Sunday 12th April – Easter Sunday



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.

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First Reading

Acts 10.34–43

Peter began to speak to those assembled in the house of Cornelius: ‘I truly understand that God  shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ – he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of  Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with
him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and 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 ordained by God 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.’

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Gospel

John 20.1–18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them,’ They have taken the Lord out of
the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following
him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not
understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They
have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the
gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

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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.

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Reflection for Easter Day

We have journeyed with Jesus over the past week as he made his way to the cross to die a terrible death – one reserved in New Testament times for common criminals – a shameful end. And then John, in the first part of this morning’s gospel reading, paints an equally bleak picture. Mary Magdalene runs to the tomb early in the morning on the third day, and the body has gone. In her distress, she summons Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciple and they all make their way back to the tomb to find a pile of grave clothes and a couple of angels. It is at this point that all that Jesus did begins to look a bit fragile – first of all he did not save himself from death on the cross, as the crowds on Good Friday had expected, and now to add further insult it looks as if someone has stolen the body. The Easter story is not a moment suspended in time, but is part of a larger drama interwoven with a history involving ordinary human beings, the disciples, and the other people with whom Jesus ministered and worked.

But let’s take a step back and then move on to the second part of the story. Here we have Mary Magdalene crying bitterly – this man Jesus whom she had followed so loyally is no longer there, and even his body has been taken. In her distress she barely notices the person who draws alongside her and whom she assumes to be the gardener, until that one word is spoken – “Mary”, and immediately she recognises the resurrected Jesus and in this moment is fulfilled what had been said earlier of Jesus as the Shepherd: “He knows his own, he calls them by name and they recognise his voice”.

This gospel passage sums up so well the real message of Easter. Mary and the two disciples are like each of us who run to the tomb, expecting to find a body, only to find it has gone, and then assuming that it has been stolen. But God, as ever, is one step ahead of us here, because his ways are not our ways, and what he has done is the totally unexpected, which is to raise his beloved son to new life, a resurrected life, a life of glory. In so doing, God has done far more than Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, the Beloved Disciple, and each one of us, could ever imagine.

If we are to be reminded of the call to faith, we have to return to that spot in the garden, just next to the empty tomb with its pile of grave clothes, and stand with Mary Magdalene. She comes to faith, not by the evidence of an empty tomb and a pile of grave clothes, not by the revelation from the two angels, and not even by the sight of the risen Christ, whom she mistakenly thinks is the gardener. She comes to faith by his word, a gentle calling of her name, a word that resurrected the memory of a relationship that had already been formed and that, by the resurrection, was completed and sealed as a living one.

We hear Christ call us by name. And, like Mary, we are called to share with others the Good News of the Resurrection. Like Mary Magdalene, the risen Christ calls each one of us gently by name, so that we may share the glory of his resurrection, because Easter, for those who follow his way, is a confirmation of trust, a promise kept.

After all we are an Easter people.

Amen

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Hymns

Gradual: Hallelujah Chorus (Handel)

 

Motet: The Easter Song of Praise (Shephard)

 

I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
Sung by Stella Stephens. Accompanied by Richard Stephens