Easter People (Lydia Calder)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
First Sunday after Easter     10:00 am April 24, 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering  as a Worshipping Community
Led by Lydia Calder (including Children’s Time)
Music director: Binu Kapadia          Vocalist: Lynn Vaughan
Elder: Jane de Caen

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you
P: and also with you

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words
L: Peace be with you, in the name of Jesus Christ who has conquered death.
P: We need the gift of peace for our harried days; and we need it for our troubled world.
L: In hope and confidence, in doubt and uncertainty, we come.
P: We believe. Help us in our unbelief

Opening praise: Forever God is faithful

 Call to worship:
L: Rejoice, friends, for the Lord has called us here.
P: We come joyfully, for we have heard the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.
L: Open your spirits to receive all God’s blessings.
P: May God shower blessings upon us so that we may in turn bless God by our service.
ALL: Alleluia

Prayers of approach and lament

God of new life and new beginnings, even when we when we hide behind closed doors and seek to put up walls and barriers or reject your peace, you find us. Into our confusion and hesitancy you breathe the gift of new life and new purpose. Into our doubts and narrow imaginations, you bring comfort and assurance. In moments of anxiety and confusion you are peace and hope.

Yet, we remain fearful and do not live into the fullness of your promise. Sent into the world to be people of the gospel, we fall short and give so much less than you have called us to offer.

Forgive us for ignoring the power of resurrection, for living the values of our era instead of those of your kingdom, and for seeking the risk-free way. Strengthen your hold on us. Renew our faith. Breathe upon us so our lives may be marked by peace. In the name of Jesus, the Prince of  peace.

Response: Glory, Glory, Alleluia

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Do not fear, dear friends. Jesus is among us, offering us forgiveness and hope. Rejoice, for you have been made new in Christ. Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Jesus loves me

Story-Time

Kid’s, it’s time to come for Children’s talk.  Adults at home, gather the kids around the screen.

Children’s Time – Hi kids.  It’s nice to be here with you…

You may have heard of Ripley’s “Believe It or Not”.  Robert Ripley was a man who enjoyed collecting strange and amazing bits of information which, although they seem unbelievable, were true. He first published his amazing facts as cartoons and it premiered over 100 years ago in a newspaper in New York.

At a certain point Mr. Ripley hired another man to do his research and for the next 52 years of his life that man’s job was to work in the New York Public Library finding unusual facts for Ripley. These unusual facts became so popular that they were published in book form, made into radio and television programs, and there is even a chain of “Believe It Or Not” museums.

Here are a couple of examples from Mr. Ripley’s Believe it or not”:

Joann Barnes, a fifteen-year-old from California, once swung sixty-eight hula-hoops on her body at the same time! Can you believe that? I think I would have to see that to believe it!

Listen to this one.  Page 10 Waul Ball…

In fact, this book is filled things that are very hard for me to believe. But do you know what? If it’s true, it’s true, whether I believe it or not!

On the Sunday that Jesus rose from the grave, he appeared to a group of his disciples. One of the disciples, whose name was Thomas, was not with them. When the disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus and that he was alive, Thomas said, “I won’t believe it until I see it with my own eyes. I want to put my finger in the nail-prints in his hands – and place my hand where the spear was thrust into his side.”

A week later, Thomas saw Jesus. Jesus invited Thomas to touch his hands where the nails had been. He told Thomas to put his hand on the wound in his side. Then Thomas believed! Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

A lot of people today won’t believe that Jesus really rose from the grave because they haven’t seen him with their own two eyes. Do you know what? It is true whether they believe it or not!  Let’s pray,

Prayer

Dear God, help us to accept by faith that Jesus has risen from the grave. Help us to believe, because it is true. Amen

And now we will all say together the words that Jesus taught his disciples…

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: Jesus stand among us  vss 1,2   (452)

 Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Psalm 37:3-7 and Luke 6:27-38 (NRSV)

Response: Behold the Lamb of God

Homily: “Easter People”

So, here we are, one week removed from Easter.  The chocolates are gone, the left-overs are gone, the decorations are gone. What’s left when the celebrating is over?

On those nights when you toss and turn  alone with your thoughts; or when you sit at your desk trying to make sense of the papers in front of you; or when you get tragic news that shakes your world to the core. How do you respond, all on your own, when there is no preacher to prompt you, no congregation to remind you?

