Resurrection Sunday He is risen


Sunday 12th April 2020


He is RISEN!


Welcome to virtual Church Resurrection Easter Sunday


I hope we can all celebrate in Spirit together on this wonderful, hope-filled day.   



Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Selah 


There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.


The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Selah 


Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,

he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”


The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.




Psalm 46 is a celebration of God’s presence despite troubles. The Psalmist has a  great confidence in God’s presence and deliverance and he is not going to let anything shake that confidence.

Psalm 46 presents God as a personal God – present and involved with His people, and it calls us to stop – be still, and meditate on who God is, and marvel at His glory and power.  


I pray that our time in worship this Sunday morning will bring you into God’s intimate presence, and bring comfort and peace to your soul.



The Reformer Martin Luther supposedly wrote the hymn ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’ based on Psalm 46. Let us meditate on those words and even sing it, if we know the tune. 





A mighty Fortress is our God,

A Bulwark never failing;

Our Helper He amid the flood

Of mortal ills prevailing:

For still our ancient foe

Doth seek to work us woe;

His craft and power are great,

And, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.

2

Did we in our own strength confide,

Our striving would be losing;

Were not the right Man on our side,

The Man of God’s own choosing:

Dost ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is He;

Lord Sabaoth His Name,

From age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.

3

And though this world, with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed

His truth to triumph through us:

The Prince of Darkness grim,

We tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure,

For lo! his doom is sure,

One little word shall fell him.

4

That word above all earthly powers,

No thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Through Him who with us sideth:

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also;

The body they may kill:

God’s truth abideth still,

His Kingdom is forever.



Music and original lyric by Martin Luther

English translation – Frederick H. Hedge, 1853








Prayer time


Some in the secular media have ridiculed Scott Morrison for praying for the Nation and against the pandemic. One secular journalist, at least, defended the use of prayer with this interesting piece of information…  

praying, instead of distracting from the task at hand, focuses it. A 2013 study from Georgia State University found that “praying about a problem appeared to liberate cognitive resources that are presumably otherwise consumed by worry and rumination, leaving individuals better able to process other information, and additionally to bias attention to favour detection of problem-relevant information”.

 

Regardless of the sociological benefits of prayer, we pray because God hears us. You can’t have a relationship with someone you don’t talk to, and God wants us to talk to Him so He can involve us in what He is doing in the world.

 

Remember in prayer


Maurie Andrews recovering from surgery

Anthea as she cares for Maurie in his recovery


Leigh and Hilary

Pray particularly that Leigh will be able to continue to get physio appointments.


Pray for Elva, Carol, Jane, Daphne and those who are on their own and in lockdown.


Jeff and his recovery from surgery.


Pray for the leaders of the nation and the world, that God would give them courage, wisdom and guidance.







 











 

 

 

 

Some thoughts for Communion 


One of the last teachings Jesus gave to the people, is recorded in John 12:24-26


I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me.


Jesus tells us that only through death comes life.

Jesus uses a principle of nature that is played out constantly everyday under our noses, to demonstrate a powerful spiritual truth.

Seeds fall to the ground and ‘die’ to become some other form.

You do not plant a stalk of wheat, you plant a kernel of wheat, a seed, and that kernel must die if there is to be a plant. The seed is just a seed until it is buried in the ground as if in a grave. Then and only then would there be fruit and further seeds to reproduce itself, to live on...

The awesome understanding that Jesus gives us in this verse is that there is a law at work in both nature, and the spiritual world. The forces at work in the natural and spiritual worlds are germinal, that is they are seeds that germinate in soil or soul, by a power within the seed.

Jesus demonstrated this principle by his sacrifice. His life would be the seed, His body and blood would be the dynamic power for growth within the seed. Whoever would allow Jesus to be planted inside their heart, mind and soul would see a spiritual growth, that would bear the fruit of a new and different life.

But first Jesus had to die, His body had to be buried in the ground before a radically new life for humankind would be possible. But then Jesus had to live again, because the power of germination within the seed brought forth His life again, and we now benefit from this new life.

We are the fruit of His work on the Cross, and we now have the Spirit to produce fruit in us.

God gave us at Easter, through Christ, the example that only when we give our lives away, will we keep them. Jesus is our example and the means for us to receive a new life.

