This is the service, prepared by Bruno, for this day.
You can listen to it by clicking the play button below, and/or follow the service in the text (also below).
Sunday 12th April 2020 – Easter Sunday
Call to worship
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord is truly risen. Alleluia.
To Him be glory and power to all the ages of eternity. Alleluia.
O God, who on this day, through your Only Begotten Son, have conquered death and unlocked for us the path to eternity, grant, we pray, that we who keep the solemnity of the resurrection of the Lord, may through the renewal brought by your Spirit, rise up in the light of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Old Testament Reading:
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear. And He will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations; He will swallow up death for ever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of His people, He will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day: Behold this is our God; we have waited for Him so that He might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.
This prophecy on the resurrection of the Lord was written around 740 years before Jesus was even born. Isaiah saw that God Himself would come and would stand on a mountain where He would destroy the power of death. Death is the veil that covers all humanity. Death entered the world because of human pride and now God gets rid of it by doing something awesome. We read that God will “swallow up” death. This means that God Himself would come to experience death so that He can make death powerless, meaningless to the human soul. But how can God experience death? God cannot die! This means that, in order to destroy the power of death, God must become one of us. A human being like us. “And the Word became flesh” we read in John’s Gospel. Through the pride of a human being, that was Adam, death entered into the world. Now, through the meekness and humility of Jesus, God the Son, salvation is offered to those who trust in Him. Grace is given to those whose hearts and eyes are open. Amen.
New Testament Reading:
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He has been raised, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples. He has been raised from the dead, and indeed He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him. This is my message for you”. So, they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell His disciples. Suddenly, Jesus met them and said “Greetings!” And they came to Him, took hold of His feet and worshipped Him. Then Jesus said to them “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me”
The empty tomb and the seeing and touching of the risen Messiah establish the historical foundation of the Christian faith. The resurrection is the “centre of gravity” of the history of the world. God entered in the history of humankind from Christmas to the cross; from the cross to the resurrection and to the ascension and Pentecost. God is with us and will remain with us for ever. The separation from God caused by our original sin has been destroyed and now we have direct access to Him. Sin no longer stands in the way when one truly repents and turns to God. Jesus is alive.
This passage of Matthew proclaims the resurrection as a historical fact. Jesus appeared in the flesh, alive, on the first day of the week. The brilliant thing is that many tried to dismiss this historical fact but no one is able to disprove the resurrection. In legal and investigative terms, all the evidence points to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. Also, Paul in the first letter to the Corinthians writes that: “Jesus appeared to Peter and then to the other apostles, then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters, most of whom are still alive…”. Paul is saying, if you don’t believe me, go and ask all those people who saw Him too. We all have seen the same person, Jesus Christ. The One who was crucified and was dead but now is alive and lives for ever more.
All this means that Jesus suffered for us and that the power of death which holds people prisoners has been overpowered. This is the joyful message of the gospel. And should there be any doubt about this truth, the women at the tomb become the first eye-witnesses of the risen Lord. The angel has a specific message for the women, and the women become the apostles of the apostles since they are the very first people to preach the gospel, to bring the good news of the resurrection.
The disciples are to go to Galilee where they will be eye-witnesses of this miracle and will meet the Lord Jesus again. The women in the first century Israel were not considered a reliable source of information, they were not even allowed to testify in court! The disciples had to take a huge act of faith to believe and go to Galilee.
Where do you stand today? How far is Galilee for you? For your soul? Are you prepared to go all the way to Galilee to see the risen Lord? If not, is it because you don’t believe the proclaimers of the gospel or because you want Jesus to come to you in the comfort of your life? Well, Jesus has already come all the way from heaven so that He will set you free if only you trust Him with your life. Don’t you think that you could get up and walk to Him, and with Him? What more can God give? The power of death is destroyed; eternal life is a reality. We live in faith, because we have reason to believe; hope that is based on a promise that removes doubt; and love that takes over the soul and lights a flame of joy in our hearts. We are so blessed. Even if the whole world is taken away from us, no one can take us away from the joy of a relationship with God. In that love, let us rejoice and believe in the future and pray for the future.
Prayers of Intercession
Loving God, through your resurrection you have given us an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled. We come to you in joy to give thanks for the new life you have promised us. We praise you on this great day of joy, for you have brought us a new and living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Bless our community as we celebrate your resurrection.
Risen and glorified Lord. Your new life has brought us out of the darkness of fear and sin. Be with those who have lost hope in the promise of your resurrection life. Bless those whose hope in the resurrection is blighted by the fear of death. May the reality of the empty tomb shatter the bonds of apprehension.
Holy Spirit. Be with all prisoners and captives of sin. Let your light shine in their hearts.
Gracious God open our eyes to your love so that we may always know you as our loving and forgiving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God glorified for ever. Amen
The blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with you always. Amen
Rev. Bruno Boldrini