An act of worship at home for Easter Day
12th April 2020
Father God, we come to you
because you turn doubt into hope, tears into laughter and fear into fearlessness.
We come to you because on Easter Sunday
and on every other day, we can say, ‘Jesus is alive!’
Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
sons of men and angels say: Alleluia!
raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
sing, ye heavens, and earth reply: Alleluia!
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once he all doth save, Alleluia!
where’s thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!
Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Lord Jesus Christ, we praise you that we can worship you not simply as the crucified Christ but as our risen Lord and Saviour. We praise you that death means not the end but a new beginning, not simply for you but for us too! We praise you then for this time of joy, of thanksgiving and celebration a time that speaks of victory, renewal and hope. We praise you for the great message of Easter and the wonderful truth that countless generations across the years have found it to be true in their own experience. Open now your word to us so that we may meet with you and receive your life for ourselves. Amen.
Reading John 20 vv 1-18
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped round Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’
‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realise that it was Jesus. He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’
She turned towards him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’).
Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them,
“I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news:
‘I have seen the Lord!’
And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Easter is full of images, the empty tomb, the voice of angels, Mary’s meeting Jesus, the promises made through the prophets coming true, it is rich and powerful, and fundamental to who we are as Easter People.
The pain and sorrow of Good Friday is brushed aside in one glorious moment of realization, one moment of overwhelming joy, as the profound significance for us and for the world comes crashing in. Jesus has been raised, death could not hold him. All that Jesus said about life and death is made real in that empty tomb and in that encounter in the garden, and wonderfully today we share in it.
We share in the promises made to Children of Israel and to the entire world through the Prophets. We share in the promises made to the disciples and to all who listened to Jesus as he walked towards his death. We share in it because the word that he spoke to them, and to us, is made real by the resurrection we celebrate this morning.
And it is made true by the testimony of our hearts, hearts that have been touched by the spirit of the living Lord, hearts that have heard Jesus knocking and have opened the door and had him come in and fill them with his love, hearts that encounter the risen Christ.
We are Easter People not just because we live on the resurrection side of Good Friday. We are Easter People because, as has always been the case throughout history, Christ comes to those who seek him every day. This Easter morning is God’s promise of a new day. It is God’s promise of a new life. It is God’s promise of a new world coming to us.
Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again, and again, and again.
The empty tomb was not the end of the story. What
actually happened in the tomb that first Easter morning is God’s mystery, less
important to us than what happened to those who came to the tomb and went from
it into the rest of their lives. To them, Jesus brought life, sustaining them
through difficult times, in a way never before experienced.
‘Why are you crying?’ Jesus asked Mary.
We know that life can be painful, we know that death is real. But Easter is the day to believe, to know,
that death is no longer the end, and that things can change gloriously.
Jesus comes to the world to show that death does not have the final word: because we will find, like Mary, in amazement and relief, that ‘we are not alone’; because we know the living Christ is with us – in a garden, as we walk and worry, at the bedside of one who is dying.
Resurrection is more than something that happened 2,000 years ago. May this be a day, a time, when we dare to love, dare to wonder, dare to be amazed by God’s presence and power to create victory over death – when we dare to sing “Christ the Lord is risen today. Alleluia!”
Thank you, Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ, this is a season of new beginnings — not just your glorious resurrection from the dead,
but the resurrection of broken dreams, crushed hopes, shattered faith — and we praise you for it.
At this difficult time help us to remember that, for your followers, there seemed no reason to hope.
Yet you came to them, risen and victorious, the same Jesus who had suffered and died, and to those same disciples who had failed you, you brought new power, new purpose. Risen Saviour, raise us to newness of life.
Teach us, however often we might fail, never to lose sight of that truth.
Save us from losing our sense of all that you are able to do,
keep us open to the journey of discovery you hold before us, and give us faith to walk with you, wherever you would lead us, confident of your transforming power in our lives. Risen Saviour, raise us to newness of life.
Lord Jesus Christ, Easter is a time of new beginnings, a fresh start,
a day in which we celebrate the promise of resurrection for all, your gift of new life from old,
and we praise you for it. Risen Saviour, raise us to newness of life.
Hear our prayer, for we offer it in your name.
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.
God, the creator of all life,
Jesus Christ, the giver of eternal life,
and the Holy Spirit, the power in each and every life,
bless each one of us, this day and every day.