Worship Service for Easter Sunday April 12 2020

Preludes by Simi

Holy week services can be viewed here.

"Jesu, Joy" (Voices United 328), "Now the Green Blade Rises" (VU 186), "Stay with Us Through the Night" (VU 182), "This Is the Day that God Has Made" (VU 175), "The Day of Resurrection" (VU 164)

Worship

Worship services are live on Facebook every Sunday at 10 AM PDT.

Hymns

"O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing," "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today/Christ the Lord Is Risen Today," "Now the Green Blade Riseth," "Thine Is the Glory," "The Holy City"

 

Prayer

God of life and new life,

on this day your Only Begotten Son,

Jesus our Christ,

showed us that love triumphs over hate;

as our death became his death,

his resurrection becomes our resurrection.

Fill us with the powerful joy of this day,

proclaiming “Hallelujah” with our whole heart, soul, and strength,

that we may feel in our very selves

the rushing of a new birth,

a new dawning Sun,

life and life abundant,

to the glory of your love,

the power of your name,

through Christ our Lord, who lives forever with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

 

Sermon

Matthew 28: 1 - 10; John 20: 1 - 18

The gospels differ in their exact accounts of the resurrection; there are contradictions. But they all agree on one thing: the first person or people Jesus appears to, and to whom he says, “go and tell” are not any of his 12 apostles.

They had all fled from the cross. Even the most loyal, Peter, had denied knowing Jesus for fear of being associated with him. The others were afraid or couldn’t bear the sight of their friend suffering. The people who stood by him, in all the gospel accounts, were the same people who first meet the risen Christ and are told to spread the good news: the women. Mary Magdalene, who Jesus cured of demons, Mary his mother, Mary the mother of two of his disciples.

Side note, there are at least three and up to six distinct people named Mary in the life of Jesus. It was an incredibly popular name. It’s a bit easier to tell apart in the original Greek where the mother of Jesus is always Maira and the others are Miriam.

In the resurrection story, it is the people who stay near his cross that get to be at his tomb. The women. Women, whom the church has throughout history told cannot be preachers or teachers, and who at the time couldn’t be rabbis or priests, are told to go be the first Christian preachers, the first ministers of the faith.

Jesus’ ministry has always been to the marginalized and the oppressed, his solidarity is with them, so it only makes sense that it would be to them, who would have been (and unfortunately often still are) considered hangers-on to the Jesus movement, just following their sons and brothers around making food and sewing clothes.

When we ask what this moment means, consider what Friday means. The cross matters because there are people who live at the cross. People who are oppressed, suffer, in pain. The crucifixion matters because God says to the people who live on the cross, “I am with you.” “I will die with you.” “I feel your pain.”

The Resurrection matters because those same people who have lived on the cross live at the empty tomb. Nothing, not even death, can keep us from the love of God. No amount of suffering, no amount of sin, no amount of religious or political oppression, separates us from the love of God. Nothing can deny the full and entire love of God to us, no matter who we are. And anyone who says otherwise, saying that because of gender or sexuality or behaviour, that God’s love for them is only partial, aren’t the ones sharing the good news. It is the people who have lived at the cross that live in the Resurrection.

Easter this year falls on a handful of important anniversaries of hopeful events. Maybe most interesting right now is this is the day in 1955 that Jonas Salk’s Polio vaccine was declared safe, making it available and beginning an end to the Polio pandemic. It’s also been 61 years today since Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space. And it’s been 40 years today since Terry Fox dipped his leg in St. John’s harbour and began his run across Canada.

This is a day for hope. And we can hope that out of this we’ll become more united, more caring of our neighbour, more insistent on living in a world where all share in abundance, more concerned with those who are vulnerable, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly. At least, in a few little ways, that we’ll experience Resurrection and know what it’s like to really hear the good news and believe.

Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” We tend to think about truth in literal historical terms. When we ask, “Is this story true,” we usually mean, “Could I go back 2000 years and see it happen? Is it historically accurate?” But that’s not the truth Jesus is showing here. That people live on the cross, so God is with them: that is the truth of Jesus. That God is with those who emerge from the empty tomb into new life, that is truth of Jesus.

Honestly, speaking for myself, did this really happen 2000 years ago? I don’t care all that much. Thinking in my head that this really happened is not the faith that saves. Trying to live in the cross and the Resurrection, trying to live the story; that to me is the faith that saves us. It’s only be living the story that I think I have any right to preach the gospel. It’s because they lived the story that the women were sent out to proclaim.

So go and live the story. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

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