This Easter Sunday is going to be strange.
No one will be in church across the much of Europe. We will be marking Easter in our homes, not in church. We might watch a service being livestreamed on social media, or on TV, but we will not go to a physical church building and we will not take Holy Communion.
All of that is hard. And harder still is that Easter this year will be celebrated when thousands upon thousands of people across the world have died from the Corona Virus or are suffering because of it.
The statistics are horrific. As I write, the latest figures are:
There is grief, sorrow, economic hardship, stress, relationships under pressure. There is a huge collective anxiety about the future.
We don’t know when this will end. We don’t know the full impact on our lives, our economy and on the world.
We see signs of hope – communities working together to protect the vulnerable. Huge appreciation for the NHS and all key workers, people valuing life over wealth, cross country collaboration amongst the scientific community and heroes everywhere.
Easter is a story about hope. About life out of death. About death not having the final word.
I have found that drawing on the liturgy used in funerals very helpful this year as I think about Easter. A line that I keep remembering, as I lie in bed in the early hours praying and thinking is this:
“Your mighty power brings joy out of grief and life out of death.”
It comes from the set intercessions for a funeral service.
And this Easter it feels like a powerful, poignant statement of faith and worth mulling over.
Perhaps this year, as you use these prayers and readings as part of your #EasterSundayatHome worship you might want to begin by bringing signs of hope into your home. Some greenery from outside, a drawing of spring, or the resurrection. You may even want to go outside to pray and let the bird song and signs of spring bring hope and solace to your soul.
Opening Song: Jesus Christ is Risen Today… or another one
Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Alleluia.
He has defeated the powers of death. Alleluia.
Jesus turns our sorrow into dancing. Alleluia.
He has the words of eternal life. Alleluia.
Risen Lord Jesus,
as Mary Magdalene met you in the garden
on the morning of your resurrection,
so may we meet you today and every day:
speak to us as you spoke to her;
reveal yourself as the living Lord;
renew our hope and kindle our joy;
and send us to share the good news with others.
Prayers of Penitence
Silence may be kept.
God of mercy, we acknowledge that we are all sinners.
We turn from the wrong that we have thought and said and done,
and are mindful of all that we have failed to do.
For the sake of Jesus, who died for us,
forgive us for all that is past,
and help us to live each day
in the light of Christ our Lord.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
May God our Father forgive us our sins
and bring us to the eternal joy of his kingdom,
where dust and ashes have no dominion. Amen.
hear our prayers and comfort us;
renew our trust in your Son,
whom you raised from the dead;
strengthen our faith
that all who have died in the love of Christ
will share in his resurrection;
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Some words of scripture
‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ says the Lord. ‘Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is his faithfulness.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Gospel of 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 towards 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.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
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 round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 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.’ 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.
- What bit of the story strikes you as particularly important today?
- Which one verse would you like to try and hold onto?
- What questions do you have?
- How does it provoke you to pray?
Set up some tealight candles and light a candle for those for whom you want to pray.
Use your own words to pray about what is most on your heart.
You could also use the Intercessions for Coronavirus on the web site.
A prayer for all those affected by coronavirus
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy.
Sustain and support the anxious,
be with those who care for the sick,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may find comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:
open the doors of our hearts,
that we may seek the good of others
and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,
to the praise of God the Father.
May the risen Christ grant us the joys of eternal life.
Let us bless the Lord. Alleluia, alleluia.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.