Jesus is risen!
Christ is risen!
Jesus is risen, indeed!
Thank you for being part of worship this morning. May the living Lord, bless and keep you always!
On the first Tuesday of May, we are starting the Weekly Cinnamon Bun Tuesdays at 10 am. Please come and join us. Bring your friends.
We extend special thanks to Mr. Cowan, Ms. Wolff, Ms. Park, Mr. Peterson, and Mr. Bracewell for leading us in music for this worship service. The quartet has been preparing for six week for today’s service.
Thank you to all those who served at our Friday Pancake Breakfast. We also thank all of you who came and worshipped with us in Good Friday Service.
If an emergency pastoral needs arise in the next two weeks, please, contact either Gail Opie or Betty-Ann Endicott. The Rev. Pearl Vasarhaylei will look after the urgent needs. The minister will be away for two weeks.
Preparation: The strife is o’er the battle done
Call to Worship (Isaiah 65:17-19, 25)
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent--its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD.
Hymn: Jesus Christ is risen today
On the glorious day of resurrection, O God our Lord, receive our thanksgiving. On this day long ago, through your Son, you have sealed our redemption from this world. We come in gratitude, praising and worshipping you this day for your gracious love that brought us life.
We bring our joys to offer as our gift to you. We bring our all so that in loving you, you may be glad of our presence before you.
May you be blessed now and forever! May you be glorified in this worship! May you be praised without end this day and all the days that are coming!
Blessing, honour, glory, and power are yours, O Lord our God! Amen.
Scripture: Luke 24:1-12
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
Hymn: The day of resurrection
Sermon: A made up story?
Rising from the dead, Is it really possible? The women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women with them told their experience at the tomb to the eleven and all the rest. An important thing for us as readers to note is that the women who were at the tomb as well as the two men in dazzling clothes spoke of Jesus who died three days earlier as now the living one. Initially the women did not know. They came to know after these two men reminded the women of what Jesus said about his death and resurrection earlier in Galilee. The women remembered and they returned to tell others.
In Matthew we read that the women left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, running to tell the disciples. On their way the risen Jesus met them. In Mark, the women ‘fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” In Gospel John, the risen Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. In Luke something different happened altogether. They met the two men, but not Jesus. When these women told others, they considered the women’s testimony as an idle tale. In other words, they did not believe the women. Only Peter, as if to check the story out himself, went to the tomb. He looked in, saw the linen clothes, “then he went home, amazed at what happened.”
Fascinatingly, all four Gospels tell how women were the first to witness the resurrection and share the story with others. Whether their names are the same or different, all four wrote that these women were at the tomb on the first day of the week. The story of resurrection, whether these women were in total fear as in Mark, or glad in John, or fearful and amazed in Matthew, or remembered what Jesus said in Luke, the women stand as the first witnesses of the resurrection.
The male disciples or apostles, on the other hand, are more like the people of the world. Most of them question the resurrection. Indeed, none of these men seem to believe the testimonies of the women who went to the tomb. In Gospel Luke, we read clearly that they did not believe the women and even took what the women said as an idle tale or made up story. It is astounding that the women’s testimonies were not enough for them to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Even today, it is interesting that many Christians, who have no trouble listening to male preachers speaking about God, question whether women ought to share the tasks of preaching in public like men.
The Gospel Luke simply asserts that among all males, Peter got up and ran to the tomb.
Interesting thing about Peter was that unlike the women, he was simply amazed at what had happened. At best, his amazement was not like women’s remembering. You see, remembering for Christians became one of the most important ways to witness Jesus. It is not a coincidence, but a deliberate act of proclamation and witnessing for all Christians to remember Jesus. As Jesus broke bread and poured wine, he told his disciples to remember him. This is why when we read here that the women remembered, it is so significant. For the Gospel Luke to describe Peter’s reaction as “amazed” was to indicate that after his denials, Peter was not able to proclaim and witness the risen Lord as yet. Being amazed is not the same thing as believing.
