Printed service for Easter Day, 17th April 2022
prepared by Rev. Geoffrey Scarlett

You might like to have some bread and water handy for an act of fellowship later.

Welcome to worship! Imagine the dawning of a new day. The sun begins to rise towards its full brilliance. This is a special day. A day of great, good news…
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Hymn StF: 298 Christ the Lord is risen today.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we join with all creation to praise you.
Wonderful Saviour, you have died for us and risen for us. We praise and thank you.
Through you we find forgiveness, hope and new life.
Forgive us, when we have doubted you, fallen into despair, feared death and failed to live a Christian life. Refresh and renew us, that through your Holy Spirit, we may live in your freedom, worship in sincerity and serve to your glory, until,
with all the saints, we enjoy the eternal joy of heaven. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

Hymn StF: 303 I know that my Redeemer lives

Lesson,NT: John 20, 1 – 10
1Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the entrance. 2She went running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3Then Peter and the other disciple went to the tomb. 4The two of them were running, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and saw the linen wrappings, but he did not go in. 6Behind him came Simon Peter, and he went straight into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there 7and the cloth which had been round Jesus’ head. It was not lying with the linen wrappings but was rolled up by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand the scripture which said that he must rise from death.) 10Then the disciples went back home.
Hymn StF: 309 See what a morning, gloriously bright

Lesson, NT: John 20, 11 – 18
11Mary stood crying outside the tomb. While she was still crying, she bent over and looked in the tomb 12and saw two angels there dressed in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13“Woman, why are you crying?” they asked her. She answered, “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him!”
14Then she turned round and saw Jesus standing there; but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15“Woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who is it that you are looking for?” She thought he was the gardener, so she said to him, “If you took him away, sir, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned towards him and said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (This means “Teacher”).17“Do not hold on to me,” Jesus told her, “because I have not yet gone back up to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them that I am returning to him who is my Father and their Father, my God and their God.” 18So Mary Magdalene went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and related to them what he had told her.
Sermon: Mary Magdalene’s Easter Faith

  1. DESPAIR
    Mary Magdalene is sad, distressed, despairing. She has lost her special friend, her Saviour. What can she do? Only two days ago Jesus was crucified and his body hastily placed in a tomb. But now, with the sabbath over and with it still dark, she makes her way to the tomb with spices to anoint his body.
    She will carry out the proper burial rituals to express her devotion to one she calls ‘Lord’.
    She expects to come up against a heavy stone, that seals the entrance to the tomb. Who will roll it
    away? She expects a dead body, not a resurrected Jesus.
    How do we feel after Good Friday? Sad, perhaps angry, amazed at Jesus’ sacrifice, but also joyful, because we know the outcome, and what an outcome that turns out to be! And what do we expect? As atheists, nothing, because we see Jesus as a man of the past, irrelevant. As agnostics, not sure and needing more proof. As believers, joy and wonder at the mighty power of God, the overwhelming love of Jesus! But now Mary finds the entrance stone rolled away…
  2. SEARCHING
    With the stone rolled away, she can look into the tomb. There is no body inside. What shall she do?
    She doesn’t know what’s going on and, searching for an answer, she rushes to Peter and John to share what has happened, to share her concern. Hopefully they’ll know what to do. Peter is still regarded as the leader, whilst John is looked up to as someone specially loved by Jesus. Mary tells them quite clearly that ‘they’ have taken the Lord from the tomb. Presumably she thinks the Roman guards have removed the body. They would have the authority to do so and the strength to roll the stone away. But ‘we’ – who we assume are the other women with her – don’t know where they’ve put him. How can she show her devotion to Jesus now?
    The disciples themselves now run to the tomb. John gets there first, doesn’t go in, but bends down and sees the linen wrappings for the body. A bit later he does go in and believes from what he sees that Jesus has risen. Peter, puzzled also no doubt, arrives second at the tomb and impulsively goes straight in. He too sees the linen wrappings, and the head cloth lying separately, rolled up by itself.
    All neatly arranged, not thrown around in haste. They then both go home, still not understanding how their scriptures and Jesus’ predictions relate to all this. They are left as puzzled as Mary. Where’s the body? Why are the wrappings and cloth left as they are? How does it all make sense?
    They must wait for the resurrection appearances of the Lord, to begin to understand. They wait to receive his peace and, for Peter, there lies in store that private conversation with Jesus, which will bring him questioning, forgiveness and a renewed commission! May we search more and more to know the risen Jesus and find he tells us all we need to know to follow him more closely!
  3. MISUNDERSTANDING
    We next find Mary back at the tomb. She’s outside, crying. She looks inside again and sees two angels there, one sitting where Jesus’ head had been and one where his feet had been. They ask her why she’s crying and she gives her same reply. Now the risen Jesus appears on the scene, although Mary doesn’t recognise him. Perhaps her head is bowed down and, in any case, she cannot see properly through her tears. He asks her why she’s crying and who she’s looking for. It’s as if he needs Mary to spell out how she’s feeling, even though he knows full well himself. She assumes this man is the gardener or tomb custodian and says, ‘Look! If you’ve taken him away, tell me where you’ve put him. Put me out of my agony, so I can go and get him, presumably so she can properly anoint the body and complete the burial rituals. She assumes this man knows who the ‘him’ is she’s referring to. Now at last comes the moment of revelation!

4.JOY
Jesus calls her by name: ‘Mary!’. How wonderful that must have been. How wonderful that Jesus knows us and calls us by name too! Mary turns towards the ‘gardener’, sees him for the first time as he is and recognises him as Jesus, her teacher. She longs to reach out and touch him, but is forbidden to do so. She is now honoured with a special message to pass on to his disciples. Firstly, this message is to go to ‘my brothers’. This spells out who the disciples are and their new relationship. They are now children as close as possible to their Father. And we are his beloved sons and daughters too!
Secondly, he confirms his imminent Ascension. He is returning to his Father.
Finally, this Father is their Father as well as his; their God as well as his. That holds good for us too, and we have the same glorious message to share with those around today.
Mary fulfils this commission and tells the disciples she’s seen the Lord, risen from the dead, and all he’s told her. Mary believes and Jesus offers her new life, but what does he offer us? He offers a personal relationship with him (‘Mary’) and with God ( ‘your Father and God’), a felt presence
( cf ‘don’t touch’), a purpose and a job to do ( ‘go and tell’), based on his forgiveness, freely given to us ( cf Jesus and Peter ). We have too the victory of Jesus’ Ascension, that prepares the way for the coming of the Holy Spirit. May we accept Jesus’ offer and find, this Easter, faith given to us or renewed, and life abundant, in his name!

Hymn StF: 294 All you that seek the Lord who died

Let us pray: ‘Christ is alive! No longer bound to distant years in Palestine,
But saving, healing, here and now, and touching every place and time’
(StF 297, v2 )
Let us pray for our world, especially for peace…
Let us pray for our Church, especially for its renewal…
Let us pray for all who are sick or troubled, that they might find relief…
Let us pray for ourselves and our loved ones, that God will meet our needs…
Let us pray for the assurance of Easter: Jesus lives amongst us and his love never fails! Amen.

Act of Fellowship:
Let us take bread and eat, remembering that Jesus is the BREAD of life’
Let us enjoy his inward presence and his forgiveness….
Let us take water and drink, remembering that Jesus gives us the WATER of life’
Let us feel his Holy Spirit filling us with his love and power…

Hymn StF; 313 Thine be the glory

Blessing: Alleluia! Christ is risen! Let us go now in joy and peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ, Alleluia!