Sunday April 4th 2021
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
A warm welcome to our Easter Sunday service. Let us begin by singing that glorious hymn of resurrection.
Hymn 410 Jesus Christ is risen today.
Prayer of Approach and Confession (by Gwen)
Yea Lord, we greet thee, Risen this happy morning.
Jesus to thee be all glory given.
We rejoice today that you cared so much for us that you want to share with us your gift of life; you laid down your life to give us life, going through such a horrific death nailed on a cross, paying such a high price, a sacrifice for our sins.
You bought our forgiveness with your life.
We rejoice that you paid the price for our sin but we rejoice even more that you rose again. You want to lead us into a living, loving relationship with you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Receive our praise this glorious day.
You are all loving, all gracious all powerful and you deserve all our worship. You are ever faithful, ever active, and ever near us. You are greater than our minds can grasp, yet you have revealed your glory, you have lived and died among us and know all that we go through, every situation and circumstance and every sin we do.
Yet you still call us your children, brothers and sisters, your people.
By your death you who were sinless took on all our sins, and our sins died on that cross as you died and when you rose again on that beautiful Easter morning, we rose too, our sins forgiven, left dead in the tomb.
We rejoice with you as our debts are paid and we stand clean, washed sin free by your blood, shed on the cross.
Yet we fail or forget to live as your followers, obeying your laws and loving one another. We are feeble in faith and at times spiritually blind, we deceive ourselves and deceive others in thinking we can cope by ourselves and dismissing the ordeal and sacrifice that you made for us.
Forgive us Lord, help and guide us to see that you are with us and stay by our side always and together we further pray saying - -- - - -
Our Father, - - - - -
Hymn 415 This joyful Eastertide
Readings: John 20:1-18
1 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. 2 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!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 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.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 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.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 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.’”
18 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.
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Anthem: Mozart’s Alleluia, sung by Aksel Rykkvin
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen
Easter, a year ago, was unlike anything we had experienced before. We had just gone into lockdown. All Holy Week and Easter services had been cancelled. Everyone was in a state of shock, feeling like we were living through a bad dream or were in the middle of a science fiction film. And we might have had a certain fellow feeling with the disciples after the crucifixion as they huddled together behind locked doors because they were afraid.
Last year we too had barred our doors to the outside world because we also were afraid, not afraid of persecution by our enemies, but rather afraid of this deadly virus which was stalking our world, afraid of other people who might be carrying it and endangering us, and afraid of the danger we might unwittingly pose to other people. Like those disciples we seemed to be staring down into the darkness of the abyss.
And now here we are a year later and things look different. We dare, even if only tentatively, to raise our eyes towards sun-lit, though still distant, uplands. Learning to live with this virus and manage the risk has become part of our normal way of life. The outside world does not seem quite as dangerous as it did a year ago, even if only because we understand a little better what we are dealing with.
And thankfully we are beginning to come out of lockdown. We can see light at the end of the tunnel (and we hope it’s not the headlights of an oncoming train!). Many people have been vaccinated and can feel their confidence returning. We are at last back in church, albeit in a rather more limited way than we all would like.
And I suppose the disciples at that first Easter must have been going through something like that progression, moving as they did from the terrible events of Good Friday, and the darkness of Easter Saturday, into the resurrection hope of Easter Sunday.
But the interesting thing about the New Testament story of how their hope returned is that it only happened gradually. We know from reading about the various resurrection appearances that it took the disciples’ time to assimilate the good news that Jesus had risen, and it took them even longer to fully realise what it all meant.
And this should not really surprise us very much. In our own lives, there can be many occasions when we have to move from fear to hope, from sorrow to gladness, and it isn’t always a speedy process. Our current progression out physical lockdown towards opening up to the world again can be paralleled by the re-emerging of our spirits from the darkness of physical and mental suffering. Think of coming through a critical illness and how long it takes before life is fully back on track. Or suffering a bereavement and the time it takes just to accept the absence of a loved one. Or being betrayed by a friend or a partner and the time it takes to trust again. However much we would like the process to be sudden and decisive, it is not. Moving away from the loss and the pain is subtle and gradual and brings many challenges of its own, and the magnitude of the challenges is often determined by the extent of the original shock. We may cast our eyes towards those sun-lit uplands but we can only reach them step-by-step.
