2000 years ago, women walked together under the darkness of dawn to the tomb of a friend lost to death. In the hope to attend to the ritual burial requirements unable to be attended on that awful day when darkness fell on all the world.
2000 years ago, women found an empty tomb, spoke to an angel and responded to the voice of a gardener.
2000 years ago, a woman ran to tell her friends locked in a room, hidden. Her message “he is not there, I have seen the Lord, he is risen.
2000 years ago, for some discovery, for some belief, for others seeing is believing. What did they believe? Jesus had risen.
Light the Christ Candle.
This morning the sun awoke and it broke through the darkness of the night.
Today we have awoken and soaked in the light of a brand-new day.
This morning in the waking of the sun, a beautiful young girl stood in a pool and was baptised in the name of her God.
We know that today Jesus is risen.
Light the Easter Sunday Candle
We have come together with empty hands to celebrate the promise of Christ risen,
We have come joined as one through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, we rejoice in the assured hope of a life eternal in Jesus Christ.
For Christ is risen, He is Risen indeed.
HYMN: CHRIST THE LORD IS RISEN TODAY
1. Christ the Lord is risen today: Hallelujah!
Let the whole creation say: Hallelujah!
Raise your joys and triumphs high: Hallelujah!
Sing now, heaven, and earth reply: Hallelujah!
2. Love’s redeeming work is done; Hallelujah!
fought the fight, the battle won; Hallelujah!
vain the stone, the watch the seal: Hallelujah!
Christ has burst the gates of hell. Hallelujah!
3. Lives again our glorious king; Hallelujah!
where, O death, is now your sting? Hallelujah!
Once he died our souls to save; Hallelujah!
where your victory, O grave? Hallelujah!
4. Soar we now where Christ has led, Hallelujah!
following our exalted Head; Hallelujah!
made like him, like him we rise; Hallelujah!
ours the cross, the grave, the skies. Hallelujah!
The Psalmist sings,
O give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever.
This morning we offer to Jesus our thanks and praise
for ‘His love endures forever’.
Risen Jesus, your time on earth,
Was met with arms wide open and hearts closed shut.
You performed amazing acts of love and grace,
But people still would not believe in you.
With compassion and mercy you brought
healing and hope to the nations,
still there were people who would not believe in you.
Your followers spoke, testifying to your love,
and today, we proclaim your name,
and still people continue to deny you.
For as the psalmist declared,
you have become the cornerstone that the builders have rejected.
Jesus, today we shout from the rafters,
That you are Lord of all,
You have done marvellous things before our eyes.
Let us rejoice, let us ask for forgiveness,
Let us rest assured in Christ’s promise of life for all.
In Jesus name we pray.
DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know?
Jesus is no longer in the tomb, the stone has been rolled away, the grave clothes were left folded, the soldiers guarding the tomb entrance had fled, and the room was left empty.
Did you know?
Jesus Christ has risen, Jesus Christ is alive, Jesus Christ is with us alive today.
This news is to be celebrated, proclaimed throughout the streets.
This is indeed good news for all of creation.
BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 27:57-66
The Burial of Jesus
57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The Guard at the Tomb
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
SKIT: NAT, SUE & KHAIRUL
SONG: HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD (M&P 1227)
The splendour of the King
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice,
All the earth rejoice.
He wraps himself in light,
And darkness tries to hide,
It trembles at his voice, trembles at his voice
How great is our God,
sing with me
How great is our God,
and all will see
How great is our God
And age to age He stands
and time is in His Hands
Beginning and the End,
Beginning and the End
The Godhead, three in one
Father, Spirit, Son
the Lion and the Lamb,
the Lion and the Lamb
Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
how great is our God
Name above all names
you are worthy of all praise
and my heart will sing
how great is our God
WE ARE WITNESSES
This morning we had the wonderful pleasure of witnessing the baptism of Maeve Whitten. What an amazing young lady she is who has at this time in her life made a decision to commit to following Jesus as her Saviour. She follows Jesus not because he is a figment of her imagination, but because she has been a witness to the love Jesus has showered over her throughout her short life. Maeve’s baptism is a witness to all of us of the power of the Easter Resurrection.
