Virtual Church – Pier Service – April 11, 2020

8:27 pm

April 11, 2020

Virtual Church

Welcome to our virtual Pier Service!

Tonight’s service will be offered in 2 formats – a video and text. If you wish, you can download and print the service from this document – link – or you can read the complete service below.

In the early light of Easter morn, Christians all over the world gather to follow in the steps of those who were first to discover Christ is risen. At Walton, we share in this tradition through our Easter Pier Service. While physical distancing prevents us from gathering this year, we invite you – as you are able – to find a time of silence or a quiet view of the lake and participate in this Easter morning reflection.

Approach to Worship

In the stillness of the dawning, before the day is much awake, in the time between sleep and hurry, we honour this sacred day. We affirm that God is with us now, stirring in our hearts and in our lives. As the day emerges out of dusk, we give thanks for the hope that survives a night of worry. As spring buds unfurl their beauty, we ask for patience to recognize your presence in our world. Let us approach the hesitant joy of our Easter morning and proclaim together, God is in this place.

Prayer

God of peace and healing. You meet us in the darkness and embrace us in our fear. Like the women in the garden on Easter morning, we find ourselves still wrapped in our pain from Friday; unable to see beyond all we have lost in the gloom of the early dawn. Ease our distress at our upside-down world, our sorrow for the daily blessings we may have taken for granted. Reassure us that out of darkness and grief you bring new life; that you are planting within us a new creation of endurance and hope. Comfort us now with your eternal promise: that the trials of this world will pass away, and in their place, we can affirm your triumphant love. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Easter proclamation

Praise the Lord! Christ is risen! Darkness has been vanquished, and the stone has been rolled away. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Christ has been raised from death to new life. Christ is risen. Hallelujah!

Scripture: Matthew 28:1-10

The Resurrection of Jesus After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Reflection: “Companionship in the midst of isolation”

Reading Matthew’s account of the resurrection of Jesus, I’m struck by the pervasive sense of fear that runs through the passage. It’s there from the outset of the reading: explicitly when Matthew relates that the guards faint from fear at the sight of the angel, as well as implicitly through the angel’s first words to the women: “Do not be afraid.” The sight of the empty tomb does not erase their fear either, and their fear is still present, when the women meet Jesus. Jesus must also reassure them, “Do not be afraid.”

Understandably, both the women and the soldiers were terrified by the world behaving in a way they did not expect nor understand. It’s a reaction I think we can especially relate to this year, surrounded as we are by fear; overwhelmed by circumstances we did not expect and do not fully understand. We might not be able to see our fears – fears for our health, security, companionship, community – but they grip our minds tightly, perhaps even more so because they are not visible. There are no walls that can keep these fears out.

And yet God’s message to us is one of courage: “Do not be afraid.” These simple words remind us that our God understands our fears; that God will meet us in our darkness and be with us there, bringing strength and reassurance and most of all, hope. The hope that is embodied by the Risen Christ greeting the women; God’s love victorious over human sin and despair.

Moreover, God’s message to us is one of courage and companionship. Because, beyond the sense of the fear, the dominant theme in Matthew’s account is the vivid presence of God in the world. From the stone rolling away, to the angel of the Lord, to the appearance of Jesus, God is involved and at work in the garden. There, God meets the women in their grief and sorrow and guides them forward; away from the memory of death and into new life.

In a time when we are required to keep ourselves isolated and alone, let us affirm the companionship of God in our hearts. There is the joy of Easter that we still proclaim: God’s victorious love, guiding us into new life, and reminding us that the trials of this world do not endure. There is the hope that comforts us through each unsettling day: the presence of God in our world and in our lives.

Read just a little further in Matthew’s Gospel, where his account finishes with a resurrection promise for us today: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Even then, in these strange times, we can celebrate nonetheless: Christ is risen, blessing us with the hope, joy and love that will not let us go. Thanks be to God.

Prayer

Merciful God, generous Christ, sustaining Spirit: be with us now as we celebrate your presence in our lives. As the creek nourishes your creation, drench us with your overflowing love. As the harbour gives shelter from the wind and the night, protect us in this turbulent world. As the lighthouse shines out, guiding the way, may your love be a beacon in our hearts. Amen.

Words of Setting Forth

We greet this new day and we affirm the dawning of hope. Welcome the light which stretches across the sky and invite God’s love to extend through our lives and into the world around us. Let God’s peace soothe and comfort us, and steady us for the day ahead. Through the power of the Risen Christ, we proclaim, this is the day that the Lord has given. Thanks be to God.

 
 
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