Set The Altar
Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….
Good News God,
In the midst of deep sorrow and grief
your angels appeared to the faithful women of Jesus’ company,
bringing them news more awe-inspiring than they could imagine –
Christ is Risen!
Surely your angels can interrupt our lives, too,
breaking into our losses and sorrows
and offering a message of tremendous joy to change our lives.
Come this Easter morning, we pray,
and fill us with the joy of the women disciples,
the first witnesses to your resurrection,
that our lives may also be renewed in hope and glory.
Let us roll back the stone of the grave
and sing Alleluia once again!
In Christ we pray,
Amen let us begin todays worship
Call to Worship
Leader: We come to this moment,
seeking Jesus in the familiar story of our faith.
Do not meet us only now, O Living Christ,
but surprise us with Resurrection power
People: in all the places of our lives!
Leader: We gather to sing and pray the story we know by heart,
a story of loving triumph and powerful grace.
This story of “Alleluia!” means great joy
for the One who lives and the ones who witness to this new life
People: in all the places of our lives!
Leader: We rejoice and thank you for the life of your son,
resurrected by the power of your loving, vibrant Spirit.
Let this same Spirit fill us,
that we may know the truth of resurrection
People: in all the places of our lives!
Leader: We join our hearts in song and sing
“Alleluia! Gracious Jesus!”
for Christ is living and so are we!
People: Alleluia indeed!
Christ the Lord is risen today #233
The light which the world tried to extinguish cannot be put out. Today we light the candles again, proclaiming the transforming power of God. As the light returns, we give thanks that God’s transforming love has been, is now, and will ever be at work within us. Today we celebrate: new life, new joy, new possibilities. Christ is alive and living among us!
As we light the candles, we acknowledge that there is still pain and suffering in the world, but we place our trust in God and in the way shown by Jesus Christ. In the midst of darkness, there is light. In the pain of death, there is life. In the face of what appear to us to be overwhelming odds, God is at work in us and in the world, working for justice and peace, compassion and love, and life abundant. Christ is risen; Christ is risen in us, for wherever we gather in his name, he is there.
(All candles lit.)
All: Alleluia, Christ is risen; Christ is risen indeed!
Today’s Gospel reading is
The Resurrection of Jesus
20 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.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] 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,[b] “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.
The word of God for the people of God!
A Walk past an empty tomb
Frederick Buechner (pronounced BEEK-ner) is an American writer and theologian. He is the author of more than thirty published books and has been an important source of inspiration and learning for many readers. He has a perspective on Easter I find unique and I share this every Easter.
The Gospels are far from clear as to just what happened. It began in the dark. The stone had been rolled aside. Matthew alone speaks of an earthquake. In the tomb there were two white-clad figures or possibly just one. Mary Magdalen seems to have gotten there before anybody else. There was a man she thought at first was the gardener. Perhaps Mary the mother of James was with her and another woman named Joanna. One account says Peter came too with one of the other disciples. Elsewhere the suggestion is that there were only the women and that the disciples, who were somewhere else, didn't believe the women's story when they heard it. There was the sound of people running, of voices. Matthew speaks of "fear and great joy." Confusion was everywhere. There is no agreement even as to the role of Jesus himself. Did he appear at the tomb or only later? Where? To whom did he appear? What did he say? What did he do?
The symbol of Easter is the empty tomb. You can't depict or domesticate emptiness. You can't make it into pageants and string it with lights. It doesn't move people to give presents to each other or sing old songs. It ebbs and flows all around us, the Eastertide. Even the great choruses of Handel's Messiah sound a little like a handful of crickets chirping under the moon.
He rose. A few saw him briefly and talked to him. If it is true, there is nothing left to say. If it is not true, there is nothing left to say. For believers and unbelievers both, life has never been the same again. For some, neither has death. What is left now is the emptiness. There are those who, like Magdalen, will never stop searching it till they find his face.
Easter Sunday Morning Starts with this emptiness. Many of us are experiencing this empty ness. Many people know what an empty tomb feels like. In my community I know people who survived the horrors of the AIDS Pandemic only to be lose their loved ones now. There is a helplessness among families who have lost loved ones but cannot seem to grieve properly because these times. Their hearts are broken, they cannot come together, just yet to say their proper fare wells or to celebrate the lives lived. The tombs remain empty.
Yet because of Easter Sunday we are drawn to a new place, we are drawn to new ways of being in this world and relating to one another.
This is much of what the sunrise service experience is…It is dark… it is silent it is cold… Mary Magdalene approaches the tomb knowing what to expect…In extreme grief ..she knows she will attend to the body of the Lord…alone she will care for the one who the others fled from…alone…the stone is rolled back. The tomb is empty!!!!
