Sunday Worship – 9th April – Easter Sunday

(All our songs this morning are from Singing the Faith (StF) or Hymns & Psalms (H&P) numbers will be given where available)

Welcome to our Easter Sunday Service, written for Holy Week and Easter by the Ministry Team today shared on paper across our circuit and with the congregation at Thackley Methodist Church and led by Rev Christine Crabtree one of our Circuit Ministers.

Click on the blue links to follow them for bible readings and associated links

Call to Worship

Philippians 2:8-11

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Song – StF 285/HP 181  Were you there when they crucified my Lord?


God, who breathes life into creation, you come to us this week in the Christ who enters Jerusalem with arms and heart open wide, ready to die that we might live. Through your Spirit, touch us with the truth of your gospel and the goodness of your grace,  that we might look on your cross with wonder, and wait at your tomb with open minds and hearts. Amen.


Romans 8:31-35, 37-39

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What does Easter mean to me? – Nick   I was 15 when I sat my English Higher Examination at Linlithgow Academy in West Lothian. I think I probably wrote about Macbeth, and one of the novels of Graham Greene, but I know I wrote about Isaac Watts’ great hymn ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’.   This hymn wasn’t a set text, but the question was an open one about any piece of literature that had made a difference to the examinee, and the writing that came to my teenage mind was Watts’ hymn. When I told my dad that evening what I had done, it would be an understatement to say that he was not best pleased, presumably assuming that a 15-year old’s testimony in an English Exam would not be well received or well-marked! Nearly fifty years later the hymn still captivates me, the beauty of Watts’ writing capturing both the extent of Christ’s offering of himself, and the response it engenders in those looking on. ‘See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down; did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?’  If I look properly at these words they still bring tears to my eyes, Watts’ poetry describing so well God’s outpouring of selfless generosity on that wondrous cross. This is the season in which we focus on that generosity.  Holy week gives us opportunity to revisit the old, old story, and re-sing the old, old songs, and realise once more that God’s light shines in the darkest of places and God’s love whispers into the most broken of situations, and neither death nor hell will extinguish the light nor silence the whisper. I knew back in 1974 that Watts was right when he wrote, ‘Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.’ I know it still, although now with the benefit of forty-odd years of pastoral experience behind me.   Nothing has, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And such love invites a response that is hook, line and sinker, or as Watts says so much better, ‘… my soul, my life, my all.’ Oh, and by the way, my dad was graciously and pleasantly surprised when I got my results, including the A in English.  

Song – HP 180/StF 287 – When I survey the wondrous cross


1 Corinthians 5: 3-8

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.  [NIV]

What does Easter mean to me? – Merry   I was 17 years old when I made my Christian commitment at a large evangelical rally in London’s Hyde Park. I was with friends from school, and a number of us became Christians on the same day. I had been troubled, as so many teenagers are, by the state of the world, the bleakness of the future (I was influenced by the environmental movement of the time), and the apparent futility of life.  Nowadays, perhaps, we would have talked about the state of my mental health, but back then we just accepted being angry, cynical and alienated. I was troubled by dark and fearful dreams of falling into a bottomless abyss. Studying science A levels meant I had some difficulties with accepting parts of the Bible, including the Easter stories of the Resurrection. They were clearly ‘impossible’. Then I had a dream in which I saw Jesus as a figure of light. From that night on my fearful dreams subsided and eventually stopped. I began to be positive about life and decided to abandon my cynical attitude. Other people, friends, family, and teachers noticed a change in me. As I noticed the change in me too I came to realise that there is another way of understanding Easter and the Resurrection, not as a literal, physical event, but as an inner, revelatory event which changes someone from the inside. I didn’t understand why the Bible wrote about Easter in the way it did, but I did understand that Easter was real, psychologically, because I had my own Easter experience.  As I read more of the Bible I discovered other people had Easter experiences too.  

Song – StF 314/HP 213 – This joyful Eastertide


John 20:11-18

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 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. 13 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.’ 14 When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ 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.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17 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.”’ 18 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.  (NRSV)

What does Easter mean to me? – Christine   I’m actually writing this as the snow falls in March, and watching our garden and the road beyond being covered in a white shroud.  There are no footsteps or tyre tracks in the snow, and sounds from the main road are hushed.  Everything has shrunk beneath this covering – we’ve hunkered down, turned within. But I’ve already seen the snowdrops and crocuses, and even a few daffodils.  I know that spring is coming, which will bring us out of our houses, smiling at one another and commenting on the beauty of the world as it breaks into life. That’s the story of Easter week, but Easter is on a much grander scale!  Through that week we walk with Jesus to Jerusalem, to the Temple, to the Last Supper, into the Garden of Gethsemane and towards the Cross.  Then we pause and wait in that liminal space where Heaven seems so far away and yet is only drawing its breath for the triumphant shout: “Christ is risen! New life for all!” Each year it is new, as each year, Christ rises again.  Each time all seems lost, but a person comes to understand that Jesus loves them and so there is hope, Christ rises again and there is celebration.  Each time a person comes to faith, or has an experience of God that takes them to a deeper faith, Christ rises again and the angels sing.  And when Christ rises again, we who are the Body of Christ rise again and experience new life. Ours is a story of going through death and coming out the other side, and finding so much more than we had ever imagined.  Each time we come to Easter or to a breakthrough moment, we find that the trappings of death – the disappointment, loss of vision, fearfulness – fall away and the world is full of beauty, colour and possibility. If a dog is not just for Christmas but for life, then Easter is not just for Easter but for life in all its fulness. My favourite Easter hymn is “Now the green blade rises” with its message of hope – despite what we might see in front of us, Jesus is risen!

Song – StF 306/HP 204 – Now the green blade rises from the buried grain

Closing prayer – Phil

God of Holy Week and Easter
We thank you that you speak to us through scripture, story and song.
We thank you for the witness –
of those who stood at the foot of the cross;
of those who visited the tomb on the first Easter morning;
and of those who met Jesus in the garden, on the road and in the upper room.
Help us to be faithful witnesses.
Empower us to share the Good News of Easter with those we meet,
that lives might be touched, and communities transformed.
May all those who are hurting and burdened with sadness know your risen presence,
bringing comfort, peace, and the gift of new life.
For this we ask in the name of our risen Saviour and Friend, Jesus Christ.


Song – StF 313/HP 212 – Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son


And now may the blessing of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be with you and all those whom you love,
this Easter season and forever more. Amen

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