Easter Sunday

Welcome (Isaiah 25: 6-9)

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Preparation: Lord of the Dance

Call to Worship (The PCC worship Resource)

O Day of Resurrection, we lift our hearts with joy!
Christ has led us from death to life. Hallelujah!

O Day of Resurrection, we will with hope!
Christ has led us from earth to heaven. Hallelujah!

Christ is risen from the dead. Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! He is risen indeed.

Hymn: Jesus Christ is risen today

Prayer (from The PCC Worship Resource)

God of Resurrecting power,
you lift our hearts with joy
when we see the tomb is empty.
God of Resurrecting hope,
you fill us with excitement
when we hear that Christ is risen.
God of Resurrecting love,
you embrace us with courage
when we trust in the power of new life
that you promise in the Risen Christ.
We offer you all glory, honour and praise
with hearts overflowing in Jesus’ name.

God of Resurrecting joy,
we confess it’s not easy to sustain Easter hope.
We let discouragement, fear and frustration to settle in
and we let anger and anxiety turn our hearts away from you.
Resentment and disappointment cling to us
and we forget your great mercy and love.
Forgive us.
Restore within us the joy and hope you promise us 
in Christ, our Risen Lord.  Amen.

Scripture: John 20:1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Three things should be very clearly noticeable: 1. Mary Magdalene was the first to come to the tomb; 2. Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Lord; 3. Mary Magdalene was the first one to give witness that the Lord is risen. Peter, the greatest of the disciples, was the first to go into the tomb to see that Jesus’ body was not there. The beloved disciple went into the tomb and also did not see Jesus’ body there. At least we are told he saw and believed. We do not know what he believed since we are told that, both Peter and the beloved disciple did not understand the Scripture, yet. That is, they did not yet know that he was risen from the dead. Of course, neither did Mary. That was why she was outside the tomb crying.

Here is a mystery that we are to ponder about. Mary looked into the tomb and saw two angels. Peter and the beloved disciple went into the tomb, but saw no angels. They entered and saw a rolled up cloth, but no body of Jesus. Mary with her eyes filled with tears looked into the tomb and saw two angels. How come? How was it that Mary saw what the disciples did not see? Why did the angels appear to her after the disciples left? Did the angels appear just for Mary or did the disciples could not see angels who were there all along?

Mary looked in and saw one angel sitting where Jesus’ head was and the other where Jesus’ feet were. First time Mary was at the tomb, she did not look into it. When she saw that the stone was removed, she ran to the disciples. She told the disciples that his body was removed. Did she look in and see the tomb empty just like the disciples first time she was tehre? Would she have seen the angels if she looked in? We do not know and will never know. What is clear from this text is that when Mary looked into the tomb with her eyes full of tears, she saw the angels sitting one at each end.

The mystery continues. Instead of telling Mary what happened, the angels asked her a question, “Why are you weeping?” Why was this question necessary? They should have known. After all they were not mere mortals, but angels. As angels they would have known why. To our ears, this question is very important. In all human worlds, questions establish a relationship of equals. Questions are asked when we think the answers are important to be heard and received. Tones and feelings embedded in questions signify the way we regard others. In this case, angels’ questions are full of sympathy and care. They might know the answer, but they show their respect for Mary who cares deeply about Jesus. Their question leads Mary to express her love for her teacher.

It is more than coincidental that as soon as she tells the angels why she was weeping, Jesus appeared before her. As soon as she said, “They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they laid him.” What do you hear in her answer? How do you understand, “They have taken away my Lord.” She was laying out her grief. All the sorrow of losing Jesus came rushing out in the same way her tears covered her eyes. The second part–”I do not know where they laid him”--expressed her deep sense of disorientation. She felt a deep sense of loss. She did not know. Without the physical body of Jesus, she could not figure out what was going on. This was a confession in the most raw form. After all confession is nothing more than laying ourselves bare before God as who we truly are. This was Mary’s confession in the most vulnerable form.

This confession triggered something even more mysterious. Jesus appeared before Mary. Mary could not recognize him. She thought this stranger, yes, a total stranger to Mary, was a gardener. Though Jesus was standing before her, Mary only saw a gardener. Why? What made her not recognize Jesus? Was the risen Jesus so different in appearance that she could not tell who this man was? Or was it because Mary did not expect to see the risen Jesus that she assumed this person was someone other than Jesus? Was it the tricks played by her tears? Was it her emotion that misled her?

