31st March – Andrea’s Letter: Easter Day

6th April 2024

Easter Day St Andrew’s Milngavie 2024

Today we celebrated Easter as we rejoiced in the resurrection of our Lord.
We welcomed many visitors and children. It was wonderful to have a full beautifully decorated church as we sang lustily the great Easter hymns accompanied by John.
Thank you to all who have helped and supported our services today and throughput Holy Week.
It’s not too late to give to the Bishop’s Lent appeal, this year it is in aid of “Friends of the Holy Land.” It’s a charity which supports Christians in the Holy land.  You can donate online or through the church in the donation box at coffee.

This Week
Tuesday 10am – Prayer Group in the Garden Room.
Thursday 10am – Said Holy Communion followed by coffee in Friendship House

Readings for next Sunday   2nd Sunday of Easter    Acts 4:32-35     1 John 1:1-22    John 20:19-31

Today’s readings- Acts 10:34-43,  1 Corinthians 15:1-11,     Mark 16:1-8

It had often been said there is no such thing as a charmed life!

I’m sure most of us can resonate with this.  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 takes 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. The ME Most of all we fear for ourselves, our families, our country and we all face the future with uncertainty, 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” we are told by St John. 1 John 4:18 In the resurrection love over came death and fear on the cross. God’s love so intense, so powerful, so creative. So mysterious, so forgiving.

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!