Sunday, April 8, 2012

Joy and Pain at Easter

The central part of our service was led by Carolyn Tennant, our children's worker.

The Wounded, Risen Christ
Before, they weren’t there.
Afterwards, they were.
The wounds in Christ’s side.
Doubting Thomas wouldn’t believe
without seeing and touching.
How much greater the blessing
to those who have not seen
and yet believe.
The risen Christ who is with us
is the Christ who bears those wounds
and stands alongside us,
when we too are wounded
and feel the pain of a hurting world.

Easter Sunday 2012

Happy Easter!
Whenever I think of Easter eggs I remember this image in my head (photo). Notice how my big sister and I are standing nicely with our eggs and my little sister has already managed to finish 2 of hers!
Maybe you have had an egg hunt or are looking forward to one later.
We are going to play a game this morning and you need a partner, preferably someone out of your age group…
It’s a game of OPPOSITES and acting.
Work out who is older and that person will act the word at the top of the screen while your younger partner mimes the word at the bottom.
·        Up-down
·        Wide-narrow
·        Fast-slow
·        Happy-sad
·        Big-small
·        Excited-bored
·        Love-hate
·        Over-under
·        Joy-pain
What great images of contrasting feelings!

Happy Easter!
Happy Easter?
I always look quizzically when I see that emblazoned across the supermarket wondering what it means to people.
There’s a general sense that ‘Happy Christmas’ has something inoffensively to do with ‘goodwill to all’ but Easter seems somewhat more disturbing and challenging.
Of course they are inevitably linked and we can’t have one without the other.

Easter is about opposites, about life and death.
Let’s hear the Easter story and watch the animation.


Let’s think back to the opposites…
There are many times in life when opposites go together;
·        My grandma used to say, ‘She’s my best friend, but I hate her!’
·        My mum always cried at happy endings to films (and she passed that on!) There is something special that happens when we empathise that means we are capable of feeling 2 or more emotions at once.
·        Think of the saying ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ How often do we find that to be true?
·        We are frequently told, ‘No pain, no gain’ and all of us can experience the satisfaction of effort and reward.
·        As parents we often feel 2 emotions at once; ‘Lovely, Darling! But wait ‘til I get you home!’
·        I recall hearing a speaker at Spring Harvest one year who described the quality of love he saw between parents and their disabled children with whom he worked. There was something extra special about the love that grew which depended on having such patience and overcoming.
·        When I sat watching the school play at the end of term I was equally fascinated by studying the parents’ faces as they admired their children. You could almost cut chunks of the love that filled the room (sometimes disproportionate to talent and flair!) Powerful stuff!
·        And think of the flavours we enjoy. (Choose someone to taste the sweet and sour sauce, then chili sauce and soured cream separately, then together.) These flavours are good on their own but put them together and something wonderful happens. The chili sometimes too hot and painful on its own, the cream too rich and sickly but together…perfect!

Think back to Christmas when we considered the way God planned the events and all the surprises involved.
How would you have planned the ending?
God could have taken Jesus away still in perfect condition but he chose not to.
Like in the Christmas story, this turns out to be the far better way to go about things, the far more perfect plan.
Think of the upholstery group who meets in church regularly. They could easily go to John Lewis (or IKEA!) and buy a new chair and yet they choose to spend weeks carefully restoring an old one, knowing that there will be far more satisfaction, lasting pleasure and connection with that way of doing things.

The power of the Easter story is in opposites.
But not just the one superseding the other.
They happen simultaneously and are ongoing.
Maybe you looked at the cross in church last Saturday and maybe you selected a red and a gold ribbon to tie together to keep as a reminder of Jesus connecting for us pain and joy, sadness and victory, life and death?
Some of us will be very familiar with the hymn ‘When I survey the wondrous cross.’ It was written in 1707 by Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, who wrote a lot of hymns himself, reportedly said he would give up all other hymns to have written this one!
It is at the same time very simple and very complex and deserves a close look.
It contains some of the contrasts and opposites which Jesus holds together that we have been thinking about.
We are going to explore it verse by verse and help one another to understand its meanings.
(Encourage people to pair up across the ages and talk about the words after each verse is sung)
·        Verse 1 Sung by Hy-Spirit
·        Discuss
·        Show transcript (possibly you reached this kind of understanding together)
·        Continue verses 2-4

All sing whole song together.

On the cross you can see
·        a crown of pain, sorrow and suffering made of thorns,
·        a golden crown of life, light and victory
·        and a golden crown of thorns

It is this third crown that makes Easter so special and wonderful. The wounded resurrected Jesus bears the marks of suffering into the victorious life everlasting and that is what we celebrate today.

Happy Easter.
He is risen indeed.

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