Category Archives: Easter

Easter Sunday Meditation 2015


Christ is risen – he is risen indeed.

Reading: John 20:11-18

Mary stood crying outside the tomb. While she was still crying, she bent over and looked in the tomb (12) and saw two angels there dressed in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and the other at the feet.  (13) ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ they asked her. She answered, ‘They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him!’

(14) Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there; but she did not know that it was Jesus.

(15) ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ Jesus asked her. ‘Who is it that you are looking for?’

She thought he was the gardener, so she said to him, ‘If you took him away, sir, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.’

(16) Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned toward him and said in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (This means ‘Teacher.’)

(17) ‘Do not hold on to me,’ Jesus told her, ‘because I have not yet gone back up to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them that I am returning to him who is my Father and their Father, my God and their God.’
(18) So Mary Magdalene went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and related to them what he had told her. (Good News Bible)

Meditation

‘The day of resurrection, earth, tell it all abroad;

… for Christ the Lord hath risen, our joy that hath no end.’

But wait. Why are you crying?

A lost loved one? A lost opportunity? A failed relationship? Are you afraid of something or someone? Do you feel helpless and alone?

Trevor Hudson reminds us ‘that each person you see … sits next to his or her own pool of tears.’ You are not the only one crying today. You are not alone in your tears.

Mary, too, was crying, and she tried to fix everything, as we do: ‘tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.’

But there is so much that cannot be fixed, however many times we go over what we did; however many times we cry, ‘If only ….’

But what if the empty tomb was not a sign of loss but of life? What if our pain could be transformed into healing for others? What if others could find hope because of what we have experienced?

Jesus calls us by name today. And he sends us out to his brothers and sisters – our brothers and sisters, our parents and children, our neighbours, friends and enemies. He asks us to tell them that his Father is their Father, that his God is their God. We are not alone; we belong to the Father and we belong to each other.

We were never meant to keep the tomb filled with our pain and hurt and fears and anger. It was meant to burst open and to fill the world with light and love and hope.

The Lord is risen – he is risen indeed!

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, for the hope of this day.

Thank you that our tears and the tears of the world do not have the final say.

Help us to discover, in the place of our hurt and loss and suffering, an opportunity to bring hope and love to the world around us.

Help us, today, to call someone by name, to reach into their tears and give them hope.

This meditation was written for the Prestbury Methodist Church Lenten Diary. A collaborative project, with various members of the church writing meditations for each day of Lent around a given theme. See HERE for Easter Saturday and past years’ contributions. 

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The spirit of Easter: A sermon for Easter 2


Easter 2 – Freedom Day

SCRIPTURE:    Acts 2:14a, 22–32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3–9; John 20:19–31

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed.

Today is the second Sunday of Easter; the day Jesus appeared again to his disciples in the upper room, and in particular, to Thomas.

Today is, of course, also Freedom Day (South Africa’s 20th ‘birthday’). I think that South Africans in 1994 had a lot in common with those who were around Jesus.

Change
The difficulty that the Jews had with Jesus – whether they were part of the establishment, or Zealots working against the status quo or the disciples themselves – the problem they had didn’t lie with Jesus, but with what they expected from their Messiah: what he should look like, how they expected him act, what he would teach.

That the Messiah would change the status quo was pretty much a given, whatever party you belonged to. But to what extent, and how ruthlessly was up for grabs. Much the same as South Africa in the early 90s. Apartheid had to go. That was a given for everyone, except for a few diehard denialists. But how it was to go and what would take its place was very much under discussion (to put it politely). Continue reading

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A meditation for Easter Sunday


This was my contribution to Prestbury Methodist Church’s  2014 Lenten Diary. The word was ‘Lamb’. (See previous post.)

Reading. John 1:29
The next day John (the Baptist) saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’

Meditation
The Lord is risen.
The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, is risen.
Lord, take away the sin of violence and terror that is tearing our world apart; the sin of greed and corruption that destroys trust, tarnishes every transaction and threatens to rot our society to the core; the sin of pride and arrogance that perceives love as weakness and self-sacrifice as foolishness.

The Lord is risen.
The Lamb of God, who takes away my sin, is risen.
Lord, take away the pride and arrogance and, yes, the violence within me. Help me to listen when you tell me that ambition is becoming an excuse for selfishness and greed. Warn me when confidence and conviction provide cover for pride and arrogance.

When Andrew heard John’s words, he found out where you were staying, called his brother and he followed you for the rest of his life. Lord, I hear the same call. Help me to follow.

The Lord is risen.
He is risen indeed!

Prayer
Lord, you are alive. You are alive to my sin and to my brokenness. You are alive to the sin of the world and to its desperate cries for help. Forgive me, Lord. Fill me with your love and use me as an instrument of your risen power, today and every day. Amen.

