On Sunday April 12th our local preacher Rosemary Green led worship at Wesley Chapel. Our opening hymn was ‘Thine be the glory risen conquering Son,’ before Rosemary led the opening prayers of praise, thanksgiving and the Lord’s Prayer. The first reading was from Acts 4v32-35. We then read psalm 133 responsively. We sang ‘This is the day’ before I read the gospel reading from John 20v19-31. Rosemary led the prayer of confession. We sang ‘I know that my Redeemer lives’ before the sermon.
Rosemary decided to share with us from ‘Rich inheritance – Jesus’ legacy of love’ a York Lenten course she had studied. What does the resurrection mean to us? What did Jesus leave us? He left us his peace. They were afraid of what would happen to them after Jesus’ crucifixion, so they were living in hiding. There was the puzzle of the empty tomb; no body. Could there have really been angels saying he was alive or were they fairy tales? The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were talking about the death of Jesus, as they had hoped he was the Messiah who would rescue Israel. They felt despair, defeated; was death the last word? Jesus did eventually show himself to the disciples and to Thomas; despair did turn to hope.
Jesus left behind a group of disciples as the start of a new movement; a group of ordinary unpromising disciples; fishermen, a tax collector; one who betrayed him. Yet after the crucifixion they had all taken fright and fled – hidden behind locked doors in fear of their lives. Now they were to be sent out as apostles. The future of the gospel is all down to them. Between the resurrection and Pentecost the disciples numbered 120 and women. What were the disciples supposed to do? They were to tell the story of what God had done in Jesus.
The Bible Society launched the open book movement to fund teams going into primary schools with stories from the Old and New Testament. Killinghall and Hampsthwaite churches are about to embark on that initiative in their villages. She challenged us to ask what difference the resurrection had made to our lives. Rosemary said that Jesus has always been a part of her life, just as her parents had been.
What difference had the resurrection made to the disciples’ lives? Could a crucified criminal who had risen still make a difference? No wonder people tried to write it off as a fantasy. People think the church has had its day but it continues its witness. We are a resurrection people; every Sunday we proclaim he is alive and makes a difference to our lives and as we continue to witness it can bring new life to others.
- We sang ‘We have a gospel to proclaim’ before Rosemary led the prayers of intercession and worship concluded as we sang ‘Father, I place into your hands.