12th April 2020

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The Parish of Christ Church, Lancaster

A vibrant inclusive worshipping community

Sunday 12th April 2020

Easter Sunday

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Collect (Prayer for the week)

God of glory, by the raising of your Son
you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill your Church with faith and hope;
for a new day has dawned  and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Jeremiah 31.1-6

At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus says the Lord:

The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love;  therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.   Again I will build you, and you shall be built,  O virgin Israel!  Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.    Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria;  the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit.    For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim:   ‘Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God

Psalm 118.1-2,14-24*

Refrain:    I will give thanks to you, for you have become my salvation

1  O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;  ♦  his mercy endures for ever.

2    Let Israel now proclaim,  ♦  ‘His mercy endures for ever.’

 I will give thanks to you, for you have become my salvation

14 The Lord is my strength and my song,  ♦  and he has become my salvation.

15  Joyful shouts of salvation  ♦  sound from the tents of the righteous:

16  ‘The right hand of the Lord does mighty deeds;  the right hand of the Lord raises up;  ♦  the right hand of the Lord does mighty deeds.’

17  I shall not die, but live  ♦  and declare the works of the Lord.

18  The Lord has punished me sorely,  ♦  but he has not given me over to death.

 I will give thanks to you, for you have become my salvation

19  Open to me the gates of righteousness,  ♦  that I may enter and give thanks to the Lord.

20  This is the gate of the Lord;  ♦  the righteous shall enter through it.

21  I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me  ♦  and have become my salvation.

22  The stone which the builders rejected  ♦  has become the chief cornerstone.

23  This is the Lord’s doing,  ♦  and it is marvellous in our eyes.

24  This is the day that the Lord has made;  ♦  we will rejoice and be glad in it.

 I will give thanks to you, for you have become my salvation

Acts 10.34-43

Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Matthew 28.1-10

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Matthew. Glory to you, O Lord.

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

For an audio recording of today’s Gospel reading and reflection, go to http://www.christchurchlancaster.org.uk/sermons.

Reflection

Have you ever met an angel?

Our church windows would have us believe that angels are beautiful creatures, robed in white, with welcoming faces and soft fluffy wings. They dance, somewhere between heaven and earth to bring messages from God.

But every angel we meet in the Bible begins their message by saying ‘Do not be afraid!’ Perhaps it’s said gently, or in the commanding tones of one holding up traffic, or even with a note of exasperation. Meeting an angel, a messenger from God, is clearly a fearful experience. Matthew’s Gospel begins with Gabriel’s words to Joseph and Mary as they prepare to cradle a baby, the living God in their arms. Do not be afraid.

And at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, the same words are said to the women who come to tend Jesus’ dead body yet find themselves witnesses to the power of God’s new life. When we are dealing with God at work in the midst of human life, the message is, Do not be afraid.

It is easy to say.

Yet fear is a slippery thing, it runs through our fingers to emerge somewhere else in our lives. We fear danger, the unknown, pain, loss, life and death. We fear others, we fear ourselves. If you like horror films you even seek out fear for the thrill of it, for fear is hard-wired into humanity, to help keep us safe from harm. Fear is our reminder that we do not live in a perfect world, and fear can also blind us from seeing God at work.

The women who gathered at the tomb that first Easter morning came to do what the other disciples were afraid to do. These women were unafraid to come close to the guards, unafraid to see the body of their dead friend, unafraid to be known as followers of Jesus. Effortlessly, the angel rolls back the stone from the tomb door, and they see God’s new life walking straight towards them.

And the women take hold of Jesus’ feet and worship him. Feet which bore the marks of the nails, and had walked with the full weight of suffering and fear only a few days before. When Jesus speaks, he says ‘Do not be afraid’ – and this is no trite, patronising comment, rather, it is said with the depth of understanding that there really is nothing now to be afraid of. Death could not hold him, and fear does not have the last word.

Easter under lockdown is a strange time, yet it gives us hope in the midst of fear. For the day will come when we can open wide the doors to our homes, our church – and let life begin to flow again in our streets and neighbourhoods. The day will come when we hear those words, “Do not be afraid’ and they still our own hearts and souls after weeks and months of worry. The day will come when we can gather together again and be free to worship without fear.

Jesus charges these bold women to be even bolder and become messengers of God’s good news themselves. Jesus sends them back to Galilee, along with all the disciples, to meet with him there. Why Galilee, 80 miles away?

The answer has a lot to do with our present crisis. Several people have asked me recently, where is God in this? Why isn’t God doing something? We often look for God working in big ways, pulling strings to instantly change the world course of events.

