Today we gathered to celebrate the great festival of Easter. The church looked beautiful, and we were all in full voice to sing the wonderful Easter hymns. For a treat Gordon even allowed us to sing the creed!
Please note there will be no Said Eucharist this week on Thursday.
Please also, if you can, support the concert on Sunday in aid of Ukraine.
Notices for this week:
Tuesday 10am Prayer Group in the Garden Room.
Thursday 21st April There will be NO Said Eucharist
Sunday 24th April Concert for UKRAINE 3.30pm and 6pm in church “Music you Loved” performed by The Salon Orchestra. Tickets available from Penny and Geoff and from Haydock Music in Stewart Street. Penny and Geoff would also be very grateful for any offer of help on the day with tea and moving furniture.
Readings for next Sunday
2nd Sunday of Easter – Acts 5:27-32 Revelation 1:4-8 John 20:19-31
Further news from the diocese and church can be found on the St Andrews website. Click on the link below.
Easter Day: Acts 10:34-43 1 Corinthians 15:19-26. John 20:1-18
I remember a wise colleague of mine saying once “The trouble with life is, it’s just one damn thing after another”
I’m sure most of us can resonate with this. Evidence, as if we need it, is the last few years. No sooner had a deal for Brexit finally been agreed then Covid struck, just as we were emerging form that ordeal Putin invades Ukraine. But I sense it has been ever thus.
Since the time of Adam and Eve there has been good and bad in the world. Good times and bad times, feast and famine. Human nature has always been complexed, inherently loving and giving on the one hand but selfish and greedy on the other. The human instinct of survival often taking the upper hand. This of course has manifested itself differently throughout the generations. But the fundamentals of human nature remain the same. We only have to look at the people of the OT. The patriarchs had great family dramas – all the makings of a modern soap opera because nothing really changes!
But because nothing changes God understands the human condition. He understands our frailties our vulnerabilities. But above all he understands our insecurities and fear. Consequently, he came and lived among us shared our earthly existence as he the person of Jesus Christ. He taught us how to love and forgive. He performed miracles of compassion and finally suffered death at the hands of his opposers. But that wasn’t the end!
Today we are gathered to celebrate his great victory over death – the resurrection! Most of the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus are surrounded understandably by amazement, terror, fear and confusion. St Mark gives the earliest Gospel account. He tells us that Mary Magdalene, with other women, came early to the tomb. They were amazed and frightened when the young man had told them that Jesus was not there because he had risen, they went away trembling with fear.
St Matthew recognises the fear. The first words of the angel to the women are ‘Do not be afraid’. But they run away. Then suddenly Jesus meets them. His first words too are, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my disciples”.
When Jesus appears to them later in the Upper Room, still locked in fear of the authorities, they are startled and terrified and think they are seeing a ghost.
In the account from St John’s Gospel the Beloved Disciple’s hesitates before going into the tomb. He fears what he will find. And we hear of Mary Magdalene’s wretched sadness as she stands by the tomb crying. “Do not be afraid”, says the angel. “Do not be afraid”, says Jesus. But of course, they are. They are afraid for their lives; at any moment they could be arrested. They fear an uncertain future, the unexpected, the unknown. They must also know that they have let Jesus down; they feel guilty and ashamed, and fear at least his disappointment, if not something worse.
There was another occasion when Jesus had said to his followers, ‘Do not be afraid.’ The moment when Jesus had called Peter to walk towards him across the Sea of Galilee. At first Peter had done so, but then his faith failed him and he began to sink. St Matthew tells us that he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’
There are good reasons in this life to doubt, to be of little faith, and good reasons to be afraid. We fear for the people of Ukraine. We fear war in Europe. We fear for ourselves, and we all face the future with uncertainty and fear the unexpected, the unknown.
Fear has been a common dominator for all people since time began. But into the reality of this fear and suffering, we hear the words of Jesus. “Do not be afraid.” The Jesus who speaks these words to us today speaks with authority. He has faced his own fear. ‘Father, let this cup pass me by. Yet not my will but yours be done.’
This is the apparently defeated and dejected Jesus who was betrayed and denied, flogged and mocked, nailed to the Cross. This same Jesus, who suffered and died, is the Jesus whose resurrection from the dead we celebrate today.
Perfect love casts out fear. In the resurrection love over came death and fear on the cross. God’s love so intense, so powerful, so creative. So mysterious. God’s love for the creation and for humanity. The love that brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ. The love that brings us hope. The love that makes new beginnings possible in the most extraordinary and astonishing way.
St Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8: 38-39]
Do not be afraid!
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!