Morning Service for Easter Day 2021

LIGHTING OF THE PASCHAL CANDLE 

Eternal God, who made this most holy morn 

to shine with the brightness of your true light: 

set us aflame with the fire of your love, 

and bring us to the radiance of your heavenly glory; 

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Christ yesterday and today,

the beginning and the end,

Alpha and Omega,

all time belongs to him and all ages;

to him be glory and power,

through every age and for ever. Amen.

May the light of Christ, rising in glory,

banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

The light of Christ.

Thanks be to God.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

HYMN Jesus Christ is risen today

1 Jesus Christ is risen to-day, Alleluya!

Our triumphant holy day, Alleluya!

Who did once, upon the Cross, Alleluya!

Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluya!

2 Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluya!

Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluya!

Who endured the Cross and grave, Alleluya!

Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluya!

3 But the pains that he endured Alleluya!

Our salvation have procured; Alleluya!

Now above the sky he’s King, Alleluya!

Where the angels ever sing. Alleluya!

The 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.

EPISTLE

Acts 10.34-43

Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and 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 ordained by God 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.”

HYMN The strife is o’er the battle done.

1 The strife is o'er, the battle done;

Now is the Victor's triumph won;

O let the song of praise be sung.

Alleluya!

2 Death's mightiest powers have done their worst,

And Jesus hath his foes dispersed;

Let shouts of praise and joy outburst.

Alleluya!

3 On the third morn he rose again

Glorious in majesty to reign;

O let us swell the joyful strain.

Alleluya!

4 *He brake the age-bound chains of hell;

The bars from heaven's high portals fell;

Let hymns of praise his triumph tell.

Alleluya!

5 *Lord, by the stripes which wounded thee

From death's dread sting thy servants free,

That we may live, and sing to thee.

Alleluia!

GOSPEL 

John Chapter 20. 1-18

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.

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.

SERMON

Sermon – Easter Sunday YrA 99

Acts 10.34-43; John 20: 1-18

Can you guess my favourite window in St Saviour’s?  Yes – its that one over there – it illustrates the story I’ve just read.  The time when Mary Magdalene comes to a grave to honour a dead man, and finds instead an empty tomb.

Is the story credible?  Lots of people went to their deaths claiming it was true, but we can’t possibly know.  What surely matters to us is whether it tells us something about God which is credible and is true to our experience of him.

We have in the last few weeks been pondering the cross, finding in it a place where the notion of a loving God can make sense in a far from perfect world.  We have found it to be credible – I can cope with this painful and dangerous world in the knowledge that in some way God has shared it and affirmed its value to him by bearing the worst that it can offer.  In bearing its pain, we can know that life is not without purpose – for we know that our Saviour God has joined us in it.

So if the cross has taught us something about God that makes sense, that shows us how he can love us, and yet create a world where to live is, at some time or other, to suffer, what does Easter say to us?  Why do we need an empty tomb?

If the meeting between perfect love and our world of religious and political jealousy and avarice, inevitably resulted in the crucifixion of love, then what ever would happen next would say something about where the real power lay – where the ultimate victory was to be found.  And it would be just as inevitable.

In a contest between hate and love, love dies – so we look to see if that is the end of the story.  

We, of course, know that it isn’t, we know that love does not so much as defeat the hatred that crucifies all that is good and noble and fine, as demonstrate it to be irrelevant.  It is a temporary irritant, painful at the time, but incapable of doing any lasting damage.

Central to John’s telling of the resurrection is Mary Magdalene.  Its interesting to reflect on what she does – in just a few verses she does quite a lot – she first weeps at the empty tomb, she then looks into it, she sees the angels that appear at every account of Easter morning, she speaks, she turns round, she sees a man she takes to be the gardener, she speaks to him, she turns round again as she recognises him to be Jesus, she speaks again, she then literally clings hold of him.

He then tells her to do three things, to let go of him, and to go and to tell his brothers.  

For Mary, then for us, we come to the death of love, we come to the grave of what we most hope for, our desperate need for the world to be a safe and just place, a place without suffering and hurt, and we weep, because we find that that is not how it is – that it is a mixture of highest love, and vilest hate, and that the hatred, and the disease always seem to win through.  And we weep – we weep for the waste of it all, the futility of it all, the emptiness of it all.  

And then we perceive that heaven has not deserted us, that it can break through, at any moment, and we turn, and turn again as we recognise that the death of love can only result in the birth of yet more life.  We see hope and we grasp it to ourselves, we cling to it.  We would hold and posses it, worship it and secure it tight.  

But the good news of love is too good to be kept to ourselves, it causes us to dry our tears and to worship, to go and to tell – for such love cannot be possessed it can only be gloried in and given away.  