It had been difficult ever since the day that the women went to the tomb and remembered what Jesus said. In the past two millennia, many esteemed Christians, especially male scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries considered the resurrection story the same way these apostles and disciples responded. After careful and diligent research, many scholars declared the account of the resurrection of Jesus as made up, a myth, or unbelievable. They were convinced and convincing by their conclusions that Christianity ought to stand without the resurrection story. An american episcopal bishop argued that the story of resurrection was the hindrance to the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in today’s world since everyone knows that factually that the resurrection is impossible.
A strong sense of arrogance has crept into our thinking. Living in the world of science and knowledge people pride themselves as the most knowledgeable and developed in history. Since the late nineteenth century, high minded intellectuals have made themselves the arbiters of the truth and knowledge. Anything that does not meet their tastes are dismissed as nothing more than speculations and superstitions. Only truths that they accept are the ones that meet criteria that are set up by these scholars. The point to remember is that the basis of wisdom, humbleness, is no longer the factor in arbitrating on what constitutes truths for today. Without humbleness, truths become commodified facts and information. As for theological truths, without humbleness, they become nothing more than objectively verifiable facts that stand for their own sake, without any reference to the mystery of the risen Lord.
It is appealing to throw out the story of Jesus’ resurrection while keeping all the teachings of Jesus. Why not throw out parts we have difficulty with and keep parts we like? But if we do discard the resurrection because it does not jibe with the way our world thinks, then, we lose the most fundamental mystery of life. Without the resurrection, Jesus’ death becomes nothing more than an unnecessary sacrifice for the deluded notion of eternal life. It is only with the resurrection of Christ, Jesus’ death makes God’s grace and love real in ways that our baptism signifies the participation in eternal life. This mystery of God’s love, given through the death and resurrection of Jesus, is what drives our faith. This is why we celebrate the resurrection day. This is why we praise and worship the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer–the Triune God.
The mystery of remembering united the women, who went to the tomb, with the risen Lord. They were the first to testify and proclaim his resurrection to everyone. With the help of the two men in dazzling clothes, they remembered. On the other hand, the inability to remember left Jesus’ apostles and disciples to dismiss the testimonies of these women as nothing more than a made up story. Our commitment to remember Jesus in his teachings, passion, death and resurrection at Easter helps us to witness and proclaim our faith in the living Lord to the world, just like these women. Our celebration of Easter is not only the commemoration, but also this Christian historical remembrance so that what these women proclaimed and witnessed to others regarding the reality of the resurrection of Jesus is continuing today and many days yet to come. When we greet one another saying, “Jesus is risen! Christ is risen indeed,” we are affirming the reality of Jesus’ resurrection as we remember.
In the first part of the 21st century, we face another difficult challenge apart from many Christians’ desire to do away with the resurrection. It has to do with having no memory. In order to remember, we need to have the knowledge and/or experiences of the past. The knowledge and experiences reveal to us not only the meaning of our lives, but also the wisdom to participate in God’s salvation history. Attending worship on Sundays, where the Scripture is read and interpreted and the sacraments are administered, and participating in Bible studies or in Christian traditional celebrations of important days like Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas were essential in building up spiritual experiences to remember what it means to follow and believe in Christ who suffered, died and rose again. Today because most people no longer attend and participate in these activities, most people who were baptised are without these living memories through which they can remember and confess Christ as the living Lord. Without the remembering of what Jesus told his disciples and how Jesus as the risen Lord has been present with his Church throughout history, Jesus becomes simply a historic figure who lived a long time ago. That is, as long as he is considered a person of the past, the world does not have to recognize him as the living Lord who can love and guide his Church. It is through our remembrance, as was the case with the women who experienced what he told them as the living reality of the empty tomb, the risen Jesus becomes the head of the Church, even now.
Compounding this inability to remember is the current practices of many churches, especially in many Protestant churches. Traditional activities and rituals of the past like Eater and Christmas are discarded in favour of glitzy and showy activities that have little or no meaning. Many churches use worship services on Christian holy days for the purposes of growing church membership, rather than glorifying God through worship. Worship services have become entertainment at best to attract new people. As many thoughtful people mentioned, these new ways are mile wide, but only an inch deep. They tingle our pleasure senses without leading us to deep spiritual wisdom and meaning. In this way, rather than adding to the stream of spiritually awakening living memories of God’s salvation history, today’s churches create their own spiritual streams without being connected to the original spring and its stream that have quenched the thirst of all those saints who lived before us and continue to offer the living water to today’s people. These new shallow streams of their own making seduce many thirsty souls, but quickly dry up in times of difficulties.
