Christ is risen! Hallelujah!
Let us bless God this day! Let us proclaim Jesus as our living Lord!
Cinnamon Bun Tuesdays begin on Tuesday, May 3 at 10 am. We are hoping that you will come and enjoy fellowship as we begin to reopen all our activities. Please come and bring a friend. Enjoy our wonderful hospitality and share Christ’s love together.
We would like to thank you for being a part of the fundraising effort during Lent. This year our efforts in mission are on healing and reconciliation with indigenous brothers and sisters. We will continue to find ways to move this project forward. It is our plan to learn more about the indigenous ministries that are taking place in The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
As we have been sharing with you, we are rethinking the way our local mission will be planned and implemented. As you know, before the pandemic lockdown, we helped many through local organisations and also meeting the needs of the people directly. To a small degree, we will continue to do these projects. Weekly Summer BBQs and many Simple Suppers were great success. With many churches beginning to do the similar projects, we are now exploring different ways to empower and encourage those who are in need. Please pray that God will continue to lead us in this new direction as we focus on ways to share God’s blessings with our neighbours.
Please pray for those who are in care homes and those who are at home with illnesses. Also pray for elders as they continue to seek God’s will for this congregation.
Call to Worship (Psalm 150)
Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament!
Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!
Hymn: Praise the Lord with the sound of trumpet
With never ending grace, you come to us. Though we are unworthy of your presence, you are among us when we gather in your name. We thank you for your grace.
We come to you bringing all that we are. With mercy forgive us.
Be glorified in this worship as we praise and enjoy you.
In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 24: 1-9
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
Sermon: Looking for the living among the dead
We continue with the resurrection passage from Luke as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. It is important to remind ourselves with Paul that if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and our faith has been in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:14) Our existence depends on our faith regarding the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Without the resurrection, there is no reason to proclaim and witness God’s love for the creation. Without the love that leads to the resurrection of God’s Son, there is no reason to believe.
In this morning’s passage, the most striking part is the question that was asked by two men in dazzling clothes. When the women who were perplexed over the empty tomb where Jesus’ body should have been, these two men show up and ask, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” We are told that the women were already afraid when these two men appeared to them. This scene of fear by the women reminds us how in the Old Testaments those who met God or God’s messengers were afraid. The appearance of these two men does remind us of God’s loving response to very human needs of the women.
Why, in Luke, do these two men ask this interesting rhetorical question? In Matthew the angel spoke to the women and told them what happened. Here the women were asked this question as if to challenge the confusion they were having over the absence of Jesus’ body. The question, already being answered by the way it is phrased, points out how forgetting what Jesus taught them would lead to. Without remembering, faith is not possible. Without remembering, they were confused when they encountered the evidence of the resurrection. Without remembering, they were in the wrong place, looking for the risen Lord.
It is only in remembering, the women were able to return to give their testimonies. In this case, remembering was done only when the two men in dazzling clothes reminded them of what Jesus said. Remembering what Jesus said in women became possible and living testimony because they were prompted. The words the women heard from Jesus did not become the truth to be shared until after this mysterious encounter. In this remembrance what they experienced were given to the disciples and apostles. They were no longer afraid. They were convicted to witness to others what they heard from Jesus as the living truth to those who would not believe.
In other Gospels, Jesus did appear to the women. Matthew describes how when the women were running to tell the disciples, Jesus suddenly appeared. John describes a man who was confused as a gardener turned out to be the risen Jesus. Here, in Luke, there is no interruption. Luke’s Gospel does not need the appearance of Jesus in this particular scene. Remembrance that turns into the real presence of Jesus is sufficient. In remembering, the women knew and experienced the truth of the risen Lord. As they remembered, they needed nothing else to convince them of Jesus’ resurrection. To them Jesus became the living Lord, risen from the dead. No wonder the question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” After remembering, the women did not need to search Jesus among the dead.