Jesus showed us where God is at work. Yes, God’s power is visible for all to see in the resurrection in Jerusalem. The prophecies were fulfilled, as Jesus spoke truth to those in high places and at the centre of power. The earth shook and the world changed forever.

By returning to Galilee, Jesus goes back to the place where he had spent most of his life living out the Kingdom of God. In Galilee, he was the centre of a whirlwind of teaching and healing, calling the disciples, feeding the multitudes, calming storms, blessing children and showing compassion to so many people we only learn some of their names. Time and time again, his life in Galilee is marked by his warnings that the Messiah would suffer and die, but also his reassurance ‘Do not be afraid’.

After his death and resurrection, Jesus returns to his past ministry, and shows us that this is now his future ministry too. He is back on the same level with his people, bringing the parables and miracles to individual lives, and calling people to be bold messengers of God’s good news ourselves.

We can expect Jesus to be where feeding, healing, teaching and suffering are undertaken with his company. When Jesus says ‘Do not be afraid’ he speaks that to the depths of each heart and soul, so that we can be confident that there really is nothing now to be afraid of. Death could not hold him, and fear does not have the last word.

Matthew’s Gospel continues into our lives, as the angel says to us ‘Do not be afraid… He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.’ We are called to be unafraid to see God at work in the world, unafraid to be known as companions of Jesus, called to be angels and messengers of God’s power working at one with us, in Jesus Christ our Risen Lord.  Amen.

Post Communion prayer
God of Life, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross,
and by his glorious resurrection have delivered us from the power of our enemy:
grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his risen life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Please also remember in your prayers:

Those who are ill:  Olive Niccolls, Youngblood McCray, Len Fletcher, Ernie Wilson, Pat Brooks, Freya de Lysle, Bill and Ivy Buckley, Michael Greenhalgh, Frank Jensen, John Fowler, Revd Dr Rebecca Aechtner

RIP: Sister Barbara Maud OHP, Barrie Ratcliffe, Elizabeth Warren, Joan Ross

This week’s streets to pray for those who live and work in our parish:

Mardale Road, Bulk Road, Grebe Wharf

Please pray for PCC meeting this Wednesday evening.

We also remember the gardeners and all who work to keep our streets and public places clean and beautiful, even when we cannot meet there at present.

Some suggested hymns you may like to follow at home:

Canon Brenda Harding

Many of you will know that Easter Sunday was set to be Canon Brenda Harding’s retirement day. It is sad that under these circumstances we can’t say the farewell and thank you which we’d like, but I hope that you will have been able to contribute to the card which Jacqueline has been compiling. I know Brenda doesn’t want fuss, but it is important to say a heartfelt thank you for all the prayer, care and faithful service which she has given to Christ Church over the last three decades, not least during the interregnum. From all the people I’ve talked with so far, Brenda’s ministry has left a deep legacy here, for which we give thanks to God. Brenda – you retire with our blessings and prayers, and hope you will stay in contact as a good friend of this church. Every blessing on your retirement, that it is fulfilling and peaceful! Rev. Carol

A farewell message from Canon Brenda

Just a little message to say farewell and to send my warmest good wishes to you all during this difficult time. I hope you all stay free from virus and look forward to when the Church can reopen for worship. It is wonderful that Carol, our new vicar, is in post and doing a great job. I know you will give her the love and support you have shown to Peter, Phil and me during the last 28 years I have been with you. At this Easter tide, we celebrate again the joy of the risen Christ and the hope of new life for all of us during the coming year.   With my love and prayers, Brenda

Spiritual Communion

For many of us, receiving bread and wine at the Eucharist is the foundation of our Sunday service, and the way we know Christ’s loving, sustaining presence in our lives, and specially at the big feasts of Easter and Christmas. From ancient times, the Church has held a service called ‘Spiritual Communion’ especially for those who could not receive the bread and wine of communion, for example when illness prevented it. Spiritual Communion has much in common with a Eucharist – we ask God for His help and forgiveness, we pray for ourselves and for the world, and we ask Christ to bring us closer to the community of love that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is the assurance that however ill or isolated we might be, Christ is there beside us, and we are part of His church family because of His grace and love, until the time comes when we can receive communion once again. As I pray the Eucharist each Sunday on behalf of the parish; thanking God for His many blessings and asking for His protection and care – you may wish to follow the Spiritual Communion service at home, using the day’s readings, prayers and sermon.