This time, Jesus asks the question, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Even the voice of the risen Jesus did not break through Mary’s grief. She followed Jesus everywhere. Surely if she was confused because she did not expect to find Jesus alive again, we can easily imagine why she could not recognize his voice, no? Was it because the resurrection changed Jesus into a totally different being? Was it because she was too concerned about finding the dead body of Jesus that she could not believe her ears? Jesus spoke. Mary remained full of grief. In Mary’s grief Jesus and Mary were two strangers in a graveyard. Mary did not know Jesus. Mary could not understand that Jesus was standing right in front of her in fullness of life. Mary answered the question as she did to the angels.

“Mary!” called Jesus. The same voice by the very same man calling Mary. This time, something extraordinary happened. When Jesus called Mary by her name, Mary came into the fullness of life. No longer she was weeping. No longer she was in darkness. No longer she was without knowing. On hearing her name being called, she responded, “Rabbouni!” or “Teacher.” Jesus named her. Her eyes, ears, and heart opened. She was finally able to see, hear and know Jesus whom she sought for all this time in tears. From grief to ecstatic joy, she overcame with sudden realization and held onto him, lest she might lose him again. Mary entered into Jesus’ resurrection life. By naming her, Jesus gave her start in the resurrection life with him. She became the first one to announce and witness that she saw the risen Lord.

Ponder here a moment. We often do not think deeply about our name being called. Yet, this is the most significant event. Our future depends on who calls. Whether my name is called out of many candidates for a job, my name is called to inform me that my application is accepted or my name is called by a friend on a street, our course of life changes when my name is called. Through baptism, God calls the name of those who are being baptised into the new life in Christ Jesus. This is why the Church takes baptism so seriously and carefully. It is all in one’s name being called.

The risen Lord called Mary into this new resurrection world to which Jesus belonged through his death and resurrection. It is no coincidence that Jesus called disciples by name to follow him. This is why we can see so easily that Saul was called by the risen Lord and in the resurrection life of Jesus, Saul was called Paul. Unlike Peter and the beloved disciple who returned without seeing the angels nor the risen Jesus, Mary’s love for Jesus made her search for Jesus in ways no one else did. This relentless search of Jesus’ body led her to be the very first disciple to be part of the life of the risen Jesus.

The full meaning of Easter is revealed in this passage. It is Mary’s love that brought her to the tomb and kept her searching for the missing body of Jesus. It was her persistence that led to her confession and being called by Jesus to enter into the resurrection life. Through Mary, we, too, learn to search for Jesus with all that we are in love. Because of Mary’s unwavering search we are assured that in our search, we, too, experience Jesus calling us into his resurrection life.


O ever creating God,
On this day of the resurrection we come with thanks and joy. You sent your Son into the world and through him, by his death and resurrection, you call us to yourself. Now through your Son recreate us as the new creation who shares your love with all. Humbly we come to raise our prayers to you. Hear our prayer.

On this day, open our eyes to witness your ministry on earth through your Son. Form us as the body of your living Son. Send us in your Son’s place to comfort those who are grieving, support those who are failing, share hope with those who are despairing and love those who are being hated. Use us as instruments carrying your resurrection life into this death filled world. Unveil our eyes to see the suffering being endured by your children and fill our hearts with compassion in ways that we may find ways to walk with those who endure the suffering that leads to death. Make us bold and without fear in all circumstances when we share your love that was manifested through your Son’s death and resurrection.

O God who never ceases to love,
Open our ears to hear the cries of your children. Many are weighed down by imminent death. Many are trying their best to live in the midst of a death-filled world surrounded by those who are killed and those who are dying. May you strengthen us to bring the good news of the resurrection life in your Son our Lord! Fill us with your steadfast love that never fails and send us as your Son’s disciples into this world of death to witness the resurrection life.

O God who heals
Open our hearts to share your compassion. On this day of resurrection, receive all those among us who are sick, unable and excluded. Remember all those who are hurting both physically and spiritually. Give them comfort as you bring healing to them through those who do their best in caring for them.

O God of the resurrection life,
Be blessed. In your grace, receive our prayers. In the name of the one who rose from the dead we pray. Amen.

Offering/Offering Prayer


Our church’s Easter Supper is tomorrow at 5 pm. Please come and join us.

Wally will be away for the month of April. The Rev. Gordon Ford will be looking after emergency pastoral needs. For any needs, please contact the office or Gail Opie, Linda Fraser, Chuck McCrea, Betty-Ann Endicott, Prince Ramoutar.

The session will meet on Tuesday, April 2 at 6 pm.

Schedule of the ministers in April:
April 7, the Rev. Adam Bartha, the Gathering Place, Port Colborne
April 14, the Rev. James Yang, Kirk on the Hill, Fonthill
April 21, the Rev. Trish Heidebrecht-Archibald, St. Andrew’s-Knox, Fort Erie
April 28, the Rev. Ken MacQuarrie, Knox, St. Catharines

All activities will continue as usual.

Hymn: The day of resurrection