We, too, more than often, in prayers and services, search for Jesus. We come to churches. In worship, through reading the Scripture, praying, praising, and hearing the Word being preached, we desire to search out Jesus, meet him, and commune with him. We search for him in our faithful life, especially when we encounter difficulties in life. Indeed, one reason for new people joining churches is due to people seeking out God’s love, Christ, or meaning in life when they encounter life shaking difficulties like losing a loved one, change in life, or experiencing traumatic events. In these dark moments we somehow remember to search for God. I wonder if after witnessing the death of Jesus on the cross, indeed a very traumatic loss for them, these women, too, were at the tomb not only to carry out the necessary ritual of embalming, but also to find Jesus who died. Were they seeking closure in their relationship to Jesus as we would if we lost a loved one?
Churches of all denominations have been experiencing the decline in their membership. Overall, those who consider themselves as active members of any Christian church are dwindling fast with an exception of a few growing churches. There are less and less younger people in any Christian denomination in Canada each year. Most churches, though faithful in worship and service, are experiencing slow deterioration, facing inevitable closures. It does feel as if we are without the Life as the world continually diminishes the Truth we hold. All the while the Church as the Way is no longer the way for the ever growing majority of the Canadian population. That is, many churches have become nothing more than graveyards of tradition, ritual, culture, orthodoxy, and theology of the bygone era. The description of many of our churches as graveyards is to make a point that we ought to search for our Lord and serve the risen Lord at the very place he is present. In this morning’s Scripture, what the women remembered as they were reminded by the two men was that Jesus told them he would rise from the dead and would be in Galilee. The message was that he would not be in the tomb as the living One. Jesus’ resurrection means for us, too, that the living Lord is not likely to be skulking in the graveyards of tradition, ritual, culture, orthodoxy, and theology of the bygone era. We, like the women, also need to look for Jesus by remembering what he taught us.
To live as Easter people is to be more than the followers of Christ. It is to be the living body of Christ, witnessing and proclaiming the risen Lord as the Way, the Truth, and the Life by worshipping and serving God. Remembering what Jesus taught us is more than simply recalling what he taught us. It is to live out his teaching and command to love God and neighbours in ways that others see us as the ones who are on the Way, sharing the Truth, living the Life of laying our lives down for others, even for our enemies.
Always loving God,
In Christ we bring our prayer. Hear our prayer. Be gentle with all that we put before you.
With concerns of those, who are fleeing bombs and bullets, in our heart, we ask you to hear the prayers of those who have lost their loved ones because of wars everywhere. So many have witnessed their loved ones killed because of those who seek power and glory at the expense of innocent people in many countries. Remind those leaders, who have no regard for lives of the innocent, their evil and fill their minds with ways of peace.
With concerns of those who are poor, who are living without homes or jobs and fearing for their future, we ask you to hear the prayers of your loved ones who are trying to find ways to get by each day. So many are feeling hopeless and lost in this world of predatory economy. No matter how hard they try, they fall behind. In the meantime, they see the injustice where those with greed get ahead and flourish. Be kind with these people who are mired in poverty, not of their making. Hear their suffering. Reveal to them hope that leads to life.
With concerns of those, who are sick, who are being forgotten in this pandemic and fearful of their pain-filled future, we ask you to hear their prayers. As the world becomes more and more deaf to the suffering ones, be with each one in pain. Give them hope to see how their lives can be full of joy that they may withstand today’s difficulties.
With concerns of our future we bring ourselves to you. Be mindful of our plans. Bless those who are planning so that everything that is being discerned is a way to reveal your reign here among your people. Reveal to us your will and use us as your servants. May your will be done in this place now and always.
What we bring in prayer is never sufficient. Hear the prayers that are unsaid and reside in our hearts.
All these we pray in your Son’s name. Amen.
Please do not forget to give generously so that we may continue to carry out Christ’s ministry here in this part of God’s vineyard.
Dear Lord, we bring our offering in glad response to your love for us. Through these offerings, we pledge our love to you and to our neighbours. Fill us with your Spirit. Send us into the world to participate in your mission so that all may come to glorify and enjoy your reign. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Hymn: Give thanks