Help, Prayer and Support:

If you need a hand with shopping, medicines collection etc in coming weeks, or would like a friendly phone call, or if you are able to help others in the parish out, please contact help@christchurchlancaster.org.uk or call/text 07539 583638 and leave a message, or contact us via our Facebook page.

We will be praying daily for all who are suffering in the current crisis. If you would like us to pray for you, or for someone you know, for any reason, please email your request to prayer@christchurchlancaster.org.uk  or text the Prayer Chain on 07980 351855. Please ask the person’s permission if you’d like them included in the weekly notices.

Lighting a light

If you’re someone who likes to light a candle in church to remember a loved one, have a look at www.churchofengland.org/life-events/funerals/light-candle which offers online space to light a candle in the national church.  You could also light a real candle in your window at 7 pm each Sunday to show that the light of God’s love can never be extinguished.

Livestreaming Church

Bishop Julian will be leading worship on the Diocesan YouTube Channel at the following times and thereafter:

  • Good Friday Meditation, released at 2pm
  • Worship for Easter Morning, with all three Bishops, released at 9am

The Bishops’ Easter Messages are available now. Click here for Bishop Julian’s; click here for Bishop Philip and click here for Bishop Jill.

‘A Church Near You’ features churches across Lancashire using livestreaming, video or other technological solutions via the interactive map here.

One of those churches is St Laurence in Chorley where, before the lockdown, Bishop Philip recorded some Holy Week and Easter Services as he had been due to lead Holy Week there. These can be viewed on the St Laurence YouTube channel at these times and thereafter: 

  • Maundy Thursday at 8.15pm: Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper
  • Good Friday 3pm: The Liturgy of the Day
  • Easter Day at 10am: Eucharist of Easter morning and renewal of baptismal promises

There is a fantastic prayer and resources page available on the Diocesan website including a guide to keeping Holy Week at home; home service sheets; meditations; some wonderful resources for children and young people from the Diocesan Board of Education; links to national church digital resources and more.

The Big Easter Evensong

Members of our choir will be joining The Royal School of Church Music’s online choir to sing Evensong at 6pm on Easter Sunday.  You can follow live on:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2Oo1tUSQos&feature=youtu.be

Pleas of the week:

Please send in photos of your Good Friday gardens, Easter crafts, pictures, crosses and door decorations to reader@christchurchlancaster.org – and Pat will put together a gallery to celebrate all that’s been made!

Lancaster Foodbanks are still desperate for donations: please help if you can. You can leave food in the collection boxes in Dalton Square Pharmacy, local supermarkets, or take it to St Thomas’s Centre where the Olive Branch food bank is now based.

Children’s Corner

How many creatures lay eggs? Perhaps do some research and write a list!

On Easter day, we remember the story of how Jesus returned to life and walked out of the tomb in the rocky cave. Eggs help remind us of the Easter story because out of the hard, stony shell of the egg comes new life. Or, if you have a chocolate egg – when you break it open the inside is empty, just like the empty tomb!

Did you know? Some churches in Greece decorate their buildings with ostrich eggs!

Activity: Dyed Eggs. Take a hen’s egg, and some flowers from the garden (Primroses or polyanthus work well).  Use some wool or string to bind the flowers around the egg. You can also use onion skins so that the egg is wrapped up in a jacket! Hard-boil the egg in a pan with some water and food colouring. Leave the egg in the water until it’s all cooled down, and then take off the wool, flowers/onion skins. See what patterns have been left on the shell!

Giggle (or groan) of the Week: (suggestions welcome)

Q.  Why shouldn’t you tell an Easter egg bad jokes?

A.  They might crack up!

Thought for the week.

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song. Pope John Paul II

Eco-Church Group Action for the Week

Don’t just resort to online shopping; support local small shops listed on https://www.lmds.co.uk/ – some also deliver.

Key contacts:

Vicar: Revd Carol Backhouse 942105 revcarolbackhouse@gmail.com

Associate Priest: Canon Brenda Harding 66071

brendakharding@hotmail.com   

Lay Reader:  Dr Pat Allen 39552.

Churchwarden: Dr Paul Thompson 34949

Churchwarden: Mrs Jacqueline Stamper 64083 churchwarden@christchurchlancaster.org.uk

Parish Safeguarding Officer:  Ms Jane Lippitt 07930 979503 safeguarding@christchurchlancaster.org.uk

Children’s Church: Mrs Liz Mills 67005

Nightshelter Co-ordinator: Ms Jan Norbury 07547 717 060   coordinator.nightshelter@gmail.com

Hall Bookings: hallchristchurch@btinternet.com

School  Ms Emma Simpson 60955 head@christchurch-lancaster.lancs.sch.uk