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Sermon and Liturgy For Easter Sunday - Year B
I Corinthians 15:1-11 and Mark 16:1-8
"What We Believe"


READING:  I Corinthians 15:1-11 and Mark 16:1-8
SERMON :  "What We Believe"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-ea01su 364881

   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
   Sources, if any, are as indicated in the text.

   Various prayer elements are taken and modified from those of
   John Maynard (maynard@sympac.com.au "Prayers and Litanies For
   Easter Sunday" as sent to the PRCL List, March 31 1999


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Psalm 118:14-24 - from the rear of the Sanctuary)
L  The Lord is my strength and my song,. 
P  The Lord has become my salvation.
L  There is a song of joy and victory in the tents of the righteous.
P  The right hand of the Lord has triumphed!  
   The right hand of the Lord is exalted!
L  Because of the Lord's victory I will not die.
P  Instead I will live and proclaim what God has done.
L  Open to me the gates of the Temple.
P  I will go in and give thanks to the Lord.
L  I will give thanks to the Lord, for he has answered me.
P  He has become my salvation.
L  The stone the builders rejected as worthless turned out to be 
   the most important of all.
P  The Lord has done this.  It is marvellous in our eyes.
L  This is the day of the Lord's victory.
P  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.


* PROCESSIONAL HYMN   "Jesus Christ is Risen Today"                - VU 155


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND PRAYER OF APPROACH
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  Let us Pray.......
P  Most gracious and loving God, 
   you who have swallowed up death with the resurrection of Christ Jesus, 
   bring about in us new life with him.
L  Pour your Holy Spirit upon us 
   and give us hearts and minds fitting for your praise.  
P  Grant to us your continual help.  
   Make us die every day to sin 
   so that we may live with him forever.
L  You give us the joy of celebrating our Lord's resurrection.  
   Give us also the joys of life in your service
   and bring us at last to the full joy of life eternal
   P  We ask these things in the name of your risen Son, 
   he who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
   one God, both now, and forevermore.  Amen


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
- Announcements
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


ST. ANDREW'S THIS WEEK


CHILDREN'S TIME: "Easter Eggs and Easter Victory"
Object:   Decorated Easter Eggs For Distribution
Theme:    New Life
Source:   Self

Today is the day of resurrection - the high point of our faith - the day we
celebrate every Sunday when we gather to worship and praise God.  

Easter has had many things associated with it over the years.   The Easter
Lily - which reminds of how new life comes each spring.  The rabbit which
reminds of the fertile abundance of the world that God has created.  And the 
Easter Egg - which reminds us that in the tomb where the dead body of Jesus
lay - lay also the promise of his being raised from the dead.   

An egg looks quite dead and lifeless.
But - given the warm love of the mother hen
it produces a new and wonderful life.

Today, thanks to Sandra Tetz - we have with us some Easter Eggs to share. 
They are decorated in a variety of ways - with lace - and with coloured paper
and materials.  They are meant, as all Easter Eggs are meant - to remind us 
of the resurrection of Christ Jesus our Lord.

I want each of you to take one now   and to then give what is left over to
those in our congregation who have lost someone special to them this year -
and who believe that those whom they have lost - have been raised with
Christ.  Especially let us remember Lena and Betty - and any others who might
raise their hands.....


THE LORD'S PRAYER


* HYMN: "This Is The Day"                                          - VU 412


A READING FROM I CORINTHIANS 15:1-11 
   (NIV)  Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to
   you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. {2} By
   this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to
   you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. {3} For what I received I
   passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins
   according to the Scriptures, {4} that he was buried, that he was raised
   on the third day according to the Scriptures, {5} and that he appeared to
   Peter, and then to the Twelve. {6} After that, he appeared to more than
   five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still
   living, though some have fallen asleep. {7} Then he appeared to James,
   then to all the apostles, {8} and last of all he appeared to me also, as
   to one abnormally born. {9} For I am the least of the apostles and do not
   even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of
   God. {10} But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was
   not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but
   the grace of God that was with me. {11} Whether, then, it was I or they,
   this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

L  This is the word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


ANTHEM


RESPONSIVE READING: The Song of The First Born (Colossians 1:15-20)
L  Christ is the image of the invisible God, 
   the first born over all Creation;
P  For in him all things were made, in heaven and on earth, 
   visible and invisible, 
   whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities,
L  All things were created through him and for him.
P  Christ is before all things and in him all things hold together.  
   He is the head of the body, the church.
L  He is the beginning, the first born from among the dead, 
   that in everything he might be pre-eminent.
P  In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 
   and through him to reconcile to himself all things, 
   whether things on earth or things in heaven,
   Making peace by the blood of his cross.

