Sunday Worship 26th April 2020

Welcome to worship! Our service today uses the format that would have been used in the Husthwaite Worship for All service. This is a monthly service which is planned and led by a team of congregation members. They do a great job and I’m really pleased to be able to include a flavour of this worship. When we are all back in our church buildings again you would be welcome to come along and join them.

If this is your first time joining us on a Sunday, I hope you will find a way to meet God through these words and this music. You are joining in with a dispersed community of people whose faith is alive.

Do get in touch if you would like to take part in future weeks, whether that is recording part of the service or writing something.

Let us worship God:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Hymn – All my hope on God is founded

The Lord be with you
and also with you.

This is the day that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Lord, direct our thoughts,
and teach us to pray.
Lift up our hearts to worship you in spirit and in truth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Setting the scene

It is often hard to know how people will react in an unusual situation. Sometimes people who you think will panic suddenly find strength, sometimes those who you thought could cope with anything are at a loss. As we deal with our current situation, I wonder whether you have surprised yourself.

Imagine you were there at Jerusalem for that first Easter, that you had followed Jesus all the way there and watched him die. What would you have done next? Would you have hidden? Would you have pretended not to know him? Would you have gone on with your life and travelled? Today we hear the story of what happened to two of his followers.

Confession

God our Father,
we come to you in sorrow for our sins.
For turning away from you,
and ignoring your will for our lives;
Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For behaving just as we wish,
without thinking of you;
Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For failing you by what we do
and think and say;
Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For letting ourselves be drawn away from you
by temptations in the world about us;
Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For living as if we were ashamed to belong to your Son;
Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

Praise

Blessed is the Lord
for he has heard the voice of our prayer;
therefore shall our hearts dance for joy
and in our song we will praise our God.

Reading – Acts 2: 14a, 36-41

You may also like to have a look at the Psalm and the other New Testament reading for today: Psalm 116 and 1 Peter 1: 17-23

Hymn – The Strife is O’er

The strife is o’er, the battle done;
Now is the Victor’s triumph won;
O let the song of praise be sung.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Death’s mightiest powers have done their worst,
And Jesus hath his foes dispersed;
Let shouts of praise and joy outburst.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

On the third morn he rose again
Glorious in majesty to reign;
O let us swell the joyful strain.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

He brake the age-bound chains of hell;
The bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
Let hymns of praise his triumph tell.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Lord, by the stripes which wounded thee
From death’s dread sting thy servants free,
That we may live, and sing to thee.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Words: Latin 17th Century translated by Francis Pott (1832-1909)

Reading – Luke 24:13-35

Sermon

Our sermon today is a reflection written by Guy Wilson, one of the congregation at Husthwaite.

If the embedded audio doesn’t work, you can go directly to it from here.

I was due to lead the family service at Husthwaite this coming weekend, but instead can only share a few thoughts remotely with you. The last time I was asked to lead a service was, by the Church’s calendar, exactly three years ago, so the readings are just the same now as then. But the times are very different. So I have been reflecting on what I said then about the set readings and what they now say to me. The Gospel reading is that most wonderful and enigmatic story of the encounter that two of the disciples had on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35). And it was entirely on that story that I concentrated in 2017. But in these most difficult of times the first thing that strikes me is the need to put that story in the context of the other three selected texts for this week. And these all talk of troubled times. Peter (Acts 2: 14a, 36-41) seeks to convince a crowd that the person they have just crucified is the Messiah for whom they had long prayed (not a comfortable message). The Psalmist (Psalm 116) recalls a recent time when he was alarmed and fearful, when “the cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me (and which of us has not felt similarly ensnared in the last few weeks?). And finally, Peter, again (1 Peter 1: 17-23) reminds members of churches suffering persecution of the perishability of all earthly things and the emptiness of “the way of life handed down to you from your ancestors”(a message that perhaps chimes with us just now in our world turned upside down). All these passages help set the scene for the story of the encounter on the road to Emmaus when the risen Christ journeys with two disciples, unrecognised until he breaks bread with them in the evening. What a wonderful story it is, however you interpret it, in whatever sense you believe it.

