Rev Olwen Woolcock

Easter Day Service

Easter Day Service

Easter Day Service

The transcript of the video is included below

Alleluia Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed Alleluia!

Good morning everyone. Welcome to this Easter service.  I am sorry, as we all are that this service isn’t taking place in church – but as the Archbishop of Canterbury said, Jesus understands modern technology. The point is that Christ is present to us wherever we are – and wherever we are, we are one in in Christ – we are one body.  You will see that there is an extra Easter blog, the Woodfield family have produced an Easter play. Please watch it- its great and tells the story of Easter in a nutshell. 

Whatever is happening in our world, the good news of Easter is eternally joyful. We begin to worship by listening to and joining in with our first hymn  – Jesus Christ is risen today.

OPENING HYMN: Jesus Christ is Risen today
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6sj9ljVsfk

THE GREETING

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ:
he has given us new life and hope
by raising Jesus from the dead.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Almighty God, your Son has opened for us
a new and living way into your presence.
Give us new hearts and constant wills
to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen.

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE

Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us.
Let us therefore rejoice by putting away all malice and evil
and confessing our sins with a sincere and true heart……..

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.

A prayer of absolution follows

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord.

Amen

GLORY TO GOD:

Glory to God, glory to God, glory to the Father.
Glory to God, glory to God, glory to the Father.

To him be glory forever.
To him be glory forever.

Alleluia, amen.
Alleluia, amen. Alleluia, amen.  Alleluia, amen.

Glory to God, glory to God, Son of the Father….

Glory to God, glory to God, glory to the Spirit….

THE COLLECT FOR EASTER

God of glory, by the raising of your Son
you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill your Church with faith and hope;
for a new day has dawned
and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen

NEW TESTAMENT READING   Acts 10:34-43

Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’

This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION

Alleluia, alleluia. I am the first and the last, says the Lord, and the living one;
I was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore.  Alleluia.Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

Glory to you, O Lord

GOSPEL READING  John 20:1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14 When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

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

SERMON

Easter Day 2020.  A story with a different ending.

How to preach Easter, how to preach the resurrection, how to preach that message of hope and joy when yesterday’s death toll from Coronavirus in the UK came in at 980. Nearly a thousand in twenty-four hours. And I also read the sad news of the death of another dedicated doctor in Essex, who gave his services in his retirement and died from the virus.  I find I am sad and sorrowful.  Today feels like we are in a continuing Good Friday. It seems incongruous to stand here and proclaim Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed! –  as a call of faith and hope in the face of the suffering and fear of people here and across the world. It could even be interpreted as inappropriate or disrespectful.

But it is not – I believe it is absolutely essential. If the Christian faith has nothing to say into the devastation of people’s lives, and the standstill which this pandemic has brought us to, then it is an empty faith. But it does have something to say – it does. It has a message about Jesus the Christ, a messiah who has lived the life we live, who has suffered the way we suffer, and struggled as we struggle , who has died a death which encompassed the death we all die and who has been given a new resurrected life and who offers that new resurrected life to each one of us. This resurrected life, this new life is something we can know even in the midst of the dark time.  This is why I must preach Easter even though it feels like we’re still waiting for it.

Let’s unpick that a bit.  I’m talking about three ways of understanding Jesus (though of course there will be others.)  The first is Jesus as God incarnate, God with us, that’s what we preach at Christmas, God who has come amongst us and lived as one of us. That’s what we have been exploring in the Holy Week Reflections when we have asked the question of Jesus, who is this? We have seen that Jesus, in his humanity, is one who is misunderstood, one who is feared, one who is loved , one who is betrayed, one who ministers and shows love, one who is plotted against, one who is mocked and beaten, one who suffers and bears pain and one who dies a dreadful death. In other words, he’s been there. Jesus, God incarnate lives our life. That’s why we can be sure He understands what we’re going through.

The second way we understand Jesus is through what he did for us on the cross.  That his death was more than just the death of a man labelled a criminal – but that it is his death on the cross which offers to God, all the suffering and dying, all the pain and desolation, all the tragedy and inhumanity of humankind, and redeems it. Through the cross comes redemption for the whole world.  Through the cross comes forgiveness and a new start, the opportunity for a renewed relationship with God.

Which brings us onto this third way of understanding Jesus – as the resurrected Christ, the one who has defeated death and who has overcome the power of death. Christ is risen and so death no longer has the last word. In his resurrection Christ is eternally present to us. In his resurrection the story has a different ending, one where instead of despair there is hope and instead of hopelessness there is purpose and possibility. Instead of death there is new life and a way forward.

So here is Jesus; God with us, the one who died for us and the one who rose again and gave us the gift of new life. The incarnation, the passion and the resurrection are not to be separated from one another.  Here at the end of Holy Week at the height of the impact of the virus I want to say that Jesus is with us through the struggle, is a victim with every other victim, and yet in his resurrection gives us a story with a different ending. It’s about recognising it.

The gospel story that we heard describes the first encounter of the disciples and Mary Magdalene with the truth of the resurrection. They were grieving because Jesus who they loved, their mentor and friend had been crucified. They were despairing because whatever their hopes had been for the future, those hopes were dashed. They were in fear of the authorities. And they discover something has happened – because there is no body. And although they had heard Jesus say many times that the Son of Man will die and on the third day be raised up, it took them a while to connect that saying with their experience on that Easter morning?

They respond in their different ways, Peter and the other disciple peer into the tomb. And it seems as though for Peter, for the moment, the penny hasn’t dropped, he doesn’t yet believe or understand. The other disciple, the one who Jesus loved, the one who was very close to Jesus –the one we traditionally think of as John –he sees and believes. Perhaps because of his great love for Jesus he instinctively understands –he makes a leap of faith –somewhere within him he knows. Knows what? That Jesus is alive? That the death he witnessed isn’t the end of the story? We’re not sure.

