Grace and peace to us all from our Lord Jesus Christ – He is risen, He is risen indeed!
Let’s prepare our hearts and minds for worship, please listen to the piece of music below:
Let us pray:
The streets are empty, our church is empty, your grave is empty – where are you Lord? Can you still hear us? I know, we all know what you said: ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name….’, but these days three is one too many, this Easter we’re not allowed to gather together in one place. Things have been difficult lately. In the past few weeks our hope has died, our dreams have faded, our vision of the future has been shattered. Sometimes we can’t even find words to pray anymore, but if you can see us, Lord, just look: we are here – in front of our computers, laptops, ipads and phones – we are hurting and longing, waiting and searching for hope, hungry to believe that you have never really gone away.
We want to believe Mary Magdalene’s testimony, that the tomb is empty, that the Gardener is alive and well, busy planting new life for everyone, for each and every one of us.
Where hopes have been dashed, dear Lord,
may hope flower again.
Where dreams have been broken,
may hope flower again.
Where faith has died,
may hope flower again.
Bless the seeds of grace sown in our hearts, thoughts and memories,
so that your hope may flower again.
Old Testament reading: Jeremiah 31,1-6 (MSG)
“And when that happens it will be plain as the sun at high noon: I’ll be the God of every man, woman, and child in Israel and they shall be my very own people.
This is the way God put it:
“They found grace out in the desert, these people who survived the killing. Israel, out looking for a place to rest, met God out looking for them!” God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!
And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again, dear virgin Israel.
You’ll resume your singing, grabbing tambourines and joining the dance.
You’ll go back to your old work of planting vineyards on the Samaritan hillsides,
You will sit back and enjoy the fruit – oh, how you’ll enjoy those harvests!
The time is coming when watchmen will call out from the hilltops of Ephraim:
‘On your feet! Let’s go to Zion, go to meet our God!’”
Gospel reading: John 20, 1-18 (NIV)
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 towards 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 round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ 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.
This is the Word of God. Amen
A hymn to join in with: ‘Now the green blade riseth’
Holy God, break your Word as bread among us for the feeding of our souls, may the words of our lips and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight.
A hymn to join in with: ‘Christ the Lord is risen today, alleluia’
‘In these days of social distancing and self-isolation, many Methodists feel the lack of being able to share together at the Lord’s Table. Our Roman Catholic friends as well as other Christians have a tradition of “Spiritual Communion” as a means of grace for those times when they are not able physically to receive this sacrament. In the unprecedented circumstances in which we find ourselves today, it may be that this is a tradition in which Methodists too may experience God’s grace. Spiritual Communion is a practice where we entrust ourselves to God in prayer, pledging ourselves to God once more as disciples and praying that God might give us spiritually the same grace we share when we physically receive Holy Communion.’
Prepare a prayerful space. You might find it helpful to place a cross or candle there or to have an icon, image or symbol. You might like to place your open Bible in front of you.
Spend some time in reflection on the past days/weeks and on people who are on your mind: What are you thankful for?
Where in your lives do you seek or need God’s forgiveness?
What can you leave to God?
Pray the following prayer:
Jesus, bearer of my sins, have mercy on me.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on me.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, grant me your peace.
Read the following passage from Scripture: Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ John 6,35
then say the words:
Lord, I am not worthy so much as to gather crumbs under your table, but just say one word and I shall be healed.
Lord, I believe that you are present when members of your Church gather together to celebrate Holy Communion. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen
Moment of silence
Lord, bless us with the graces of Spiritual Communion with you, as we long for the day when we can be together around your table and receive you in bread and wine. “May your mercy, LORD, be upon us, as we put our hope in you.” (Psalm 33,22)
A hymn to join in with: ‘There’s a light upon the mountains’
Let us pray:
Loving, risen Lord, our Saviour and Friend,
You understand the pain of loss, the heartache of bereavement,
May we hold in our hearts all those whose families or friends have died.
You are a light that shines in the darkest times,
Guide us and heal us in our sickness and sorrow.
You comfort us in times of fear,
May we comfort each other, even as we keep apart.
You console and lead us in times of doubt and confusion,
May we follow the light of your love and spread hope.
You move our hearts to acts of generosity,
May we be led to share what we have with those in need.
God of life, we thank you for the signs of your light in the midst of our darkness,
May we be signs of your compassion in the heart of your world.
And now apart, but together in Spirit let us say the Lord’s prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
A hymn to join in with: ‘Lord of the dance’
May the glory of our Saviour rise upon you,
may his divine light shine through in all you do.
May the risen Lord bless you and keep you,
may He make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you,
may the Lord turn his radiant face towards you and give you peace.
Go in peace, go in joy, go in hope to love and serve the Lord. Amen.