Just hang on a minute! It is hardly the beginning of advent and already I’m dripping with lies. Forget the context, just pile up the colourful myths – the unwelcome couple, the child born in abject poverty, the cold shepherds, kindly sheep, lowing cattle, all in the thatched little stable “out the back”. Turn off the tap of waffle about the stable scene. Those ripping yarns for the unsuspecting visitors in overheated Christmas services are in serious need of re-imagining.
A liturgy prepared by Ian Robinson
Four readers, one prayer, one 5 min sermon, 7 songs, leader. Everything white.
Leader: “Christ is Risen”
Response: “He is Risen indeed”
IT IS SUNRISE Mark 16.1-8
Leader: These women came to the first Easter Sunday morning filled with disappointment in their lives. All they have left to work for is to carry out a decent burial.
On this Easter morning, are you pre-occupied with disappointment? Is this the best you can do with your life – to keep a decent, respectable life? You could do worse, but the promise of Easter is that you can actually have God’s purpose working in your life.
You can be holy. The Risen Christ has a new beginning for you. It’s no wonder the women’s first thought was how scary it could be.
THE TOMB IS EMPTY Luke 24.1-12
Leader: At this stage of events, they are only afraid. They are afraid of two things.
One is that their enemies have stopped at nothing to suppress Jesus’ movement. They are afraid they will be the next to be arrested, flogged and crucified. At least two of them leave town immediately. Jesus had to catch up with them in a town called Emmaus.
Maybe they are also afraid that Jesus might actually have risen from the dead, as they heard the angels say. It is such a shining hope, so much would then be different, and that alone would be very scary. No wonder the Risen Jesus kept greeting them with: ‘peace be with you’.
Remember the goodness of God. Remember the kindness of Jesus. He has never brought harm to anyone who placed their trust in him. Peace be with you.
JESUS APPEARS Luke 24.36-44
Leader: There he is in the flesh. It changes everything. There are huge possibilities that open up now. Walking with Jesus in freedom from sin. A new life, a new vision. Forgiveness and love both given and received. Finding self in serving others. Making peace with justice. Integrity and generosity that counts for all eternity. Personal communion with a living God. What richness he has lavished on us in Jesus Christ!
To be honest, Easter is not all about huge possibilities that open up. There are also some possibilities that it closes down.
If you like to be the victim, the tragic, the hero, the bitter fighter, then with the resurrection of Jesus your whole life is shattered. With Jesus leading us beyond death, we need no longer get so bitter about death and suffering.
Again, if you like to accumulate experiences, accumulate money and securities, live on overdrive, fly off on sex or drugs, then the new life of Jesus has shown up your emptiness. With an eternity to live, we need no longer rush to fit in every good thing we can get.
Again, if your focus is ‘me’, what about me, what’s in it for me, what I want, where I’m going, do it my way, the empty tomb shows how fearful we really are to be embraced by life. We are no longer our own – we have been bought with a price and held beyond death! To live the new life we have to stop reinforcing the defences of the present one.
Yes, there is some bad news for some. But I find that it’s good news, the happiest news of all time. I know I haven’t got it all sorted, but as I walk the road with Jesus, the light from the empty tomb is just simply fantastic, worth living for, and worth dying for.
Because you have saved us so openly and so strongly,
We are confident to bring to you
all our disappointments.
We bring to you our narrow thinking.
May your Kingdom-purposes be seen in us.
Because you have loved us so completely,
We can bring to you our fears and pain.
We bring our doubt- that you might give us less than the best.
We welcome the New Life
That you have pioneered for us.
Because you have conquered death,
We can put aside the fear of suffering,
and the bitter sting of death.
Gently, please, take apart our inner defences, and set us free.
Open up new spaces inside our hearts,
Space for being loved, being safe,
being clean, being true, and
spaces for integrity, generosity, kindness, and peace.
JESUS SAYS ‘HANG ON A SEC’ Luke 24.45-53
Leader: The power to live the New Life does not come just by wanting it, choosing it, training it, being born with it, or seeing it in someone else. The power comes through the Holy Spirit, whom we must welcome into our life.
Because you walk with us, Jesus,
and show us freedom from failure,
We can give and receive
both forgiveness and love.
We can find ourselves in serving others.
We can make peace with justice.
We can know, more deep than breathing,
this personal connection with the living God.
Oh, the riches of the love
which you have lavished on us in Jesus Christ!
So, shock us into life!
Nurture us into love!
And impel us with your grace
To share again and again, in myriad ways,
That vast good news: Christ is Risen!
He is risen indeed!
You Say That I Am – a liturgy for Good Friday prepared by Ian Robinson.
True Words from Jesus’ enemies
Needs 8 readers, plus the leader and 9 songs.
Setting : Dark cloth drapes from ceiling, an upright Cross in centre of worship space but not obscuring the screen. Lecturn is behind the cross. Overhead projection of many images of Christ and words of the prayers and songs.
A sermon by Ian Robinson, reflecting on the response of Jesus to unnamed Greeks who came looking for a meeting with Jesus in Jerusalem.
This is a way of framing a lot of what we do in Makes You Wonder. The basic skill of communicating the gospel is to share four stories. All four are needed, and it doesn’t much matter where you start so long as you don’t stop there. There are exercises in each of these in the four parts of Makes You Wonder.