Happy Easter everyone.
Our Easter Sunday Service can be seen Easter Sunday here.
Our Easter Sunday S Club can be see here.
Here is my Easter message:-
So again, Happy Easter!
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for their kind comments on the worship that we have been curating on Zoom and on YouTube and via our paper resources. I must admit it has been a hard slog to get it all done and on time, and I want to also thank Caroline for her patience with me, and turning the dining room into a TV studio, the lounge into a print and post room, and the back bedroom into a puppet studio. Thank you also to Angie who is equally pushing out a huge amount of content, reflections, videos, blogs, emails, worship sheets, PowerPoints, letters and cards. We have also been able to use some of our preachers and worship leaders, thanks to Stephen and Gillian for their Maundy Thursday reflections, videos and prayers. Keep an eye out for some more of your favourite preachers in the weeks to come.
Although it’s been a challenge, and at times quite stressful, I have been enjoying the creating of videos, and worship via new mediums. I am now though having to rethink a third of my sabbatical, which was going to be on making videos and blogging!
We’ve also been enjoying the variety of music from Jessica & Michael’s praise band style to David’s many sounds from his magic computer organ, to the elegant piano playing from Stephen. I’m having to write this before I’ve finished the Circuit Choir editing so hopefully that will be good too.
I am finding this such a strange time; my emotions are up and down like a yoyo. My head is all over the place, and the more people I talk to, well, we are all finding we are all in the same or a similar boat. So, one minute, I will be really happy, with a lovely piece of music on the speakers, an edit of a video is coming together beautifully, all is going well, and I think I’m really happy. Then I remember some of our folk who have the virus, or some of our folk’s families who are seriously ill, and I think what right do have I to be happy, as others suffer. Then I watch the news, and there is no good news to be heard. Then I might be driving out to Bromyard, or Ross, or Hereford, and the sun is shining, there is no traffic on the roads, I haven’t shaved for a week, and I’m in “comfortable clothes”, I think I’m on holiday so I smile, and I’m happy, and sing along to the radio, and then I remember why there is less traffic, and no cars in the station car park, and that we can’t visit family, or friends or church members, or give a hug to someone who is in hospital and could really need to share in a hug! Then I am sad. I can’t seem do any job that lasts more than about 20 minutes, without flitting off and doing something else in the middle, I can’t concentrate!
How on earth in the middle of all this strangeness, weirdness, anxiousness, “don’t know when this will all end,?” locked down new dystopic pandemic world can we celebrate Easter.
And then I thought of the disciples at the start of the Easter Morning story. Their world had also been turned on its head. A week before there was such elation, as their friend, rabbi and messiah rode into town on a Donkey and was hailed as a hero, “Hosanna to the son of David”, the crowd had proclaimed. The disciples were happy. Now a week later in fear and anxiety, they are locked in an upper room in fear of their lives. They had been traumatised by rejection of the way, hatred, violence, and then a most barbaric death.
I think today, in week 3 or 4 of lockdown, we have a better understanding of how those disciples felt. We can from our own experiences feel some of the same emotions and anxieties. Our worlds have been turned upside down, we are locked away in some fear of the deaths that are happening all around us. They didn’t know what was going to happen to them, we don’t know what is going to happen to us.
The disciples had spent 3 years with Jesus learning to trust him. While in lockdown, they will have remembered their times with Jesus; telling the stories to each other, “do you remember the time Jesus passed through crowds when they wanted to kill him” or when he prevented that woman from being stoned to death. They will have shared all the stories of how he’d healed the sick, walked on water, calmed the storm, fed the thousands and raised the dead.
Although they remembered all the stories, and rehearsed them over and over again, it doesn’t seem to have mattered how many hints Jesus made, in the things he did, and the things that he said; they still did not expect him to come back alive! When the women arrive at the tomb that first Easter Sunday morning they were “perplexed”, baffled, puzzled they had not expected this at all. They returned to tell the 11, and suddenly lockdown is over, and they run to the tomb and are amazed at what they see. At this moment, they still don’t know what has happened, but I wonder if they are starting again to see some hope and beginning to put together some of the things that Jesus has been saying all these years.
So what can we learn from God’s story to inform our story. Stay safe by staying in lockdown, remember the stories of the good times we’ve shared together – do you remember that time Phil fell off the communion platform, we laughed…Do you remember that wonderful sermon so and so preached… it was a joy. Do you remember, baptisms, weddings, services, social events, parties… remember them all. Remember too the stories of Jesus – “Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear; Things I would ask Him to tell me if He were here; Scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea, Stories of Jesus, tell them to me.” Remember that the Disciples had learned to trust Jesus from the times they spent with him. Let us too learn to trust Jesus because of the time we have spent with him, in prayer, in worship, in fellowship, in communion, in hearing his stories and pondering on his word. And as we learn to trust him, we will begin like the disciples to see the bigger picture and understand the hope there is in Easter for us all.
So how do we celebrate Easter – well as best as we can, with our Easter eggs, our TV, our worship, and in remembering and telling each other the stories of Jesus, and in pondering how Jesus’ story intertwines with our story leading us to hope for the kingdom, and Jesus returning alive for us. We are celebrating by decorating our windows with Jesus’ story.
As the Queen said in her broadcast, we will come through this, one day the lockdown will be over, and we will come out from our upper rooms, and we will be amazed. Happy Easter, Jesus has risen – He has risen indeed. Amen