Then as Peter, and John, went in and did not find the body of Jesus, they were greatly perplexed – and two men standing there said to them – “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
“Jesus is not here – he is risen!”
Welcome this Easter Morning! Jesus Christ is risen – He is risen indeed!
Let us pray:
Risen Lord, on this day we praise You, on this day we worship You, on this day we draw close to You, and rejoice that You come to us still, out of darkness into light, out of grief into joy, out of fear into hope. Rejoicing in the presence of our living Saviour, we are bold to come close and be glad that in this life, we are not alone; in this life, there is someone we can trust; in this life the promise becomes reality because of You, Lord Jesus Christ, as we stand in Your resurrection light. – Amen
Hymn 410 – Jesus Christ is risen today.
Reading: John 20 vs 1 – 9 NIV Mystery and confusion:
“Early, on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdaline 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 to the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and looked 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 did not understand from scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to their homes.”
It is the morning after the Sabbath day’s rest. Two days since they had watched in horror as their leader, their guide and teacher, their friend was crucified as a criminal
They had had one day – one day to try understand – what had gone wrong – to try to re-orientate their lives now Jesus was no more than a dead rebel. This man who had offered so much was lying dead in a cave. But now they could go and bury him properly and get on with their lives. But the confusion continues, the roller coaster of emotion and the whole mystery around Jesus just gets worse – His body is gone! Where is it – who has taken it – why! why! It is all going wrong again.
Can we identify a little with their anguish? Can we get beside Peter, and say – hold on, it will all turn out OK. Can we sit with Mary in the garden weeping her heart out because none of this makes sense and Jesus is dead. Can we say – trust in Jesus, trust in God – but would that really have meant anything at all to these, his distraught grieving friends?
Darkness before dawn, light in a tunnel, new shoots from dry seeds.
Would these pictures have meant anything at all to them on that morning – at that time of sorrow and confusion?
Reading: John 20 vs 11 – 18, NIV Seeking, pleading……. Hope, transformation.
“…but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look in 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 weeping?’
‘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 weeping? Who is it that 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 she had said these things to her.”
John and Peter have gone home, Mary stays on crying her eyes out – sorrow upon sorrow, and through her tears she sees two people sitting in the tomb – white, like angels.
Why are you weeping? Why are you weeping?
Because He is gone! All is gone – Jesus the Messiah is gone, Jesus the teacher is gone, Jesus our friend has gone – even His body has gone. Mary is bereft, empty –
And now Jesus too asks “Why are you weeping”
Indeed Mary – why are you weeping? – Jesus is there, Jesus is beside her. Jesus the Messiah is standing alive, Jesus the teacher is bringing her comfort, Jesus the man is standing – no longer a dead body – but a living being, – no longer gone – but here! and so Mary – “Why are you weeping?”
Dawn is breaking, the dark tunnel of anguish is being slowly lit up, the new shoots are growing from the seed. A new day, a new era, a new life is beginning
Go and tell the others. Go and tell them you have seen me – go and tell them their despair is over, go and tell them the darkness is past – I am not dead – but alive.
Sometimes we enter the darkness of despair, sometimes our expectations crumble to dust. Sometimes our hopes fall flat and circumstances change to snuff out our optimism, our joy. Sometimes our best intentions get distorted and cause more harm than good.
Then Jesus asks us – “Why are you weeping”. The light is coming – I am not dead but live. Then we can reach out, we can cry out, I am weeping because you are gone! But Jesus is not gone he is standing there beside you – look at him.
In these times when we need comfort, assurance, light – we can cry out – Lord hear my needs – understand my position, know my pain – Hear my prayer ! and he does, because He is alive – he waits beside us.
We are going to sing this together now – “O Lord hear my prayer, listen to me!” this is a simple song from the Taize community in France and I think it helps us all to bring our selves to our Lord.
“O Lord hear my prayer”
Reading John 20 vs 19 – 23 Confirmation, commission, enabling.
“On the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said ‘Peace be with you’. After He had said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said ‘Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, I am sending you’. And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven’” John Ch 20 vs 19 – 23 NIV
Jesus sends Mary home to the other disciples
Mary tells them that she has seen Jesus alive – Astounding news, desperate news – wild news – was there hope, was there doubt, minds racing and in turmoil.
And then Jesus stands among them – “Peace”. Peace is what they sorely needed. Peace from the anguish and confusion and loss. Peace from the failure and danger, from the crowds and from the horror of the cross. Jesus brings them peace – calm, assurance, certainty, clarity – “see my hands and side”
Jesus stands among us and brings us peace. Jesus stands among us to show us his wounds – it is he, he is alive, he is with us. In all the turmoil and doubt, the anguish and pain, the sorrow and the joy – he stands beside us – and gives us peace.
Jesus did not stay dead – He is risen! Jesus is not in a tomb – he is with us – and he asks us:
Why are you weeping – Receive the Holy Spirit – Why are you weeping” the turmoil is over, here is my peace. Why are you weeping! I am telling you so that you can tell others. I am here, beside you, to bring life, to bring joy, to bring meaning to life – life in all its fullness.
Jesus is not in the tomb – He is risen – He is risen indeed. Here I am beside you.
Loving Heavenly Father,
Today is the most special of days –
A day of victory, celebration and praise!
A day on which we remember your great triumph –
The defeat of evil, suffering and death.
A day on which we recall the transformation you have brought –
Joy after sorrow, hope after despair, faith after doubt.
A day on which we give thanks for all you have given us –
Love, laughter and life!
Speak to us through this joyful season,
And fill us with greater trust and deeper faith.
So may we live not just this day but every day
As your Easter people
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Hymn 419 Thine be the Glory
Christ was raised from the dead
By the glorious power of the Father.
Set out then, on a new life with Christ,
And the blessing of God almighty,
Father Son and Holy Spirit
Be with us all,
Now and always.