Easter Sunday at St Andrew's

Sunday 12 April 2020, 10 am

Easter Sunday

Virtual Morning Prayer at St Andrew’s Eaton 

Speaker: Phil Rodd

  

Welcome to this ‘virtual service’ for Easter Day from St Andrew’s Eaton.  We continue to be unable to meet face-to-face, but please join others from the congregation in prayer and learning from God’s Word and rejoicing in all that He has done for us. 

If you find this print difficult to read, please look at this page.

 

INTRODUCTION

Leader:     Alleluia. Christ is risen.

All:           He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Leader:    Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All:           He has given us new life and hope. 

He has raised Jesus from the dead.

Leader:    Alleluia. Christ is risen.

All:           He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Faithful one, whose word is life: 
come with saving power 
to free our praise, 
and shape our lives 
for the kingdom of your Son, 
Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen.

 

Opening Hymn:  Jesus Christ is risen today

Words (verses 1-3) or listen here

 

FIRST READING

Jeremiah 31. 1-6

The Joyful Return of the Exiles

 

CONFESSION

Leader:     Christ died to sin once for all, and now he lives to God.

Let us renew our resolve to have done with all that is evil and confess our sins in penitence and faith. 

cf Romans 6.10

 

Leader:     Like Mary at the empty tomb we fail to grasp the wonder of your presence.

Lord, have mercy.

All:           Lord, have mercy.

Leader:     Like the disciples behind locked doors, we are afraid to be seen as your followers.

Christ, have mercy.

All:           Christ, have mercy.

Leader:     Like Thomas in the upper room, we are slow to believe.

Lord, have mercy.

All:          Lord, have mercy.

Leader:     

The Lord enrich us with his grace, and nourish us with his blessing; 
the Lord accept our prayers, and absolve us from our offences, 
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. 
Amen.

 

Hymn: See what a morning
 

SECOND READING 

Matthew 28. 1-10

The Resurrection of Jesus

 

Hymn: Thine be the glory words or listen here
 

SERMON (Phil Rodd)

NB You can watch this sermon on YouTube or listen to it on our website

 

Breathe!

Well, I’m sure you’ve been doing that.  And we love it at this time of year, don’t we? – when we can go outside, feel the warmth of the sun, see the colours, and just – breathe!  Even more so, perhaps, this year, because we’re told that the air is so much cleaner than usual, with the pollution levels hugely reduced because of the lockdown.

But you know, there’s so much out there that would make us do the exact opposite.  I don’t know about you, but I can get so glued to the TV, with its non-stop news bulletins, with all those awful statistics… And I feel myself tensing up, just basically with fear.  And I think that we can somehow be ignorant of the harm that we can be doing to ourselves, just with that diet of non-stop bad news.  

Don’t misunderstand me.  Of course we need to be informed.  But we also need - to breathe.  Because breathing isn’t just about inhaling, filling our lungs with God’s good air; it’s also about exhaling, about letting go.  Because before we can breathe in anything, we have to let go of all the impurities that build up, in our systems, in our bodies.

And above all today, we need to breathe in - to breathe in the truth, the life, the sheer vitality of the Easter message…

That vitality reminds me of some of those Renaissance paintings depicting the Resurrection.  I know I’ve shown one at St Andrew’s before, by the Dutch painter Rubens, of an enormous Christ climbing very physically out of his very physical tomb; and there’s so much flesh – and the thing is, of course, that all that flesh 
is absolutely live again…!

Christ in these paintings is sometimes titled ‘Christus Victor’ – because that’s who he is, as he strides forth, out from the corruption of death into the new life of the resurrection.  He is the one who has conquered sin and 
death and hell – once and for all.

But you can’t help but notice, I think, how his enormous frame so often contrasts with our trembling timorousness!

 

With that thought, I want to turn our attention again to our situation, poised as we seem to be at the peak of the Covid-19 infection.  It’s been interesting over the past couple of weeks to hear a number of expert psychologists speak of the three phases of trauma:

  1. Heroic Phase - where the response is rapid and widespread, with thousands of people wanting to do something – and many volunteer to help in some way.  Which is great, of course!

  2. Disappointment Phase – when there’s a collective sigh at the scale of the task, and the problems, difficulties in effecting any real change.

  3. Re-making Phase - where people look to identify and construct new beginnings for our communities.

Just stay with that heroic phase a moment, though – because it’s an important one, even though inevitably we may want to pass on to subsequent phases, and quickly get on with the real business of starting again.  But I think some of us can very easily forget our heroism.  Some of us, perhaps have never known any heroism.  Though our elders and betters, who lived through the war, certainly did.  They knew what it meant to keep calm and carry on…

But how quickly can things begin to unwind when there’s no Camembert on the shelves at Waitrose – or worse still, when the Tesco’s delivery van brings our order, but – shock, horror – they’ve substituted a packet of Brie instead of your Camembert!

Yes, perhaps some of us need to locate our heroism – or to rediscover it.  And perhaps we need a bit of help.

