ROCKBURN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
April 17, 2022.
Worship Leader: Debra Armein
Clerk of Session: Shirley McNaughton
Board of Managers: Robert Waller
Treasurers: Sophie & Christine Caza
Worship Coordinator/Bulletins: Elizabeth Waller 450-827-2668
Rockburn Presbyterian Website: Marcelle Chabot www.rockburnpresbyterian.org
PROCESSIONAL: “Thy Word”
CALL TO WORSHIP
Come, let us worship and bow down
Let us kneel before the Lord, our God and Maker
Come let us worship and bow down
For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture,
The flock under His care, the sheep of his hand,
OPENING Debra Armein
OPENING PRAYER & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Easter Proclamation - Lighting of Candles
The light which the world tried to extinguish cannot be put out. Today we light the candles again, proclaiming the transforming power of God. As the light returns, we give thanks that God’s transforming love has been, is now, and will ever be at work within us. Today we celebrate: new life, new joy, new possibilities. Christ is alive and living among us!
As we light the candles, we acknowledge that there is still pain and suffering in the world, but we place our trust in God and in the way shown by Jesus Christ. In the midst of darkness, there is light. In the pain of death, there is life. In the face of what appear to us to be overwhelming odds, God is at work in us and in the world, working for justice and peace, compassion and love, and life abundant.
All: Christ is risen; Christ is risen in us, for wherever we gather
in his name, he is there.
(All candles are re-lit.)
All: Alleluia, Christ is risen; Christ is risen indeed!
HYMN: #260 Allelujah, give thanks to the Risen Lord
ANNOUNCEMENTS, BIRTHDAYS & ANNIVERSARIES OFFERING:
To follow Co-vid protocol we have placed a collection box at the entrance.... if you wish to give. Thank you.
HYMN: #366 Jesus Joy of Loving Hearts
SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 24:1-7, 13-49
New International Version
Jesus Has Risen
24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
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. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
MEDITATION: “Why is Easter Important?”
EASTER, A NEW BEGINNING
Every year Christians celebrate Easter. This is done in many different ways around the world where Christians gather, and is associated with many different customs. IN Switzerland, we had the egg fight; in Slovakia where our daughter lives, the women bring a basket of foods and household items, covered with beautifully embroidered cloths, to the church and the priest blesses them, in Guatemala, long carpets mosaics of flowers are created in the streets for the religious processions on Good Friday. In Greece eggs arse dyed red, and baked into braided loaves of bread. IN Ukraine, the colourful tradition of egg decorating is taken to the highest level. Though some customs come from murky pagan past, or local life conditions, basically all Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
We begin the Easter celebration with the observance of Lent, which is a symbolic journey to the Cross. It is a time of reflection on the old, and anticipation of the new.
New life, a new beginning.
New beginnings are not easy. they don't just happen.
They come at the end of the old story, usually after times of difficulty and struggle.
Even springtime, the new beginning of nature, the renewal, the time of new growth and abundance, doesn't just happen overnight when the calendar says its the spring equinox. We have days of sunshine and warm temperatures, then suddenly snow and ice, then the flowers begin to grow only to be covered again by a drift of snow.
My daughter Sarah texted me one day last week, saying in her garden the tulips were already 6inches high, but it was supposed to freeze that night. Would the flowers be okay, or should she cover them to protect them from the cold?
I told her unless the weather is extreme, the tulips will just wait, then continue after the cold snap. New beginnings are not always straightforward.
Turning the page in a book, opening a new chapter, is preceded by an ending, by a closing of a theme or activity. We have to turn that page to find out what happens.
Political changes come with a time of unrest, upheaval and struggle. The new regime begins on the ashes of the old.
Creating new programs in business, restructuring, usually requires the removal of the old guard, firing or retiring those who built up the business, and installing new leaders with a new vision. The old can either graciously step aside, embrace the new, become part of the new vision, or be filled with resentment and anger ast their perceived loss. New beginnings are not easy.
