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Order of Service - 4 April 2021

Readings, prayers and reflections are available below.

EASTER SUNDAY 4 APRIL 2021

Easter Sunday

Today's sermon is available as an audio recording here. Press play to start. [RECORDING IN PROCESS, TO FOLLOW SOON]

"Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast."

COLLECT

Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him: grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with him in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity.

READINGS

I Corinthians 13:1-11, Mark 16:1-8.

PRAYERS

As your Church rejoices this day in the Resurrection of her Lord and Saviour, may her worship be reverent and her proclamation faithful.

Give light to those who seek, assurance to those who doubt and peace to all.

We pray for those facing death or who are grieving , that Christ's resurrection will bring hope and encouragement.

We pray for those who, having shared with Christ the death of the body, now share with him the eternal life of his Resurrection. We pray especially for Andrew Rolle and Paul Evans.

REFLECTIONS

The turning-point of history

The impression of Our Lord’s friends about his Resurrection was not that any epoch-making change had occurred. Rather, everything was, and was going to be, just as it had been before. S. Mary Magdalene meets Our Lord in the garden outside the empty tomb and she clings to his feet exactly as she had clung to them less than a week before in Bethany. Our Lady and the apostles eat and drink with him once again in that same upper room. He is recognised in the familiar sign of the breaking of bread. When he tells them to wait for him in Galilee, they go back to their original occupation of fishing, for all the world as if they had never been called away from their nets. Everything seems the same. It is as if the crucifixion had never been happened: nothing but a bad dream.

How must the first Easter Day have looked to Pontius Pilate? For him the future must have seemed bright. A revolutionary leader had been executed, an example had been made, the crucifixion had passed off without undue incident. He had placated the religious leaders of the Jews by his actions. He had pleased the crowd by releasing Barabbas and had done with Jesus as that same crowd wanted. This could be the start of a new phase of Imperial rule and would rebound with credit on the Governor. For the chief priests and the elders, they had succeeded in removing a threat to their power, and had cowed his followers and sent them into hiding. They could reassert their authority. After the excitements of the week, the speed and vigour of events, it seemed an anti-climax, the calm after the storm.

But all those perceptions were wrong.

His conquest of death, his rising from the dead, brought renewal of the world. It had made all the difference in the world. It was the turning-point in the history of creation, in all human history. All was made new. It was, and it is, a new creation. The old order has passed away. Jerusalem has fallen. The new Jerusalem is the heavenly city of our destiny and promise.

He is the Passover of our salvation.

Adam sees the sentence of eternal death reversed.

Noah sees the cross as the new ark to save the human race from destruction. Abraham sees the sacrifice of one greater than Isaac.

Jacob sees a son more beloved than Joseph rescued from the pit.

Moses understands the meaning of the lamb without blemish.

The Psalmist knows the fulfilment of his prophesy, “thou wilt not suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.”[1]

Daniel sees his vision fulfilled.

The Veil of the Temple was rent; the earthquake summoned them from their graves to glory.

The old covenant is at an end:

In Abel he was slain.

In Isaac he was bound.

In Jacob he was a stranger.

In Joseph he was sold into slavery.

In Moses he was revealed to his people.

In David he was persecuted.

In the prophets he was dishonoured.

He became incarnate of the Blessed Virgin, his mother.

He was crucified on Calvary’s hill.

He was pierced by a lance.

He bled.

He was taken down from the Cross.

He was buried in the tomb.

He rose from the dead.

He was lifted up to the heights of heaven.

He is the Lamb of God.

He is the silent lamb.

He is the slain lamb born of Mary.

He was seized from the flock.

He was dragged to the slaughter.

He was sacrificed towards evening.

He was buried in the night.

He whose bones were not broken, did not suffer the corruption of death.

He rose from the dead.

He will raise us from the depths of earthly graves to rejoice with him in the Kingdom of Heaven.

An angel, one of God’s messengers, who heralded the Annunciation of Our Lord to Our Lady, who brought tidings of great joy at the Nativity, who watched over him in his Agony, announced his rising from death and the tomb, “He is not here.”[2] In those simple words, the fulfilment of the promise and the destiny of humanity is accomplished. To renounce all is to gain all; to descend is to rise; to die is to live. By his Resurrection, Christ has turned all our sunsets into dawns. His Resurrection makes it impossible for our human story to end in chaos and darkness. Rather, it has to move inevitably towards light, toward life, towards love.

“Let the angelic choirs of heaven now rejoice

Let the divine mysteries be celebrated with joy

Let the trumpet of salvation resound for the victory of so great a king

Let the earth also rejoice illumined with such resplendent rays”[3]

 

For, Jesus Christ is Risen and his Resurrection gives us the supreme consolation and hope that

 

            “From this bare green and crested white

            The wasted ash of men shall rise in light.”[4]

 

Christ Church 2021

 

[1] Psalm 16: 10

[2] S. Matthew 28: 6

[3] The Exsultet of the Easter Vigil

[4] Peter Levi, For Alasdair Clayre from Shakespeare’s Birthday London, Anvil Press Poetry [1985] p 38