To receive this new life, we need to give our lives to God, for the potter to mould and shape us to become what God intended us to be; and then to give our lives in service to one another. A part of us has to die in that process. We mark the beginning of our Christian lives with Baptism, a symbol of our old lives being buried, and our new life raised with Christ. Then, every Sunday we join together to share bread and wine, symbols of His body and blood.

He has given us these symbols so that we can know, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Spirit, not simply as Christian truths,  - mere concepts that distinguish Christianity from all others, but as truly the most profound realities of the universe. So that all of life can be lived out of this ultimate truth of our existence - that God loves us - and we know that, because of an event in time, a week in history, a period we call Easter, when God surrendered His life for us.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Communion

 

Prayer of Blessing

Loving God, It is through your goodness that we have this bread and wine to offer,

Which earth has given and human hands have made.

In the sharing of this bread, may we know your resurrection presence.


The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."

In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.


Prayer for the bread

Thank you gracious father for this bread

The symbol of your Son’s body given for us;

As many grains make this bread

So we who are many are one in you.


Take the bread


Prayer for the wine

Thank you gracious Father for this wine

The symbol of your Son’s blood, shed for us;

By your wounds we are healed

Through your blood we are forgiven


Take the wine


Prayer of closing

Father we thank you for this time around your table

As we have shared it with our brothers and sisters, this day, around the world.

Many are our loved ones whom we miss here today;

But we commend them and ourselves to you and to your good and perfect care,

Through Christ Our Lord, Amen















Scripture reading – John 20:1-9


John 20:1 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, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there,

7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, 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.)




Some thoughts on these verses


The first person to see the risen Lord was a woman, Mary Magdalene. She had gone to embalm His dead body. The stone had been moved, and the body was gone.

She told Peter and John, and they studied the tomb together, and then they left Mary to weep alone by the tomb. A man asks her why she is crying, and thinking He is the gardener she pleads to know where the dead body has been moved. She turns and sees Jesus.


None of them expected to see Him alive.

Two of the ways some have used to explain away the resurrection is to brand the disciples as deluded fools who fell for ghost stories, or clever conspirators who made a corpse vanish in order to start a rumour that would start a new religion.

Unfortunately for these theories the disciples were just too confused to be either.

The disciples were the biggest doubters of the resurrection rumours, and the gospels picture them as wimps hiding behind locked doors, terrified that the next knock will be the soldiers come to drag them to their own crosses. Even after Jesus appeared to them they didn’t believe it.


And the Jesus who appeared to them was not one who had only swooned and revived later; here is the man they know, with the scars to prove it.  That scar in His side is one no living human could bear; and He is walking and talking; to go through half of what He suffered would take someone months to recover.  

The priests, troubled by the resurrection rumours, came up with the story that the disciples had taken the body while the guards were asleep.

If they were asleep how could they know it was the disciples? And how could anyone roll away that huge stone without waking them up?

The fact remains that the tomb was empty because all the Jews had to do to stop the rumours was to produce a dead Jesus; but He was not dead. 

He was alive, and the reality of that fact transformed these sad, sorry, frightened little men into world changers, most of whom died martyrs deaths - something that men who are living a lie don’t do.

The ancient promise of God in the book of Isaiah 25:8 says, “He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; He will swallow up death forever; The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth.“  

For the disciples on that first Easter grieving for the death of their Master, The appearance of Jesus presented them with the incredible truth that, against all reason and evidence, the final and irreversible can be reversed.

Paul said to the Corinthians, ‘Where O grave is your victory? Where O death is your sting? 

What God did in a tomb in Jerusalem, He will one day do on a universal scale.

To some that may still sound like a fairy tale, wishful thinking, an inability to face reality.

Many have studied the evidence of the resurrection and chosen not to believe.

Just as many more have examined the evidence and chosen to believe, the resurrection is still received by faith.

The Apostle Paul declared the resurrection so important that he hinged the Christian faith on it.

1 Corinthians 15:13‑20

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.   Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.


Jesus rose again from the dead to prove His power over life and death, and now He is able and willing to offer eternal life to anyone who would put their trust in Him.            

Jesus came to free us from the power of sin, not to leave us as we were, but to make us what we were meant to be. Jesus came not to make bad men good or good men nicer - He came to make dead men live. He came not to resuscitate us, He came to resurrect us.







Below is a prayer that has ‘gone viral’ on the internet recently. I thought it was worth reproducing here.


God Bless you all.


Russell.






 ‘Lockdown’ by Richard Hendrick


Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today churches, synagogues, mosques and temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again


The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing.