The theme of Sunday@Seven this week would have been ‘Yes, He lives!’ I hope that you can spare the time to read through this reflection instead of us being together – and join us in Spirit at 7 pm on Sunday. Nigel
So, here we are again; near to six weeks of lock-down. We have all had to get used to a new way of life. Daily routines and all that we took for granted have been changed. It would be very easy to get into a totally negative outlook – yet amongst it there are some positives.
Look at all the jobs round the house that we have been able to cross-off that list. Those which have forever been lurking at the back of our minds; the books we have got round to reading; new technology we had heard of (but never used) is suddenly familiar and in constant use – Facetime and Zoom for example.
Barbara and I were expecting to be away at Spring Harvest last week but the venues were closed. We were to be at Harrogate Conference centre but that is now a Nightingale hospital! So, Spring Harvest came to us in our home via YouTube! We have shared worship digitally and virtually; not only with thousands across our land through Spring Harvest but also locally within our own community.
We have broken bread and shared a cup of wine together in our home – just as the early church did (see Acts of the Apostles chapter 2). And, importantly, we have found there is more time to read our Bibles and to be in prayer. New experiences and old experiences are refreshed.
Against all odds
Amazingly all this is happening at Easter – a time when we remember all that Jesus did for us and that he came through against all the odds and rose again to new life.
Our April Sunday@Seven has always been on the Easter theme – and this year was to be no exception! I am sending out a service sheet and this sheet of notes to you for “Yes, He lives!” so that, like last month, we can share worship together – maybe at 7 o’clock on Sunday!
Here’s a few thoughts to reflect upon and which may prompt our thinking – and at some time, when we meet again, maybe, we can share.
- First read Luke 24: 1-49 and John 20: 1-23 (A bit of a chunk but I’m sure you have time on your hands!) Read it again – get a good hold on what happened
- Note the reaction of Jesus’ disciples and followers. Frightened; startled; wondering just what had happened; fear of what would happen next; disbelief; wanting to believe; hearts burning; realisation; joy and excitement
- How do we feel about the news of the first Easter? Can we recall how we reacted to being first faced with the Bible’s accounts of the Resurrection? What feelings do we have now after, perhaps, many years of Easter as a Christian? Do we still wonder? How about belief? Any doubts? Burning hearts? And how about the joy? Does Easter morning still bring excitement?
Easter is for Grown-ups
- In his Easter Day Service Sheet Dave shared with us a reflection by Martin Bashir and what caught me was the bit about, whereas Christmas is for children, Easter is for grown-ups. Yes, I think Easter is for grown-ups. Not necessarily adults, but those who are grown-up in their understanding of what Jesus was about. There is nothing which can be used superficially here – no little baby in a manger, shepherds, angel choirs, gifts brought from afar. As well as other things, it’s about the fact that terrible and horrible events such as those of Good Friday can be overcome – that there is new life; that we can get through tough times and get to start again. To be able to say: “He lives!” Jesus had tried to tell his disciples about all this but they couldn’t really get their heads round it. It was only afterwards that the truth became clear. That’s when they believed it!
- We are currently going through tough times. Covid 19 is taking lives, causing havoc across the world and generally upsetting everything. We are into something the like of which we have never faced before. Yet look, good things are happening. New ways of ‘doing’ are appearing – and things that used to be there are coming back. We are seeing revivals of community awareness – helping our neighbours – looking out for others.
Only the building has closed
- On the church front, we have closed our buildings but we are finding new ways of doing things. We are still ‘church’ – it is only a building that has closed! Perhaps when the present is passed we shall be born again into a new life – a new way. Perhaps those who were once outside of church will want to come and join us – if we can use those new ways to attract them. The response to the uncertainty and fear of the present times may just come in the hope and power of Jesus’ resurrection – new life, new start, and new vision looking forward and not hanging on to the past.
Back to life
- There are several instances recorded in the Bible about people being raised from the dead. In the Old Testament both Elijah and Elisha brought people back to life. In the New Testament Jesus raised people back to life and so did Peter and Paul. When you have a moment have a read and see the reactions – astonishment, praise, shock, belief, great comfort and faith.
- Here’s a few – 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:18-37; Luke 7:11-17; Luke 8:49-56; John 11:1-44; Matthew 27:50-53; Acts 9:36-32 and Acts 20:7-12
- The last one is about a man called Eutychus – (You teach us??) We have a little play about this one – we must do it some time.
The story of the early church as recorded by Luke, in his book of Acts, tells of the response of Jesus’ followers in post-resurrection life. How they responded to the power and hope given them by Jesus’ victory over the grave. They found they could overcome the doubts, the hardships, even the persecution, secure in the sure knowledge that “He lives”.
God’s word was preached; God’s work was being done – helping and sharing with those in need, healing the sick, bringing comfort to the troubled; and God’s wonders were being seen – prison doors burst open, the gospel spread out across the world, thousands turning to the Lord, many being prepared to be amazed at what God could do.
Words, works and wonders. Perhaps in today’s world, whilst we are accepting of the word and works, we struggle with the wonders. Do we find it harder to accept that God can do great things? We can get dragged down and become negative; things will never change; how do we get out of this rut? Perhaps that’s why getting our heads round Easter and Jesus rising from death is difficult and we doubt, if only within ourselves. Maybe we need to open ourselves up more to God’s Holy Spirit and then in His power wonder at His wonders – and be able to say with conviction: “Yes, He lives!! Jesus is alive!” And in that we too can live resurrection life! We too can get things done!
Next month we shall be at Pentecost. We will look at the Holy Spirit. Have a read of the Acts of the Apostles before then and be ready to say that we do have “The Power to Glow” !
These are some thoughts from Nigel Silvester, one of our Authorised Lay Ministers. For more by Nigel please have a rummage through this link. Sunday@Seven would normally meet on the last Sunday of each month and is an opportunity for more informal prayer, worship and reflection.
For the songs and prayers for ‘Yes, He lives!’ please go to the download below: