31 March 2013

What does Easter Sunday have to say to a world of injustice? Everything! When life triumphs over death, when insignificant women are the first witnesses, when the powers of empire cannot silence a ragtag band of ordinary people, something different is at work in the world. This is our hope, our inspiration and our challenge.

May your Easter be a moment, not just of celebration, but of awakening and of mobilisation to find life, bring life, create life in every place of death in your world. He is risen! Alleluia!

READINGS:
Acts 10:34-43: Peter preaches that God shows no favouritism, but that anyone who believes in Jesus, who did good and healed those oppressed by the devil, was crucified, and was raised, receives life and forgiveness.

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24: A song celebrating God’s mercy and strength, and celebrating the restoration of God after struggle – foreshadowing “the stone that the builders rejected” who “became the cornerstone”.

1 Corinthians 15:19-26: Christ is the one who died and came back to life in order to bring all people to life. Finally, death itself is destroyed.

John 20:1-18: Mary finds the empty tomb and reports it to the disciples. Peter and John investigate and witness the empty tomb, but Mary remains and becomes the first to meet, and witness to, the Risen Christ.

OR Luke 24:1-12: The women find the tomb empty and meet two angels who report that Jesus is risen. They return and report the event to the disciples, who are initially sceptical.

REFLECTIONS ON THEME
This Easter the focus is, of course, on the resurrection, but the particular emphasis is on the liberation that Jesus brings. It is notable that the Acts reading is included, reminding us of that great moment of inclusion in the church’s history, where Peter proclaims, “But God has shown me that I should no longer call anyone impure or unclean.” In addition, both Gospel readings focus on the women’s role in the great resurrection drama, especially Mary Magdalene – another great moment of inclusion in the history of God’s people. The message is clear – the resurrection is not just about finding life for after we die. It is a doorway to life now for all who are denied life through exclusion, oppression or judgment. The challenge, then, is to embrace this life each day – to learn to become both those who are enlivened by God’s resurrection life, in the face of the violence, oppression, injustice and death of our world, and to become those who bring resurrection to those around us, through service, welcome, generosity, compassion, solidarity, dignity and love. As long as the resurrection is only an anomaly in history, it has no real value for us. But, when it becomes a reality that infiltrates our lives and our beings, it transforms us into those whose every thought, word, action, value and attitude celebrates and releases life into our world.

CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
GLOBAL APPLICATION: Easter is celebrated the world over for the life that Jesus brings to us all. Unfortunately, though, the Easter message of inclusion, liberation and life is often subverted by versions of faith that project Christ’s life only into the heavenly future, and only for a select few. In the name of this Gospel, people of other faiths and nations have been exploited, oppressed and even killed. Many of the global inequalities in the world today are the product of this distortion of Christ’s message and purpose. In the light of this, it may be appropriate to spend some time in repentance, and in renewing our commitment to share Christ’s inclusive liberating life with all people. This commitment applies to issues like immigration, poverty, war, people of other cultures, religions, races, genders and even sexual orientations. The message of this year’s Easter celebration is this: as long as we deny life to others, we have failed to embrace and experience resurrection for ourselves. What specific places of oppression may God be calling you to reach out to with resurrection life?

LOCAL APPLICATION: Every community wrestles with the forces of death both within and without. Within, we must confront the temptation to exclude those who disagree with us, the temptation to form closed, and critical cliques, and the temptation to keep Christ’s life to ourselves, and as a future hope only. In addition, the power struggles that beset every group of people are not absent in the Church, which always leaves some among us feeling silenced, sidelined and wounded. Without, we face the temptation to turn a blind eye to the dark places in our communities, to stand on the sidelines and judge those who are suffering, or to blame them for their own pain, and to close our doors to those who don’t fit our profile of a Christian. But, if we are to embrace the true power of resurrection life, we must turn our backs on our fears and prejudices, release our hold on power, and invite the hurting, the different, the marginalised into Christ’s liberating life. Who are the people in your community who need to hear this invitation in your community this week? How can you be a community that leads others into a liberating encounter with the Risen Christ?

RESOURCES FOR WORSHIP:
Prayers:
Witnesses
Resurrection
Committing To Life
Additional Easter Prayers

Hymn Suggestions:
Christ The Lord Is Risen Today
Thine Be The Glory
Hail! Thou Once Despised Jesus
Up From The Grave He Arose
Crown Him With Many Crowns
We Shall Go Out With Hope Of Resurrection
Mighty To Save (Link to YouTube video)
Crown Him (Link to YouTube video)
Easter Song (Link to YouTube video)
Everyone Belongs
Lord, I Lift Your Name On High (Link to YouTube video)

Liturgy:
A Liturgy for Easter Sunday

Video Suggestions:
Because He Lives
Resurrection
He Is Risen (An Easter Benediction)

Image:
Resurrection

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