Gloria Patri Sung 


A READING FROM MARK 16:1-8 
   (NIV)  When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of
   James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus'
   body. {2} Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise,
   they were on their way to the tomb {3} and they asked each other, "Who
   will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" {4} But when they
   looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled
   away. {5} As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a
   white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. {6} "Don't
   be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was
   crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid
   him. {7} But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you
   into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'" {8} Trembling
   and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said
   nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


* HYMN:   "I Danced In The Morning"                                - VU 352


SERMON:  "What We Believe" 

   Let us Pray - Creator and maker of us all - bless the words of my lips
   and the meditations of our hearts - grow thou in us and show us your
   ways and inspire us to live by your truth.  Amen

We celebrate today the resurrection of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Think of it - what a day this day is!
          
Jesus 
- whom his friends, his family, and indeed all of Jerusalem, thought dead, 
was raised to life on this day some nineteen hundred and seventy years ago.

Not only was he raised to life - but he appeared to people.

He presented himself to Peter who denied him;
   to Thomas who doubted him;
   to Mary who wept for him;
He visited with his friends,
he supped with his disciples,
He talked with his followers.

The first Easter was an incredible day,
   one that started with disbelief,
   with fear and trembling and bewilderment beside the empty tomb,
and ended with astonishment, excitement and thanksgiving.

You know what strikes me about the resurrection day?

It is that despite all the disciples had seen Jesus do,
   from healing the sick to calming the storms,
and despite all the disciples had heard Jesus say
   about how he would be killed
   and on the third day be raised,
not one of them expected - after the cross was raised,
not one of them hoped - after he was laid in the grave,
to ever see Jesus again.

No one stood watch near the tomb,
No one waited to see if he would rise.

When Jesus died their hopes died, 
their convictions died, 
indeed their faith died 
and they huddled in the upper room where they had celebrated the Passover
hiding there in fear that the authorities would treat them 
just as they had treated Jesus.

What is striking about the first Easter day is that the resurrection is first
discovered - not by Peter upon whom the church is founded, but by two women
-- and that these women do not go the tomb to see if their Lord is risen, but
rather they go to finish the job of burying him.
   
No one expected the resurrection.  Despite what they had seen.  Despite what
they had heard.  Despite what they had experienced.

But, Praise God -- it did happen!
It happened because God made it happen.

And, praise God too, because not only did God make it happen,
God went on and raised the faith of the disciples, 
he brought to life again their dead convictions 
and restored the hopes that they had lost.

It is because of the resurrection that we are here today.

If it had not happened the disciples would never have gone on,
   they would never have had the courage,
   the audacity,
   the nerve,
   or the temerity 
to say another word about Jesus in public,
let alone to claim that He rose and is Lord of the living and the dead.
 
Hear again this morning the words of Paul - the words of one who experienced
   the presence of the risen Christ even as he travelled to Damascus to
   persecute and kill his followers.

   What I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ
   died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, and
   that he was raised on the third day - also according to the
   Scriptures.

   This is what we preach and this is what you believed!

Brother and Sisters in faith - The resurrection is the most important thing
that we believe in as Christians.

The resurrection is the centre of our faith,
it is the foundation of our Christian experience, 
and it is the goal towards which our lives move.

The resurrection is of first importance to us,
not because it is a nice ending to the story of Jesus,
but because it is the beginning of our story,
a story in which our faith can triumph over death
just as did the faith of Jesus.

As Christians we are urged over and over again to trust in and accept the
reality of the resurrection and to make it a part of our lives through faith
in the one who rose from the dead.

We are a people who are called to believe in the power and the love that it
shows -- to believe in the power and love of God to bring goodness out of
evil; life out of death; and hope out of despair.

And as Christians we are promised 
   that when we trust and believe in this way,
   that when we believe in the power and the love of God,
   a power and love that can raise the dead to life,
that our lives will be blest, and that we will be a blessing to others.