The disciples allowed themselves these small steps, that time of adaptation, before they began to spread the good news that Jesus had risen. They needed time to recover from the shock of Good Friday and the darkness that they had lived through. That is perhaps why all four gospels finish with the resurrection appearances of Jesus: Easter was the end of one story and the beginning of another. It offered the amazing gift of new life, but the new day promised by Easter dawned only gradually.
It isn’t really until the book of Acts that we see how the disciples seized that gift of new life and set about bringing the message of it to the whole world. They knew, as the Gospels tell us, that Jesus had risen from the dead and it is the book of Acts that shows us what they did with this knowledge.
But this clearly did not happen all at once. The beginning of the book of Acts tells us that for 40 days Jesus appeared to his followers before he was taken up to heaven, and then even after that they were told to wait until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
So the disciples didn’t leap straight in to action. They took the time to try to understand the full meaning of what they had been through, coming to terms with the bad and embracing the good, realising more and more clearly that their lives had been changed forever by the offer from Jesus of new life and renewed hope. They pondered carefully what the good news of Jesus meant for their own lives, for their movement, and for humankind.
Easter this year brings us the double opportunity to savour the return of freedom as lockdown is eased and also to consider how the great message of Easter may guide and inspire the life that is opening to us once more. It is time to celebrate the new life of Easter and to understand what it means that Jesus has offered us that life, which he promises will be life in all its fullness. Amen
Hymn 425 The Saviour died, but rose again
Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Lord Jesus Christ,
Come, stand among us,
that we might see You by our side,
that we might hear You call our names,
that we might now, on this heady day of joy,
be still, right now, and know that You are God.
We give You heartfelt thanks from our full hearts.
We bring to You our prayers this day
For a world needing Easter.
We pray for those locked in by hurt, and loneliness and grief.
We pray for those locked in by addiction, and hunger, and poverty.
We pray that we, inspired by Your Good News this Easter Day,
may bring our practical care and help to those who call out,
and to those who are silent,
and in our lived-out faith and love, show no partiality
as we bring what hope we can to those in need.
Today we pray for our nation,
and for those who shape the future of our country and our world.
In times of uncertainty make us confident with kindness.
In times of frustration, make us gentle with vision.
Help us to be the Easter people bringing light into our world.
Lord Jesus Christ,
for the Church we pray, that in our work and witness
we may be generous in our believing,
and joyful in our serving.
Help us to blend tradition and newness,
to keep our faith and work a power for good,
and a dynamic for reconciliation and renewal.
This Easter Day, this new beginning, this time of lifting up,
lift up our heads and hearts, lift up our eyes and voices,
for our Lord Jesus Christ is risen!
And there is hope!
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Hymn 419 Thine be the glory
Christ was raised from the dead
by the glorious power of the Father.
Set out, then, on a new life with Christ.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you,
now and forever more.
Closing voluntary: Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah
From the Food Bank.
The next collection for the Stewartry Food Bank will be Tuesday 13th April, 9 - 9.30am at Kirkcudbright Parish Church.
This is advance notice for those who like to know our needs prior to their weekly shop.
Thanks to some very generous donations, most of our shelves are very well stocked at the moment. However, the following are items which may run low during April:
Savoury and sweet spreads (jam, honey, chocolate; meat and fish pastes)
Deodorant (male and female)
Toothbrushes and toothpaste (for adults and children)
Thank you, as always, for your continuing support - a particular thank you to the ladies of the Inner Wheel who kindly thought of providing Easter eggs to be included in our parcels prior to Easter.
All best wishes
on behalf of Marian Dixon
and the SFB Team.
At Tarff and Twynholm the door at the end of the concrete path, opposite the main gate, will be left unlocked for donations after the service until 5.00pm on Sunday 11th April. In Gatehouse, donations can be left at the Gatehouse stores or in Jim Logan’s Pend, the blue door to the left of 16 Fleet Street, up to lunchtime on Monday 12th.
Twynholm Easter Cross
After the service this morning, the Easter Cross will be placed outside the door facing the Glebe and anyone wishing to add a flower can do so later in the day.
As we are unable to have flowers in the Church at the moment, some of the flower committee have very thoughtfully put bunches of daffodils at the entrance to the Church in Gatehouse and you are invited to take one home with you at the end of the service, if you would like.