Easter Sunday – Wider truths and different visions

By Rev Elizabeth Raine

Welcome to Virtual worship for Easter Sunday

OPENING PRAYER

This is the day:
When tears are wiped away,
shattered hearts are mended,
fears are replaced with joy.
This is the day:
when the lord rolls away the stone of fear,
throws off death’s clothes,
goes ahead of us into God’s future.
This is the day the Lord has made:
death has no fear for us,
sin has lost its power over us,
God opens the tombs of our hearts
to fill us with life.
This is the day – Easter day!
Christ is risen! Hallelujah

Think of a song you like to sing on Easter Day.
What is it about this song that makes it is your favourite?
Pray – Give thanks to God for the day we have. Look around, what do you see? Give thanks to God for what you see, as you see it.

PRAYER (by Rev. Thom Schumann)

Astounding God,
very early on that first day
you caught chaos unawares:
planting grace in a garden,
setting love loose on creation,
flinging joy into the air.

Jesus, Sun of Justice,
very early on that first day you staggered sin,
throwing its weight off the world; you confounded death,
leaving it alone in the grave;
you opened the gates of the kingdom,
so all could follow you into life.

Scarred Spirit,
very early on this first day of the week,
while we were washing sleep from our eyes
and trying to make sense of our lives,
you sang glad songs to us,
rolling away fears from our hearts
so we can see the Risen Lord.

God in Community, Holy and One,
very early on this first day of the week,
we lift our prayers to you,
using the words that Jesus taught us to pray:

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

MEDITATION ONE

Across our beautiful, yet troubled world, another Easter dawns, inviting us to ponder upon wider truths and different visions. Truths of both heart and mind that find their roots in the mystery and practicality of God.

Basic truths illumining our often uncertain journeys – allowing us to reconnect with the love of Christ: that life does come from death; that hate is not the final word; that the broken continue to sing with joy:

that the trees and the mountains clap their hands; that forgiveness resides in the heart of the human condition; that love, with its multiple faces, remains our companion.

And Christ is risen!

Risen again in the midst of it all – that in some amazing way we too may be a people of hope who walk in the light, imbued with the Spirit.

Christ is risen indeed!

Write some of the words that help you celebrate that Christ is risen!

Read John 20:1 – 18

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. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 

8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 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.” 

14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 

15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 

17 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.’” 18 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.

MEDITATION TWO

The women in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke bring myrrh to anoint the body of Jesus after his death, fulfilling the prophecy of the magi’s symbolic gift at his birth. But an angel points away from the tomb. “He is not here.”

In the narrative of John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene comes alone to the tomb in the dark, not bearing myrrh, not expecting anything. The presence she encounters is not what she previously experienced or understood.

“Do not cling to me,” says Jesus to Mary. Do not cling to the holy as you once knew the holy. You must learn to see and hear and perceive anew. Open your consciousness to awake to the dawn of something entirely transformed and transforming. 

At the core of the mystery is transformation. Not a magical replacement of the old with something new, but an innovating change from deep within, of that which is rising toward the fulfillment and completion of God’s plan.

As we live through this difficult time, what do you think God’s plans are for you?

Pray for those who are close to you whom you treasure; for those in your community who may be struggling; for those who do not yet know of God’s deep love.

PRAYERS FOR OTHERS

Dying Jesus,
whose final human pain
was a sense of abandonment by God,
look mercifully on this suffering humanity.

Help us to see
that we not only can endure the evil of this world
But also enter into your transformation of it.

Saving God,
to whom the darkness and the light are both alike,
enter into the dark places of human lives
and fill them with hope and trust in you..

Take our blindness
and give us new vision for the way ahead;
take our fear and give us fresh courage for the path

All-seeing and unseen God,
you make your presence known to us
when we least expect it.
Come to those whose need is greatest;
give us peace when we are troubled;
disturb us when we are complacent.
When we are locked into darkness, release us.

Living Jesus,
warm our hearts with fresh confidence in your word
help us to make room for the stranger beside us.
inspire us to tread the path of discipleship again
and share the good news of your resurrection life.
Amen.

BLESSING 

Out of the darkness, comes the light of the world:
out of the silence, comes the song of praise.
Out of waiting, comes the gift of hope:
out of the emptiness, comes the gift of life.
May you find laughter amidst the pain,
may you know that God is with you
in the darkness and in the light,
in every moment of our lives. Amen.

Photo of Rev Elizabeth Raine

Written by Rev Elizabeth Raine

Elizabeth was minister at Tuggeranong Uniting, between 2018 and 2023. Elizabeth retired in December 2023 and has moved to Dungog in the Hunter valley, with her husband Rev Dr John Squires.

Over the years, Elizabeth has had a number of diverse and interesting placements, such as a school chaplaincy, a tenancy worker with UnitingCare, a congregational minister, a lecturer at UTC, a Presbytery minister, and as an Intentional Interim minister. 

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