Sharing Our Faith Together

Reflections Through The Passion - Easter Sunday

by Andy Cokayne and Peter Blount 4 April 2021

This is the Newmount Easter Card which this morning gives a welcome and our opening verse of scripture -

Grace and peace to you from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and first born from among the dead. Amen 

We begin this morning acclaiming the central pillar of our faith that ‘Jesus Christ IS Risen Today’  Hallelujah!

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Prayers Through The Passion.
Heavenly Father we thank you that nothing is beyond your power. We remember that on this day, above all others, we rejoice that you displayed your victory over death and sin, and that now Jesus our saviour is sitting at your right hand in glory interceding for us. We rejoice that death has lost its power over us, that through Jesus, and Him alone, we can know our sins forgiven and we have the joy of eternal life. Words seem insufficient to express our thanks, our joy, our wonder at what Jesus has achieved for us through his death and rising to life on the third day. Hallelujah.   

Now the familiar words of ‘The Lords Prayer’ beautifully sung for us this morning.

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A Collect for Easter Sunday 
Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in Him; grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with Him in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity. Amen

Another joyful hymn of praise ‘He Has Risen’ 

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Prayers of Intercession
In joy and hope let us pray to the Father. That our risen Saviour may fill us with the joy of his glorious and life-giving resurrection ... 
Hear our prayer. 

That isolated and persecuted people and churches may find fresh strength in the good news of Easter ... 
Hear our prayer. 

That God may grant us humility to be subject to one another in Christian love … 
Hear our prayer. 

That he may provide for those who lack food, work or shelter and those who suffer in any way through this pandemic … 
Hear our prayer.

 That by his power war, famine and the spread of virus may cease through all the world Hear our prayer. 

That he may reveal the light of his presence to the sick, the weak and the dying, to comfort and strengthen them, particularly any known to us personally  … 
Hear our prayer.

 That, according to his promises, all who have died in the faith of the resurrection may be raised on the last day ... 
Hear our prayer. 

That he may send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon his people, so that we all may bear faithful witness to his resurrection, 
Hear our prayer. 

Heavenly Father, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son: grant that, as his death has recalled us to life, so his continual presence in us may raise us to eternal joy; through Christ our Lord. 

Reading :-  John Ch 20 : 1 – 31

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Before we listen to today’s message, we share this remote recording, declaring again that ‘Christ Is Alive’

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Message - associated notes below

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Easter Sunday is a special time for Christians, and many of us have had experiences on Easter Sunday over the years that are special to us and remain in our memory. Ruth has shared such an occasion when she shared in Holy Communion with a handful of others at sunrise in the garden at Lindors a country hotel in the Forest of Dean. Tony and Lilian have shared a further experience of theirs:

In 1998 we were in Florida on holiday, and on Easter Sunday morning we went, at around 4am, to a 'Sunrise service' on Cocoa beach. It was a very 'simple' service, the preacher and one microphone / speaker on a tractor trailer, during the sermon the sun started to rise in the most beautiful sky, we felt the Lord was in it, (as He is in them all , whether we can see it or not !), and we felt very blessed, we shall not forget the experience in a hurry !

When we consider Easter Sunday, one event is paramount in our thoughts, that being the resurrection; Jesus being raised from the dead. It is beyond belief, after all, people were not crucified by the Romans, who were expert executioners, and then walk away as though nothing much had happened. It just did not happen. So when someone tells you that the impossible has just happened, that they have just seen Jesus alive and spoken to him, your natural reaction is to say “Look you’re upset! You must have been seeing things! I should go and lie down.” After all it was simply not possible, and certainly not expected. Yet two of the disciples go and check the facts, and before the week is out, Jesus had been seen alive by many. The impossible; a miracle, had just taken place and they had been witnesses of it. 

When we hear about the resurrection for the first time, we may need time before we can comprehend this amazing story. Like Mary and the disciples, we may pass through several stages of belief. At first we may think it’s all made up by well-meaning people, but impossible to believe (20 v2). Then like Peter, we may check out the facts but still be     puzzled about what has happened (20 v6). Thirdly only when we encounter Jesus personally are we able to accept the fact of the resurrection (20 v16). And finally, as we commit ourselves to the risen Lord and devote our lives to serving him, do we begin to understand fully the reality of his presence with us (20 v28).

