The Third Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 13

Happy Easter

It was a great joy to be back in the building last Sunday.

Do you remember Easter Sunday morning in 2020?  I do, Phil and I stood on our doorstep and sang “Jesus Christ is risen today”.  We had taken up the challenge of “Sing Resurrection” with the aim of spreading a “counter-infection of joy and hope for Easter Day” through singing an Easter song outside.  Though it was with some trepidation that we started to sing, to our amazement, when we had finished, there was a round of applause from a few houses nearby.  This year we will be singing on the Church car park as we have permission to meet and sing outside!  Again the aim is to spread a counter infection of joy and hope in the middle of the fear and anxiety that people are experiencing. 

Just a few instructions – please read and follow. 

1) No cars on our car park.  Parking is at the back of the athletics club (off Pollard street, be careful when driving in through what is technically the “exit”).

2) Masks must be worn.

3) Wrap up warm, there will be chairs available only for those that need to sit.  But if it is wet or stormy, we will be inside the church. 

4) We can sing, song words are with this chapter, please bring them with you for your own use. 

5) Do not come if feel ill and allow at least 2 metres between you and others (unless in your bubble) and please note that there will be no facilities available in the church. 

6) Lastly no mingling

We go forward with some fear and trepidation, a little fear is good, it keeps us from danger and unnecessary risk.  But anxiety is another matter, anxiety attaches easily, it is very good at clinging to people and breeds rapidly.  No wonder Peter wrote “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5 v.7)  We all need to reflect on our conversations, are we helping anxiety to breed or encouraging people to trust in God’s care.  As Martin Luther said “You can’t stop the birds flying over your head, but you can stop them nesting in your hair.”  That could be easier at the moment with no hair cuts!  But seriously, we have a choice, let us choose not to spread anxiety but to spread a “counter-infection of joy and hope” to all those we talk to. 

Many thanks to Margaret Shaw and her team of knitters.  The little eggs look wonderful.  Please pray as we put up 4 strings with an Easter message on, or hang up individual eggs on a tree near our houses with a tract attached for someone else to find and take.  Please pray for seeds to be sown in this way.   

Also, many thanks to the wonderful group of people who cleaned the church last Saturday morning.


Reflection

From Laura: “Hands, Face, Space - reversed” based on John 20 v.1-18

What does Easter mean to you?  The difficulties of a second Easter Sunday under lock down do not stop us celebrating that Jesus is alive.  Today’s celebration does not forget the pain and darkness of Holy Week, the sadness of Maundy Thursday, the horror of Good Friday and even the waiting on Easter Saturday.

Space - for some people Easter just means Easter Eggs.  An attractive hollow shell with an empty space inside.  The first Easter day started with a dark empty space inside a tomb.  Mary’s mind must have been in turmoil with thoughts of sorrow and grief.  She’d been through the torment of the horrific crucifixion of her beloved Jesus, her Lord who had shown her God, accepted her and forgiven her, brought peace into her troubled life and given her hope.  Her love for him had overcome her fear and she had stood in the space by the cross with other women. Mary had heard the taunts of the crowd as she watched his slow agonising death, unable to help him nor ease his pain.  Now he was dead and buried.  She must have felt her world had caved in, that there was no hope left now with an empty space inside her.  For her the Saturday must have seemed an exceptionally long empty space as she waited for the Sabbath to be over.  Then she had gone to the tomb with the other women, taking spices to anoint the body and wondering how they would move the stone.  Yet when they got there, the stone was gone, and the tomb was empty.  Mary saw the empty space and concluded that someone had robbed the grave and removed the body.  The emotional darkness must have got worse and in her sadness and distress at this additional catastrophe she ran off to find Peter and John.

Face - on telling them the news, Peter and John dashed to the tomb and went in.  The reading mentions that John, on seeing the tomb empty and grave clothes folded up, believed, for this would not have happened if tomb robbers had been at work.  In the middle of that empty space there was a stirring of faith, a glimmer of hope for John.  But Mary was still distressed, she wandered back to the look at the empty space in the tomb. Yet instead of finding an empty space Mary found herself face-to-face with angels, who asked her why she was crying.  Despite seeing angels Mary, still grieving, missed the fact that something miraculous had happened. Then suddenly she became aware of someone else near the tomb but did not recognise who it was.  Possibly she was blinded by her tears or else completely wrapped up in the idea that the body had been stolen, she was certainly not expecting to come face-to-face with Jesus in that space.

The stranger spoke kindly to her, asking why she was crying, and who was she looking for? Mary thought it was the gardener who might have been told to remove the body by the owner of the tomb. Then just one word changed everything.  She heard her name “Mary” and knew who said it.

Hands - hearing her name meant Mary’s anguish and despair were swallowed up by astonishment and delight.  Jesus was alive and she saw his face again.  She must have reached out her hands and possibly fallen to her knees in front of him.  I can imagine her hands clung onto Jesus, almost to stop him going away again.

Jesus spoke to her.  He told her to stop holding on for she was to go and tell the disciples that He was ascending to His Father and their Father.  Mary now believed him to be alive. The empty tomb was not enough, her testimony was now, “I have seen the Lord”.

