Welcome to our Easter Day service.
We are living in troubled times and it would be easy to wonder where God was in all of this.
So today's service is for those that are maybe feeling that they struggle a bit to see Jesus.
If you are struggling to see God in all that is happening then don't worry, it doesn't make you a bad Christian, it makes you just like the original disciples.
That first Easter they were stuck in an upper room and they were very lost.
But before we look at that, let’s have a word of prayer
Before we have our first reading let us open this act of worship with prayer.
That first Easter was a time of great uncertainty for the disciples.
They were unsure of their neighbours, what if one of them told the authorities where they were, then they too could be arrested and maybe tortured and crucified like Jesus.
They were unsure of their friends, they had promised to be a band of brothers, faithful to the cause, yet one of them had betrayed Jesus, and all the rest had run away in the moment of crisis.
They were unsure of themselves, they were sure that they would never surrender, never give up, but they had been like all the rest. At that defining moment they had been less the friend that they thought they would be.
There was no certainty except for the uncertainty.
And that is where many of us are today.
All we have is uncertainty.
Today we are fine, but tomorrow?
We give thanks for all of those seek to bring comfort to this troubled world;
for the leaders who see a problem and seek a solution,
for all of those doing their best on the front line; all the nursing staff, all the council workers, all the shop workers, all the volunteers who do small acts of kindness which have great effects on our morale,
for those in their homes keeping it together for others; the leaders of families; the carers of the elderly, the carers of children.
May we hear the words of Christ.
As he came to those disciples in an upper room during a time of great uncertainty and said, ‘Peace be with you.’
May we in our uncertainty hear those same words and take strength and comfort from them, ‘Peace be with you.’
These our prayers, we give in Jesus name.
So let us hear of that first Easter...From John’s Gospel 20: 1-17.
It’s like those children’s books, Where’s Wally?
No matter how hard you look it is a pain in the neck trying to find him.
And this talk is for all of those who are struggling to find Jesus at this time, just like those first disciples.
First thing to think about...
Maybe we can't see Jesus because we don't want to see Jesus.
I know this is a bit touchy,
and I don't want to look as if I am blaming the victim here,
but if truth be told at one point the disciples wanted to be far from Jesus.
Look at Good Friday.
On Good Friday everyone knew where Jesus was, he was hanging on a cross.
If you wanted to see Jesus then he was easy to find.
Only one disciple was there, John.
The rest, nowhere to be found.
Maybe they were scared the Romans might arrest them as conspirators.
Maybe they were ashamed of what they had done, Peter did deny him three times, Judas did betray him.
Maybe they felt guilty, at the one moment when Jesus needed them, in the garden of Gethsemane, they all ran away and left him to be arrested.
It would be hard to look Jesus in the face after that.
Sometimes we can't see Jesus because we don't want to see Jesus.
maybe because of things we have done, or not done, and that causes us to feel guilty or ashamed, sometimes we are scared because we think God would punish us or something.
You know the sad thing is, that even on the cross Jesus was helping people.
His mother Mary was there, as was John the disciple and to them he said, 'John, look after my mum, Mum look after John.'
To a thief that was being crucified beside him he said, 'Don't worry, today you will see me in paradise.'
To the crowd he said, 'Father forgive them, for they don't realise what they are doing.'
So if the disciples had been there, they would have found comfort, but they didn't want to be there.
Second thing to think about...
Maybe we can't see Jesus because we are looking in the wrong place.
Like that first Easter Sunday.
When Mary goes to the empty tomb there is a moment when she is distraught and angels say to her, 'Why are you looking for Jesus among the dead?'
When Mary found the disciples that is where they looked, the empty tomb.
In fact that was the only place they looked.
I can imagine Peter getting back to the upper room where the disciples where and they have this strained conversation.
'Did you find Jesus Peter?'
'Where did you look?'
'In the empty tomb.'
'Where else did you look?'
'Nowhere else, just the empty tomb. Then I came straight back here.'
'Let me get this straight. Mary comes here and tells us that the tomb is empty. So you go the tomb that she has already said has nothing in it, and you discover that it still has nothing in it.'
'Jesus was missing and you looked in the only place that we knew that Jesus wasn't.'
'And nowhere else.'
In fact it gets worse than that.
When you think about it. There was Mary who was completely distraught, and there was the disciples, right beside each other.
They couldn't find Jesus, so they leave this distraught woman alone,
they don't try to comfort her, don't try to support her, they just walk away from her.
Jesus has spent three years being an example to them; when Jesus saw someone in need he tried to help them. And in three years they have learnt nothing because here is a woman in need, and they walk away from her.
The irony is that if they had stayed with her they would have met Jesus, because Jesus was with Mary in her need.
That's where Jesus always is, with people who are struggling.
I know of many folk feel Jesus close to them exactly when they are helping others; when they are helping in soup kitchens with the Salvation army, or working with the Gate food bank, or volunteering at Strathcarron hospice, or working in many of the charity shops.
So maybe we could start looking for Jesus where he is working away, with those who are struggling.
Last thing to think about, and maybe the most important...
The disciples may have been numpties, but Jesus didn't give up on them.
When they finally saw Jesus that day, in the upper room where they were all hiding, they discovered he was there, right in front of their faces.
In fact Thomas, one of the disciples, happened not to be there, so Jesus came back again, especially to be there for Thomas.
That is the great joy of Easter.
Jesus never gives up on us.
We may hide from God because of stuff we have done.
We may hide from God because we are angry or scared.
We might just be confused and lost.
But Jesus never gives up on us,
and when we finally see him, we realise he was in front of us, with us, all the time.
He’s not angry with us, in fact he love us.
He doesn’t want to punish us, in fact he forgives us,
He doesn’t want to wash his hands of us, in fact he promises to be always with us.
That is why people celebrate at Easter.
That’s why Easter is so important.
Let us pray;
there are many reasons why we fail to see you.
sometimes we are ashamed
sometimes we are hurt and afraid
sometimes we are just lost
sometimes we are so confused that we can't see what is right in front of our faces.
Thank you for never giving up on us.
Thank you for always being there for us.
May our eyes see your love.
May our ears hear your wisdom.
May our mouth give praise for all that you have done to help.
May we feel the touch of your presence in every part of our life.
This we ask in Jesus name.
Until the next time...
I hope we have been a blessing to you, may you be a blessing to others.