On Easter Day our minister Christine Gillespie led worship. Our other minister Trevor Dixon led the Easter thanksgiving, when the candles were all relit still acknowledging the suffering in the world, but reminding us that Jesus is there in the midst of the world’s pain with his light. God is working for justice and peace. Christ is risen in us. Whenever we gather together He is risen there. The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
We sang, ‘Christ the Lord is risen today’ before Christine led the opening prayers and the Lord’s Prayer. We sang ‘All you that seek the Lord who died’ before the offering was taken up. I read the reading from Acts 10.34-48 before we sang, ‘The day of resurrection.’ The gospel reading was from Luke 24.1-12.
Christine began the sermon by reminding us of how we had heard the news of the suicide bombers in Brussels. Initially the eyewitness accounts were confused, but later we were given a clearer picture of how the incidents had happened. The events were put into context and we learnt more of the triggers or causes of the bombings. When Jesus rose from the dead there were different accounts of the resurrection from the eyewitnesses. There was the empty tomb and the reaction of the women and Peter. In Acts the same story of Jesus’ resurrection was put in context and there were experiences of the other disciples.
The women were there first with the spices to anoint Jesus’ body. They had been at the crucifixion and had seen where Jesus had been laid in the tomb. They had been wondering how they would be able to move the stone, as they approached the tomb, when they saw what they had not expected; the stone had been rolled away. As they wondered what had happened they saw 2 men standing beside them and felt afraid. They did not rejoice but bowed down; it had not been expected and they didn’t understand. The men explained that Jesus was alive and reminded the women that Jesus had told that he would be handed over to be crucified and would rise again on the third day. The women then remembered and understood. The other disciples did not believe what the women had told them, but Peter did go and see the empty tomb and went away wondering, what had happened.
In Acts Peter had experienced more; his faith had increased when he had met the risen Jesus. He had grown more in his understanding of the resurrection, when he had walked alongside the Lake with Jesus, confirming that he really loved him. He had had Jesus’ commissioning with the other disciples to be His witnesses in Judea, Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. They had then later received the Holy Spirit in the upper room and Peter had gone and spoken to the crowds. Peter saw the beginning of what Jesus had told them to do. Peter had already seen life changing so he spoke to Cornelius; Cornelius’ life was changed when he and those around him were filled with the Holy Spirit. Peter could not then refuse to baptise him and his household. It was a different context in the Gentile world.
We retell the same story again and again in this generation we have to reflect on the glory. We come to celebrate not mourn. Our lives should be changed as well. As we tell the story and witness other lives will be changed. In our multicultural nation where faith is seemingly nonsense to others, Jesus still has the power to change lives today.
We sang ‘Low in the grave he lay’ and a member of our congregation told me that was one of her funeral hymns! I must admit I could not help smiling when I thought of the wonderful chorus; ‘Up from the grave he arose with a mighty triumph o’er his foes’, being sung at a funeral! Christine led the prayers of intercession and the communion service. It was lovely to share communion on Easter Day as we remember the last supper and rejoice in our risen Lord. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘I know that my redeemer lives,’ a favourite hymn of mine, as it expresses my faith. It was a joyful worshipful service.