On Sunday May 1st I led evening worship at Woodlands Chapel. We began worship when we sang, ‘This joyful Eastertide’. One of the worship leaders, Ann Winter led the opening prayers and the Lord’s Prayer and we said Psalm 126 responsively. We sang, ‘Low in the grave he lay’ before we read Psalm 127 responsively. Ann and Florence, another worship leader and I did the dramatised reading based on Matthew 28.1-10 and 16-20. We then sang, ‘I know that my redeemer lives,’ before I preached.
Psalm 126 reminded the Israelites of how God had rescued them in the past and prayed for a new act of restoration after the exile. Psalm 127 was special to me as my first husband Stephen used to read a psalm a day and he read that one on the night I went round to see him first time, so he was sure we were meant to be together! That psalm shows the importance of letting the Lord build the house as we are totally dependent on the Lord.
Mary from Magdala and the other Mary came to see the tomb in which Jesus had been laid. When they arrived at the tomb, they witnessed the earthquake and the angel coming down, which paralysed the guard with terror. The angel told them Jesus was not there but would meet the disciples in Galilee; a message that was later confirmed when they met the risen Jesus himself. They were so full of awe and joy and sped off to tell the disciples the good news. The disciples returned to Galilee to the mountain, which Jesus had instructed them to go to. Jesus assured his disciples of his power and authority in heaven and earth following his death and resurrection. He gave them a commission sending them out to make the whole world his disciples and baptise even Gentiles in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus promised the eleven disciples that he would be with them always till the end of time. His constant presence would enable them to teach the new believers.
How would we have reacted to the good news the women brought? The description of the earthquake, the angel descending and the good news that Jesus was alive would have seemed too good to be true to the disciples. Would we have felt let down as the disciples that the women had been the first witnesses? I hope not as the women had been the faithful onlookers whilst Jesus suffered and died on the cross and they had been the first to go to Jesus’ tomb, so in my opinion deserved to meet Jesus first. It must have been so unbelievingly wonderful and I could imagine being awestruck, yet bubbling over with joy. I am sure they were filled with extra energy so hasten their steps to share the good news as soon as possible with the disciples. When the eleven disciples came to the mountain in Galilee to meet Jesus they would have had mixed feelings, as they faced losing their Lord Jesus as their companion on earth. They would have felt daunted at the prospect even though Jesus had assured them that he would be with them always. When we feel ill equipped and unsure, let us remember that Jesus is with us always and will not send us out unprepared to face the challenges alone. Let us rest in the presence of our risen Lord as we serve him and those in need in our world through his strengthening and empowering love.
We then sang ‘Lord thy church on earth is seeking,’ before I led the intercessions. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘Go forth and tell! O church of God, awake!’