We are promised that what we believe will make a difference to us ---
And indeed it does....

Let me tell you a true story:

   In Russia a few years ago a railway worker accidentally locked himself
   in a refrigerator car.  Unable to escape or to attract attention, he
   resigned himself to his fate.  As he felt his body becoming numb he
   took a pencil out of his pocket and recorded the story of his
   approaching death.  He scribbled on the walls of the car:

   " I am becoming colder... still colder... I am slowly freezing... half
   asleep - these may be my last words.

   When the car was opened the man was found dead, but the temperature of
   the car was only about 56 degrees.  Officials found that the freezing
   mechanism was out of order and that there was plenty of fresh air
   available.  Although there was no physical reason that they could find
   for the man had died.  It was concluded that he had died because he
   had believed that he would die.

My friends, what you believe to be true affects you to the core of your
being, it shapes you and makes you what you are,
   - it either blesses you because it opens you up to the power of God,
   - or it afflicts you because it blinds you to what you could be and what
   God is trying to do for you.

Another story, this time a fable, that goes like this:

   Once upon a time a man found the egg of an eagle.  It had been
   abandoned for some reason by its mother, but as it was still warm the
   man took it and put it in the nest of one of his backyard chickens
   along with the other eggs that were there being brooded upon.

   After a period of time the eaglet was hatched, and along with the
   other chicks from his nest began to go about the backyard doing what
   the other chicks did.  He scratched the earth for worms and insects. 
   He looked for the corn that the man would throw into the yard.  He
   clucked and cackled as best as he could, and as he grew, he would,
   like the other chickens, thrash his wings and fly a few feet in the
   air.

   Years passed in this way and the eagle grew very old.  One day he saw
   a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky.  It glided
   majestically among the powerful wind currents, soaring and swooping,
   scarcely beating its long golden wings.

   The old eagle looked at it in awe and asked "what is that"

   "That is the eagle, the king of the birds", said one of his
   neighbours.  "He belongs to the sky and to the high places.  We belong
   to the earth, we are chickens."

   The old eagle knew this was true, and so it was he lived and died as
   a chicken, for that is what he believed he was.
   
Think my friends of what happened to the disciples after the first Easter
morning, after they finally accepted and believed in the resurrection that
Christ had told them about.

They came out of the upper room where they had huddled in fear, and they went
to the ends of the earth, and they created a mighty church despite the
efforts of Emperors and Princes to stamp it and them out of existence.

They went from being people afraid of dying, to being people who offered
their very lives to help others come to the faith, and hope, and joy that
they had.

Like Paul - and others who have since believed - they were transformed and
changed because of the resurrection and their conviction that it was for them
that it occurred.

The disciples were changed by their faith in the resurrection and in the God
who brought it about:
   they were given power to heal and to help others.
   power to conquer their own fear and despair
   and power to defeat the fear and despair that afflicts others.

This is what the resurrection is about, what our faith is about.

God can bring back to life that which has died,
   God can bring good out of evil,
   love out of hate,
   and hope out of despair.

This is what we believe;
and what we believe makes a difference.

Praise be to God our Father who raises the dead to life,
Praise be to Jesus the Son who shares his life with the faithful,
and Praise be to the Spirit who makes one with him.  Amen


AFFIRMATION OF FAITH - A NEW CREED   (VU 918 or inside cover)
L  We are not alone, we live in God's world.
P  We believe in God: who has created and is creating,
       who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, 
       to reconcile and make us new, 
       who works in us and others by the Spirit. 
   We trust in God.
   We are called to be the Church,
       to celebrate God's presence, 
       to live with respect in creation,
       to love and serve others, 
       to seek justice and resist evil, 
       to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, 
       our Judge and our Hope.
   In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. 
   We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

       
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE 
Lord Jesus, today we greet you, risen from the dead, victorious over sin and
death, over suffering and shame, over all evil and wrong.  Keep us mindful of
those who labour under these burdens this day and grant them your peace and
comfort.....  Lord hear our prayer....

Lord Jesus, we greet you, risen from the dead, overcoming by the power of
love, by patient trust and perseverance, by faith in God alone.  Grant that
all your people may have your heart and your mind among them and help them to
minister to one another and to your world in your name....  Lord hear our
prayer...