Those two disciples travelling away from Jerusalem were, just like us today, sad beyond sadness, confused beyond confusion: we because a tiny, invisible thing has changed our whole way of life and brought the reality of death so much closer; they because their joy and trust in their teacher, Jesus, had been shattered by his brutal and untimely death. They, like us, were shaken to their foundations, and they were running away, journeying home, to try to pick up their shattered lives. And then, somehow, something amazing happened. They met someone on the road and, through that meeting, they came to know, not to believe, but to know, that they were wrong, that their despair was misplaced, that somehow, Jesus was still with them and that he always would be. That is what I talked about three years ago and that message of hope is surely even more important to us right now.

But something else strikes me now about that story and that is that the disciples did not recognise Jesus. Well, after all, he was dead, they had probably seen him die, so why should they recognise him now, when he had left them for good? They were still living in the old reality and had not yet come to terms with the new. How many times in recent weeks have we suddenly come up against the new reality that has so changed our lives? It’s difficult to think differently, to act differently, to change a lifetime of manners and social interactions in a blink of an eye. But that is what we are having to do. And in the process, amidst all the blackness and pain, are we not, if we open ourselves to it, learning a “new” reality, or perhaps rather re-learning and remembering the importance of things that in our past busy existence we either took for granted or did not value sufficiently? How much more now do we value the warm brush of sunlight on our skin, now that we are not supposed to be outside so much? How much more do we value the love and companionship of our families now we are physically separated from them? How much more valuable does a hug seem now we can’t embrace the people we most want to in their time of need? In our kitchen we’ve a plaque inscribed “Family: where life begins and love never ends.” It’s never seemed truer or been more poignant than now. So let us hope that some good comes from our present troubles. Let us hope when all this current turmoil ends we will not quite go back to where we were and what we were, but that we’ll all be changed, a little, for the better. More loving, more caring, more grateful, more open. Open? Yes, open to change, open to new things, open to new possibilities, always expecting the unexpected, and ready to see Christ wherever he appears and in whatever disguise. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were not at first open. For some time they failed to recognise Christ, but once they did their world suddenly righted itself, their fear and despair dropped from them and, instead of running away, they turned around and went back to Jerusalem and told the other disciples the great good news.

Let us hope in a few months’ time we can do the same. And to help us, the story of the Road to Emmaus has another message, which was given wonderful poetic form by TS Elliott in The Wasteland:

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
– But who is that on the other side of you?”

Of course, we know from the beginning of the story who that third person is who walks beside them. And he walks beside us, too… even now, no, especially now. Those disciples were in shock, all their hopes had been dashed. We, too, are in shock, all our hopes for the future turned upside down by fears for the present. But Christ is at our shoulder, too, walking beside us, waiting for us to recognise him and let him in. When those disciples realised who was with them, they suddenly knew. They didn’t just believe, they knew. They knew that they had been wrong and Jesus right, that he was with them and always would be. They knew they were held by a love that would never let them go. And that knowledge turned them round and changed their lives. That same presence is always with us, too. We, too, are held by a love that will never let us go. And that knowledge can surely give us the courage, both to get through our present difficulties, and then to step back out into the world able to expect the unexpected, open to change, open to new things, open to new possibilities, always expecting the unexpected, and ready to see Christ wherever he appears.

Affirmation of Faith

Do you believe and trust in God the Father,
source of all being and life,
the one for whom we exist?
We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Son,
who took our human nature,
died for us and rose again?
We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God
and makes Christ known in the world?
We believe and trust in him.

This is the faith of the Church.
This is our faith.
We believe and trust in one God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Hymn – Now the green blade rises

Intercessions

Our intercessions this week take inspiration from the road to the cross. Thanks to Holy Nativity Church, Mixenden in Halifax for creating these and sharing them.

The Lord’s Prayer

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.

Let us bless the Lord:
thanks be to God.
Blessing, honour and glory be yours,
here and everywhere,
now and for ever.
Amen.

Hymn

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

A service from New Patterns for Worship. Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.

From Bishop John

Another message from Bishop John with reflections on the gospel reading for this week in the light of the current situation.

Everything changes… and then what?

Sorry – I don’t know the source of this image.

I wonder how you are feeling about church being online for now? For me, it’s been strange. All the work is done by Saturday night (well, OK mostly on Saturday night) then on Sundays I get to sit with the family and join in worship. This is something I never get to do normally.

The weirdest bit of all so far was on Easter day when the kids insisted that we had to listen to the recording of me preaching.

So, what do you miss and what do you enjoy now?