I can remember some years ago reading a book titled ‘Who moved the stone’. A journalist set out to look at the evidence provided through history for the resurrection, and once and for all prove that the whole story was a fabrication. He saw himself as an atheist, and for good reason. Yet as he began to unearth and unpick the story from various sources, he began to realise that the only explanation for the disciples themselves being willing to be put to death for their faith in Jesus, was that the whole story must be true. So from avowed atheist he became a committed believer.  

For some the resurrection was, and is still, not easy to believe. In Corinth, the apostle Paul came across a group in the church who were denying the resurrection and preaching that Jesus had not been raised from the dead, and therefore neither would the believers be raised to life eternal either. The resurrection and eternal life were crucial points what they were to believe, and so Paul had to correct them. He makes a robust defence of the resurrection,  we read in 1 Corinthians 15 ‘Now brothers I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you’ (v1) ‘That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures’ (v3-4). ‘If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith’ (v14). ‘If only in this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep’ (v19-20). Paul wanted to be sure that there was no doubt in their minds that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

When Jesus rose from the dead he did not hide away from public glare, and then mysteriously appear some time later. We read from the outset that he appeared firstly to Mary (John 20 v16). He appeared to the disciples (John 20 v19). He appeared to Thomas who was not present when Jesus appeared to the disciples the first time, and who considered himself more down to earth than the others, and less likely to be swayed into believing Jesus resurrection, yet declared ‘My Lord and my God’ when faced with the risen, living Lord Jesus, and unquestionable proof (John 20 v26-28).

Jesus’ resurrection is undoubtedly key to the Christian faith. Why? 

Just as he said he would, Jesus rose from the dead. We can be confident, therefore, that he will accomplish all he has promised. 

Jesus’ bodily resurrection shows us that the living Christ, not a false prophet or imposter, is ruler of God’s eternal kingdom. Jesus is King.We can be certain of our own resurrection because Jesus was resurrected. Death is not the end, there is future life. Jesus promised it, and now he has displayed it.
The divine power that brought Jesus back to life is now available to us to bring our spiritually dead selves back to life. Jesus promised new life, now we can experience it.

The resurrection is the basis for the church’s witness to the world. No other has risen from the dead, no other is God’s one and only Son, no other is worthy of our honour and worship.

A resurrected living Jesus changes everything

A dead Jesus is okay, a good man, an example worth following, a man who had spoken great teachings and performed amazing miracles, a man worth recording in history as one of the greats, but he was still dead. 

But a resurrected Jesus was different, he transforms everything, as he is so much more. If he is alive he must be who he said he was, Gods one and only Son. God himself in human form. This living Jesus changes everything. From the Sorrow of Mary and the disciples, to unlimited Joy. From a  mystery man (perhaps the gardener) to a known Saviour. From a dead body needing to be attended to, to a living body giving strength and encouragement to others. From being trapped in a sealed tomb limiting his movements, to leaving an empty tomb and bursting forth, where not even the whole world could contain him. From a room of disappointed, sorrowful and fearful followers, to a team of bold, fearless, and empowered disciples, after being breathed on by Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit. In just a few verses John gets across such a powerful message. From death to hope. Sorrow to Joy. Fear to boldness. Weakness to Power. 

John did not write his gospel so that we might just have more knowledge of Jesus, a special man from history. He wrote it with a far greater purpose, of changing lives. 

We read ‘But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ John 20v31 The above facts are useful, but the important question that we each need to answer is: Who is Jesus to you? A good man? Perhaps even a great man? Or do you consider him not really relevant in this enlightened age? Or perhaps you may say He has his place, but I am happy with my life as it is thanks, I do not want him to rock the boat!

John’s words are quite succinct and yet probing ‘But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ That’s the difference John wants to encourage in each of us.

May we each recognise Jesus this Easter Sunday, however he may appear to us, as our risen Saviour, Lord and King, the only one who is worthy of our obedience, honour and worship. 

‘Thine be the Glory’ 

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Blessing  (from Hebrews : 13)
May the God of peace, who by the power of the eternal covenant brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, make you perfect in every good work, working in you that which is pleasing and good, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever.


Have a very Happy and Blessed Easter from Andy and Peter