faith by intellectual barriers of doubt. Make yourself known to them too; and set them free.

We pray for all who suffer the distress of losing a loved one – be with them Lord and bless them with your love and your care – help them to come to terms with their loss and comfort them – comfort us – with the knowledge of that new life which awaits us all – and that their loved ones are now experiencing – free from all the worries of this life – they are now resting in peace – perfect peace we pray.

We ask for your blessings upon our own families – and our church family – bless them, dear Lord, keep them safe, in Jesus’ name.

This Easter, we pray for those who have lost their lives to the CV 19 virus and we pray for their loved ones who mourn their passing. We pray too for those who are on the frontline in the battle against this horrible disease – watch over them, keep them safe, bless them and bless their families too.

We pray for all those who have everyday jobs, yet so necessary to the life and well being of each of us. Bless them too Lord, keep them safe.

Be with us now, Lord, as we sit for a few silent moments, each with our own thoughts, each with our own prayer – for those who we know, in our own lives who need a prayer today………short time of silence….

Be with them all listening Lord, for we bring them before you in the name of the risen Christ – the one who overcame the darkness and rose into your light – refreshed, renewed – our Lord, our Saviour, our hope for the future – our dear Lord Jesus. Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

This is an Easter Day like we have never experienced in our lifetimes. We are unable to join with our families and friends in Church, to sing those great Easter Hymns such as “Jesus Christ is risen today, halleluiah!’, “Christ is alive, let Christians sing”, ‘Thine be the glory, Risen conquering Son!’ – and many more. Not able to join with our church family in Prayer for all God’s goodness and Greatness…

Easter is a time of great joy, but this year it will be overshadowed, for many, by anxiety and fear. Fear of the unknown, fear for our families, our friends and for ourselves that the CV 19 virus might visit too close to our home or the homes of the ones we love.

Did you know that the words “Fear not,” appear 365 times in the Bible? One for everyday (not a lot of people know that). God doesn’t want us to go a single day without hearing his words of comfort.

Philippians 4 : 6 – 7 Paul tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

And Psalm 46 v10 tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Great advice for us in these testing times.

Easier said than done I know, but if we can put our trust in a God who can overcome death, as He did on Easter Day, then surely He is a God who is worthy of our trust and our confidence that he CAN do great and wonderful things.

“In God we Trust” is, of course, the official motto of the USA and is a good motto for our lives.

If we put all our trust in God we can rest assured that our Great God will be with us in our times of trial.

God is not just for Sunday’s, He is for every day , in every situation, whether working on the NHS frontline or safe at home, He promises to be with us, watching over us as we go about our lives.

So take comfort in God’s almighty, all caring, all loving presence. God will see us through.

Is ‘All your Trust in the Lord’? I hope and pray that it is – there is no better foundation on which to build your life.

Amen.

I’d like to leave you with a final thought – in the form of a Poem called – RESURRECTION.

Round the dark and troubled world – the bells of Easter ring,

Bringing to our weary hearts – the message of the Spring.

Season of awakening – renewal and rebirth,

Mystic resurrection – of the glory of the earth.

 

Hope revives and joy returns – and faith is now reborn,

In the light that comes with – the resurrection morn.

As we hail the risen Christ – His image we can see,

Shining through the loveliness – of field, and flower, and tree.

 

Pledges of immortality – in every living thing,

Promise of eternal life – in seed, and leaf, and wing.

Love has triumphed over death – The stone is rolled away!

God has granted unto us – another Easter day !

That hindrance to life – that stone is taken away for us too – Giving us new life – through Jesus…. when we give our lives over to Him –

So if you’re thinking of fully committing yourself to Jesus – what better day to do it than today – on Easter day – that glorious day of ‘new life – new beginnings’ !!??

Let us pray

Lord receive our praise this Easter day – receive us – revive us – renew us – receive our very lives and so we may have that new beginning which Jesus promises to each one of us……. And all this – through the glory of God – through his risen Son – our dear sweet Jesus……to whom we give all the honour and the glory – this Easter day – and every day. Amen”.

And now ~

Go in joy, hope peace and love-

Go out and celebrate the new life that the risen Jesus has given you……..

And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with us all – be with our families and all who we know and love – and ought to love – this day – and every day.

Amen.

Take care, God Bless and keep safe.

HAPPY EASTER !!

Don’t forget to look on this site tomorrow morning to hear the intriguing Reflection ~

Why did Jesus fold the Napkin ?