Religious renewal comes when there is a new vision, a new interpretation of truth, bringing into the picture new voices with a new message. A rejection of the old, or perhaps a correction of the old. The former religious leaders become outdated and are removed. they don't usually go without a struggle and not without dissent. The old chapter ends in conflict and upheaval, often splitting churches.
The Easter celebration marks change, renewal, a new vision, a breakthrough.
In our modern post-Christian society someone looking at it from outside would say Easter is a time when people consume a lot of chocolate in the shape of bunnies, and have a few extra days off work or school. Well, most of us like chocolate, and have nothing against bunnies per se, and who doesn't appreciate a few days off work?
We have a great time celebrating Christmas, with all the decorations and lights and presents, but why is Easter so important?
Easter represents the most Holy day in the church calendar, traditionally acknowledged with special celebrations. The house cleaned of every speck of dust, new clothes made, the finest linen tablecloths and dishes laid out for special feasts. The churches are cleaned the bells are ringing.
When I was young, we had a completely new outfit for Easter Sunday. My mom sewed most of our clothes, so my sister and I had new dresses, new coats, new shoes, socks and even gloves, hats and little purses. My brothers had new shirts and pants, and little vests and bow-ties, and new haircuts, slicked down neatly. We were decked out for Easter.
To fully understand the importance of Easter, its necessary to look at biblical history.
In the beginning, God created the world, the universe and everything in it. Mankind lived in community with God, walked and talked with Him in their special place, the Garden. Then one day, mankind switched allegiance to the enemy of God, one whose purpose was not to nurture and love creation, but to destroy and separate it, all of it, including humans, from God, in order to usurp God's position as God. There's the good, and the evil.
From that moment on, a barrier was erected between God and Mankind. Times of struggle and darkness ensued. We see the results of this one act all around us. A horrific war, among many wars, a shooting in the subway in New York, disease and death all around. I don't need to elaborate.
So God undertook to create a new beginning. Notice I said He "undertook". He didn't just snap His Holy fingers and say, out with the old, let's do a new thing". Because something created cannot be uncreated.
He carefully selected and prepared especially chosen people, individuals and groups, who were obedient to Him, and who pledged to stay obedient, to begin to lay the foundation of the new beginning. The whole Old Testament is all about this. This is the whole point of the old Testament. To tell this story. It's the historical archives of life up to the coming of Jesus.
So we have the story of Abraham, of Moses, of David, and of Mary, and finally Jesus was born. The whole thing, the whole history, the whole story, is about the arrival of Jesus.
Because He was both Man, and God. Jesus led a pure life, always in communion with God the Father, and obedient to Him. But that wasn't enough. Jesus isn't just a good man, a wise teacher, a saint whose sayings are good to follow. Jesus is God as Man.
And in order for a new beginning, there had to be an ending, a struggle, difficulty, death.
Jesus literally had to die. And die He did, unjustly, a tragic horrible death by crucifixion. Even the local pagans thought the punishment was unjust, that Jesus was undeserving. And the manner of death, crucifixion! so terrible.
The Bible tells us after his death, he descended into Hell, where the enemy of God started gloating that he had won the battle for the souls of the world.
But wait! Jesus is God. He is perfect. So Satan had no grounds whatsoever to keep him there. None at all.
So after 3 days, Jesus said "Goodbye, I am out of here now. You lost"
Jesus returned, in his physical body, and walked and talked with people around Jerusalem. People around town were already saying, "oh He was a prophet, a good man, a wise teacher, its too bad he's gone" totally forgetting what He said about Who he was a why he came.
The Bible passage we read earlier from Luke 24 said it very clearly.
The angels who were guarding the tomb, and whom the women saw, said "Why are you looking for Him here, Remember how He told you, He had to be crucified and then rise again on the 3rd day?" "In other words, "didn't you get it??!!"
