Welcome to our Easter Day service from Craigmillar Park and Reid Memorial Churches. Today our time of reflection on the suffering and death of Jesus comes to an end as we celebrate his resurrection, and the hope it has to offer.
Call to Worship (from Psalm 118: 22-24)
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvellous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.
HYMN 410 Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
from King’s College, Cambridge
All glory is yours,
God, our creator and redeemer.
Your son was not defeated by the Cross,
nor was he silenced by the grave.
The empty cross and vacant tomb
testify to both your love and power.
On this day of celebration
fill your people with joy.
Let us rejoice in the resurrection
and proclaim your new creation.
Let us go into the world this day.
Let us proclaim that we have seen the Lord.
Let our lives show he is not some dead hero,
but the Lord of life itself.
Send your Spirit upon us
that we may share this Good News
in our words and in our actions.
May we witness to your rising.
Rejoicing in God’s new creation, as our Saviour taught us, so we 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
now and for ever. Amen.
John 20: 1-10 – The Empty Tomb
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped round Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
HYMN 417 Now the green blade riseth
John 20: 11-18 – Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’
‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’
At this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realise that it was Jesus.
He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’
She turned towards him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’).
Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her.
HYMN 425 The Saviour died, but rose again
(from Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church), Edinburgh.
Mark 16: 9-15 – The Resurrection
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
Afterwards Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
A Reflection for Easter Day
Many of us like to walk or sit in a beautiful garden. Even folk like me, who lack any green-fingered ability, enjoy them. Most often they are a place to relax and enjoy a cultivated form of nature. Yet in scripture gardens also have a more significant meaning. They are places representative of the perfection of creation, the nearness of the divine, and places of temptation.
The first hearers of the resurrection stories would have immediately linked the encounter in the garden with that between God and Adam in Eden. In both God is seeking out his creation; in both God calls on people by name. In Eden Adam runs and hides from God as he had given in to the temptation to place his trust in someone else. With Mary the temptation is to hold on to what is passing, the physical presence of the resurrected Jesus. Unlike Adam, she is running towards her Lord. Both people find themselves with doubts and belief, seeking answers and having questions. Two gardens, two people, two temptations, one Lord.
Mary was preoccupied with the empty tomb. When her gaze finally moved, she saw Jesus standing there before her. How long had he been standing, looking, waiting? Jesus speaks her name. Something in how he spoke opened here eyes to the truth of who he was. This is no conquering hero bent on revenge after the crucifixion, but the compassionate Lord whom she had grown to know and love.
This encounter should send out a clear message to each and all of us. We should put ourselves, in a sense, in Mary’s shoes. Is Jesus standing, watching, and waiting for us? Is he awaiting us noticing that he is there, here? Might he be calling our name, even this day? If he does, how will we respond? We seem to have two options. The first is that we turn and copy Adam in Eden. In other words, we run and hide from the Lord who sees us as we truly are. In our shame, or embarrassment, we hide from him. The other option is that we copy Mary and run to him, embracing the compassion and love he extends to us as he calls our name.
Easter and resurrection are meant to stop us and make us think. More than this they seem to demand a response. Only we will know if we will run to or from the risen Lord. But if we choose to notice him and to accept him as did Mary then we will be accepted. Perhaps then we may join with her in saying, “I have seen the Lord!”
HYMN 416 Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
(from First Methodist Houston, Downtown)
Prayers for the world
fill our hearts with joy.
Living Lord, the earth was shaken by your life giving power.
Shake your church that we may be restored to life once more.
Send us out to proclaim that we have seen you.
Living Lord, your resurrection startled all both friend and foe.
Shatter the fears of all whom you call by name.
Breathe life into each of our communities.
Living Lord, you call all people without discrimination.
Transform the narrowness of our vision and our decision making.
Guide us on our journey of service together.
Living Lord, your mercy endures for ever.
Strengthen all who feel weak, pained, or distressed.
Transform us that we may show your love and compassion.
Living Lord, your first disciples stood bewildered by the empty tomb.
We hold before you those who grieve or have lost joy.
Raise us all that we may hear your voice calling to us.
fill our hearts with joy.
HYMN 419 Thine be the glory
Christ Jesus was raised from the dead
by the glorious power of the Father.
Go then, from this place, in new life with the Risen Lord.
And the blessings of God Almighty,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be with you all,
now and for ever more.
English translations of Lord’s Prayer © 1988 English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC). www.englishtexts.org. Used by permission.
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.