Lord Jesus, we greet you, risen from the dead, proving that nothing can
separate us from the love of God.  Grant that your most Holy Church and the
people of this congregation might show forth the fruit of reconciliation and
draw all people unto you and the peace you offer....  Lord, hear our
prayer...

Lord Jesus, we greet you, risen from the dead, our living hope, and our power
for each day.   We pray O God that you might grant hope and pour out your
power upon those we name before you now in the silence of our hearts...... 
Lord hear our prayer....

Lord Jesus, we greet you, risen from the dead, our saviour and our redeemer. 
 Bless we pray now:

- prayers of intercession as shared

Lord Jesus, we greet You, risen from the dead and we offer you our thanks and
our praise, our prayers and our worship, our devotion and our service, both
now and forever.   Amen.


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of
Dedication

   O God, we come with our offerings in response to your love.  With the
   new life in Christ, we give ourselves in service to you and to our
   brothers and sisters.  Receive the work we do and the gifts that we
   bring, that they and we may prove to be a blessing to you and to the
   world that Christ came to save.  We ask it in his name.  Amen


* PASSING OF THE PEACE


* HYMN:  "Hallelujah, Hallelujah,  Give Thanks"                    - VU 179


COMMUNION LITANY:
L: The peace of the Lord be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  Lift up your hearts.
P  We lift them up to the Lord.
L  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
P  It is right to give God thanks and praise.
    

THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYER
L  Loving and Compassionate God, Father, all powerful and ever-living, we do
   well always and everywhere to give you thanks and praise through Jesus
   Christ our Lord.   We praise you with great joy on this Easter day, when
   Christ rose in fulfilment of the promises you made through the law and the
   prophets.  He is the true Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.  By
   dying he destroyed our  death, by rising he restored our life.  And so
   with all creation, and with all the company of the redeemed, we magnify
   your glorious name, evermore praising thee, saying

P  Holy, holy, holy, Lord,
   God of power and might,
   Heaven and earth are full of your glory,
   Hosanna in the highest.
   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,
   Hosanna in the highest.

L  Lord, you are holy indeed.  You are gracious to all who turn to you and
   keep your promises to all who trust in you.   With grateful hearts we
   proclaim the mystery of our faith:

P  Christ has died.  Christ is Risen.  Christ will come again.

L  We remember, O Father, in accordance with his command, how Jesus on the
   night he was betrayed, took bread and gave you thanks and praise.  He
   broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take this, all of you,
   and eat.  This is my body which will be given up for you.".   When supper
   was ended he took the cup.  Again he gave you thanks and praise, and then
   gave the cup to his disciples and said:  "Take this, all of you and drink
   from it.  This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and
   everlasting covenant.  It will be shed for you and for all so that sins
   may be forgiven.  Do this in memory of me."

P  When we eat this bread and drink this cup 
   we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, 
   until you come in glory.

L  Worthy is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain, 
   to receive all power and wealth, wisdom and might, 
   honour and glory and praise.

P  Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free.  
   You are the Saviour of the world.

L  Loving God, send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts, that the bread we
   break may be for us communion in the body of Christ, and the cup of
   blessing which we bless may be for us communion in the blood of Christ;
   that being built up in love we may be strengthened in the unity of the
   faith and come to the fullness of the stature of Christ our Lord.  Amen


RECEIVING THE SACRAMENT  - The choir will take communion first and then sing
   "Eat This Bread" (VU-466)  as the entire congregation comes in a double
   line up the centre aisle communion in a double line, receive the elements,
   and then return to their seats by the side aisles.


Departing Prayer (in unison)
L  Let us pray
P  Heavenly Father, you have nourished us 
   with the body and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
   Fill us with your Spirit and make us one in peace and love.  
   Amen.


* DEPARTING HYMN:   "The Strife Is O'er"                           - VU 159


* COMMISSIONING (Unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth
   into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of
   Christ.


* BENEDICTION
Go in peace - love and care for one another in the name of Christ;
- and the blessing of the Ever-Present God be upon you, 
- the power of the Risen Christ be within you, 
- and the wisdom and gentleness of the Holy Spirit surround you and guide you
both now and forevermore...


* THREE FOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"            - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2000 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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