Easter Sunday

Wolfe Island United Church

(Established 1886)

April 12, 2020
Easter Sunday
Welcome to Worship

Artwork created by Maggie Crothers

Student Minister: Elizabeth Amirault M. Div.
Musician: Robert Douglas

Wolfe Island United Church
April 12, 2020
Easter Sunday

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed. Hallelujah!Welcome to worship this Easter morning. It is wonderful to be God’s people, in this place, wherever that may be. I am glad that you can join me today as we celebrate the resurrection.

Lighting of the Christ Candle If you have a candle available, please light it before you begin to read the service.  Take a moment to centre yourself and feel the presence of all of us with you today.  The light that shines this morning is brighter because the one who God had chosen has returned and stays among us.  

The Peace
I wish the peace of Christ to be with all of you
And also with you.

Hymn: “Welcome Happy Morning”  VU 161

Performed by Robert Douglas

                              Voices United # 161
Words: Venantius Fortunatus (ca. 582) John Ellerton (1868) Rev. Hymns for Today’s Church, 1982
Music: Frances Ridley Havergal (1871)
Copyright: Revised words copyright © 1982 Hope Publishing Company

Call to Worship:
We are called to walk from the darkened hill to the light-filled empty tomb.
We come seeking surprise and wonder in the dawning light of Easter Day.
Let us greet the risen Christ who is here among us. 

Prayer of Approach:
Servant Christ help us to follow you from the dark tomb, to share daily your resurrection life, to be renewed daily in your image of love, to be used daily as your new Body in your service to the world.  Servant Christ help us to follow you, in your name we pray.  Amen

First Testament: Jeremiah 31:1-6. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus, says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again, I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again, you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Again, you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.”.

Gospel: John 20: 1-18. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
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 toward 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.

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 around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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.

Hymn: “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” VU 155  

Performed by Robert Douglas

                              Voices United # 155
Words: Lyra Davidica {1708}
Music: Lyra Davidica {1708} Derek Holman (1971)
Copyright: Centre Nationale de Pastorale Liturgique; Descant copyright © 1971 Derek Holman.

Sermon: “Come, let us go up to Zion” 
Let us pray; O God, let your words fill us with new life and bring us out from the tomb alive again in you.  Amen

What can be said that hasn’t been said before?  Each year we hear the story, we go to the depths of despair and rise again to the summit of hope and renewal.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing that we tell the old, old story each year at this time because we may be able to gain new insights because our year had been different, it is after all, the foundational story of our faith.  Each year we try to tell the story in a different way, come up with a new way to view this timeless tale so that we can see new facets and sparkles that might shine on our understanding of who we are as children of God and sibling to our Saviour.  Something a bit different. 

Well, our worship this year will be very different.  We are worshiping apart, together.  We are separated by distance, but not abandoned.  We are separated for our own physical safety, but we are not alone. Our God of community calls us together and promises us that from death comes life, from dark comes dawn and from chaos comes calm.  It has all be done before.

If we pay attention to the news, even on a semi-regular basis, it can be easy enough for us to live as though every day were Good Friday, or in a constant state of Holy Saturday. Living our call as Christians to be an Easter people can seem foolish, if not impossible. Today’s readings remind us, however, that we are not the first generation to face a tremendous hurdle, and that we can learn (as so many before us) to see the presence of the living God right before us.  So come, let us go up to Zion!

From ancient times, human nature doesn’t seem to have changed much. We are curious, trying to understand the world in which we live. We often try to fit our understandings into the framework of our human senses and collective memories. Today’s scriptures call us to broader views, setting our human experience into the larger relationship of the people with God.