Sunday Worship April 19th

Before the service, as we prepare for worship, enjoy this montage of some members of our congregation, with a stunning soundtrack from a recording made last year at Coxwold. Sorry that not everybody is included – since I have been on leave this week I have had limited time to contact people and some emails have gone astray. Hopefully there are a few familiar faces. Thank you to all the wardens who passed on the message and persuaded people to send photos.

Our first song is one that we nearly always have on Colourful Sunday. As with the lyrics of many songs, they are not quite lockdown-compliant. Please do not go down into the city, but do continue to tell people about Jesus while remaining at home!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen

Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
be with you
And also with you
Alleluia, Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed, Alleluia.

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Confession

Like Mary at the empty tomb,
we fail to grasp the wonder of your presence.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Like the disciples behind locked doors,
we are afraid to be seen as your followers.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Like Thomas in the upper room,
we are slow to believe.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Almighty God,
who in Jesus Christ has given us
a kingdom that cannot be destroyed,
forgive us our sins,
open our eyes to God’s truth,
strengthen us to do God’s will
and give us the joy of his kingdom,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

As God’s forgiven people, we can praise him boldly.
This version of the Gloria really made me smile. I would love to know the story behind their costumes!

The prayer for the week

Almighty Father,
you have given your only Son to die for our sins
and to rise again for our justification:
grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness
that we may always serve you
in pureness of living and truth;
through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Christians from all over the world join in singing In resurrectione tua Christe, coeli et terra laetentur (Let heaven and earth rejoice in your resurrection, O Christ).

Reading – John 20: 19-31

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
Glory to you, O Lord.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon – The Revd Dr Stephen Pope

Last week, on Easter day Rev Liz shared how much of a challenge it had been in the previous few weeks with the threat of coronavirus dominating so much of our lives.

And this on top of the discipline of Lent. Where is God in all this?

Some might well have been able to leap out of bed and celebrate Easter that morning. But others would have been struggling, and some struggling badly, like Mary was, arriving early at the tomb to find Jesus’ body gone.

We were reminded of the gentleness in Jesus’ speech to her, as He broke the good news of His resurrection to her – a gentleness that He will use to those of us who are struggling too at present.

We were also encouraged to look for moments of encouragement, joy and hope where we could:

Remembering that the greatest JOY for Christians is discovering that death is not the end, knowing we will share in the resurrection ourselves in due course;

Being aware of the mystery that with the first Easter we moved into the realm of now and not yet. Things are not yet perfect. We can celebrate and sing, but not together yet; we can eat eggs and cake but not share together yet.

That was last week. Today, the Sunday after Easter, we have a local custom of celebrating it as ‘Colourful Sunday’, and when I think of all the colourful clothes many people wear to church, it always brings a smile to my face. But today is a Colourful Sunday like no other we have had before. We cannot share and rejoice together as in past years. But then, our God is a God like no other. How can Jesus speak to our current situation?

Let us turn to our Gospel reading and find out.

We meet most of the disciples. They are in many ways like us. They were in a locked room – for fear of the Jewish leaders. We are still in lockdown – for fear of coronavirus.

Then, just like that, Jesus was there, standing among them saying ‘Peace be with you!’ Two words in Hebrew – ‘Shalom aleikhem’ A regular Jewish greeting – and made for a gentle engagement with them. Jesus had been gentle in the way He revealed himself to Mary, and he was being gentle with his male disciples here. When anyone is overwrought with any strong emotion, gentleness is usually a good way to help them feel more settled.

Next Jesus shows His disciples His scars. This seems strange, but it is important that they know He really is Jesus, not some imposter. Yes, there could be no doubt – this really was Jesus, and the disciples were overjoyed.

From fear to joy after two words in Hebrew and a simple visible proof of the presence of their master and friend.

Peace and Scars somehow typify Christ’s ministry on earth.

‘Peace’, ‘Peace be with you’. That was the story of His life on earth. We heard it from the angels that first Christmas, on the day of His birth – ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth Peace to men, with whom he is well pleased’. And teaching mankind the peace that comes from right relationships with God and their neighbour and with themselves was the story of his life in ministry.

His ‘Scars’ tell the story of his ignominious death which, paradoxically bought and brought Life to all who will receive and act on his message – all of us who have received and all who will receive Him as Saviour and Lord. They also remind us of the cost that God paid so that our relationship with Him could be restored; they also speak of how much He thinks we are worth it.