Just like Mary in our gospel reading.  She (along with the other Mary with her) really are the heroes of the piece.  After all they’ve been through, in losing the One they’d lost their hearts to, they manage to summon up the courage to visit the tomb, that first day of the week, the Sunday after Good Friday.  None of the male disciples go – just these two women.  But their trauma is exacerbated further: first an earthquake, then the sudden appearance of a shining angel.  The soldiers on guard, we’re told they shook like dead men.  But the two women find just enough courage to hold their ground – and immediately, the angel shows them the empty space in the tomb – that vital proof that Jesus was alive again.  And with that, they’re given just what they need to carry that message of hope back to the other disciples, still in hiding in their upper room.  And two women, who, according to the culture of the time would have been seen as weak and unreliable, in a stroke become the first heralds of the gospel.  

The reality of their situation remains, though; and Matthew reports that they set out, full of fear and joy. That’s real heroism, isn’t it?  Not just like in the old Star Trek series, you remember – ‘boldly going where no man has gone before’!  But recognising the joy and the fear that wrestled within them – but nevertheless, going, and being willing to spread the good news of Jesus.  Real heroism. 

And that heroism is rewarded, because on the way, they’re met by Jesus, they hear him speak their name.  And they never look back.  There’s no mention of any disappointment phase (you remember, the second phase of trauma that the psychologists speak about); but they’re straight into the third phase – the re-making phase, the reality of Christ’s commission – what he gives her to do…

A few weeks ago, in our sermon series on Jeremiah the prophet, I got to preach on my favourite verses from that book: chapter 29, when God says that he knows the plans and purposes he has for his exiled people.  And today, the lectionary readings for Easter Sunday throw up another ‘purple passage’: Jeremiah 31, which sets out a principle of life for all those who seek to know God’s purpose when life seems hard.  Jeremiah 31, verses 2 and 3:

Thus says the Lord:

The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

 

Because let’s face it, there’s much in life that is wilderness.  But that’s where God so often chooses to lead us, precisely because that’s where he ordains that we, his people, will find grace.

So, to finish, this Easter, we have to recognise it: the statistics are frightening.  But the risen Jesus wants to commission us, to use us to bring his love, his presence, and his grace to those around us.  For some of us, the stone of fear and dread may need to be rolled away.  Or perhaps we may simply need to rediscover our courage, our heroism – or to look to Jesus for him to give us his courage.  

There’s a big task ahead – the task of re-making, making something new out of the ruins that the Coronavirus will leave behind.  And we’ll all need to play our part – as Christ’s own heroes.  

So let’s be still as we come to him, and ask him to use as instruments of change, of re-making, of resurrection…

And as we come to him, again, let’s breathe – breathe away our fears, let them go… and let’s breathe in Christ’s own life, the life of the Spirit which he would breathe into us this day.

(For an image of a stunning mosaic of Mary with Jesus in the Garden of Resurrection, follow this link.)

 

PRAYERS

Let us pray

'A locked church'

Ah my dear Lord, the church is locked
but let my heart be open to your presence;
there let us make, you and I,
your Easter garden;
plant it with flowers,
and let the heavy stone be rolled away.

Amen

         By Alan Amos

You are invited to use these texts in your own worship and private prayer. You don't have to know any particular prayers if you want to pray - in fact, fixed texts can sometimes get in the way - but the ones listed here may help you to think about ideas, images, and forms of words you can use.

Prayers for personal situations

Prayers for guidance, difficult situations, justice, growth, guilt, mourning, and healing. Our Prime Minister, Doctors. Nurses, all who are working to make life a little easier.

Prayers for family life and children

Prayers for families and children. Those living in cramped conditions without gardens, the abused with nowhere to go.

Prayers for the world

Prayers for peace and safety, unrest, tragedy, and love. Refugees, pandemic in every continent, Rulers and leaders 

Prayers for refugees

Prayers for refugees and those held in captivity. Syria, camps without care for those who are sick across the world, compassion 

Matthew 28. 5-7 Easter Prayer

‘Do not be afraid’

God, I hand over to you those things that make me so afraidResurrect the parts of my faith obliterated by fear.

‘I know that you are looking for Jesus’ 

God, when my soul is searching, help me know the answer to every longing can be found in you.

He has risen

God, the fact that Jesus is risen should lift my head, my heart and my attitude. Help me to live today as if I really believe this with every part of my life.

‘Just as he said’ 

Jesus, you keep your promises. Help me live as though I believe that with every part of me. Help me trust you more, obey you more and resemble you more.

Come and see

Jesus, you had the angels invite the women in to see for themselves that you had risen. You invite me into these personal revelations every day. Forgive me for sometimes rushing about and forgetting to come and see for myself... you, your Word, your insights.

Then go quickly and tell his disciples

Jesus, I don't want to be a secret keeper with my faith. I want to be a bold and gracious truth proclaimer. For you. With you. Because of you. Me, the unwanted child whom you loved, redeemed and wanted. In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Aadapted from Lysa TerKeurst

 

The Collect, the prayer for the day

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 
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. 
Amen.

 

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.

 

Hymn: In Christ alone

 

THE BLESSING

May Christ, who out of defeat 
brings new hope and a new future, 
Fill you with his new life; 
and the blessing of God almighty, 
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, 
be with you, evermore. 
Amen.

 

 

 

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