And there is more – there is in this little scene a transformation – not only are the tears dried and a new mission given – but the relationship of the son to his father God is now extended to us – throughout John’s gospel Jesus talks of ‘his father’ now he can talk of ‘my father and your father, my God and your God’, because the possibility of such a relationship has been opened to all people.

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH 

Let us declare our faith

in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins

in accordance with the scriptures;

he was buried;

he was raised to life on the third day

in accordance with the scriptures;

afterwards he appeared to his followers,

and to all the apostles:

this we have received,

and this we believe.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 15.3-7

Almighty God, we thank you for our fellowship in the household of faith with all those who have been baptised in your name. Keep us faithful to our baptism, and so make us ready for that day when the whole creation shall be made perfect in your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

HYMN The day of resurrection

1 The Day of Resurrection!

Earth, tell it out abroad;

The Passover of gladness,

The Passover of God!

From death to life eternal,

From earth unto the sky,

Our Christ hath brought us over

With hymns of victory.

2 Our hearts be pure from evil,

That we may see aright

The Lord in rays eternal

Of resurrection-light;

And, listening to his accents,

May hear so calm and plain

His own 'All hail,' and, hearing,

May raise the victor strain.

3 Now let the heavens be joyful,

And earth her song begin,

The round world keep high triumph,

And all that is therein;

Let all things seen and unseen

Their notes in gladness blend,

For Christ the Lord hath risen,

Our joy that hath no end.

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION

Intercessions for Easter Sunday 4-4-21

Risen Lord, on this glorious Easter Morning, we are filled with the sheer joy of your resurrection. Jesus, risen in the garden, roll away the stones of our doubt and disbelief, bring us to the awe and beauty of your risen presence, that we may be filled with unshakeable hope.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Risen Lord, we pray that you would watch over our world. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes broken and bewildered, sometimes threatened by dangerous and hostile forces. We pray, Lord, for all those broken communities, and ask your forgiveness for our own apathy, and our lack of involvement in the plight of others. We give thanks for those who have the courage to take steps towards peace in places of conflict, praying for them and all the agencies who behind the scenes work with communities to build new lives.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Risen Lord, We pray for our church here in this Benefice, for William and his family, for our Readers and Churchwardens, our organist and choir and all those who serve our Benefice by giving so freely of their time and skills on a voluntary basis. We remember especially all those who during this difficult time have worked to keep our churches alive and who have been a help and inspiration to so many.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Risen Lord, we bring to you all leaders and their advisers at this uncertain time for the whole world. We pray for our Queen, Prime Minister and government and all MPs and local councillors. We ask that you equip them to lead and to listen and to act honestly and with humility and compassion as they seek to cope with the present and plan for the future, working for the betterment of all in creating and maintaining a just, equitable and loving society.
Lord in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Risen Lord, we bring to you our families and friends. For many of us there is fear, doubt and uncertainty just as there was for your disciples, but you came to them, risen, alive to offer them peace. Thank you that your peace reaches out to us today even in life’s fiercest storms. May we all know that we are always held in the embrace of your love.

Lord in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Risen Lord, we bring before you those people for whom we have especial concern, and we turn our thoughts and prayers to those who are in physical, mental or spiritual need. Surround them, their families, their friends, and the medical staff who care for them with your presence and your peace. 

We pray for those suffering from the COVID-19 virus, for those who are housebound, alone and isolated from their families, for those whose livelihoods and education have been disrupted and all the key workers and scientists who are working so hard to help and protect us during these difficult times. As they seek in their many different ways to bring hope and healing, we ask that you continue to encourage and energise them as they go ‘above and beyond’ on our behalf.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Risen Lord, we remember those who have died recently and those whose anniversaries fall at this time. We ask that they may be at peace with you in your everlasting kingdom, and we commend them to your everlasting love.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Risen Lord, as we bring our prayers to a close, we ask that you walk with us into the coming week, calming our fears, clearing our confusion, and guiding us in all we might say or do.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

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.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours

now and for ever. Amen.

BLESSING

HYMN Thine be the glory

1 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.

Refrain:

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,

Endless is the vict'ry thou o’er death hast won.

2 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: [Refrain]

3 No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of Life;

Life is nought 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: [Refrain]

Father, we have celebrated our Saviour's death and resurrection. 

Help us, for whom he died, 

to live his life that has no end.

We have offered the Church's sacrifice of praise.

Help us, who have received the bread of life, 

to be thankful for your gift.

We have greeted the new dawn of hope. 

Help us, who light these candles, 

never to forsake the light of Christ.

We bless one another in your name.

Help us, who now go in peace, 

to shine with your light in the world.

Thanks be to God! Amen.

To End

Sing Joyfully by William Byrd - Voces8