Alleluia Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia love in the risen and living Christ So, we sing

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    EASTER SUNDAY 2020

    Alleluia Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia

    As I prepare this morning’s service I’m not sure what the situation regarding the Corona Virus pandemic will be, what I do know though, is that it’s our task on Easter Sunday as always to look for the signs of life in the most desperate of places and there see the glory of the Risen Christ. It is to proclaim that love is stronger than death and that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love in the risen and living Christ

    So, we sing Charles Wesley’s well known and much-loved Easter hymn

    Hymn Christ the Lord is risen today

    Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia! All creation joins to say, Alleluia!

    Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! Sing, ye heavens: let earth, reply, Alleluia!

    Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia! Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia! Vain the stone, the watch the seal, Alleluia! Christ has burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!

    Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia! Where, O death, is now your sting? Alleluia! Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia! Where thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

    Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia! Following our exalted Head, Alleluia! Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia! Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

    King of Glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia! Everlasting life is this, Alleluia! You to know, your power to prove, Alleluia! Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia

    Prayer

    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.

    ‘The Empty Tomb’ Richard Bavin 2013 Image Copyright © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. The Methodist Church Registered Charity no. 1132208

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    Glory to you, O God: You raised Jesus from the grave, bringing us victory over death And giving us eternal life. Glory to you, O Christ: For us and for our salvation you overcame death And opened the gate to everlasting life. Glory to you, O Holy Spirit You lead us into truth and breathe new life into us. Glory to you, Creator, Redeemer and Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen

    Silence

    If we have fallen into despair: Lord forgive us If we have failed to hope in you: Lord forgive us If we have been fearful of death: Lord forgive us If we have forgotten the victory of Christ: Lord forgive us

    Silence

    May the living God, Raise us from despair, give us victory over sin, and set us free in Christ. Amen

    As we are set free in Christ, with Christians around world, we join in the prayer that Jesus gave us;

    Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, Now and forever. Amen

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    Psalm 118 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever! Let Israel say, ‘His steadfast love endures for ever.’ The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Amen

    Hymn The day of resurrection

    The day of resurrection, earth tell it out abroad! The Passover of gladness, the Passover of God! From earth to life eternal, from earth unto the sky, Our Christ has brought us over with hymns of victory.

    Our hearts be pure from evil, that we may see aright The Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light; And listening to his accents, may hear so calm and plain His own ‘all hail!’ and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.

    Now let the heavens be joyful, let earth her song begin, The round world keep high triumph, and all that is therein; Let all things, seen and unseen their notes of gladness blend, For Christ the Lord is risen, our joy that has no end.

    Noli me tangere (Touch me not) Roy de Maistre 1952-1958 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. The Methodist Church Registered Charity no. 1132208

    I wonder what you notice in this painting:

    I see the compassionate Risen Christ, wounds visible in his foot and hand, looking tenderly on Mary as she desperately reaches out to grasp him

    As we look at the painting, let us hear John’s Gospel account of the encounter

    Gospel Reading: John 20. 11-18 …… 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

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    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.

    Reflection It may be hard for some of us to celebrate Easter this year. There will be no family gatherings, exchanging of chocolate eggs, egg hunts, early Communion services and Easter breakfasts. We have to share virtual hugs, virtual meals and virtual worship. In the face of the pandemic, suffering and death touch every part of the planet. This is in addition to ongoing conflicts, wars, hunger, and poverty that are the present reality for so many in the world. So, what does it mean to affirm - Christ is risen, he is risen indeed? We cannot ignore the present reality – that feels more like crucifixion than resurrection. Yet, within the gospel reading, we find words of hope even in a time such as this.

    Mary had come to the tomb before the dawn had broken. It was still dark: night-time dark, heart-time dark, grief-time dark. When the two disciples, turned to leave,

    • Mary stayed at the tomb weeping – staying with the pain and grief, the struggle to understand what was going on, refusing to run away or turn away, she stayed put: the tears rolling down her face. This is lament and grief, acute and raw. It is the lament, many of us will understand better through the experiences of the past few weeks. All Mary could do was cry. She couldn’t understand, couldn’t make sense of what was going on. And like those bereaved now, there was the aching pain, for now she was denied the opportunity to carry out the last loving actions.

    • When she was able, still weeping, she peered into the emptiness of the tomb. It takes great courage to face reality – the empty tomb at that moment, was Mary’s frightening reality. And our reality, the pandemic: pain and suffering on an almost unimaginable scale. Yet, it was, as Mary peered in, facing the bleak emptiness, that God’s messengers, the angels spoke, ‘why are you weeping?’ Her response, ‘I don’t know where they’ve laid him’ is such a heart-felt human response – desperation in a desperate situation. ‘It’s terrible’ is a phrase I’ve heard many times in recent weeks in response to our desperate situation. Like many of us in our desperation, Mary wasn’t able to

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    grasp a fuller picture – she wasn’t able to recognise who was there with her.

    • For when she turned around Mary saw the gardener! In her anguish, she pours out her longing. And Christ’s tender, clear, ‘Mary’ penetrates her grief, with the desire for a healing touch, the comfort of familiar human contact. So it seems so out of character that the Jesus who had spent the whole of his ministry touching and healing, now says, ‘Don’t touch me, don’t cling to me.’ We are only too aware that, at present, the most loving thing we can do for our family and friends, especially for those who are most medically vulnerable, is ‘to refrain from embracing’ to keep our distance. It’s hard!

    • When Jesus forbids Mary to hold onto him it’s for a reason. Our ‘not touching’ is also for a reason. Jesus reveals to Mary, what he wasn’t able to reveal to the two disciples – that he was returning to his father and our father, his God and our God. Life was going to be different and Mary needed to let go of the familiar, so that she could give this message to the disciples. She had a Christ given task to fulfil. Traditionally, Mary has been regarded as the first apostle; for the Risen Christ sent her to deliver his message to the

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