I always found it tragic that the Jews were persecuted for, among so many other things, for having crucified Jesus. Called names, hounded out of their homes, killed and tortured, by so-called Christians, who didn't understand how lucky they are that Jesus died.
Because in that moment, Jesus abolished the separation from God that humans had suffered for those centuries since Adam and Eve in the garden. Mankind had been captive, prisoners of Satan. The bible tells us that Jesus "led Captivity captive".
With the act of dying, waiting those 3 days, and returning to life, Jesus literally created that new beginning.
The Jewish religious elite could not accept this. Here's a perfect example of the old establishment clinging to what they wanted to believe, and they actually the ones who knew the prophesies written in the old testament about the Messiah. and Jesus pointing out on multiple occasions that He himself was the fulfillment of those prophesies. But they were not willing to embrace the new, they were afraid of a new beginning.
At the very moment Jesus died, the curtain in the temple in Jerusalem was ripped from top to bottom. It is a passage that is just there in the narrative of the crucifixion, not always given much notice.
There was an earthquake, rocks spilt, in the cemeteries, graves opened up and people were raised up again!! The sun stopped shining for 3 whole hours. It was dark. Everything stopped. Imagine! That is momentous. And the curtain was ripped, not from bottom to top, like it would be if someone grabbed it while standing below it. But from top to bottom. That curtain as described in Exodus was extremely thick and sturdy, especially woven under exact instructions placed to separate the Holiest inner part of the temple from the outer area. It was very high, about 60 feet. And the thickness was about a hand-width, so 4 inches thick.
When Jesus died on the cross, that curtain, that heavy woven curtain, 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 4 inches thick. was ripped from top to bottom. Ripped!
Hebrews 10:19-20 tells us that now the curtain is ripped away, we are no longer kept out of the presence of God, but are allowed once again into the garden where we can walk and talk with the heavenly Father. We have been set free. He gave us free access to God. Interesting to note that the religious leaders in their expensive robes and big bank accounts, were so worried about anything changing, they ordered guards to be set at the tomb, just in case any of the wacko followers of Jesus tried to open it and take out His body, and then tell everyone he had risen from the dead like he prophesied he would. They were in for a huge shock when the guards, who faithfully remained on guard, finally opened the tomb to find nothing but folded clothes. There was no back door either.
Jesus literally created a door, an opening, a way, to once again have spiritual union with God the Father, the creator. He ripped the curtain that separated us from the holiest place, communion with God. A new beginning. A new Adam. He once again joined the physical world of creation to the spiritual world of Heaven, like it was in the garden.
What did Jesus say about himself? I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT BY ME. He was quite emphatic about it.
Now that there is a portal, a way, God is able to give us His good gifts. When Jesus returned to Heaven after His work was done, He gave us His Holy Spirit. He said "I don't leave you alone, I am going but I am sending you my spirit who will be with you always". The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
So Easter IS the most important event, where Jesus died, but did not stay dead, but rather, He conquered the enemy so we could have a new beginning.
When we move through that torn curtain, from the outside to the most Holy place, when we turn the page from the old chapter to the new, when we walk away from the struggle, and say, "thank you Jesus, I believe, please take me to be yours"- then we have access to a God who is loving, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and true. We can do it only through the sacrifice of Jesus, who himself by his sacrifice is the Way.
Our lives are new, its a new beginning, where we experience true freedom, true peace, true joy, as God's most dearly loved children.
To be there, to live in that most holy place, which is relationship with God through Jesus, that is the reason for Easter.
Hallelujah and Amen
CLOSING HYMN: #461 Be Thou My Vision
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN
Announcements: Happy Easter!!!
Thank you Debra and our music team for leading us in worship today!
Update on Rockburn Pulpit Supply
April 24-Kevin Harvey
May 1- Nancy & Randy Campbell
May 8-Mother’s Day Gail MacGregor
May 15- Kevin Harvey
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