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Service at Home – Easter Sunday 4th April 2021

Service at Home on 4th April 2021 - Easter Sunday

for Bolton Road Methodist Church, Christ Church Ramsbottom and Edenfield Methodist Church

YouTube playlist: Service at Home Easter Sunday 2021

As usual, the entire service can be followed on this YouTube playlist without the need to look at these sheets. However, you may want to use these sheets if you prefer to read the words.

Welcome and the Lent Cross

Watch: Welcome and the Lent Cross

Welcome and Introduction

Happy Easter! Welcome to our online Easter Service at Home. This morning we celebrate that Jesus conquered death and rose from the dead, and Richard looks at the power of the cross and what this means to us.

Lighting of the Lent Cross

He is risen!  Today we celebrate the day when death was defeated.

The day when Jesus proved he was who he claimed to be.

The day that changed the world forever!

Eight candles are lit.

Lord Jesus we thank you that you are alive, that you love us and that you want us to get to know you better and better.

Help us to grow closer to you and stronger in our faith.  Amen.

Song: Christ the Lord is risen today

Song: O Praise the name (I cast my eyes to Calvary)

Opening prayers

Watch: Opening prayers

(By Nick Fawcett)

Sovereign God, this is the day of victory – a day on which we celebrate the triumph of good over evil, truth over falsehood, light over darkness, life over death.

This is the day which changes every day – which brings joy out of sorrow, hope out of despair, faith out of doubt, love out of hatred.

This is the day which makes every day an Easter Day, and every moment a new beginning.

Sovereign God, receive our praise, in the name of the risen Christ.  Amen.

And now say the prayer that Jesus taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name;

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Introduce Easter Story video……

Video: Easter Story

Song: See what a morning

Prayers of intercession and Gospel reading

Watch: Prayers of intercession and Gospel reading

Prayers of intercession led by Susan from Christ Church

Heavenly Father, we join together with all our brother and sisters in Christ, to celebrate this Easter Sunday, that your Son is indeed risen, Hallelujah.

As we bring our prayers of intercession to you, we particularly think of all the places of the world that need to know your love, joy and hope:

  • For places experiencing famine, wars, human rights abuse, racism and political unrest, places like China, Myanmar, Yemen and Syria; and
  • For Christians experiencing persecution or the threat of death.

Living Lord Jesus, be real to these people, provide food and medical supplies, and a safe place to live, and bring about peace and reconciliation. May your Hope and Love replace the despair and hatred that they are experiencing. Give Christians the courage and strength to remain faithful, comfort them in times of hardship and protect them from harm. Use them as a light to bring more people to know you.

We pray for the pandemic that continues to dominate our lives:

  • For our world leaders as they negotiate a way out
  • For vaccine roll outs
  • For all those who have lost loved ones
  • For those who are ill or suffering long term effects.
  • For those in debt, unemployed or struggling to make ends meet.

Compassionate and loving God, hear the cries of your people, bring healing to the sick, comfort and peace to those in despair, guidance and wisdom to our leaders, that they will support the most vulnerable in our world.

We pray for our country:

  • As politician’s negotiate a way out of lockdown as they try to balance risk with getting the country back on its feet.
  • For the places we know experiencing protests, and riots, especially those in Bristol and Manchester.
  • For our local towns as businesses and other activities, eagerly start up again.
  • For those who are hesitant, or afraid to socialise with others just yet.

Loving God, may we be mindful of each other’s worries and concerns, renew our strength and patience, and bring calm in places of conflict, and guidance and wisdom to our authorities in handling these situations, while finding new ways to help our country recover.

We pray for all those we know whether they are:

  • Lonely, isolated, or bereaved.
  • Whether they work for the NHS or on the frontline.
  • For our children, young people and their teachers.
  • For all those we know who are spiritually, physically or mentally ill.

We pray especially for Kathy as she prepares for her operation later this week.

And finally, we pray for ourselves. As we walk the Emmaus road may our hearts burn with a new hope and anticipation of a renewing of your Holy Spirit working in each one of us. That we will willingly let you use us to do your work in our lives. Be with us and bless us all now and forever more.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Risen Lord, amen.

Gospel reading: John 20:1-18

Video: Arms wide open

Song: The Greatest Day (Happy Day)

 

 

Sermon and prayer

Watch: Sermon and prayer

Sermon

Have you ever thought how strange it is that we have things in our churches and homes that depict a method of execution, and even wear it as jewellery? And what’s more it’s a method of execution that’s particularly barbaric, causing a slow and agonising death. What do you think I’m talking about? I am of course talking about the cross. Why do we place so much importance on the symbol of the cross? The answer is of course what happened that first Easter, that first Easter when Jesus willingly went to the cross to die for every single one of us.

When Jesus went to the cross, Jesus’ followers just saw it as the instrument of his death. And despite what Jesus had said, they thought that was the end of Jesus. But, as we now know, it was in fact just the beginning. Three days later the tomb was empty and Jesus appeared to Mary and then the rest of the disciples. And Jesus didn’t just appear to them as a ghost, but as someone they could touch, someone who sat down and had dinner with them, someone who continued to teach them.

By doing this, Jesus demonstrated he had the power to conquer death. And it proved that Jesus was more than just a man, it proved that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. And it proved beyond doubt that everything that Jesus had said about himself is true, such as:

John 10:9: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved”.