The disciples, having adjusted to this latest surprise (or good shock), are now ready to receive a bit more. First another blessing of ‘Peace-be-with-you’. They will surely need it! Then the commissioning- ‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And Jesus then, knowing that He needed the Spirit in his ministry and that they would too, breathed on them and said ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’. They needed a spirit, not of fear but one that would include forgiving others. And we are reminded of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul lists in one of his letters, a list which includes, gentleness and peace and joy.

Later, the disciples who were there tell Thomas, who, for whatever reason, was absent that evening. Thomas is very, very sceptical. But he does turn up to meet with the others a week later. The doors were locked again, but no mention of fear of the Jewish leaders.

Jesus appears again, and again starts with ‘Fear not’. Then He goes straight to Thomas and not only shows him his scars in his hands and side, but also invites him to check them out physically. ‘Stop doubting and believe’, Jesus tells him. Now Thomas does acknowledge that he really is His Lord and His God. To make the point beyond all doubt, Jesus, while acknowledging that Thomas does believe, goes on to commend and bless those who believe without requiring a physical proof – ‘Blessed are those who who have not seen and yet have believed’.

How might this story move us on in our fears, and our needs for encouragement and joy during the uncertainties of lockdown and the threat of of coronavirus?

The disciples responded and moved on after hearing Jesus’ words ‘Peace be with you’.

They also responded to the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, more dramatically obvious at Pentecost.

So, where do we need a reassurance of Peace in our lives?

This will vary from person to person.

The disciples needed to feel a sense of peace in the place where they were. We can ask Jesus for a sense of His presence and His peace at any time and in any place.

We can also ask Him for a sense of His Joy. I have found that being thankful helps. So too can physically moving, talking to cheerful people and even singing!

And as Love loves to share, we can share our good news with other people in whatever way we can, not forgetting to thank our loving Heavenly Father too.

If you want to pause and do some of that now, that’s fine. It is an actual advantage of a service like this.

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.

Intercessions

During the prayers of intercession, every time there is a “…”, take time to pause and think about who specifically you want to pray for.

In joy and hope we pray.

We pray to the Father. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That our risen Saviour may fill us with the joy of his
glorious and life-giving resurrection …
we pray to the Father.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That isolated and persecuted churches
may find fresh strength in the good news of Easter …
we pray to the Father.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That God may grant us humility
to be subject to one another in Christian love …
we pray to the Father.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That he may provide for those who lack food,
work, or shelter …
we pray to the Father.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That by his power war and famine
may cease through all the world …
we pray to the Father.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That he may reveal the light of his presence to the sick,
the weak and the dying,
to comfort and strengthen them …
we pray to the Father.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That he may send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon
his people, so that we may bear faithful witness to his resurrection,
we pray to the Father.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We keep silence and pray particularly for all affected by the Coronavirus.

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Blessing and Dismissal

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 among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, Alleluia.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.

Easter Tuesday

I’m on leave this week, (just picking up urgent messages) but here is another gem to enjoy as Easter continues.

How the Virus Stole Easter
By Kristi Bothur
With a nod to Dr. Seuss 😊

Twas late in ‘19 when the virus began
Bringing chaos and fear to all people, each land.

People were sick, hospitals full,
Doctors overwhelmed, no one in school.

As winter gave way to the promise of spring,
The virus raged on, touching peasant and king.

People hid in their homes from the enemy unseen.
They YouTubed and Zoomed, social-distanced, and cleaned.

April approached and churches were closed.
“There won’t be an Easter,” the world supposed.

“There won’t be church services, and egg hunts are out.
No reason for new dresses when we can’t go about.”

Holy Week started, as bleak as the rest.
The world was focused on masks and on tests.

“Easter can’t happen this year,” it proclaimed.
“Online and at home, it just won’t be the same.”

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the days came and went.
The virus pressed on; it just would not relent.

The world woke Sunday and nothing had changed.
The virus still menaced, the people, estranged.

“Pooh pooh to the saints,” the world was grumbling.
“They’re finding out now that no Easter is coming.

“They’re just waking up! We know just what they’ll do!
Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
And then all the saints will all cry boo-hoo.

“That noise,” said the world, “will be something to hear.”
So it paused and the world put a hand to its ear.

And it did hear a sound coming through all the skies.
It started down low, then it started to rise.

But the sound wasn’t depressed.
Why, this sound was triumphant!
It couldn’t be so!
But it grew with abundance!

The world stared around, popping its eyes.
Then it shook! What it saw was a shocking surprise!

