Easter is one of the main celebrations in the church all over the world. We remember the death and resurrection of Jesus and we celebrate his love for each one of us, a love that is stronger than death, sin, hatred or evil. Even when life is difficult for us, Jesus promises us new life. You are invited to explore this promise during our online celebrations this Easter.
You can join in with our Good Friday Service (click link for service booklet) on YouTube (click link for St Paul’s YouTube channel) from 2pm on Friday. Our Easter Sunday Service (click link for service booklet) will be available on YouTube (click link for St Paul’s YouTube channel) from 10.30am on Sunday morning. From 9.30am, there will also be an Easter Breakfast with a virtual Easter egg hunt via Zoom. Please email Henriette Howarth (email@example.com) if you would like the link for this.
The St Paul’s Junior Choir have been holding virtual weekly rehearsals and have recorded ‘When I think about the Cross’, which will feature in our Good Friday Service. For a sneak preview, click here!
Easter Blessings from everyone at St Paul’s to you all.
An Easter Poem by Helen Steiner Rice
God, give us eyes to see
the beauty of the Spring,
And to behold Your majesty
in every living thing –
And may we see in lacy leaves
and every budding flower
The hand that rules the universe
with gentleness and power –
And may this Easter grandeur
that Spring lavishly imparts
Awaken faded flowers of faith
lying dormant in our hearts,
And give us ears to hear, dear God,
the Springtime song of birds
With messages more meaningful
than man’s often empty words
Telling harried human beings
who are lost in dark despair –
‘Be like us and do not worry
for God has you in His care.
A Reflection by Henriette Howarth
This year, Good Friday and Easter are very different from previous years for obvious reasons. As a church we won’t have our hot cross buns together and our Good Friday walk through Shipley with other local churches and we won’t have our Easter egg hunt in the church garden or Easter hugs with other members of the congregation. None of us will have family visits or holidays abroad or even within the UK.
What is, however, the same as every year, is that we remember Jesus’ death on Good Friday and celebrate new life on Easter Sunday. Our experiences of the Coronavirus crisis will colour how we understand the death of Jesus and his risen life this year. For many, it will hopefully gain deeper meaning and I hope that you will find opportunities to share this with others.
This year, everyone in the whole world will have been touched by suffering to various degrees and will have experienced some sense of isolation and loneliness: not being able to cuddle your grandchildren, lying in a hospital bed on your own, being separated from friends, living your life behind locked doors, not being able to go to church, leaving your family at home while you go on a night shift. The adverse effects of the present crisis hit the poor and marginalised, for example in prisons and refugee camps, harder than the global rich and wealthy.
Well known words which Jesus cried out on the cross are: ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’ These words give expression to Jesus’ own profound experience of loneliness and isolation while he was on the cross. We know that he was not alone on the cross. God was with him throughout and rose him from the dead. A small group of women and John, the disciple, stood at the foot of the cross, crying with him. Jesus’ experience however was one of loneliness and isolation. In the same breath, however, he also found the strength to cry out other phrases like: ‘Father forgive them!’ and ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit.’ He felt alone but knew he was not alone.
Another biblical image is that of a seed dying in the ground so that it can grow and bear fruit. This is such a good image for Good Friday and Easter. There is death, but it is not in vain. Good comes out of it. There is suffering and isolation, but it doesn’t end there. Resurrection, life and growth will happen. We know this because Jesus shows this to us. He died but rose again. May this be a great comfort to us this Easter and may we find little joyful Easters in our own lives this year. May you, like Mary Magdalene, encounter Jesus in the garden and hear him call your name.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours.
Now and for ever. Amen.