Without drinking from this ever flowing life stream of God’s salvation history, then the living memory becomes impossible. Those who have not been nurtured with this life giving and life sustaining history of God’s salvation have nothing to remember. This is why it is so difficult for us to proclaim and witness the resurrection of Jesus as the ever living moment that sustains us through all of life. Only in remembering, as did these women, can the resurrection of Jesus become the beginning of the new creation where all are filled with love, grace, and mercy of God.
We do need to take care that we do not fall into the temptation of serving our own needs by using the resurrection of Jesus as a prop. Without realising, in an attempt to be successful, many churches celebrate Easter as a prop for their growth programs. We ought to take care and like these women focus only on proclaiming and witnessing Jesus who suffered, died, but rose on the third day. We proclaim and witness the living Jesus who was raised from the dead.
Of all days, this is the day that you have made to reveal your grace and mercy fully to all those who worship and love you through your Son our Lord. In your risen Son we experience your unbound love without end. On this joyful day, we come and give you thanks and praise for your Son’s resurrection.
O God our Redeemer, equip us with your grace, so that we may be sent to those who are lost to you–the poor, the sick, the weak, the hurt, the oppressed, the abused, the neglected, the fearful, the displaced, the persecuted, the lost, and the distressed. Fill us with your grace so that without fear, prejudice, disdain in our hearts, we may share with them your Son’s love as he loved us.
O God our Sustainer, open our eyes to see your presence, in the world among those who seek life in places of death. Fill us with your love so that we may tend to those who wrestle with death at every turn and are unable to be unshackled from the sin of this world.
O God our Creator, empty our hearts of all that are from this world. Fill our hearts with your love. Recreate us to be your faithful servants to bring forth your reign in ways that all may come to know your infinite and unending love.
With the war raging in Ukraine, people are focused on those who are fleeing the conflict. As we pray for all those who are doing their best to find life of peace, we also pray for all those who are trying to find peace as they face bombs, bullets, and hatred from their neighbours in places like Yemen, Syria, and many others places. Give us hearts to pray for peace. Give us wisdom to find ways to share your Son the Prince of Peace in this warring world.
On this resurrection day, we thank you for all those saints who sojourned in our world and are now resting in you waiting for the day of their resurrection when all who are in your keeping you will be raised. Many of our members have died in the past year. Keep them in your care. Bless the families who remain behind. May the message of Jesus’ resurrection be their hope and life!
We pray for those members who are unable to come and participate in this joyful worship. Be with them all. Guard and protect them. Fill them with joy that we share today.
Shape us as your instrument who brings your love to the world so that the world will come to know, heal, grow and flourish in you, the source of all life. We pray all this and more in your Son’s name. Amen.
Offering: Mission Moments
Mistawasis Memorial Presbyterian Church
Mistawasis Memorial Presbyterian Church was established at the Mistawasis Nehiyawak First Nation since shortly after the signing of Treaty Six in 1875. Mistawasis’ total population is 2,837. At the heart of our ministry is the desire to share the love of Jesus with the community. With weekly worship services, a girl’s program and a sewing initiative, the church seeks to meet the needs of the community in tangible ways. Vacation Bible School has been a significant event for many years. Mistawasis First Nation in Saskatchewan is located 70 Km west of Prince Albert and 120 Km north of Saskatoon.
O dearest Lord,
Joyfully we bring all that we are and offer ourselves to you to serve and worship you in all of our life. We come in the covenant you have established long ago through your Son our Lord. In your grace, look upon us with kindness and receive all that we offer you this day. Through these offerings, may your kingdom be established according to your will. Use us in ways that we bring glory, honour, and blessing to you always. Amen.
Hymn: Thine be the glory