Worship for Sunday 14th April 2024, by Rev. Catharine Hughes

When flowers bloom in the desert,

Christ is risen.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

When enemies sit around tables and talk about peace,

Christ is risen.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

When people stand up for what is right in the face of great evil,

Christ is risen.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

When, despite hardship and struggle, people sing and dance,

Christ is risen.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

When prison bars are shattered by the cry of ‘Freedom!’

Christ is risen.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

When in our wounded and broken world,

life triumphs over death,

peace over war,

hope over fear,

freedom over captivity,

love over hate,

Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed.

Alleluia, Alleluia!


Hymn: STF 314 – This joyful Eastertide

This joyful Eastertide, what need is there for grieving?

Cast all your cares aide and be not unbelieving.

Come, share our Easter joy that death could not imprison,

nor any power destroy, our Christ, who is arisen!


No work for him is vain, nor faith in him mistaken,

for Easter makes it plain his kingdom is not shaken:


Then put your trust in Christ, in waking and in sleeping.

His grace on earth sufficed; he’ll never quit his keeping:

Fred Pratt Green (1903-2000)


A prayer of praise

Lord, you have always been our host.
When you first came from heaven to the world we call ours,
shepherds and kings were your guests.
When you accepted hospitality in the homes of others,
you turned the tables and became the host,
feeding hearts and souls through your teaching.
When you came to the disciples, newly risen,
you took charge and saw to their needs of mind and body.
We praise you, Jesus, ground of our being,
ground of our believing,
for standing among us in your risen power,
host to the world that is yours – not ours.

Confession and Absolution

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
But Jesus came to take away our sins. And in him is no sin.
Let us turn to God that our sins may be wiped out.

We confess that when distress comes knocking at our door,
all that we have learned and should know goes flying out of the window.
Our minds in disarray, we fail to turn to trusted sources of help.
Forgive us for forgetting how to seek you.
Let us turn to God that our sins may be wiped out.

We forget your sustaining Word in Scripture:
Let us turn to God that our sins may be wiped out.

We forget your presence when we turn to you in prayer:
Let us turn to God that our sins may be wiped out.

We forget the calm that is to be found when we seek you in community:
Let us turn to God that our sins may be wiped out.

We are sorry for turning in on ourselves,
our minds going round in circles.
Let us turn to God that our sins may be wiped out.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be forgiven through Jesus Christ.
May repentance and forgiveness of sins
be proclaimed in his name to all nations,
and may that begin with me.


Bible readings

Acts 3:12-19 (NIVUK)

(These verses follow on from the story of Peter and John healing the crippled beggar at the temple gates. The crowd ran to the disciples in astonishment.)

12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: ‘Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

17 ‘Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

Luke 24:36-48 (NIVUK)

Watch/listen to this here: 

 Jesus appears to the disciples

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, ‘This is what is written: the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.48 You are witnesses of these things.

Hymn: STF 317 – At the name of Jesus

At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,

Every tongue confess him King of Glory now.

‘Tis the Father’s pleasure we should call him Lord,

Who from the beginning was the mighty Word.


Humbled for a season, to receive a name

From the lips of sinners unto whom he came,

Faithfully he bore it spotless to the last,

Brought it back victorious when from death he passed.


Bore it up triumphant with its human light,

Through all ranks of creatures to the central height,

To the throne of Godhead, to the Father’s breast;

Followed it with the glory of that perfect rest.


In your hearts enthrone him; there let him subdue

All that is not holy, all that is not true;

Crown him as your captain in temptation’s hour:

Let his will enfold you in its light and power.


For this same Lord Jesus shall return again,

With his Father’s glory, with his angel train;

All the wreaths of empire meet upon his brow,

And our hearts confess him King of Glory now.

Caroline Maria Noel (1817-1877)



I have an Easter tree. I drape it with lights, then hang decorated eggs on the branches – much like a Christmas tree with baubles. Unlike at Christmas, the days are noticeably lengthening, and the effect of the fairy lights is dim until late evening (I haven’t quite gone to bed before they shine out, but it has been tempting on occasion!) At Christmas I know there are twelve days and then on 6 January the tree is down for another year. But for my Easter tree? Well, the season of Easter lasts until Pentecost – a full 50 days. 

Does it already seem a long time since Easter? The world has moved on, back to the 24/7 news of war, violence, climate crisis, political shenanigans. We have gone back to the daily grind and household chores. I question whether I should keep my tree up, or pack it away like the empty chocolate egg boxes. Just two weeks on from our glorious celebrations and the message of Easter is seemingly forgotten.

But we are disciples of Christ, and like those first disciples we have amazing news to share. Christ is alive! Both our readings for today are written by Luke and share key aspects of our faith through the Easter story, taking us from joy, through sorrow, to hope: revelation, repentance and refreshing.