We teach, preach and believe that Jesus came to turn the whole social order and the world upside down. He does away with tradition left and right while he walked on this earth. So now as we walk in a world that has been turned upside down, we witness the resurrected life stepping forward from the empty tomb.
The empty Tomb, at first it is a place of fear and horror. Tomb robbers were a frequent and common problem in those days so much so that we have recorded laws addressing just such an issue.
“Rather than looking into the tomb, Mary runs away from it (20:2). Assuming Jesus’ body has been stolen, she seeks help from two disciples: Peter and the Beloved Disciple. Peter’s inclusion seems odd; does Mary (or anyone) know what Peter did in the courtyard? The last time he appeared, it was while denying Jesus three times (18:15–27). In contrast, the Beloved Disciple stood by Jesus even as he hung on the cross (19:25–27). These disciples’ race to the tomb, their presence together already signaling Peter’s future reinstatement and Jesus’ gracious forgiveness (21:15–19). There is room for both faithful and failing disciples in the family of God because of this forgiveness and love.”
I cannot help but wonder just how many of us stand both as the beloved disciple and as peter today? How many have a trust in the process we are engaged in and we will emerge form this crisis not unscathed but all the wiser for it. Perhaps, deep in our hearts we stand as Peter does scared and unsure in all of this process? We move through our day by day but in a hopeless haze? And yet the Empty tomb unites both fear, doubt, love and faith.
Mary has called on all her resources, the disciples, her friends and chosen family, to support her in this process of discovery and yet the system has failed her.
“Mary’s desire for comfort from these two disciples, however, will leave her empty. Both men eventually look into the tomb and see that Jesus’ body is gone. Even the Beloved Disciple, who is said to “believe” in verse 8, offers no words of hope to Mary. Instead, all three disciples are scattered (see also 16:32). The men “returned to their homes,” while Mary remains outside the tomb, weeping. In fact, given the sequence of events in 20:8–10, it seems probable that the Beloved Disciple “believed” Mary’s report of Jesus’ body being stolen rather than believing in the resurrection, since verse 9 continues: “For as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” If the Beloved Disciple “believed” in the resurrection at this point, his silent return home is cruel, and a significant departure from his otherwise inquisitive and helpful character in John 13 and 19.”
For many of us, what once brought us comfort or made us feel safe, feels lost and, for some, it feels as though we will never connect to it again. Even those of us whose faith has been strong in these extended days of times we may experience moments when faith fades and sometimes we may find ourselves in the beloved disciple who, once believed, and now walks away from an empty tomb feeling defeated, lost and alone.
Yet if we look where we are standing, look where Mary is standing, she is in a garden. The tomb though empty is surrounded by teaming life. Even when the resurrected Lord asks her a question, she assumes he is the Gardener. He is the Gardner! We are in the Garden. When feeling defeated, when feeling lost remember we are a resurrection people and we stand in the garden.
Julian of Norwich saw it;
“For I saw the Lord sitting like a man. I watched, wondering what kind of labor it be that the servant was to do. And then I understood the he was to do the greatest labor and the hardest work there is. He was to be a Gardener, digging and ditching and sweating and turning the soil over and over, and to dig deep down, and to water the plants at the proper time. And he was to persevere in his work and make sweet streams to run, and fine and plenteous fruit to grow which he was to bring before the Lord and serve him to his liking”
This is a time, in our world, when we can pay particular attention to our souls, to our wellbeing, and to our spiritual practices. How are we sustaining our spirits in this time? This may be a time of the “Greatest labor and the hardest work there is.” We may feel isolated, sacred, alone, fearful, angry, sad, hopeless, disconnected. These are all legitimate feelings in the moment of the empty Tomb. This is trauma, and just as Mary felt it in the garden so do many now.
So, what can we do to engage our feelings to move toward healing as we wait for the resurrection moment?
· Get Moving try to exercise for at least 30 minutes
· Don’t isolate, do what you can to connect to neighbors and family be it from your front porch or by phone or electronically stay as connected as you can
"When you feel anxious try mindful breathing, meditation “Staying grounded. To feel in the present and more grounded, sit on a chair. Feel your feet on the ground and your back against the chair. Look around you and pick six objects that have red or blue in them. Notice how your breathing gets deeper and calmer.”
· Do what you can to stay healthy. Get proper sleep, eat a well-balanced diet and avoid over indulging whether that be snacks, drinks or News!