Death and life are deeply intertwined; resurrection is with us each day if we can learn to see it. It is this learning to see that forms such a crucial component of John’s Easter narrative. As Karoline Lewis notes in her commentary on this gospel (Lewis, Karoline: John. Fortress Press 2014), John does not tell us about God’s grace but invites us to use all of our senses to experience it. In John’s Gospel, grace tastes like the best wine; smells like a broad expanse of a grassy field when Jesus fed 5000, or like the very-dead stench of Lazarus giving way to the pound of perfume poured upon Jesus by Mary. Here, at the beginning of the 20th chapter, grace is the scent of a springtime garden at dawn, the sound of a beloved voice speaking our name, the leaping, uncontainable joy that propels Mary back into town, crying out that she has seen the Lord!

It is important to note here that Mary alone stays until the morning light breaks. I am always moved by John’s telling of the story.  Mary, strong of spirit, asks against hope whom she understands to be the gardener, where her Lord is.  She needs to know, to understand, to see, to believe.

In John’s gospel, light is a symbol of belief and understanding. So, while Peter and the beloved disciple see the empty tomb and the discarded cloths, they remain in the dark of human perception and understanding. Mary’s stillness, her willingness to remain present in a space of grief, allows the light to shine around her. Like the light at dawn, that grows slowly moving shadows away, her understanding and her vision grow until she is able to experience the fullness of the resurrection; until it is the joy of God’s presence rather than the fear of God’s absence that compels her to proclaim what she has experienced: grace upon grace. So come, let us join Mary, let us go up to Zion.

Our reading from Jeremiah recounts the Israelites’ return from exile in Babylon in terms that those who participated in the journey would not have experienced. These are not people who remember the times of peace and joy and growth in Israel; their lives have, for generations, included political machinations, occupation, and deportation. They experienced death: of their homeland, practices of faith, and identity. For these Israelites, the promised land in within their grasp.  They can see the road ahead much more clearly.  God has made them a promise that they would some day return to their home, with God’s help.  There will come a day, after the grief, after the settling, counting their losses, someday, they will find a time to plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and enjoy the fruit. For the time being, they can see the light, rising up like the morning sun, adjusting their eyes to the brightness. The are leaving the darkness behind them for now at least. Then there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.”

So, if it all happened before, then what are we to take from these scriptures today? We all know that death is final. Or do we? Aren’t we continually surrounded with endings that are beginnings? In our quest for learning, the evidence we have the hardest time seeing is that which tells us that our own senses are not always sources. 

The scripture passages for this Easter day pull us out of narrow human viewpoints to remind us of the boundary-breaking presence of the living God. The task then is to not merely read the words, but to experience the stories in our lives – for if we can taste and see God’s grace, how do we not cry out in joy that we have seen our God? Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God

May those who have ears, hear the word of God.  Amen.  

Sharing God’s Blessings: VU 543
Please consider providing your offering by dropping a cheque in the mailbox of Doreen Joslin, leaving a cheque at Fargo’s store with “Wolfe Island United Church are of Doreen Joslin” on the envelope or sending an e-transfer to hugh.cowan@kos.net.  Thank you.     

Offertory Prayer:
Jesus, you break bread and we recognize you; you are the fire that burns within us.  Use us and these gifts to light the world.  Amen.

Hymn: “We Are One”  VU 402    

Performed by Robert Douglas

                              Voices United # 402
Words: Doreen Lankshear-Smith (1988)
Music: Jeeva Sam (1987)
Copyright: Music copyright © 1995 Jeeva Sam. Arrangement copyright © 1995 David Kai.

Communion Service for Easter Sunday
The celebration of communion is always a festival of friends, a pulling together of our loves and hopes, our moments of agony and our glimpses of victory. It is here, where bread is broken, and drink is shared, that we can most fully be ourselves and see others for who they are: sons and daughters of the living God. Here the common things of life – bread and wine, memories and dreams – become holy, touched by God.  Here that which is earthly becomes divine, and that is which is human become more that it has ever dreamed.

Christ is Risen!
He is risen indeed!
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Hallelujah, thanks and praise, ever-living God, worker of wonders, maker of miracles, author of all life and giver of life eternal!  Out of chaos and fear, you bring beauty and hope.  Out of despair and death you create courage and new life.  And so, with the risen Christ, who makes all things new by the power of his resurrection, we join in the song of a new day, to sing your praise;
Holy, holy, holy God,
Power of life and love!
Heaven and earth are full of your glory!
Hosanna through the ages!
Blest is the One who comes to bring your justice on earth!

