• Rossendale Circuit

Seeing Is Believing - Easter Sunday Service 04.04.21

Updated: Apr 4

with Revd. David Burrow


Video Service

View directly in youtube here.


Part 1


Hymns & Songs:


MP 76 'Christ the Lord is risen today'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9khJXoL9QGk


or 'He has risen' - Noel Richards

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwLR1BGmZSw


Part 2



Hymns & Songs:


MP 453 'Low in the grave he lay'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kowN2rxc0M


MP 795 'You laid aside your majesty'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFICAbIxv_M


'An Easter Hallelujah' - Cassandra Star & her sister Callahan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j3NZEdHQaI


Part 3


Hymns & Songs:


MP 689 'Thine be the glory'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tjz4yXUJrgU


Or 'He's Alive' - Don Francisco

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKxD8WnSYqQ



Finally have a watch of our little spring celebration video, 'In the Garden.'

Thankyou to everybody who contributed and Happy Easter!


Other Links

Our Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuzuzxmGWU4e_xRupJilppg

Our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/rossendalemethodistcircuit


Our Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/rossendalecircuit/


Our Website: https://www.rossendalemethodistcircuit.co.uk/


Our Email Address: rossendalemethodistcircuit@gmail.com



Transcript


*Not always exact to the videos


‘Seeing is Believing’


Imagine yourself in a Russian Orthodox Church on Holy Saturday. It’s almost midnight.

In the darkness a hush falls upon the crowded church.

The quiet, reverential attitude of the people cannot disguise their keen sense of anticipation.


From the side of the church come the clergy and choir, singing psalms. They lead the congregation out into the night where they are met by more believers and curious onlookers.


Together they process around the church. The clock strikes twelve.

Back at the door the priest steps forward and looks into the church.

It is dark and empty, as was a tomb 2000 years ago.

He turns to the people, a smile spreading across his face, and shouts joyfully:

“Christ is Risen!”

“He is risen indeed!

Alleluia!”

Prayer of Adoration:

To you O Lord, we sing a new song. With the whole created world, we sing: Alleluia!

With sea and land, trees and living creatures, in the great silence of the mountains and in the bustle of the city streets: Alleluia!

The world is a wilderness without your love; we are lost in the darkness without your light;

there is only a chaos of noise without your Word;

we ache with your absence, the emptiness is unbearable, how can we sing?

Yet in the darkness before dawn a blackbird begins to sing: Alleluia!

In the shadows and uncertainty of the garden, hearts beat again with a fresh hope: Alleluia!

In the emptiness of the tomb, there is a voice that reminds us of the living Word: Alleluia!

Living Lord, to you we sing a new song: Alleluia!


Prayer of Confession

Merciful God, you see us, your people offering to be sent out, for the sake of the world; today's apostles. You see us, you know us, you know how unworthy we are, how feeble our faith, how strange our actions. We do not persecute your church, like Saul, but we can destroy it in other ways: by apathy, by bitterness and wrangling, by cosiness, by excluding others, by narrow interpretations of your Word, by unwillingness to change. Merciful God, forgive us. Surprise us, turn us round by your power, forgive us and transform us by your love. Then send us out in your grace to share with others, the resurrection hope. Amen


Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24


Photo by Bruno van der Kraan via Unsplash


Hymns & Songs:


MP 76 'Christ the Lord is risen today'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9khJXoL9QGk


or 'He has risen' - Noel Richards

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwLR1BGmZSw


Seeing is Believing. But is it? In our reading from John 20 about Jesus’ resurrection the characters see the same things, the same evidence, and while one believes, others struggle to do so. When it comes to the resurrection of Jesus seeing with the eyes of faith makes all the difference.


Read John 20:1-18


When a magician makes something disappear, what do we really see and what do we believe?

When a photographer puts a photo of a 'Super Model' on to a computer screen, and makes her eyes larger and bluer, her teeth whiter, her legs longer, changes the colour of her hair and then prints the photo on the cover of Vogue. Do you believe what you see?


In our Bible reading we are told about people seeing or looking eight times, and that's not counting when Jesus asks Mary what she is looking for.

The question asked of Mary Magdalene, Peter and John was, in effect, ‘What do you really see?’

And it’s the same question for you and me.

Early on the Sunday morning Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. She was with other women but John likes to focus on a single character and their individual reaction to events.

Anyway, Mary saw that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb entrance.

Now, grave robbing was such a serious crime that the Roman Emperor had made it punishable by death, so it's not surprising that Mary thought that someone had taken Jesus' body.

She saw an empty tomb and unsurprisingly came to the wrong conclusion.


When she told the disciples what she’d seen Peter and John raced off to the tomb.

John looked into the tomb. He saw the folded grave clothes and so obviously there had been no robbery.

Peter, who by now had caught up with John was true to his nature, and ran straight in.


He saw the grave clothes and the cloth that would have been wrapped around the head of Jesus. Remember the story of Lazarus in John chapter? Lazarus, when Jesus brought him back to life came out of the tomb still wrapped in his grave clothes.

Jesus' grave clothes had been neatly folded and set to one side by the one who didn't need them anymore.