Jesus on that Passover night, allowed himself to be overcome by the powers that controlled Jerusalem, to be tried as an innocent man, sentenced to death and placed in a tomb by human hands, so that the saving promises of God to make a righteous people for this world may be fulfilled.
John 3:16 sums this up beautifully as does 1 John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Through our baptismal witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ others will know of the love of God through the Son.
Death did not hold him down, for Jesus had power over death. As the beautiful hymn by Gloria and William Gaither says,
“because he lives, I can face tomorrow,
because he lives, all fear is gone;
because I know He hold the future,
and life is worth the living because He lives.
May your life be a witness to others of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Witnesses, share your story of the love of Christ today with someone, phone a friend, tell your family, tell a stranger.
BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 28:1-10
Jesus Has Risen
28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
OFFERING PRAYER AND PRAYER FOR OTHERS
God of promise,
We give you thanks for the incredible gift of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. These gifts that restore a righteous relationship with you.
We pray that the offerings we have given this day will bless your people in our community. That through these gifts, others may come to know your love through your word and your holy catholic church. We pray these things in Jesus name.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
Jesus was an unexpected Messiah riding a donkey. Jesus was the one who emptied himself of power, and was filled with love.
Christ’s arms are stretch out wide in forgiveness. We are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.
THE POWER OF THE TOMB
In 2012 my family and I went to Israel on a tour of the Holy Lands. One of the sites we visited was the city of Jerusalem. Around the outskirts of the old city of Jerusalem are the cemeteries of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities.
It is incredible to see the number of family tombs that are all around Israel. These tombs are large and small, cut into the rock faces or built up above the ground. Some are grand and others simple, but they are sculpted for the remains of an entire family to be laid to rest.
What impacted me as I looked around and walked through these sacred spaces is that the evidence of death is visible for all to see. From the Mount of Olives along the mountain crest to Mt Scopus you can see the cemeteries on the eastern side of the temple wall, which includes the tomb of Absalom the son of King David, and the recent discovery of the tombs of King David’s wives.
However, standing between the Mount of Olives and the Golden Gate are the tombs of many who are awaiting their resurrection, because they believe in the promise of a Messiah, one who will come to save them.
The tomb unfortunately for many is a symbol or a reminder of the end of life or final destination for a loved one. However, for a Christian, a believer and follower of Jesus Christ the tomb is a powerful symbol of the promises of God through Jesus Christ.
The tomb represents the promise of eternal life and salvation available for all people. For Jesus Christ, who was laid and sealed in a tomb broke the power of death once and for all. For us the tomb should be a place for us to await the return of the Messiah who will take us home to be with God for all eternity.
We can rejoice and shout hallelujahs, for the tomb represents Jesus’ power over death, new life has come for all people, salvation for all.
Let us remember the story of Jesus’ resurrection, and rejoice that Christ is King of all and that starting yesterday, today or tomorrow we can all live as people who are comforted by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amen.
We remember this grace to us as we remember the time we share together in Communion. Due to the COVID 19 we will be celebrating Communion slightly differently with a service approved by the Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia that gathers the church community even while they are worshipping in their homes.
COMMUNION: EMPTY HANDS COMMUNION SERVICE
The empty cup and plate are uncovered.
This earth is not our earth.
This is God’s earth.
This time is not my time.
This is God’s time.
This table is not my table.
This is God’s table.
God’s earth, God’s time, God’s table.
It is God who provides this feast of place and time and community.
Provision is already made for us all to be part of God’s story.
God longs for us to be at home with God and one another.
Place your hand on the table or the wall, set your feet on the floor,
Recognise these spaces as being of God and for God, for everything we have comes from the One source of all that is.
In this time, we rededicate ourselves and our surroundings for God’s good purposes.
The Lord is with us.
We lift our hearts to God.
We give thanks to God.
For God not only created the earth and heavens, but all things that have lived and will yet live.
Saints from ages past and those who are yet to come, join with us in the here and now, linked in miraculous ways.
The stories, described by prophets and saints of past, present and future, dance together in reflection of God’s own glory, for all Life has an Author.
The Author became known in the Word,the One who came as Emmanuel, God with us, born as One with us, living among us, teaching, healing, weeping and sharing with us.
Living the life of Compassion and Justice,
The Word was rejected by the world and executed…
Christ has died.