Last week we proclaimed, “The Lord is risen!” But what difference does that make this week?  What does it mean that he is really present with us, today?  What does it mean, deep within our souls?

Dr. J Stanley Glen, a former principal of Knox College in Toronto used to say to his students: A Christian is a person with Easter in his heart.

Christians are people with Easter in our hearts.  We are Easter people and that should make a difference in our lives.

In our New Testament lesson this morning we read about Thomas – Doubting Thomas, as he is often called.  He was missing when Jesus appeared to the others.  When he finally arrives they even said to him something like, “Thomas, you’re not going to believe this!”

And he doesn’t. Thomas tells them, “Unless I see it for myself, and can touch his wounds, I won’t believe.”

Eventually Thomas is there when Jesus appears. He tells Thomas to put his hands on his, and feel the wounds from the nails.  And he does. And he believes.

Thomas took a little longer to believe those words, “He is risen!” but once he did  his life changed. To millions he is known as Saint Thomas. Christian tradition holds that he set sail for India and was the first to spread the love of Christ there. And if you go to India today, St. Thomas is the one who didn’t just doubt, but who believed, and who helped others to do so as well.

He had Easter in his heart. He became one of the Easter people.

So, what is it about Easter people that make us different from everyone else? Why do we continue to gather week after week? We gather to worship, just as those first Christians did 2000 years ago. Acts 2: 46 & 47 tells us that those early believers, met every day in the temple courts and in their homes, with glad hearts, praising God.

Worship is one of the things that distinguishes us as Christians.  We come together in the presence of God with one another to worship.

Worship has been really hard the last couple of years. Zoom church is better than nothing but it certainly isn’t like worshipping in person.  There is a spiritual power in singing praises to God together rather than each in our own little space at home.

Yet, even in the midst of all of difficult  circumstances Easter People have a reason to praise God.  Experience tells us that the story isn’t over til it’s over. When Jesus was placed into that tomb, His disciples thought it was all over, that everything was lost. They were depressed, scared for their lives and wondering what would become of them.

Then Sunday morning came and Jesus was no longer held by the grave. The Son had risen and their lives were changed forever – they had a reason to praise God.

Easter People realize that our home is not this world and praise will help us rise above it. “Listen to the words of Psalm 150: Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

Easter people are also known for having hope.

At dawn on that first Easter morning Mary Magdalene and the other women went to the tomb not in hope, but because it was comforting to be in the place where he lay. They came not because they hoped he had survived, but because they were certain that he had not. They were further wounded to find that his body was not there.  Even in death Jesus, whom they loved was not given respect.  They were without hope.

Meanwhile his disciples huddled together behind locked doors, fearful of the Jewish leaders, wondering if the next knock might lead to arrest. Not only had all their hopes and dreams died with Jesus they themselves were sought after as criminals. What were they to do? Dare they return to their families, their work? It was all so confusing…and  so hopeless.

Then came the resurrection and with that the return of hope. Carlo Carretto wrote, “Optimism means faith in man, in the human potentiality; hope means faith in God and in God’s omnipotence.” Nothing shows God’s power more than the resurrection.

Marvin Busenius, who used to be the Western director for the Canadian Bible Society told me of a 94 year old widow that he knew. Her husband had died at a fairly young age leaving her with 6 children.  It turned out that he had died of a genetic disease which every one of his children inherited.  They all died young as well.  “Seven times,” she said to Marvin, “I’ve been to the grave side 7 times. If it weren’t for God I never would have survived.”

Easter People know that although we may suffer, it will not last.  We believe in resurrection.  We believe that there is life on the other side death. More than a calendar observance, Easter is the daily realization that the very power of God which raised Jesus from the dead is the very same power which flows in and through us as followers of the Risen Lord. To  be an Easter people means more than one  day a year of celebration, it means a lifetime of hope.

Lastly, Easter people smile. And laugh and spread happiness.

In his final dark hours before death, Jesus talked about joy. He told his disciples that while there is sin, pain and chaos in this world, they would have joy—we would have joy—by trusting and following him. In John 15:11 (NLT), Jesus told them: “I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

The joy of Jesus gives us every reason to smile, laugh, to sing.  It is a joy bigger than what’s going on in our lives right now, a joy that can dance in the face of struggle and sorrow.

Easter people smile and laugh and celebrate because we are loved unconditionally. Think of that cross and what Jesus sacrificed for you. Think of that empty tomb and what it means for you right now and for eternity.  Wow!

There was a time when the entire week after Easter was observed as “days of joy and laughter” with parties and picnics to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. People sang and danced, told funny stories, played practical jokes, and drenched each other with water.

The custom was rooted in the musings of early church theologians- such as Augustine, and Gregory of Nyssa –  that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. They called it “The Easter laugh.”

Returning to that tradition is becoming more common, with the observance of the Sunday after Easter  as Bright Sunday or Holy Humour Sunday. So, in honour of Holy Humour Sunday…

A Sunday school teacher was taking her Grade 2 class up to the sanctuary for communion.  Before they entered she asked them, “And why is it important to be quiet in church?”          Annie put up her hand.  “Because people are sleeping”

A few months before she died a special Christian lady who had had a difficult life said to me, “When I’m gone I want people to remember my smile.”

Each of us makes our own choices about how we respond to life’s troubles.  We can grieve with wailing and gnashing of teeth, or we can grieve with a smile for the good memories we have.  We can do our work with grumpiness or we can do our work with laughter and in so doing make the load lighter. We can face the storms of life with panic or we can dance in the rain.  We can have our doubts and magnify them with worry or we can have our doubts and rejoice that our God is in control.

Christian professor Robert Hotchkins says it well, “Christians ought to be celebrating constantly … because we have been liberated from the fear of life and the fear of death. We ought to attract people to the church quite literally by the fun there is in being a Christian.”

We live in a world full of unfairness, trouble, mistakes; hurts, losses and grief. We might say that it is a Good Friday world,  a world of anxiety, depression and doubt.

But we are Easter People.

Even as the long dark nights come, even as the daily grind wears at us, even as the tugs and bumps of the problems of each day jostle us, we know that it is not our own strength which sustains us. It is not our own wisdom on which we depend. It is not by our own wits and resources that we survive.

I think, like Thomas, we all have doubts sometimes, about some things.  That’s okay.  God is big enough to handle every doubt any human being has ever had.  Thankfully, our doubts need not keep us from the path of faith. We keep walking anyway, one step at a time, one day at time.

In spite of any doubts we may have we can still say with confidence,

“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because he lives, and lives in a new way, I also can know a new way of life.

Because he lives, and lives in me, I can live today with grace and power; with praise and hope and even laughter – no matter what comes.”

We have Easter in our hearts.  We are Easter people.  Amen.

Song: Sing a new song (422)

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Lord of the Springtime we give you thanks for the signs of new life around us: for the geese and cranes migrating north in formation; for the swallows and chickadees nesting in the trees; for the brown fur on the neighbourhood hares and rabbits. We thank you for the blades of green forming in the lawns; for the plants we see in the garden shops and the plans we’re making for our own little patch of earth. We thank you for the sunlight and the increased hours we are getting each day and for the promise of warmer weather to come. We thank you for the new life we have in Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal life we have because he rose again.  Amen

Response: Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully since the beginning of the pandemic and we are committed to continuing the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission. For those in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelopes with you, simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service today.

Transition Music: Be still and know that I am God

Prayer for others and ourselves

God of miracles, we came to Easter through the long Lenten journey in which you  called us to examine our inner lives. On Easter Sunday, it was as though we were freed from our darkness to walk in the Light with you. But then, Easter and its celebrations so quickly slide into the past and we again are tempted to move back into our doubts and fears. Surprise us again, Lord, as Jesus surprised his disciple Thomas who feared and doubted. Remind us that the signs of Jesus’ resurrection are all around us.

God of compassion, we pray for the many places of brokenness in our world. We ask that all the earth experience your gift of new life and hope.

We remember this day those who suffer from illness or grief, Lord, help us to be a presence of comfort for them;

…for those who are lost and alone, alienated from family and friends, we ask that you empower us to reach out in compassion, offering the help that will lift them into new life with you;

…for all people anywhere who are in situations of danger, war, and strife, we pray that you would lay your peace upon them, that the weapons would be silenced and the laughter heard once again.

We pray for this congregation as they prepare for the arrival of a new minister; for The Presbyterian Church in Canada and those representing us in needy places around the world;  and for the Church in every place that your followers would bring healing, reconciliation and hope to their communities. May each of us recognize that we are called to hold open the door between your kingdom and the world you love. Where the church is strong, keep it humble. Where it is weak, build it up. Where it is need of reform, direct it.