As we gather individually, yet as one, we remember that on the night he died, Jesus had supper with his friends.  He took a loaf of bread, thanked God, broke the bread, and gave it to them saying, “Take, eat.  This is my body, given to you. Each time you do this, remember me.”  Then he took a cup, after giving thanks, passed it to his friends saying: “Drink.  This cup is the promise of God, made in my blood.  Each time you drink from this cup, remember me.”

Loving God, we rejoice in the gift of your grace, remembering Christ’s life and death, proclaiming his resurrection, waiting in hope for his coming again.  Grant that in praise and thanksgiving, we may so offer ourselves to you that our lives may proclaim the mystery of faith:

Dying, Christ destroyed our death.
Rising, Christ resorted our life.
Christ will come in glory.

Holy Wisdom, Comforter, Advocate, Friend, may these gifts of creation bless our lives with presence and the power of the risen Christ.  May they give us comfort and strength, peace and wisdom.  May they make us whole.

At this time, we also remember all those with whom we would have shared our feast. We pray for all who are in the shadow of pain. We remember those throughout the world who are suffering from the effects of COVID-19, those whose treatment in hospital are cancelled to due to the pandemic restrictions, especially those whom we have lost to this dreaded disease.
We pray for all who find themselves alone, without family on this special Sunday. We remember the times we shared with each other, the meals and the laughs, and we gather our strength in knowing that being alone today will bring celebration in the future when we can be together again.
We pray for all who live with fear, oppression, hunger and need.  For all whom the world would count as last and least.  We pray for the Christian church throughout the world.  Keep us together though we are physically apart, and remind those who feel they need to gather to be with you, that you are bigger than any church building and that we can access your love and grace at any time and any place. 

Hear now those prayer for the ones we hold dear to us….

Thank you, God, for hearing our prayers and we praise you as the Source of love, for the beloved Saviour returned to us on Easter so long ago and the Spirit that is and will be with us forever.  Amen

We gather these and all of our prayers, and turn to you our loving parent, saying the prayer taught us by the one whose return we celebrate today…Our Father…

The bread which we break is our sharing in the life of Christ.
The cup for which we give thanks is our sharing in the life of Christ.

Come for all things are now ready.

You may now consume the bread, before which you say; “The body of Christ given for me”
You may now consume the drink before which you say; “The blood of Christ poured out for me”

Life-giving God, we give you thanks for the gift of our Savour’s presence in the simplicity and splendour of this holy meal.  Unite us with all who are fed by the life of Christ that we may faithfully proclaim the Good News of your love in an uncertain world, through Jesus Christ, our redeemer.  Amen.

Hymn: “Because He Lives”

Performed by Robert Douglas

 Words: Gloria Gaither, William J. Gaither (1971)
Copyright: © 1971 William J. Gaither, Inc. All rights controlled by Gaither Copyright Management

Commissioning & Benediction:
From this Easter festival, we go forth to live resurrection:
In the name of God who makes us,
In the name of Christ who make us free,
In the name of the Spirit who makes us one.
Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen indeed!

Choral Blessing: (inside front cover of Voices United)

Scripture Selections for Easter Sunday, April 19, 2020
1 Peter: 1:3-9
John 20: 19-31
Sermon: “Salvation, Redemption and Us”


If you need to contact Elizabeth Amirault you can call her cell phone at (343) 363-0754.  Her email address is Minister.WIUC@cogeco.ca.

Due to concerns around the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the instruction from Public Health Officials with reference to “flattening the curve”, Wolfe Island United Church has chosen to cancel worship services indefinitely.  We will keep you updated as to when we will be meeting again in person.
Worship will be posted on the Wolfe Island United Church website after 9:30 each Sunday morning. 
Join us at: https://wiuc.ca/