Trembling, Bewildered, Afraid (click here)
April 4th, 2021 Easter Sunday
Welcome to Worship with St. Andrew’s Salmon Arm. We are so glad that you have joined us, and hope that you will find a blessing here this Easter Morning.
- Thank you Rev. Ena van Zoeren for leading our Easter worship today.
- April's Loonie offering is going to Second Harvest Food Bank. Please check the "Recent Posts" for more info and how to donate. Thank you for your continued support of our Loonie offerings.
Pre-service sing-along (thank you to Gloria Fitt for providing the music and the inspiration. Click here)
Lighting the Christ Candle
The light of Christ has come among us.
Thanks be to God.
CALLED TO WORSHIP
How joyful it is, to celebrate the good news of God’s love!
We are called to be Easter people!
Darkness cannot claim us!
Fear cannot bind us!
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen, indeed! Amen!
PRAYER OF APPROACH
in whom we know the power of redemption,
you stand among us in the shadows of our time.
As we move through every sorrow and trial of this life,
uphold us with knowledge of the final morning
when, in the glorious presence of your risen Son,
we will share in his resurrection,
redeemed and restored to the fullness of life
and forever freed to be your people. Amen.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION:
Christ, we come to the empty tomb,
we see our own death,
we see our own tomb, we see our own emptiness.
And we remember how we have treated other people—
members of our family, friends and neighbours.
Lord we come to the empty tomb,
we search within ourselves and we cannot escape what we are,
people caught up in the pain of our own wrong-doing,
the pain of a deep sense of loneliness
and a frustration of knowing what we would be but are not.
Lord when we come to the empty tomb,
we lay before you our pain,
our emptiness and look to you for hope.
We hear you asking: People of God,
why do you seek the living among the dead in an empty tomb?
Are you afraid, are you uncertain, and are you uncomfortable here?
But O Lord, we do not know how to answer.
Our wounds are deep,
We, like the disciples, have turned away from Him,
we have broken with him, and we come to the tomb
to seek his fellowship.
We have not found him here. We don’t know where to look.
We run off in fear and bewilderment, we don’t know where to find Him.
Forgive us we pray. Amen
ASSURANCE OF PARDON:
Do not dwell on your wounds any longer
for he has risen to heal you,
he has risen to forgive you;
he has risen to change us all and bind us together now.
Christ has risen to forgive us.
Thanks be to God.
PASSING THE PEACE
The peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. And also with you.
Share a sign of peace with those nearby, or ask the Spirit to bring his peace to another you may know, or to a world situation.
WE HEAR GOD’S WORD
Listen, hear and remember, these portions of the revelation of God’s word for us.
Isaiah 25: 6-8
6 On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
Mark 16: 1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.[a]
Sermon: Trembling, Bewildered, Afraid
Many years ago, I took a weekend workshop with some leaders of the Network of Biblical Storytellers. Their emphasis was on knowing the Scriptures by heart, rather than memorizing the Scriptures. They emphasized that Scripture is a living story through which God communicates with us as we are, and where we are.
At the end of the weekend the leader demonstrated how the Gospel of Mark could be communicated, by telling it as a living story. We were reminded of the urgency of Mark, as in a state of agitation he paced back and forth. You could hear the breathlessness of the pace of the journey as he moved from one event to the other, to another.
We heard the pain and agony of Jesus as he died. We felt the brunt of the disrespect of those who watched. We grieved with the women who kept vigil at the foot of the cross. We felt the discouragement as they followed Joseph to the tomb and watched him lay Jesus to rest.
It was more than just a Scripture Reading, it was like a re-enactment of the gospel in one voice.
All parts of the good news of Jesus unfolding before our eyes.
But then came the moment when the women trudged in exhaustion to the tomb with the spices of anointment.
Most of us that day were clergy. We all had taken New Testament 101, and yet we all felt a sense of betrayal as he uttered the words of the original ending of this gospel, “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid”, and then he ran from the room.
He did not return.
As a group we sat there bewildered. Easter morning does not end in fear. Where are the angels who tell the women not to be afraid? Where is the pronouncement that he is Risen? Where is Jesus speaking gently to Mary in the Garden?
Our disquiet grew until we started to mutter and question.
The story-teller came back, and reminded us that this was how Mark’s gospel had originally ended.
The verses 9 to 19 which were added later do have all the elements we look for on Easter Sunday. Jesus appears. Angels speak. The women share the story of the resurrection. Glory abounds. But all that came later. All that is a part of the way, we who know how the story ends, have come to expect the Easter story to be proclaimed.
He went on to talk with us about how the process of learning by heart the Gospel of Mark in its original version had taught him a lot about the depth of emotions, of confusion, pain, bewilderment, fear and terror that make up the story of salvation.
We sometimes need to just sit with the pain, the fear, and all the other emotions that come in the unfolding of God’s grace.
We need to remember that for the disciples and the women who gathered at the cross on Good Friday, that this was hardly a good day. It was a day of horror. Of grief. Of deep anxiety. It was a day of fear and panic and despair.
We go home on Good Friday and enjoy hot cross buns, and relax knowing that Easter is coming—the followers of Jesus went home and huddled in fear, as they cried, and talked, mourned and trembled, and worried about what the future would bring.
We come to worship on Easter Sunday expecting the exultant news to be proclaimed, “he is risen”. The women came to worship at the tomb with the last act of love for one who died, to embalm his body with spices.
Already afraid, they trudged up the hill. Deeply grieving, tears obscured their vision, and they stumbled on the stones and slid on the slope. Wary of the strangers they met on the path they were in a state of hyper-vigilance when they arrived at the tomb.