Every saint in every nation, the tall and the small,
Was celebrating Jesus in spite of it all!

It hadn’t stopped Easter from coming! It came!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the world with its life quite stuck in quarantine
Stood puzzling and puzzling.
“Just how can it be?”

“It came without bonnets, it came without bunnies,
It came without egg hunts, cantatas, or money.”

Then the world thought of something it hadn’t before.
“Maybe Easter,” it thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Easter, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

And what happened then?
Well….the story’s not done.
What will YOU do?
Will you share with that one
Or two or more people needing hope in this night?
Will you share the source of your life in this fight?

The churches are empty – but so is the tomb,
And Jesus is victor over death, doom, and gloom.

So this year at Easter, let this be our prayer,
As the virus still rages all around, everywhere.

May the world see hope when it looks at God’s people.
May the world see the church is not a building or steeple.
May the world find Faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection,
May the world find Joy in a time of dejection.
May 2020 be known as the year of survival,
But not only that –
Let it start a revival

Easter Monday

I am on leave this week, so I’m leaving a few choice things I have seen on the internet over the past few days in posts scheduled to appear each day.

This one is amazing – I love country music and Dolly is a legend. Even if it’s not to your taste, listen to the lyrics.

Easter Day Worship

Happy Easter! Welcome to our Sunday worship. On this, the greatest feast-day of the year, it is perplexing to be stuck at home, but I hope this will help you to join in worship with Christians across the world in celebrating the risen Jesus.

Hymn – Jesus Christ is risen today

Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing Alleluia!
unto Christ our heav’nly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured; Alleluia!
now above the sky he’s King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Sing we to our God above Alleluia!
praise eternal as his love; Alleluia!
praise him, all ye heav’nly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia!

Words – Lyra Davidica

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen

Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
be with you
And also with you
Alleluia, Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed, Alleluia.

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Gloria

We don’t say or sing the Gloria during Lent, so we can really enjoy joining in today. One of our parishioners is singing in the choir. Can you spot Jane S?

The prayer for the week

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.

Readings

Jeremiah 31: 1-6

Acts 10: 34-43

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.

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.

Now let the heavens be joyful!
Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep 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.

Words: St John of Damascus, translated by J. M. Neale

Gospel Reading

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
Glory to you, O Lord.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon – Revd Liz Hassall

Again, you can either read the sermon or listen to it. The recording includes the liturgy that follows, including the renewal of baptismal vows, the intercessions and the blessing.

The last few weeks have been a challenge. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been finding all this utterly exhausting. The constant changes of what you can and can’t do, the worry about friends and relatives, the loss of all the usual routines that keep us going. I’ve had days of exhaustion and days where anxiety has been physically painful. There is the frustration of wanting to be with the people who are suffering and being forced to stay away.

It has helped that it has been Lent. Lent is meant to be hard, it’s meant to be a time of penance and abstention. Then we came into Holy Week. I found that Good Friday was particularly powerful this year. Perhaps you too shared the question that Jesus cried out on the cross: My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me? When life is in such turmoil, it is natural to cry out to God and berate him for his seeming absence.

I say ‘seeming’ absence because, of course, he is never absent. God is with us and never more so than at the moment.

Lent is done now and today we have a new challenge because today is Easter day and we ought to celebrate that Jesus is risen from the dead.

Maybe you leapt out of bed this morning, full of the joys of Easter and ready to sing Alleluia with all your heart and soul. Maybe you do feel like celebrating Easter.

But what if you don’t? What if you are exhausted and crying, just trying to get through the day. How do you celebrate Easter then?

The thing is, Jesus is no more risen today than he was yesterday or last week. We mark the passing of the liturgical year, using these feast days and fast days to help us inhabit the story, but Jesus is always risen.

Put yourself in the shoes of Mary, the faithful disciple, who came to the tomb early that first Easter Day. When she got there, she was mourning her loss, desperately sad and bound up with grief at the loss of Jesus and then it all got worse when she discovered that the body of Jesus had disappeared. So many things lost, so many plans for the future set awry.

When the risen Jesus speaks to her, it is with gentleness. He calls her name, Mary, and in that instant all is healed. She knows that all is not lost, that there is hope, that Jesus is truly alive.

If you are feeling that loss and grief today for all that is wrong at the moment, stop and take a moment to listen, because Jesus is there with you and he wants you to hear him call your name with that same gentleness of tone.

