Material for Worship on Easter Day

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Happy Easter to you and your family!

As you light your candle today, what about saying out loud the joyful words of the Gloria:

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.

You may also wish to read the words or sing along as David plays the tune to a version of the Easter Proclamation.

Sing, choirs of heaven! Let saints and angels sing!
Around God’s throne exult in harmony!
Now Jesus Christ is risen from the grave!
Salute your King in glorious symphony!

Sing, choirs of earth! Behold, your light has come!
The glory of the Lord shines radiantly!
Lift up your hearts, for Christ has conquered death!
The night is past; the day of life is here!

Sing, Church of God! Exult with joy outpoured!
The gospel trumpets tell of victory won!
Your Savior lives: he’s with you evermore!
Let all God’s people shout the long Amen!

Nerys writes: There’s nothing more frustrating than spending many hours on a jigsaw puzzle only to discover that there is a piece missing – or is there? Can you imagine coming to the end of a good novel, a whodunnit perhaps, to find that the final page is lost? This is what many scholars think has happened to Mark’s Gospel. They believe that its end is missing, that the last leaf was torn off a very, very early copy and that alternative endings, based on the other Gospel accounts, were added by later editors. As you listen to Martin reading Mark 16.1-8, think how being left with this ending makes you feel.

I wonder whether this image from the Jesus Mafa series conveys for you the mood of the scene as depicted by Mark? Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome are bathed in the light that radiates from the angel but their surroundings are dark and bleak. We can understand their amazement. The had come to the tomb looking for a dead body but had found a living angel instead. They hold on to their now useless spice jars, their eyes wide as they listen to the heart-stopping news: ‘He has been raised; he is not here.’

What’s not as easy to grasp in Mark’s account is their fear. At a time when all hope had gone, these followers of Jesus are given a promise of new hope. Returning to Galilee means leaving Jerusalem with its terrible memories behind. It means a new beginning in the place where they were first called to discipleship. And surely, the words, ‘He is going ahead of you: you will see him’, would have been a cause for joyful celebration rather than terror. Why would these courageous, determined women who had stayed at the foot of the cross and ventured to the tomb, be rendered fearful and speechless by the angel’s words?

Could it be because in the midst of their grief and despair, they had been brought face to face with the shocking, disturbing reality that all Jesus had claimed was true? God was not dead but very much alive and was now at work in a new way in their lives bringing them to new birth, challenging them to overcome their fear and doubts, calling them to undertake the difficult task of spreading this revolutionary message of hope by returning to a hostile Jerusalem. It is no wonder they were overcome by fear and reduced to silence.

The abrupt ending of the Gospel encourages us to imagine how we would have responded if we were in their shoes. Let’s take a moment to do so now.

I wonder how the blank at the end of Mark’s story was filled in the gatherings of the early church? Would eye-witnesses have been called upon to give their testimony of the risen Christ, like those named by Paul in his letter to new Christians in Corinth? Our second reading today, 1 Corinthians 15.1-11, read by June, reminds us that the foundation the faith of the church is built upon is that message of hope first given to Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome, that God raised the dead Jesus to new life, defeating evil and death once and for all. It was on this message of hope that Peter, Paul and countless others down the centuries founded their ministries. The unexpected way Mark’s book finishes, encourages us to explore the faith that motivated the leaders of the early church, but it also challenges us to think of our own faith. As Easter people, do we take the empty tomb for granted or do we find ourselves, like the women, awestruck at this strange new work of God? You may wish to take a moment to wonder where Christ is now going ahead of you and what part he is calling you to play in his ministry and mission, among your family and friends and in your community.

On this Easter Day, we offer up our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows to God who is alive and at work in our world.

Let us pray,
• for our world and all its people …
• for all in positions of authority and influence …
• for those in need …
• for the who are suffering …
• for the Church which is Christ’s body …
• for ourselves and those we love …
You may wish to finish your time of worship by reading the words or singing along as David plays the tune to the joyful Easter hymn , .’Jesus Christ is risen today’.

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
now above the sky he’s King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!