We don't know what Peter believed. Did he see the truth of the situation? We don't know that either. Perhaps, given his denial of Jesus, he was simply confused and feeling utterly lost.


But, John, when he entered the tomb saw all that Peter had seen, and he believed. Jesus was alive.

For John, seeing was believing, for he saw with the eyes of faith.


Even though at this point John didn’t understand what the scriptures said about Jesus' resurrection, he still believed. Belief in the resurrection came first, and his understanding of it, through the scriptures, followed later.

And is that not the case for most of us?

I wonder, how many of us were able to make a reasoned argument for the resurrection before we believed and had the opportunity to study the Bible.

Wonderfully, seeing with the eyes of faith and believing came at the same time for John.


And what about Mary?

She returned to the tomb, heartbroken and confused, and stood there weeping.

All she had wanted to do was anoint Jesus’ body and now she couldn’t even do that.

This time, bending over and looking into the tomb, she saw two angels, signs of God's power at work, but still she did not see with the eyes of faith.

The angels gently rebuked her.

Their question, "Woman, why are you weeping?" is a way of saying, "Why are you still crying when there is no need?"

I wonder, I do a lot of wondering, how would you or I have reacted?

Having told the angels that she was looking for her Lord’s body, Mary turned and saw Jesus. Still, she couldn’t see.

He too asked why she was weeping. He also gently told her off and asked, as the angels had done, "Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?" She thought he was the gardener and asked him if he had moved the body.


Jesus’ question of Mary was an invitation to her to think carefully about the kind of Messiah she was expecting, a question that if only she could see with the eyes of faith, would open her eyes.

But devoted as she was to Jesus, her idea of him had been too small, and again she failed to see.

And then, that wonderful moment when Jesus very simply said, "Mary".

‘Never was there a one-word utterance more charged with emotion than this'.

The Good Shepherd "calls his own sheep by name . . . and his sheep follow him because they know his voice."

Anguish and despair were immediately swallowed up by astonishment and delight.

"Rabboni", Mary exclaimed – the title she would have used when they were travelling together.

No wonder she tried to take hold of Jesus. It was a perfectly natural response, but Jesus told her not to hold on to him.

Why? Because this was not the time for clutching on to Jesus as if he were some jealously guarded private dream come true, instead it was time to tell others that Jesus was alive!

Mary realised it was true. She had seen him with her own eyes, and she believed!

Now she saw with the eyes of faith.

And Mary, transformed by her meeting with Jesus became the first to share the good news, "I have seen the Lord!"

We are told that later, when the disciples were gathered together in fear, they also saw the risen Lord, and were filled with joy.

Thomas, not there at the time had to wait for his opportunity – he doubted their word but when he saw the risen Lord he said, “My Lord and my God!”

His eyes, as those of the other disciples, were opened and he too was filled with faith.


Every meeting with the risen Jesus results in a transformation of the people involved. People see with the eyes of faith. Such is the resurrection power of God!


For the people around at the time, it seems that in the case of Jesus’ resurrection, seeing was believing.

But John reminds his readers, that’s you and me, that to believe without seeing is to be blessed (vs 29).

We believe without physically seeing the risen Christ. And, just as Mary was told to share her good news with the others about Jesus’ resurrection, so are we.

You and I are witnesses to the resurrection which means that for non-Christians, seeing is still believing. Why?

Because the place where most people meet the risen Jesus is when they meet you and me.

Do people look at me, do they look at you and say, "I believe, because I have seen the risen Jesus at work in your life"?

That may seem rather overwhelming, but the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit that was at work in bringing Jesus back from the dead is still available today.

Available to fill our lives so that one day, people from every tribe, language and nation will see with the eyes of faith, believe and be witnesses to the wonderful, glorious truth, that “Christ is Risen”. “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”


Hymns & Songs:


MP 453 'Low in the grave he lay'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kowN2rxc0M


MP 795 'You laid aside your majesty'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFICAbIxv_M


'An Easter Hallelujah' - Cassandra Star & her sister Callahan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j3NZEdHQaI


Intercessions:


God of the resurrection, as darkness fell, the light of Your love shone through. We pray that your light might shine in the darkness.

God of the resurrection, as blood was poured out at the Cross, we pray for the blood poured out in the wars in Yemen, Syria and around the world. May the love of the Cross bring healing and unity.

God of the resurrection, as Mary found the tomb empty and shared the news, we pray for women who face oppression and are unable to use their voice.

God of the resurrection, as Mary wept, we weep for those who grieve lost ones due to Covid-19 and other diseases. Surround them with your peace and love today. May we be a resurrection people. May we today say ‘I have seen the Lord’.

Add your own prayers for people you know and love.

Gracious God, You call us to follow you on the way of the cross. Help us to trust all things to you and give us, we pray, the wisdom to know what we must leave behind through Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer


Blessing: in the words of Desmond Tutu Goodness is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death; victory is ours through Him who loved us! Alleluia, Amen!


Hymns & Songs:


MP 689 'Thine be the glory'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tjz4yXUJrgU


Or 'He's Alive' - Don Francisco

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKxD8WnSYqQ


Stay Safe, God Bless