Space - this Easter make space in your life for Jesus and let the Holy Spirit fill your emptiness with the love of God the Father shown through the cross.

Face – turn your face to God and seek His Kingdom.  Let His love flow through you to others you meet.

Hands – lift up your hands in praise, in the middle of difficulties and sorrows hold onto God the rock, and open your hands to receive His help and healing.


Dates

Sunday 4th April - Easter Sunday morning, service outdoors on our carpark, provided the weather is reasonable!

Sunday 18th April -Church AGM after the morning service.

Listening to a recording of our audio service

Please note that the service will be recorded on a Sunday morning and then be available as soon as possible after the service.

Click on the audio link at the top of the page.

If you are not on the internet, we have now paid to have a “Dial-a-Service” facility.  Telephone 01536 909787 and you will be able to listen to a recording of the service on your telephone. The cost, around 30p a call, is covered by the church.

Don’t forget our Facebook page always has some interesting things on as well.

Zoom Bible Study

On Wednesday 7th April at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start,

“Good Memory in Dark Places”

All are welcome to join - please ask Laura for details. 

Or if you prefer to do this Bible Study at home, then read the passages several times and consider the following questions.

  1. What has struck you most about the Biblical image of the wilderness? Has this given you any new insights into God, life and faith?
  2. Has anything been new or helpful to you during Lent in 2021? What will you take with you as you go on in your journey of faith?


Read Isaiah 35

  1. Five somethings!
    1. Something about God,
    2. Something about people or myself,
    3. Something that stands out,
    4. Something you don’t understand,
    5. Something that is a command or promise or encouragement,

Two Prayers

Living God,
we worship you today with joy in our hearts and thanksgiving on our lips.
When the powers of evil had done their worst, crucifying your son, and burying him in death, you raised him to life again: an act of power giving hope to the world.

Lord Jesus,
we rejoice that death could not keep you in its grip; that you were raised to life,
alive for evermore.
You greeted your friends and now you stand amongst us in your risen power.

Spirit of God,
you are always giving life to the people of God, giving birth to children of God.
Remodel us in the image of Jesus, fill us with his love and enable us with his risen power, that we might be faithful to his way, used by you in the redeeming of your world. 
Amen,

Dear Lord Jesus, our crucified saviour, thank you for dying for us that we can be forgiven and know God as our father.  We can rejoice in the hope of this day because we know what happens next.

Around your cross were those who were deeply upset, including your mother.  We pray for those this day who have lost loved ones or are deeply distressed, especially in the middle of this Coronavirus outbreak, may they know the hope of Easter because you were wounded and broken for them.

You suffered on the cross, you knew pain, beatings and betrayal.  Around the world there are those who are suffering, those beaten, those who are betrayed.  People who are wounded and broken, may they find the help they need and hope in their lives because you were wounded and broken for them.

Father you sent Jesus to die for us, but praise you that was not the end of the story.  Now you send us out into a world that is wounded and broken to speak of your love shown by the fact that Jesus was wounded and broken on the cross.  Amen.

Please pray for our Mission of the Month:
The “Open Doors” organisation supporting persecuted Christians around the world

Final Thought, since writing this it is now Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air!
Fresh air – let us pray for the Holy Spirit to blow through hour lives and especially to breathe life into our celebration on Sunday.


Songs for Easter Sunday

1. Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the Cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss.  Alleluia!

2. Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the Cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save.  Alleluia!

3. But the pains that he endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured; Alleluia!
Now above the sky he’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing.  Alleluia!

From “Lyra Davidica” (1708) CCLI #5638

1. When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down:
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

4. Were the whole realm of Nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all!

Isaac Watts © CCLI #5638

1. Led like a Lamb to the slaughter
In silence and shame,
There on Your back You carried a world
Of violence and pain.
Bleeding, dying, bleeding, dying.
You’re alive, You’re alive,
You have risen, Alleluia!
And the power and the glory is given,
Alleluia, Jesus, to You!

2. At break of dawn, poor Mary,
Still weeping she came,
When through her grief she heard Your voice
Now speaking her name.
Mary, Master, Mary, Master!
You’re alive, You’re alive, …

3. At the right hand of the Father
Now seated on high
You have begun Your eternal reign
Of justice and joy.
Glory, glory, glory, glory.
You’re alive, You’re alive, …

Graham Kendrick © 1983
ThankYou Music CCLI #5638

1. Thine be the glory,
risen, conquering Son,
endless is the victory
Thou o'er death hast won;
angels in bright raiment
rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave-clothes
where Thy body lay.

Thine be the glory,
risen, conquering Son,
endless is the victory
Thou o'er death hast won.

2. Lo! Jesus meets us,
risen from the tomb;
lovingly He greets us,
scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness
hymns of triumph sing,
for her Lord now liveth;
death hath lost its sting.
Thine be the glory, …

3. No more we doubt Thee,
glorious Prince of life;
life is nought without Thee:
aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors,
through Thy deathless love:
bring us safe through Jordan
to Thy home above.
Thine be the glory, …

Edmond Budry © CCLI 5638