We have heard the story of the risen Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew, we remember the women, the disciples, the guards and the priests, their responses to the news of the risen Lord.
We take this time to celebrate that Jesus is risen as we remember Mary’s reaction when we realised Jesus was risen as recorded in John chapter 20
20:15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).
20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
20:18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Christ’s coming again has begun in the unfolding story of the Spirit of God, in the continual seeding of new spiritual life in every age and place.
We see the work of the Spirit in the service and self-sacrifice of so many.
We hear the song of the Spirit when people sing on balconies.
We breathe the breath of the Spirit, knowing some are breathing through the creativity of digital photocopying and scientific imagination.
We wonder at our coming into a spiritual age previously unknown.
Yet, our story, is grounded in the story of Jesus of Nazareth…
NARRATIVE OF INSTITUTION
The Lord Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread, and after giving thanks to God, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take, eat. This is my body, given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.
In the same way he took the cup, saying:
This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.
Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the death of the risen Lord, until he comes.
On this empty plate [lift and show], we choose to see the world’s hunger.
We remember that millions of people, this day, lack bread for Communion, bread for breakfast, bread for life.
We acknowledge that we ourselves hunger, this day, in ways that no earthly bread can satisfy.
Hospitable God, meet us in our unmet hungers – and help us to put our abundance at the service of the poor.
In this empty cup [lift and show], we choose to see the world’s thirst.
We remember that millions of people, this day, lack wine for Communion, fruit for juicing, water for life.
We acknowledge that we ourselves thirst, this day, in ways that no earthly cup can quench.
Hospitable God, meet us in our unmet thirsts – and help us to put our fullness at the service of the empty.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.’ (Matthew 5:6)
In the name of Christ,
Pour out the Holy Spirit on this empty plate, this empty cup, that they may be for us – even in their emptiness – the body and blood of Christ.
… so that we may take his Life into our lives, and be taken and blessed, broken and given for the world.
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your Name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
Power and the glory are Yours,
Now and forever.
PLATE and CUP
We hold up the empty plate…
It is Christ who is the bread of life,
Who satisfies the hungry heart.
We hold up the empty cup…
It is Christ who is the cup of hope,
Who revives the thirsty.
The plate and cup are placed on the table…
The gifts of God
for the people of God.
In faith and hope, we hold out our empty hands…
In these empty vessels and in our empty hands, we celebrate the mystery and wonder of the empty tomb.
In our hands and in our hearts, we leave space for resurrection, for new life, for new meaning.
We hold the sorrows, prayers and hopes of the world before You, O God.
May Your Spirit flow among us and beyond us, drawing us into loving and caring for Your world.
Jesus Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!
WORDS OF MISSION AND COMMISSION IN PLACE
We shall not seek God among the dead.
We shall be bearers of hope among the living.
We shall carry the stories of our hurts and losses
that we may tell the story of healing and resurrection.
Live then, in the promise of Resurrection Life!
Live according to the story of the One:
Father, Son and Spirit
Knowing that the scattered community of God is placed in the world, for the sake of the world.
Glory to God and Peace to All.
Wherever you are in the world, it is our prayer that this is a moment of comfort and hope.
Be of good courage.
BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 28:11-15
The Guards’ Report
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
As we draw close to the end of our service today, I wanted to leave you with the remaining words of Matthew’s account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How we respond to this narrative is important because it is a testimony to who we believe Jesus is for us and for this world. It will determine how we share our love for Jesus in this world. It will also enable us to deepen our understanding and relationship with our creator God and rest in his love for this world.
It is your choice and it always will be. Follow Jesus or follow this world.
Many will tell you that everything we know about Jesus is a lie, but there are many more who will tell you that Jesus is the author of life and has the power over death, thus giving us the gift of eternal life, salvation is ours because of Jesus.
This is my final service with you as your minister and I pray that as you continue to be Christ’s witnesses in West Wollongong that you will be bold in sharing your faith in the one we have called Lord and Saviour, Friend and Redeemer, Jesus Christ the Messiah. Happy Easter everyone.
BENEDITION: MATTHEW 28:16-20
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
CLOSING HYMN: HOW DEEP THE FATHER'S LOVE FOR US
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That he should give his only son
To make a wretch his treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns his face away
As wounds which mar the chosen one
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon his shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from his reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom