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THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
Led by Deacon Bryanell Rop

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Begin Again (Stushie Art)

Prelude
Two short pieces by Léon Boellman : Musette and Canzona



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God of the prophets, you fulfilled your promise that Christ would suffer and rise to glory.  Open our minds that we may worship you in spirit and in truth and go out to be your witnesses, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.


STF 148 (Tune "Sussex Carol" arr. R.V.Williams 1872-1958)

Come, let us with our Lord arise, our Lord, who made both earth and skies:
who died to save the world he made, and rose triumphant from the dead;
he rose the Prince of life and peace, and stamped the day forever his.


This is the day the Lord has made, that all may see his love displayed,
may feel his resurrection’s power, and rise again, to fall no more,
in perfect righteousness renewed, and filled with all the life of God.


Then let us render him his own, with solemn prayer approach his throne,
with meekness hear the gospel word, with thanks his dying love record,
our joyful hearts and voices raise, and fill its courts with songs of praise.


Honour and praise to Jesus pay throughout his consecrated day;
be all in Jesus’ praise employed, nor leave a single moment void;
with utmost care the time improve, and only breathe his praise and love. 

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

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 First Bible Reading
Luke 24:36-48


Anthem


As the deer longs for running streams (Diocese of St Benedict)


Second B
ible Reading
 
Acts 3:1-12



Communion of the apostles



One of my favourite Easter hymns is the hymn "Christ has risen while earth slumbers".  It provides us with some beautiful imagery of the resurrection and how Christ works through it to transform us. With that is mind, I thought I would use some of its lines to discuss our readings this morning and the great change that we see in the disciples from being huddled together in a room to preaching in the open to their peers.

The hymn begins:
“Christ has risen while earth slumbers, Christ has risen where hope died, as he said and as he promised, as we doubted and denied…”

When Christ was crucified, it is fair to say that hope did die for those who followed him. The man who they had watched perform amazing miracles and who they thought to be the Son of God, was brought to court on trumped up charges and murdered in the cruellest of ways. For three days following his death there was silence, and that silence was filled with the fear of persecution and death. It was filled with disbelief and doubt, had they given up three years of their life for nothing? It was filled with sadness and heart break, because they had lost someone they loved dearly. The disciples had shut themselves off from the world, had huddled together and hidden, and that is what Jesus walks into when he appears to them.

“Christ has risen for disciples huddled in an upstairs room…”

Huddled together the disciples were in discussion, they had just received the news from the two individuals who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, and right in the middle of it all Jesus appears again and says, “Peace be with you.” Having not used a door and not long ago witnessed his death, the room thought a ghost had joined them. This frightened and troubled them, so Jesus says to them to touch his hands and feet. He wants them to know that he is solid and real, but they are just so amazed at what is happening, that they find themselves doubting because it just all seems to be too good to be true. So, Jesus asks for food and eats it in front of them, no ghost can eat food, and this solidifies the reality of the resurrection for them.

This calms them down, the intimacy of the moment, touching his hands and feet, sharing a meal together, helps them to accept what they see. Once calm, it is then Jesus begins to speak to them and assign them their next task. He says to them you have been witnesses to my teachings, my death, and now my resurrection, so I call you to now go out and preach repentance of forgiveness of sins in my name to all nations, starting in Jerusalem, so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

“He whose word inspired creation is not silenced by the tomb…Christ has risen and forever lives to challenge and to change…”

If they were afraid before, this task had to sound just as troubling. How were they to do what Jesus asked, when there seemed to be so much against them already? Jesus says, I am going to send you the gift that my Father has promised you, but you need to stay in the city and wait. Wait!? They have just been given this incredible task and they have witnessed something even more incredible that they want to talk about with others, what will waiting do? I am sure we ask ourselves that question a lot of times as well. What will waiting do? Well, the quiet times in which we wait on God are never wasted; for it is in these times when we lay aside life’s tasks that we are strengthened for the very tasks we lay aside.

In their waiting God gave them strength, blessed them with the Holy Spirit, and transformed them. Not long after their wait do we come to find Peter speaking to a crowd in the Temple after healing a beggar. He is making clear to the onlookers that the power he has comes from Jesus, not himself, whom they had killed and God has raised from the dead. He shares that he and the other disciples are witnesses to the risen Lord, and invites those who are listening to repent and turn to God, just as Jesus asked him to do. Peter is bravely standing up and speaking in the name of Jesus. In this moment, we see a great change in Peter, and the other disciples, from the locked in and fearful men we find huddled together in a room at the end of Luke, to men willing to die for the good news Jesus asked them to share.

“Christ is risen. Christ is present, making us what he has been – evidence of transformation in which God is known and seen.”

Christ is risen, without the resurrection the Church never would have come into being. Christ is present, the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to us and through it we are transformed and given the bravery we need to take up the task we were given. It is hard to believe that the men we see in Acts are the same men we see hiding at the end of Luke, but that is the power of the resurrection, a power that is available to us all. By the resurrection Christ transforms us so that we might help the world to know and see God. Amen.



Questions for Reflection:

What fears are holding you back from proclaiming the good news?

When was the last time you sat in stillness and waited with the Lord?

How often do you rely on your own strength, rather than Gods, and how might you begin to change that? What does the resurrection mean to you?


Jesus, light of the world, bring the light and peace of your gospels to the nations, especially… [take time to lift up those prayers you have for this nation and for the world]. 
Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, bread of life, nourish us with your word and give food to the hungry, especially… [take time to lift up those prayers that you have for those in need].
Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

 Jesus, our way, our truth, our life, fill us with your life, deepen our appreciation of your truth, and be with all who follow you in the way, especially… [take time to lift up those prayers you have for the local church and the wider church].
Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, good shepherd who gave your life for the sheep, surround with your care those in particular need just now, especially… [take time to pray for those who may be suffering in mind, body or spirit].
Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, resurrection and life, we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you. Raise us with them to eternal life.
Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us. 




May the Lord bless us with faith and guard us against doubt, bless us with hope and uplift us in despair, bless us with love and keep us from fear, bless us with peace and calm us in trouble, bless us with joy and comfort us in sorrow. Amen.

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                                 We invite you to share in singing our Vesper 


Postlude
"Prelude" by Rinck

  

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 ACKNOWEDGEMENTS

Video editing : Rod
Scripture quotations taken from the Revised English Bible, copyright © Cambridge University Press
and Oxford University Press 1989. All rights reserved.
 read by Christina and Lynn
Panoramic photographs (Anenomes, narcissi & fritilleries;  Tulips): Christina
Anthem :As the deer longs for running streams (YouTube)
Prelude, Hymn accompaniment and Postlude : Carol
Vesper  : Richard
Other artworks: Begin Again :John Stuart : www.stushieart.com
and The Communion of the Apostles : James Tissot (no known copyright restrictions)
Page design and website Editor : Keith

  This Worship Service is © Haywards Heath Methodist Church
ccli: 85897   (inc. Streaming Licence)            PRS LOML LE-0021730


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