John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me”;

And the best known of all, John 3:16; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

So we know that God the Father sent his Son, Jesus, to save everyone in the world, so that we can be united with the Father and have eternal life. But why did God need the cross to achieve this? To help us to understand this, I’m going to use a diagram that I find helpful.

First of all, God and people lived in unity, not separated by anything…..

But then people became separated from God by their disobedience, which led to sin…..

But then God send Jesus to die on the cross, to provide a bridge that spans the chasm created by sin, so that once more we can be united with God….

This shows us the power of the cross:

The cross has the power to destroy the effect of sin.

The cross has the power to unite us with God.

The cross has the power to give us a fulfilled life now and for all eternity in God’s Kingdom.

The apostle Paul wrote about the power of the cross in his letter to the Corinthians: “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1 verse 18). So for people who believe in Jesus, the cross is the power of God, but that for those who do not believe, the good news about Jesus seems foolish. It’s easy to see why this is the case isn’t it? The power of the cross is difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to comprehend. And this is why people who do not have faith in Jesus think that the cross is no more than a bit of wood or piece of jewellery. To them belief in the power of the cross is foolish. And there are no doubt Christians who struggle to believe in the power of the cross. Perhaps you struggle to truly believe? We have to agree that the power of the cross does seem foolish when judged by the wisdom of this world. But what did Paul go on to write about the wisdom of this world? Verse 20 says this: “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” When we look at the complexity and perfect elegant design of even the simplest of living creatures, and when we think that this planet only exists because the laws of physics are so finely balanced in way that surely can’t have happened by accident, then how can we fail to believe in a God whose power and wisdom is infinitely greater than any human? How can we fail to believe that God can do things that we cannot comprehend? Therefore, it’s foolish not to believe in the power of the cross.

So we’ve learnt that the cross has immense power, even if it’s difficult for this world to understand. But what we haven’t looked at yet is why did God do this?

Why did God send His son to die as a sacrifice on the cross?

Why does God want to be re-united with mankind?

Why does God want each one of us to live with Him in His Kingdom for eternity?

The answer is of course in John 3:16 that we heard just now. It gives us the answer in just four words: “God loves the world”. And God doesn’t love the world just a bit. He loves us so much that he sent His son to suffer terribly on the cross. And as Jesus is himself God, even when he was living as a man in this world, then it was God Himself who suffered on that cross. The Bible tells us that Jesus had human feelings and emotions, so we can be certain that Jesus suffered on that cross just as much as you or I would have done.

We don’t know why God loves us so much. And in fact it’s impossible for us to comprehend why the all-powerful creator of the universe loves us even a tiny bit. All we can do is simply accept that He really does love us very much indeed. And if you ever doubt even for a moment that He does love you, just look at the cross and remember that He loves you that much.

There’s something else very important that we need to remember about the power of the cross: it’s up to each one of us to use that power. Nobody else can do it for us. God is there waiting for us with open arms, waiting for us to go to him. Through the cross, Jesus has given us a way – like a bridge - to get to the Father. But it’s up to each one of us to go to Him – to cross that bridge. How do we do this? We do it simply by believing what Jesus did for us and putting our faith in him, and turning to God and accepting His forgiveness. And don’t forget that accepting God’s forgiveness isn’t something we just do once. Most of us do, say and think bad things every day, so we risk becoming separated from God every day. This means that every day we need to turn back to God and accept His forgiveness in the name of Jesus, so that we remain close to God, so that we continue to enjoy His love to the full, and so that we have the eternal life that he offers us.

The other thing that we must never forget is that there’s nothing that God won’t forgive. Perhaps you think that you’ve done something so bad or done it so often that God won’t forgive you. But this is completely wrong – God will always forgive you. God suffered in agony on a cross for you – He did that for a reason – so of course He’ll forgive you.

We’re going to finish by asking ourselves some questions: do you believe that God loves you so much that he sent his son to die for you on a cross? And do you believe that through Jesus’ death on a cross you can be forgiven and reunited with God and live with him forever? If so, do you want to turn to God and accept his forgiveness?

If you want to accept God’s forgiveness through the power of the cross, there’s going to be an opportunity to do this now. And it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s the first time you’ve ever done this, or if you’ve been doing it every day for decades.

Think about all the bad things that you’ve done, which you know you shouldn’t have done and that you’re ashamed of. Say sorry to God for these things.

Think about all the hurtful things you’ve said and the times that you’ve upset other people or caused trouble. Say sorry to God for these things.

Think about all the bad thoughts that you’ve had, the pride, the jealousy and the bitterness. Say sorry to God for these thoughts.

Think about the times that you should have done or said something, but you didn’t. Say sorry to God for these times.

Now turn to God and accept His forgiveness for everything that you’ve done wrong.

Let God take away all your feelings of guilt and remove your burden of shame.

As you look at the image of cross, think how it proves without doubt that God really does forgive you and love you.

Feel God’s reassurance that you have been forgiven.

Feel God’s love surround you and fill you.

A final prayer

Dear Lord, we thank you so much that you sent your son to this world to save us.  We thank you so much for the power of the cross and that it proves to us how much you love us and offers us a way to be close to you forever.

Lord, help us to always have faith in the power of the cross.  Help us to continually accept your forgiveness.  Help us to always remember that nothing can separate us from your love.

We pray that the knowledge of your love and forgiveness will never fade and will remain with us forever, and will be at the centre of our lives and everything that we do and strive for. Amen.

Song: Oh to see the dawn (the power of the cross)

Song: Thine be the Glory