Revelation: The living, resurrected Jesus was revealed to the disciples. They saw him, they knew it was him. The touched him, they fed him. This was their friend, their Master, and he was physically returned to their presence. Peter declares in Acts 3.15 ‘We are witnesses of this.’ The revelation of the living Christ is our proof that sin is conquered and we have a restored relationship with God.

Repentance: The power of Jesus’ resurrection requires the cross, because it is our sin that has been put to death there. The message is the same as it was in Jesus’ words at the beginning of Mark’s gospel: ‘Repent and believe the good news! The kingdom of God is near!’ (Mark 1.15) Repent simply means to turn away from sin and towards God. In Luke’s gospel Jesus tells the disciples to preach repentance in his name… and that’s exactly what we find Peter doing in the book of Acts! It is what followers of Christ are called to do throughout the generations: repent, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out. (Acts 3.19a)

Refreshing: With repentance comes a fresh start. Jesus has wiped out our sins: we are free to stand in the presence of God. Refreshing comes from the Lord, like water falling from a shower, or a cool breeze when stepping from a stuffy room, or a cup of tea to start the day. It is a moment of cleanliness, when everything else can be put in the past and a new start begins. 

The Easter story leads us from joy at the revealed Christ, through the sorrow of repentance to the refreshing hope of new life. It is not just for the disciples, or the first believers, or those who happened to be there two thousand years ago: it is the core of our faith, truths for all of us, in each and every generation since. It is why I will not hurry to put away the Easter tree, for the story of Easter is the glory of our faith and to be celebrated again and again and again. Christ is risen: Alleluia!

Take time out… 

Open your hands to welcome God in. Pause between each sentence below.

Glory in the resurrected Christ, as revealed to you. 

Turn back to God: repent of your sins and feel his love and forgiveness fill your heart.

Give thanks, in confident hope, for the refreshing Spirit washing over you, and coming to revive our city, church and nation.

Hymn: STF 338 – There is a Redeemer

There is a Redeemer,

Jesus, God’s own Son,

Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,

Holy One.

Thank you, O my Father,

For giving us your Son,

And leaving your Spirit

Till the work on earth is done.


Jesus my Redeemer,

Name above all names,

Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,

O for sinners slain.


When I stand in glory

I will see his face,

And there I’ll serve my King for ever

In that holy place.

vv1-2 Melody Green (b1946); v3 Keith Green (1953-1982)

Prayers of intercession

Lord God who has called us to faith, 
in faith we pray for the needs of others.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

We pray for countries at war with other countries and within themselves, for their people who fear for their lives and stability, for those made homeless and jobless and offered nothing but an uncertain future. For those countries where violence comes all too easily to the fore and where it is hard to grasp the real reason behind it. Remembering countries at war where their people are damaged, isolated, abused: for Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Russia, South Sudan, Myanmar, and disputes that no longer make our news.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

We pray for those of faith and those of no faith, for those with purpose and those with no purpose in life. For Christians trying to work out the best way to live out their lives, true to their faith, to the Gospel, to their calling. For those who have a clear direction, and those who flounder with uncertainty. For those whose mental health causes them pain, anguish, confusion and loneliness, for those who feel abandoned, unwanted, unloved and un-helped.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

We pray for those whose bodies are ravaged by pain and illness, physically and mentally. For those fearful of treatment and those waiting for treatment. For all who grieve for the loss of loved ones, family or friends, near or far away.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

For ourselves we pray that our ears may be used to hear the cries of the needy, that our eyes be used to see the needs around us, that our voices be used to speak up for the marginalised and the poor, that our hands be used to reach out in comfort and that our lives be used to improve the lives of others.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray. Amen.

Hymn: Happy Day (Tim Hughes)

The greatest day in history
Death is beaten, You have rescued me
Sing it out, Jesus is alive

The empty cross, the empty grave
Life eternal, You have won the day
Shout it out, Jesus is alive
He’s alive

Oh, happy day, happy day
You washed my sin away
Oh, happy day, happy day
I’ll never be the same
Forever I am changed

When I stand in that place
Free at last, meeting face to face
I am yours, Jesus, You are mine

Endless joy, perfect peace
Earthly pain finally will cease
Celebrate, Jesus is alive
He’s alive

Oh, what a glorious day
What a glorious way
That You have saved me
And oh, what a glorious day
What a glorious name


Oh no, forever I am changed
What a glorious, glorious day
I’ll never be the same.

Ben Cantalon/Tim Hughes



May the glory of God fill your heart,

the joy of the risen Christ fill your soul,

and the breath of the Spirit fill your lives.

Go as witnesses of these things you have heard
and tell the waiting world.


Opening responses: ‘When flowers bloom’ by Liz Delafield, from Summer by Ruth Burgess (ed) © 2020, Wild Goose Publications

Prayers of praise, confession and intercession adapted from Roots on the Web (rootstheweb.com)

Prayer of confession and absolution adapted from Reflectionary (https://reflectionary.org)