Sunday, April 5, 2015

He is risen - an Easter Celebratioin

Jesus Christ is risen
He is risen indeed!

Jesus Christ is risen
He is risen indeed!

Jesus Christ is risen
He is risen indeed!

155 Jesus Christ is risen today!
Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

Much has happened in the church gardens this last couple of weeks – a place of beauty with so many signs of spring, a place of prayer with so many signs of the Easter story.

And all around us the hand of the gardener.

Has that tree come into blossom yet?

Almost … and more still to come.

The story of that first Easter Sunday is a wonderfully moving story – it’s the story of some women and a gardener.  But was it really a gardener?

The Women and the Gardener – from John 20

A Hy-Spirit Song for Easter

John 20:19-23

A wonderful moment of peace and of greeting - we are going to share our Easter Greetings – with a handshake – and a greeting for Easter – or maybe a sign of peace

Easter Greetings

161 The day of resurrection!

There’s a treasure hidden in these words – one of the earliest accounts of the Easter story … not in the Gospels but towards the end of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in one of the great chapters of the New Testament, the chapter on resurrection – 1 Corinthians 15.

1 Corinthians 15:1-8

Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Two ways to look for the treasure of Easter …  Andrea is going to lead the younger members of the congregation – as they have a treasure to seek and to find!

While I want to go in search of the risen Jesus in the words of this passage with the rest of us …

In search of the Risen Jesus

Andrea leads the Easter Egg hunt

It’s one of my favourite passages … and it’s one that contains within it one of the finest treasurers imaginable.

It’s good news.  There’s no other description for it. It’s good news!

And someone passed it on …. and passed it on … and passed it on … and passed it on … and passed it on to us today.

Pause a moment and reflect on the people who first passed on the momentous message of Easter to you – I wonder who passed the message on to them …

Think of those who have passed the message of Easter on since then – people who have re-told the Easter story, people who have brought it to life, maybe when facing the reality of death, and the hope of resurrection.  The words of the story come alive once again.

So what shall we do with it?

Simply, receive it.

David Suchet in one of this Easter’s Easter programmes, In the footsteps of St Peter has about him a little of the detective Poirot as he pieces together something of the story of Peter.   When he comes to the last supper and the moment Jesus washes the feet of st Peter, David Suchet finds himself in a shoe-shiner’s chair recounting the story of an occasion when filming in the states and there’s a man shining shoes and a woman beside him. The woman accosts David Suchet and offers him a shoe shine – No Thank you, he says, only for her to point to his shoes and say your shoes are dirty.  They need a shoe shine.

Do you know the story of St Peter having his feet washed by Jesus; no, I don’t, said David Suchet.  She proceeded to tell him of the way Jesus insisted on washing Peter’s feet.  At first Peter resisted – but he needed to learn the lesson that he had to be willing to receive.  That’s the lesson you need to learn, she said.  You need to be ready to receive what my husband is willing to give – and what’s more, she said, my husband needs your money.

The way David Suchet told it was pretty good.  You need to receive.  Not always easy.

That’s the key to this Easter message.

Receive it as a gift.  Receive it as a treasure.  Receive it as something to transform the life you live today.  Receive it as something to transform the life that lies ahead of you.

Receive it not as one gift among many: receive it as the one gift that gives shape to the whole of your life.

Stand up and be counted … for once you receive this gift, this is where you stand, this is who you are.

It amounts to nothing less than the blessing of God in all the wonder of his love: it amounts to nothing less than salvation.

This is what we have received.

This is what we hand on.

That’s the whole point of what Paul is writing here … once  he had received it, there was nothing else for him, but to hand it on.

And so too with us – what we have received, the heart of the Easter message, is something for us to hand on.

That Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures … and he appeared to so many … and then he appeared to me.
It’s the treasure of forgiveness – we don’t get it right, we make a mess of things, we get it wrong, we get a fresh change to make things right again.

The resurrection appearance of Christ is one that we too can experience – the risen Christ is a sense of the presence, a reality that we find in fellowship together, in the quiet of our lives, a friend, an unseen presence, a reality there with us.

Jesus Christ is risen.  He lives in the love we share with each other and in the love we share with the world.

He lives with us and in us and for us.

What a difference this resurrection makes – Paul takes a whole chapter to develop his thinking about dying, death and the resurrection that follows – and the way he finishes the chapter is a challenge to us all in the living of our lives.

thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.

A Hy-Spirit Easter song

Prayers of Concern – Karen Waldock

167 Thine be the glory

Words of Blessing

Retiring Collection

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