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Holy Week Easter Sunday 4th

Come, worship the God of wonders, of majesty, of might. Come worship the God who defeats the darkness, and rolls away the stone. Hymn 988: How deep the Fathers love for us. We’re about to read from the New Testament, which is the section of the Bible about Jesus. Jesus had taught for three years, died on a Friday, and his body had been put in a tomb. The disciples, like everyone else (and maybe like you,) thought dead people stayed dead. But early on that Sunday morning, we meet some of the women who followed Jesus on their way to the tomb to pay their respects. And that’s when they discovered something they never expected. Reading John 20 : 11-18 Prayer Heavenly Father, In the beginning there was a garden called Eden. God and man at one. Everything given that was needed; food and safety and space to grow. But man wanted more. And the garden of tranquillity, the place where we walked together, became the place where we hid from you. And we lost something precious. Then there was another garden. Called Gethsemane. A place to rest on the way to pilgrimage. To shade from the midday heat before the long climb up the hill to the Temple A place to reflect on meeting with a gracious Father who had never given up on us. And it became a place of darkness. A place to hide from the crowds, a place of betrayal. And we lost something precious. Is that what we have become? A people who take such wonderful gifts and twist them into something evil. A people incapable of accepting the good gifts we are given without turning them to things of darkness. A people without hope because whatever our hands touch turns to dust and decay. One more garden. A place of death and loss. A place where there is only remembrance of life. A weeping woman and a risen man. And the darkness turns to light. The fear turns to hope. May we return to being one with You. And in that oneness find our peace. Amen Hymn: Jesus Christ is risen today Sermon I think the biggest struggle that Christians have is admitting how often they get it wrong. We see ourselves as ambassadors of heaven, God’s representatives. Normal people don’t see God in creation, they don't see God in sunsets, they don't see God in the new life of spring. If they did then our churches would be packed. Everyone would be in church praising God. So if people are going to see God, they need to see God in us. In the words that we say and the things that we do. If the faith is to continue then it needs us being the lights of the world. Isn’t that an awesome responsibility? There is the temptation of believing that burden is ours alone, that we have to be perfect. If people see us behaving in a selfish way then we have let the side down. And sometimes that shows itself in us believing that we can’t be seen doing anything wrong, so we do nothing. Better to do nothing than do the wrong thing. If we do nothing then we can’t make a mistake. But then people condemn us, rightly, for not getting involved. You say God is love and that means you should love me, but you sit back and do nothing while my life falls apart. Or worse, we start to believe that it is not the doing wrong that matters, it is making sure that no one sees us doing wrong that matters. And if we do the wrong thing then it can’t look as if we have done the wrong thing, so we try to justify ourselves when we do things wrong because we have to be seen to be perfect if we are representing God. Either way we end up with a lot of guilt. We may try and hide it, but we know inside that we are living with it. What’s worse the Christianity we are offering is one that is very unattractive. Who would want to be part of something when the object of the game is to pretend to be perfect when everyone knows that your not? That’s why this passage, and all the Easter passages, are so wonderful. Here we have Mary arriving at the burial site of Christ on Easter morning. She is going to be the first person to see the risen Christ. This is a defining moment in history. And she gets it completely wrong. She thinks Christ is the gardener. No real shock there. She wouldn't have been expecting to see Jesus alive. She wouldn't be looking for Jesus to be walking about. She is still in shock after the crucifixion, probably still living with constant tears in her eyes. So the most important thing in the world is happening before her face, and she doesn’t see it. She gets it wrong. And you know what, it doesn't mater. Jesus doesn't freak out that she has got it all wrong. Jesus doesn’t condemn her for getting it wrong. Jesus doesn’t leave her for getting it wrong. Jesus just keeps her talking until she starts to understand what is happening. And there is great joy and hope in that picture. I know that I get things wrong a lot. I know I don't get the big picture most of the time. I know I get caught up in things that don’t really matter and it distracts me from the things that really do matter. But if all I do is worry about that, if all I do is feel guilty about that, then it just piles one mistake onto another. Nothing changes, nothing gets better. But if I know that the really main thing is just keeping in dialogue with God, keeping that relationship going, then I have the hope that at some point the penny will drop and I will understand what God wants me to do. And usually what God wants us to do is something simple. With Mary it was talk to the other disciples and give them the support they need. We don’t need to be perfect, we don't need to pretend to be perfect. We don't even need to understand everything that is going on. All we need to do is keep in conversation with God. Talk to him, scream at him, cry with him, laugh with him. Be honest with him. And eventually the penny will drop, and we will know what he wants us to do next. Prayer As long as we live on this earth, we live in the shadow of the cross. We live with the death of so many dreams, so many hopes, so many expectations. We see the cruelty of mankind. The injustice of letting the innocent be killed. Of those exploited by the strong. Of those downtrodden by the mighty. Of those kept down by those in power. As long as we live on this earth we live in the shadow of the cross. Of seeing those we love suffer. Those we care for struggle. Those we believe in fail. But we do not live with despair, for we not only have the cross, and the shadow of the cross, we also have an empty tomb. And may that empty tomb be a sign of hope. For death has lost. Hope and love and joy have won. May we live in that hope Amen. Hymn 419: Thine be the glory Benediction


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