We pray for those who have issues with the church. May they be open to your love and grace. May any pain that the church has caused them be healed. Stir up in us wisdom to know how to live in ways that create pathways to your kingdom instead of barriers.

…for our community and our nation, Lord, we ask that you give the leaders compassion and wisdom and a willingness to work together for the common good.

And for ourselves, we ask for an extra measure of faith so that as doubts arise, we may meet them with confidence, and emerge as strong witnesses to your love.

We are grateful that we can place all of this in your hands, knowing that you hear us and that you respond.  In Christ’s name, we offer this prayer. Amen.

Song:  Thine be the glory (258)

Sending out with God’s blessing

Friends, let us go forth from here as Easter people, alive in Jesus Christ, rejoicing in the resurrection, and ready to seek new opportunities to serve and share God’s love.  And may God’s love and power be upon us all as we do so. Amen

Response: Amen, we praise your name, O God (x2)

Sing Amen, Amen, we praise your name, O God!
Sing Amen! Amen, we praise your name, O God!
Sing Amen! Amen, amen. Amen, amen.
Amen, we praise your name, O God!

Music postlude

————————————————————————-

Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specified licenses with One Licence and CLC.

Lydia Calder retains the copyright (© 2022) on all original material presented by her. As far as Lydia Calder is aware, all of the material presented that has not been attributed to others is her own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Song Sheet for this service

His love endures forever For the life that’s been reborn His love endures forever.

Sing praise, sing praise; sing praise, sing praise

Forever God is faithful, forever God is strong. Forever God is with us, forever and ever; forever.

 From the rising to the setting sun his love endures forever, by the grace of God we will carry on, his love endures forever.

Sing praise, sing praise; sing praise, sing praise

 Forever God is faithful, forever God is strong. Forever God is with us, forever and ever; forever

 

Songwriter: Chris Tomlin © Universal Music Publishing Group. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Glory, glory hallelujah

Glory, glory hallelujah, Since I laid my burden down Glory, glory hallelujah Since I laid my burden down.

I feel better, so much better since I laid my burden down. I feel better, so much better since I laid my burden down

Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, help me lay my burden down. Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, help me lay my burden down.

African American spiritual, public domain

 Jesus loves me

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong; they are weak, but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me…x 3; The Bible tells me so.

Words: Anna Bartlett © Mrs. Cherie MGuire; Music: William Bradbury public domain. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

 Jesus, stand among us              vrs 1,2

Jesus, stand among us  in your risen power;
let this time of worship be a hallowed hour.

Breathe the Holy Spirit into every heart;
bid the fears and sorrows from each soul depart.

Words: William Pennefather. Music: Friedrich Filitz. Both public domain

Behold the lamb of God

Behold the lamb of God, behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin, the sin of the world.

Words: public domain. Music: Iona Community (Scotland) © WGRG the Iona Community, 1988. G I A Publications. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Sing a new song unto the Lord

Sing a new song unto the Lord; Let your song be sung from mountains high. Sing a new song unto the Lord, Singing alleluia.

For God’s people dance for joy. Oh come before the Lord. play for the Lord on glad tambourines, And let your trumpet sound.

Rise, O children, from your sleep; Your Savior now has come. He has turned your sorrow to joy, And filled your soul with song.

Glad my soul for I have seen The glory of the Lord. The trumpet sounds; the dead shall be raised. I know my Savior lives.

Words and music: Dan Schutte; © 1979, New Dawn Music
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;, praise him all creatures here below; praise him above, ye heavenly host; praise Father Son and Holy Ghost

 Words: Thomas Ken; Music Genevan Psalter1551;last line, Ravenscroft’s Psalter 1621; both public domain.

Thine be the glory

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son, endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won; angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away, kept the folded grave-clothes where thy body lay.

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son, endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb; lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom; let the Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing, for her Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting.

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son, endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won.

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life; life is nought without thee: aid us in our strife; make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love: bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son, endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won.

Words: French, Edmond Budry; translation, R. © World Student Christian Federation from Cantate Domino. Birch Hoyle. Music George Handel © public domain. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Sing Amen

Sing Amen, Amen, we praise your name, O God!
Sing Amen! Amen, we praise your name, O God!
Sing Amen! Amen, amen. Amen, amen.
Amen, we praise your name, O God!
X2

Words: Xhosa,S.C.Molefe © Lamko Institute,1991. Music: S.C.Molefe © Lamko Institute,1991. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

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