Easter Day

Collect

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.

                   Amen.

 

Acts 10.34-43

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen – by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

 

1 Corinthians 15.1-11

Brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

 

John 20.1-18

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. 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!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

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.” At this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realise that it was Jesus.

“Woman,” he said, “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.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned towards him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

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.

 

A reflection by the Revd Sandie

 

I’m conscious  that it might not be immediately obvious to everybody in our world why Christians so passionately celebrate the fact that, Jesus didn’t remain dead despite suffering a despicable death on the cross.
If we take the account from John’s Gospel, it doesn’t tell us a lot about the resurrection. It certainly doesn’t tell us how it happened.  It just tells us what two of the disciples did- after Mary, who had gone to the tomb first and found the stone rolled away - how they ran all the way from their homes to the tomb, how they went in to the tomb and found the grave clothes lying about in neat piles, and how they then went home, leaving Mary there by herself

As I read through it once again I was pondering why this resurrection narrative is so unspectacular and filled with odd details.
If you read the end of John’s Gospel, you get quite a clear picture of how they put this book together. It wasn’t written by John (the ‘beloved disciple’) himself, but by his disciples - a small, loyal group of supporters that formed around him, and worshipped and ministered with him through his later years. And it wasn’t until after John died that his disciples put together a collection of all the stories that he’d told them over the years, and no doubt one of the most often-told stories must have been his experience on that Easter morning.
I’m guessing that the reason the account in John’s Gospel contains so many odd details is because it reflects exactly the story as John used to tell it - complete with the details about how he was a better runner than Peter.
I’m guessing that these details about the running and about the grave clothes were so clearly remembered by the authors because they’d heard them so many times. And I’m guessing that John remembered these details so clearly because this event turned out to be the most defining moment of his life!
Isn’t it funny how we remember the details of defining moments? Defining moments stay emblazoned on our minds, and the events of that first Easter morning were a defining moment for John. He remembered every banal detail, and he passed the story on, complete with the details.
 This story of the resurrection is so significant, not only for John but for so many of us? Because, to put it most simply, it confirms to us, as Christians in a way in which no other event in history confirms to us, the most incredible miracles do happen, and that there is always reason to hope! For if things like this really happen in our world, then anything is possible, and we have so many reasons to live with that hope

But I’m very conscious of the fact that for some of us today there are still problems to be dealt with, a desperation to see an end to the pandemic which has gripped our lives for over a year. So many of us have stories of pain that have shaped who we are and that continue to plague us day to day. But I can tell you that because Jesus was truly raised from the dead, the future is good!

And why do I know this, because as I read the text again, I could not get past that first sentence. “Early on the first day of the week while it was still dark.” Now this could be John giving us a reference to the time of day, just another detail to set the scene. But then it struck me that for Mary it wasn’t just the physical darkness but a spiritual darkness she was experiencing. She had been with Jesus from early in His ministry and witnessed so many amazing things. But she had also stood helpless  at the foot of the cross as Jesus suffered and died. What was happening to her Saviour? Where was God in all this? So she must have approached the tomb that morning with a very heavy heart and a darkness in her soul. And the confusion of the empty tomb and the loneliness as the John and Peter left her there again trying to understand what had happened may have compounded this
And then the unimaginable joy as she recognises Jesus living and breathing standing there before her.

Mary went on to be called the Apostle to the Apostles although there is no consensus on what happened to her after the disciples left Jerusalem.  What is acknowledge though, in all four Gospels, is that she saw the risen Lord that first Easter morning and believed that all that Jesus had said would happen, happened.

 Jesus has been raised from the dead, and anything and everything is possible, and some things are certain: Evil will not triumph in this world, Death will not have the final say, and His Kingdom will come!

Live in hope, expect the unexpected and know that the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us.

For Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!  Alleluia

Post Communion 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.

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above):

1 Corinthians 15.1-11 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Acts 10.34-43 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
John 20.1-18 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Some material included in this service is copyright: ©  The Archbishops' Council 2000