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.