· Pray, take up a spiritual practice, read a book such as Showings by Julian of Norwich
These are just a few things we can do to nurture ourselves in these Empty tomb moments. Then and then do remember that this is Easter Sunday it is not just celebrated today but every day. If we listen, even in these times, we can hear Jesus' voice call us by name just as Mary heard her name.
“Then Jesus asks; “who are you looking for?” That is a strange question to be asking at a grave side. I mean the question assumes you must be seeking someone living for the dead are easy to find. But Mary, missing that it is Jesus who is speaking to her, says just tell me where he is, and I’ll get him. So, Mary is assuming this Gardener is somehow a part of this conspiracy to steal the body of Jesus. Then he says to her, in a tone of voice that only she could recognize, and it melts her heart and opens her eyes…Mary.
As Christ calls Mary by her name she recognizes him. How many times in our own lives when we look back, we can see God’s hand at play but, when we were in the moment, we could not or refused to see God with us. I wonder how often Mary looked back on that moment and wondered why she did not recognize Jesus Right away.”
Jesus was right there beside her during one of the most difficult times in her life and yet she didn’t see it? She didn’t even to think to look for Christ. I believe if we truly take time to be present to these days, we will find Christ the gardener besides us, nurturing us day in and day out. If we listen, we will hear him call our name. Call our name as only one who knows us as their beloved can. And if we do, Just as Mary did then, today we can proclaim. I have seen the risen Lord.
Please write your joys and concerns in the comment section and I will lift them up after this hymn
The Strife is over #242
Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us
Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
Normally this would be the call to the offering if you would care to you can mail in your offerings or go to the top of the webpage and click the donate now
The office is open for regular hours
We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry
Now let us prepare our hearts and our tables
For Holy Communion this morning,
I invite you to lend Christ your table.
On the first day of Holy Week long ago,
people throughout Judea arrived
at the dusty gates of Jerusalem,
primed with “Hosanna” in their hearts
and Jesus asked to borrow a donkey.
On the Thursday that followed,
Jesus rented or was given
John Mark’s mother’s Upper Room
to celebrate the Passover with the disciples.
On the afternoon of the resurrection,
Jesus was invited into a house in Emmaus
and used the bread of that hospitality
to break and bless.
Lend Christ your table, your bread, your cup and your heart,
for, as the disciples told the person who loaned the donkey,
“The Lord has need of it.”
Prayer of Consecration
Leader: We are one bread, one body, one cup of blessing.
Though we are many throughout the earth
and this church community is scattered,
we are one in Christ.
In your many kitchens, and living rooms,
rest your hands lightly upon these elements
which we set aside today to be a sacrament.
Let us ask God’s blessing upon them.
Unison: Gentle Redeemer, there is no lockdown on your blessing
and no quarantine on grace.
Send your Spirit of life and love,
power and blessing
upon every table where your child shelters in place,
that this Bread may be broken and gathered in love
and this Cup poured out to give hope to all.
Risen Christ, live in us, that we may live in you.
Breathe in us, that we may breathe in you.
Words of Remembering
Leader: We remember that Paul the apostle
wrote letters to congregations throughout places
we now call Greece, Turkey and Macedonia,
and they were the first “remote” worship resources.
Our online service has a long heritage.
The Communion words sent to the church at Corinth were these:
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed
took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it and said,
“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Sharing of the Elements
Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the bread we share.
Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the cup we share.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Leader: Let us pray in thanksgiving for this meal of grace,
rejoicing that, by the very method of our worship,
we have embodied the truth that Christ’s love
is not limited by buildings made with human hands,
nor contained in human ceremonies,
but blows as free as the Spirit in all places.
Unison: Spirit of Christ, you have blessed our tables and our lives.
May the eating of this Bread give us courage to speak faith and act love,
not only in church sanctuaries, but in your precious world,
and may the drinking of this Cup renew our hope
even in the midst of pandemic.
Wrap your hopeful presence around all
whose bodies, spirits and hearts need healing,
and let us become your compassion and safe refuge. Amen
I am available for one on visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again soon but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat , check in
Final hymn The Lord Liveth
I will call upon the lord
Who is worthy to be Praised
So shall I be saved from my enemies
I will call upon the lord
The Lord liveth and blessed be my rock
Let the God of my salvation be exalted
 Frederick Buechner, Easter, October 13, 2009, accessed March 14, 2016, http://www.frederickbuechner.com/content/easter.
 Giuliana, et al. Julian of Norwich: Showings. Paulist Press, 1978. Pg. 273-74
 Online Communion for Palm Sunday was written by the Rev. Maren C. Tirabassi.
©2020 Maren Tirabassi, all publishing rights reserved. Permission for congregations to use in worship or educational settings, including streaming.