Being confident in the resurrection of Jesus doesn’t mean that you have to dance and sing and be happy. It is good news, the best news, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that life is really very hard indeed at the moment for a lot of us.

What do we do, then? I suppose we could just forget Easter and keep going with Lent until we can all be together again. Let’s not do that. That sounds terrible! How about we acknowledge that this Easter is very different from other Easters, but let’s find those moments of resurrection joy and hope where we can.

We are particularly blessed in living here in our villages. All around us we have the abundance of creation, the earth throwing off the shackles of winter and green shoots racing out of the soil. Seeing the farmers working so hard in recent weeks has been a real encouragement to me that things will change and we will not be stuck in this situation forever.

We also have the rainbows in the window – that ancient symbol that reminds us that God will not forget his people and the weekly applause for the key-workers.

We have so much to be thankful for. Although we cannot gather together to worship, I know that the work of the Church goes on, that people are supporting each other in whatever way is possible. You can probably think of many other glimpses of hope and joy.

These encouragements are not exclusively Christian – anyone can find hope in trying circumstances.

The greatest joy for Christians in Easter is discovering that death is not the end. When Jesus died, it looked as if all was lost. When he rose from the dead, it showed that death had no power to hold him and has no power over us. The message of Easter is one of hope and freedom – freedom to live and love and, in due time, to die, knowing that we will share in the resurrection.

With the first Easter, we moved into the realm of the now and not yet. Jesus is risen, death is vanquished, the new heaven and new earth are set in play, but things are still not perfect. There is still work to be done. This is very much an Easter of the now and not yet. We can celebrate and sing, but we can’t join together. We can eat eggs and cake, but we can’t share with our friends. Jesus is risen and we can shout Alleluia, but we have to stay at home.

So let’s trust in God, knowing that he loves us with an everlasting love and let’s take heart from the words of the prophet Jeremiah, who promised the Israelites:
Again you will take up your tambourines
and go out to dance with the joyful.

There will be celebrations and feasting and singing and dancing, but we have to wait for it.

Now, whether or not we feel like it, it is Easter, Jesus is risen, God is with us and we have a glorious future promised, both on earth and in heaven. Amen.

Renewal of Baptismal Vows

As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, we remember that through the paschal mystery we have died and been buried with him in baptism, so that we may rise with him to a new life within the family of his Church. Now that we have completed our observance of Lent, we renew the promises made at our baptism, affirming our allegiance to Christ, and our rejection of all that is evil.

Therefore I ask these questions:
Do you turn to Christ? I turn to Christ.
Do you repent of your sins? I repent of my sins.
Do you renounce evil? I renounce evil.

And now I ask you to make the profession of Christian faith into which you were baptized, and in which you live and grow.

Do you believe and trust in God the Father, who made the world?
I believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ, who redeemed mankind?
I believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in his Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God?
I believe and trust in him.

This is the faith of the Church.
This is our faith.
We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Almighty God, we thank you for our fellowship in the household of faith
with all those who have been baptized 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.

Intercessions

We pray to Jesus who is present with us to eternity.

Jesus, light of the world, bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations.
We pray for all nations battling coronavirus, especially those that are already made vulnerable through war or poverty.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, bread of life, give food to the hungry
and nourish us all with your word.
We pray for all working to give us food, for the farmers and those who support them, for the shops and those who supply them.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, our way, our truth, our life,
be with us and all who follow you in the way.
Deepen our appreciation of your truth and fill us with your life.
We pray for all who are anxious and fearful.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, Good Shepherd who gave your life for the sheep,
recover the straggler, bind up the injured,
strengthen the sick and lead the healthy and strong to new pastures.
We pray especially for all in hospital and for those working for the NHS.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, the resurrection and the life,
we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you.
Raise us with them to eternal life.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.
accept our prayers, and be with us always. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Spiritual Communion

Easter Services would normally include Holy Communion. As I have written about in a previous post, until we can gather together again this is not possible. We can, however, pray for the presence of Christ within us.

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits you have given me,
for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,
I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.
O most merciful redeemer,
friend and brother,
may I know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen

Blessing and Dismissal

The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, Alleluia.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, Alleluia.

You will have to imagine that I am standing by your door offering a large bag of mini-eggs. When we meet again, there will be chocolate! Have a blessed and wonderful Easter day and may you know that Jesus truly is risen.

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.