Who was that person in the tomb? Was it an apparition? What was the nonsense he was speaking of? Was he a Roman soldier sent to trick them? Those and many more questions tumbled through their minds.
Is it any wonder that trembling and bewildered was how the women fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid and confused.
So were all the others. The disciples on the Road to Emmaus were so grief stricken they didn’t even recognize Jesus. The disciples were stunned, shocked, and afraid when Jesus suddenly appeared in a locked room. Thomas would not, could not, believe even though the others all told the same story.
If this past year has taught us anything, it is that we don’t know what to believe. Health orders change with such rapidness that we’ve only go a grasp on one and it is done. As a result we don’t know what is going to happen next week or even tomorrow. Perhaps we have had a little taste of what it feels like to huddle in isolation and confusion in our upper room.
Out there is a dangerous world. And the danger has not gone away. Even the promise is overlaid with a lot of what if statements. We don’t know what to believe or where to turn.
Yes, we have hope. And we are reminded of that hope every time we watch the news. But every time we watch the news we are also reminded of the tragic consequences of the virus and the ever escalating contagion numbers. Which message takes precedence?
We may have had a taste of what the women and other followers knew. We are reminded that the only hope they had was the teaching of Jesus and the Scriptures, which, in the midst of that pain, grief and fear they were very unlikely to remember.
Outside the door of their home there were those who would recognize them as followers of Jesus.
Some would scoff.
Others would report them to the authorities.
Every Roman soldier that walked the streets was a potential threat.
Even the person in the tomb was someone to be suspected. No one, not even their own, as Judas had shown them, could be trusted. So, they did the only logical thing. They fled the tomb in terror, and they said nothing to anyone.
How long did it take for the truth of the resurrection to replace the horror of the crucifixion? How long does it take for faith to replace fear?
And the bigger question: How often would the followers of Jesus need to reaffirm that resurrection trumps death and that faith is greater than fear?
Even so, as we ponder those revelations, we are also reminded that we are an Easter people. We are of the post-resurrection generations. We know the end of the story as we journey through Lent and Good Friday and the Easter vigil. What we don’t know is the depth of pain, fear and sorrow those women felt. But do we then also not know the depth of joy that would grow in them through that Easter day and all the days to come?
One day when we emerge from our current upper rooms and once again come together in groups to worship, celebrate and with trepidation hug, we too will know the depth of pain and joy that mingle into a deep and astounding faith that proclaims, “God has brought us through it and he has brought joy and faith to our days of darkness.”
So, let us follow the women as they run in fear and go back into the city. Let us read in the days to come the accounts of the other gospels and discover the slow dawning of joy for all the followers. Followers like the women, like Peter, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus and even Thomas who could not believe until he had seen Jesus like the others had done.
This is not an easy story to believe. But once we do believe it, what a difference it makes to our living, and to our faith, and to the love and praise we lavish on God from the depths of our gratitude.
This is the day in which we all ponder the wonders and the mysteries of grace.
That God sent Christ to die for us.
That God gave us saving faith.
That God gives us peace.
That God fills us with the Spirit
All of these elements, in a natural and hope filled unfolding, as we also take the journey that leads to a joy-filled faith that resounds in our hearts and echoes from the mountainside as we proclaim: I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.
Praise God, Jesus is risen, and that makes all the difference for me.
Praise God, Jesus is risen, and that makes all the difference for all of us.
Now and forevermore. Amen.
Today we remember the gift of Jesus Christ given to us. We join together giving thanks to God, by bringing our offering into the storehouse. Please check the front page of the website for ways in which you can contribute. Thank you.
Open us as you
were opened for us
God of all being
Reaching out your hand
in love open us to reach out
our hands in love.
May we take the hand
extended, open for us.
And may we offer
the same extended
love, for all.
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING AND INTERCESSION
Praise be to you, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
For your great mercy in giving us birth into a new life and a new hope
by raising Jesus Christ from death:
praise be to you, our God and Father!
For an inheritance that can never spoil or fade, kept for us in heaven:
praise be to you, our God and Father!
For the protection of your power, ours through faith,
until salvation comes at the end of time:
praise be to you, our God and Father!
Help us to grasp resurrection; to understand its power,
to see its force at work in our world,
overturning evil empires, changing the hatred within us,
moving the world slowly, forcefully, bending us towards love and truth.
On this day of great gladness empower us to be your ambassadors,
proclaiming good news. Help us to be that good news,
walking softly on this good earth caring gently for all people,
living hopefully into your kingdom.
Today we think of all who are grieving, especially…
[name those who are grieving]
and for the sick and dying….
[name those who are ill]
for places in the world that are torn by war and bloodshed…
[name countries at war]
In this world of broken hopes and dreams
we catch sight of your kingdom come,
in the person of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns in us forever.
OUR PRAYERS FOR THE COMMUNITY
We pray for our dark and dreary world, caught in a Pandemic, a world in need – in need not just of a technical fix, but in need of love and grace, forgiveness and new life, hope, peace and fellowship, in need of renewal, in need of YOU.
This week we pray for: Recreation facilities, Sports teams, Gyms and Pools and the Bowling Alley
Hear us now as we pray as Jesus taught us saying, 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 debts as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever. Amen
HYMN Thine be the glory
CHARGE AND BENEDICTION
You had not imagined
that something so empty
could fill you
and now you carry
like an awful treasure,
or like a child
that roots itself
beneath your heart:
how the emptiness
will bear forth
a new world
that you cannot fathom
but on whose edge
So why do you linger?
You have seen
and so you are
You have been seen
and so you are
There is no other word
There is simply
There is simply
SUNG BLESSING: King of Kings and Lord of Lords