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Easter Sunday 2024

Below you will find the reflection from our Easter Sunday service, and a picture of the tree that it refers to. After the reflection, there was time to celebrate and respond to the Easter story with food and music and creative activities. You'll see some of the things we made at the end of this post.

On Palm Sunday we heard the crowds cheer Jesus into Jerusalem, and then on Good Friday we journeyed together from the table to the tomb. We heard how Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, gave new meaning to bread and wine, prayed in agony and determination, was unjustly condemned to death, suffered the cruelty and indignity of the cross, forgave the soldiers who killed him and comforted the thief who died beside him, gave up his final breath, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. We ended our service waiting with Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, and now we pick up the story with those faithful women.

Matthew 28:1-10
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.  The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see  the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped 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.”

Over the past week this tree has helped us tell the Easter story. On Palm Sunday it was decorated with palm leaves, which we took down and wrote our own words of praise on, and they now lay at the foot of the tree as the palm leaves were laid at the feet of Jesus. Then on Good Friday it was bare, and we pierced it with pins, just as Jesus’ body was pierced with nails. And now today it is bright with eggs decorated at Messy Church and the Hours of the Cross, bursting with colour and life, hung on those pins that seemed to mean pain and death.

Where else have you seen new life?

Where do you long to see new life?

This tree is the Easter story, and it's our story too. Joy and sorrow and hope all bundled up together, so that sometimes it is impossible to separate them. But there is another part of the story, which I alluded to earlier but is not represented by the tree. That is not the joy of Palm Sunday or the sorrow of Good Friday or the hope of Easter Sunday, but the waiting of Holy Saturday. It is the part of the story we perhaps pay least attention to, but it may be the part of the story that in truth we are most familiar with.

So much of our life is caught in the in between places, but unlike the women who waited to return to the tomb, we know we shall find it empty. Sometimes we must sit with grief and pain and anxiety and loneliness, but because of Christ’s resurrection, we know they are only ever passing things. We can trust that there is joy and life and peace and love beyond them, and while we may not always be able to rush to that part of the story, we can be strengthened by it in our waiting. 

Those of us who gathered at the firepit this morning heard a blessing for Easter Day by Jan Richardson. I want to share now a blessing she wrote for Holy Saturday. It may be out of sequence, but so is the way our lives jump between the different parts of the Easter story, and I hope it will be a particular blessing for those of us who in some ways are still waiting for resurrection.

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