See also:
Easter: The act of God that changes everything — Lenten Diary 2013
Easter Sunday: Is “Amen” the end, or just the beginning? — Lenten Diary 2012

 

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A Holy Week reflection


Holy Week.
Why are we here
In this holy space,
Watching as Jesus prepares for death?

Jesus engaging with his Father;
Jesus engaging with his disciples;
Jesus preparing himself for what is to come.
(Jesus, how do you prepare for such a thing?
The intense agony in the garden;
The anticipation of the cross?)

But what am I doing here,
Looking on, asking questions?
I’m trying to understand,
Eager to penetrate this holy drama.
But, how dare I trample here?
How dare I babble in this holy silence?

Holy Week —a holy space;
A time for awe and wonder
Not for noise and chatter.
Jesus asks his disciples:
‘Wait with me.
Watch and pray.’

Hush, child, be still.
Come quietly into this holy space;
Watch….
Watch….
Watch and pray.

The time for participation and celebration will come.
The time for action and proclamation will soon be here.
Love and life will emerge from this drama.
But not yet
Not now.

Wait with me;
watch and pray.

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Easter: The act of God that changes everything


Reading. Luke 24:1–6
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen!”

Meditation
Why look for the living among the dead? Well, where else to look when all hope is gone? Where else, when cleaning up and dressing the body is all that is left to do?

And you and me? What has our faith become? Are we just dressing the body of Jesus? Is our worship simply a repetition of rituals (new or old), remembering a dead saviour?

The angels dressed like lightning have a message for us. “He is not here; he has risen!” It is the act of God that changes EVERYTHING. Nothing can ever be the same again. Our waking up, our family relationships, our attitude to neighbour, the work we do and, indeed, our worship—everything changes.

If Jesus is alive, he is sitting with you as you read this. If he is alive, he is with you as you greet your spouse, child, friend or neighbour.  He is there when you sit at your desk or pick up the tools of your trade. If Jesus is alive, he shares every meal with us, enters every conversation, and shares in every choice we make. And he asks, “How can love change this relationship, this conversation or this action? How can love change everything?”

“Christ is Risen—He is Risen indeed.”

Prayer
Lord, sometimes the implication of your resurrection makes us afraid. But you do not come to judge; you come to give us life—life infused and strengthened with love. Help us to acknowledge our brokenness today, our own weakness and vulnerability; and, in the power of the risen Christ, help us to choose love today, in every situation and every relationship. 

My Easter Sunday contribution to the Prestbury Methodist Church Lenten Prayer Diary. See note on Easter Saturday: Joseph, the secret follower.

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Easter Saturday: Joseph, the secret follower


Reading. Luke 23:50–54
50-51 There was a man named Joseph from Arimathea, a town in Judea. He was a good and honourable man, who was waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God. Although he was a member of the Council, he had not agreed with their decision and action. 52 He went into the presence of Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took the body down, wrapped it in a linen sheet, and placed it in a tomb which had been dug out of solid rock and which had never been used. 54 It was Friday, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

Meditation
There are many legends about Joseph of Arimathea, but far more important is what the Bible wants us to know. Whatever he may have done later in life, all four Gospels tell us how Joseph buried Jesus in his own tomb; and he is one of very few people whom all four mention by name—a suitable honour.

John tells us that Nicodemus helped Joseph with the body of Jesus. Both were secret followers of Jesus. Perhaps in their fear they encouraged each other in their faith.

But the hour that changed everything for Joseph was when Jesus was put to death. Perhaps the cock crowed for Joseph as well as for Peter that night, but at the most dangerous moment, he declared himself. Joseph had been afraid; now he knew that the Way of Jesus was not a private, secret thing. Jesus demonstrated God’s love in his life and in his death; it was time for Joseph to do the same. He left his Sanhedrin colleagues to do their worst, and declared his love for Jesus. The secret follower moved into the spotlight in the most public act of support for Jesus of that entire weekend.

Our Easter journey is nearly at an end. What needs to change in your life and in your relationships? How can you express God’s love in your relationship with Jesus, with your family, with your work, with the creation?

Prayer
Lord, thank you for the faithfulness of Joseph of Arimathea. You helped him overcome his fear and stand tall and strong. Though I may feel small and weak and vulnerable, give me boldness to demonstrate your love in all my relationships today.

It was my privilege this year to write the Easter Saturday and Sunday contributions to the Lenten Prayer Diary our church produces each year. It is an amazing collaborative effort with more than 40 members of our congregation contributing around a given theme. This year the theme was John van der Laar’s book, The hour that changes everything.

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