The story of Easter morning is really about Mary Magdalene. Devoted to Jesus – she is desperate to find the body. She has lost Jesus and now it seems as though she is denied even grieving over his body. But then in the midst of her searching and her grief she has her own encounter with the resurrection – with the risen Christ himself. And that in itself takes a bit of realising – for its only when the Lord calls her by name, Mary, that she recognises him. But then as she knows him and recognises him, she responds ‘master’ and her sorrow is turned to joy. Jesus has come to her; he is there for her. And its then, in that moment of recognition – that all of a sudden, she believes, she knows that Jesus is risen and runs to the disciples to make known the good news ‘I have seen the Lord’.

At that moment Mary knew something more than just the simple explanation we give children about Easter that Jesus died and has now been made alive again. She knew that the foundations of the way the physical world worked were being shaken and the purposes of God we coming into being, that the presence of Jesus meant that hope and love and life were abroad again. We are speaking of an insight into the ways of God here which are almost inexpressible in our human language.

 These last weeks as we have watched the news we have entered into the passion of Christ, again and again, but today we proclaim that we can enter in his resurrection too. The truth of the resurrection is there for us all to discover and to recognise. And just as Mary did – we will find it in what happens afterwards. In the dawn after the dark.  In what happens after the sad moments and hard times – in the letting go of sorrow, in the healing of our hearts, in the ways that people find a new beginning, and in the unexpected but restoring, life-giving encounter with Jesus. We will find it in the way that Jesus calls us by name and chooses to come to us in our loss or in the struggle of our isolation. This sad story will have a different ending. Let’s keep our minds and hearts open to see the power and the truth of the resurrection, to recognise it, to affirm it and to celebrate it.

Let me tell you about this stole. It was my leaving present from my last parish. So far, I have worn it for five minutes- just at the end of the service when they gave it to me.  The point is the design. Like the rays of the sun. This is the whole point of the sermon today. The glorious sunburst of the resurrection. 

THE CREED

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION

We pray for the church, the world and those in need

Almighty and Eternal God
Whose goodness and grace overflowed when you raised Jesus from the dead,
Let your goodness and grace continue to flow upon your people.
We pray for those,
whose lives have been stopped
because they couldn’t roll away the stone that was blocking their path to new life and hope.
In the light of the impact of the coronavirus roll away the stone
of despair and hopelessness, of isolation and fear
that the light of Jesus Christ may shine
into the darkness
to bring joy and warmth again.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

———————–

Roll away the stone
for those still living through Good Friday
those whose strength is failing through ill-health,
those who are grieving the loss of loved ones
whose spirits are flagging through depression,
whose determination is being sapped through loss of jobs,
through being confined at home.
Lord God roll away the stone
that they might see the angel with the good news,
that might meet Jesus in the garden,
that they may know the joy and hope of the resurrection. 
Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

————————

In the light and the glory of the resurrection
We pray for our world, for an answer to devastation of the virus
for cooperation between nations to overcome the impact of the pandemic
for refugees, the homeless and those most vulnerable to its effects.
For those who are impacted by the effects of climate change.
For all those who today would struggle to find joy in the resurrection story.
 Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

————————

Bless our Queen and all the members of the government as they seek to handle this crisis.
Bless our churches as they find ways to be church and to proclaim your gospel, outside of the church buildings.
On this Easter Day hear now our own prayers in silence as we remember before you those nearest and dearest to our own hearts confident that you care and that you hear the earnest prayer of every heart….

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake your son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

THE PEACE

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said,
 ‘Peace be with you.’ Then were they glad when they saw the Lord. Alleluia
The peace of the Lord be always with you

and also with you.

Let us offer one another a sign of peace.
We pray the prayer which Jesus 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.

PRAYER

God of Life, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son
to the death of the cross,
and by his glorious resurrection
have delivered us from the power of our enemy:
grant us so to die daily to sin,
that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his risen life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

THE BLESSING

God the Father,
by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead,
strengthen you to walk with him in his risen life;

and the blessing …

FINAL HYMN: Thine be the glory

DISMISSAL

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

 Afterwards

‘Carillon – Sortie’  – Henri Mulet

5 thoughts on “Easter Day Service

  1. Julia Freeman

    Thank you Olwen for leading us during Holy Week and the celebration of the Jesus Christ resurrection today. You have given us encouragement to reflect, question not only ” who is this Jesus” and the events of Holy Week along with the our thoughts and fears of the coronavirus.

    Thank you for all the blogs, the pictures,hymns and music and all the time and energy you have put into these.

  2. Fiona Tuck

    He is risen indeed.

    Thank you Olwen for your work in encouraging us, especially this week, in prayer and praise leading to this special day in our church calendar. Happy Easter to all.

  3. Chris & Sara Barrett

    We. are so grateful. Olwen for all you have created on this blog to guide us through Easter Week, we have certainly been given so. much to think about and to pray for. We look forward to a time in the not too distant future when new can all be together again worshipping at St Mary’s and at Tinwell.

  4. Sara & Craig

    Thank you again Olwen for a lovely Easter service your reflections have helped me focus on the true person of Jesus and the incredible sacrifice He made for each one of us giving us hope for a brighter future even in the midst of chaos , fear and uncertainty. Praise God for his graciousness and love.
    We really appreciate all the effort you have put in this week. It’s been a very unusual way to celebrate Holy Week but you’ve risen to the challenge brilliantly!
    Looking forward to celebrating together at St Mary’s in the not too distant future. God bless you and your family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *