Witnesses to the Resurrection

A Witness to Risen Life

Just like the Lenten ‘Footsteps of Christ’, these meditations are offered to you to be used in the same way during our Eastertide celebrations. It is easy after a time of such richness over the Easter weekend to step back and take a breather, after all that is a reason the Sunday after Easter is commonly called Low Sunday, due to the fall in numbers attending. But this time of Eastertide bears continued witness to sightings, experiences and the presence of the Risen Lord, encompassing the three mysteries of the resurrection, the ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is a time of sheer grace, when God’s blessed Son appears to his disciples in his Risen Body. It is a time to remember our baptism and to confirm and be strengthened in our faith. To see Christ alive in ourselves and those around us, to turn away from our doubts, disbelief and transgressions and to see with the eyes of faith, Christ coming to us in love. I suggest we continue with the pattern of daily worship, but this time just once a day at 10am. There are fourteen meditations for us to pray through together, still separated by space, but united by time in prayer.

Opening Prayer of acclamation – let us pray-

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He has given us new life and hope!

He has raised Jesus from the dead!

God has claimed us as his own.

He has brought us out of darkness!

He has made us light to the world!

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

 

Tuesday, 28th April, 2020 10.00am.

1st Witness - Earthquake

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘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. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow’.       (Matt 28:2-3)

A stone had been rolled over the opening to the tomb, the tomb was sealed. A guard stood watch, Jesus was dead inside, it was over, or so the authorities thought. No matter the guard, love broke through, new life that could not be held back by this world; death had been defeated forever.

All. Thank you, Lord God, for your infinite power. A power so strong it can cause the earth to quake, and yet so gentle as to meet us all at our point of need. When our problems get too great or we think we are beyond forgiveness, help us draw on your infinite strength, meeting us in our weakness. Teach us how to roll away the stone of fear so as not to be afraid to ask for your help in both the everyday issues of life and the problems of the wider world, which can leave us feeling helpless.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia'

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

…………………………………………………………………………………….

Wednesday, 29th April, 2020 10.00am.

2nd. Witness – Empty Tomb

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body.’              (Luke 24; 2-3)

Jesus’ broken body was removed from the cross and was certified dead. His friends, broken in spirit, with love had wrapped his body in white linen cloths and carefully placed him in the darkness of a tomb. Now three days on, this dark tomb was to be the place of a new dawn, death was not the end. The rolled away stone opened up a new world, a world of hope.

We thank you, God, for the gift of life. We thank you when what seem to be insurmountable problems, difficulties, fears and anxieties become eased and solved through the gift of renewal and hope. And at times of despair may your light of love show us new purpose and trust in God’s ways.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

………………………………………………………………………………………

Thursday, 30th April, 2020 10.00am.

3rd. Witness – Vision of Angels

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘..the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.”’                                                                       (Matt 28: 5-6)

The women arrived with spices and ointments to finish off the traditions of the care of the dead, but they were stopped in their tracks. Bewildered at the sight of the messengers of God they are gifted with words of both comfort and guidance. The vision of angels prepares them for the new revelations to come.

For the unseen powers and actions of the Holy Spirit which keep us safe, God we thank you. For the many different ways you break into our lives Lord to speak to us, we thank you. For the times you lead us in the right paths, especially when we cannot feel your presence, we thank you.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alle

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

Friday, 1st May, 2020 10.00am.

4th Witness – Disciples at the tomb

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb.’                                    (John 20:4-6)

Two disciples, very different from one another in age and character, united in their quest for answers. Was what they were hearing regarding the empty tomb and the risen Christ really true? Could it be true? Full of bewilderment, possibly fear, but also a deep sense of hope, they run. Peter was bound to run, always the first to jump into action. Could the Lord whom he denied out of fear be alive? And John, the beloved disciple, though more hesitant in nature, ran too and got to the tomb first. Disciples very different in character, both called to witness to the truth.

We give thanks for the diversity of Christian people enabling us all to serve God in a multitude of ways, through the differences of Christian denominations, adding to the richness of worship, liturgy, prayer and traditions. We each have our own particular failings and weaknesses, our impetuosity or timidity or other imperfect nature, making our service to God imperfect. Despite this, Lord, give us the strength and desire always to run to you.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

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Tuesday, 5st May, 2020 10.00am.

5th. Witness – Mary Magdalene

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”.’ (John 20: 16,18)

Mary Magdalene alone, helpless. What would she do now that the person who had shown her the true meaning of love, who had restored her personhood, was no longer there? Then…behold can this be, love, restoration, love transformed beyond human imagining. Suddenly everything had changed, Mary became more than she could ever have imagined, Jesus called her to be the first to witness and the first to be sent to proclaim salvation to the world.

We give thanks for the gift of discernment, and for recognizing Jesus’ presence in the world and for the privilege of kneeling before you in adoration. We thank you for healing of body, mind and spirit, your light dispelling all darkness. Help us to let go of all that troubles us to your healing grace.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

                                                                                  We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

………………………………………………………………………………………..

Wednesday, 6th May, 2020 10.00am.

6th. Witness – Simon Peter

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘ “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”’ (Luke 24:34)

‘He appeared to Cephas.’                                                              (1 Cor. 15:5)

What had he done? He denied his Master! He had betrayed the trust Christ had placed in him. Oh the shame and sorrow Peter must have felt. How could he ever face anyone again? Yet herein wonder that he faced the Risen Christ, this was more than he deserved, but there was more. Not only did Christ come to him, but also deep within he knew he was forgiven and loved. Never again would Peter deny the trust placed in him.

We give thanks for the gift of the confession of sins and for the assurance through true repentance, of pardon and forgiveness. Through this act of restorative love may we fully experience the joy of the Resurrection? Never let us place the need to be well thought of by others before a right relationship with God.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

…………………………………………………………………………………..

Thursday, 7th May, 2020 10.00am.

7th. Witness – Closed Room

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you'.                                                                                                (John 20: 19)

What was happening? The news of sightings and personal witness statements of Jesus being risen filled them with joy, but also confusion and fear. Would these rumors of Jesus being alive reach Jewish and Roman authorities, would they come looking for them? Their fear led them to meet in secret behind locked doors. But locked doors couldn’t keep the presence of Christ from them who came and stood among them.

We give thanks for the peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ in our lives. We give thanks for his presence in the sacraments and alongside us in everyday life. Help us as a community to go beyond the walls of our church buildings in sharing your love and peace, remembering that church is people. Do not let our hearts be closed to the love of God or to the needs of others and give us the courage to step out and proclaim God’s love with confidence.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

…………………………………………………………………………………..

Friday, 8th May, 2020 10.00am.

8th. Witness – Thomas

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”’                          

                                                                                                            (John 20:29)

Thomas was the sort of person who tended towards the glass half empty rather than half full approach to life. Considering what had happened over the last few days, who could blame him really? The one whom they had believed was to be their saviour had suffered the death of a criminal and now, because of these supposed sightings of Jesus, they were now meeting in secrecy behind locked doors in fear of their own lives. Were these people telling the truth, had they seen Jesus or were they cruel tricks of despair? He needed to see, to touch, and Jesus lovingly met him at his point of need. When Thomas saw, great faith was proclaimed ‘My Lord and my God!’

We give thanks for all the signs and witness to the Resurrection in scripture; lives lived in faith, by the worldwide Church through the ages, and especially in the realization of his presence in our own lives. We ask that through our witness to the living Christ via word and action others will have the courage to step forward in faith and welcome Christ into their lives with confidence and commitment.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

…………………………………………………………………………………..

Tuesday, 12th May, 2020 10.00am.

9th Witness – Emmaus

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised him.’                                                                       (Luke 24: 30-31)

It can happen to all of us, meeting someone who just starts to speak to us, naturally and easily as though they know us. And we chat back, wondering who they are but not daring to ask. And then they do or say something and our memories are jogged and we recognize them.

We give thanks for the sacrament of the Eucharist in which we are united with Jesus Christ in broken bread and wine outpoured. May we also recognise your presence in those who travel through this world alongside us.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

………………………………………………………………………………….

Wednesday, 13th May, 2020 10.00am.

10th Witness – Galilee

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus…..When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.                            (John 21:4,9)

The disciples returned home to Galilee and went back to their former work. But just as Jesus had promised in Jerusalem, he had gone ahead of them. On Maundy Thursday Jesus had washed their feet and now he prepared them breakfast, God and Lord of all coming to them as one who serves.

We give thanks for food and for the simple necessities and pleasures of life. Remembering those who hunger for food and shelter, we ask you to give us open hearts and hands to share more fully all that you have given us. Help us to have the courage to live simpler lives, caring more for the other and our world, than ourselves.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

………………………………………………………………………………….

Thursday, 14th May, 2020 10.00am.

11th Witness – Five Hundred Witnesses

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.’                                                                                                            (1 Cor.15:6)

There is debate as to where this took place between Jerusalem and Galilee. Some also think this may be more a reference to the Pentecost experience. But one thing is for sure; this appearance dramatically increased in number those who could testify to the Resurrection.

We give thanks for the millions of Christians of all denominations and traditions that bear witness to the risen Christ. We thank you for the assurance that those, who have gone before us and have borne witness to you, now share in the Resurrection. It can be too easy to hold to a self- centred faith and forget that we a part of a wider community, each of whom is precious in your sight; help us to live as members of the Body of Christ.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

                                                           We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

………………………………………………………………………………….

Friday, 15th May, 2020 10.00am.

12th Witness – James

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘Then he appeared to James.’                                                       (1 Cor. 15:7)

Families can be funny things sometimes. Jesus’ earthly family didn’t at first really understand him, and some actually thought that Jesus was mad. James, the brother of Jesus, however, was changed by the experience of the risen Christ into a devout believer and became a leader of the church in Jerusalem.

We give thanks for the gift of family in all its varied forms and ask that all families are a basis for nurture, love, understanding and acceptance for who we are in you. We do not always value, as we should, those who are nearest and dearest; help us not to take for granted those you have given us as families here on earth.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

………………………………………………………………………………….

Tuesday, 19th May, 2020 10.00am.

13th Witness – Ascension

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.                                                                            (Luke 24:51-52)

Saying goodbye to someone we love, when we know we won’t see them for a very long time or indeed ever again is very difficult, as is the sense of bereavement at the death of a loved one. The disciples had had to witness Jesus death and knew the sense of loss faced in death, and to deal with a sense of sorrow and shame. Yet this time the parting was different, this time Jesus left them with a sense of joy and with the knowledge and hope of the life to come together in Christ.

We give thanks for the Ascension of Jesus Christ in which our human nature is lifted up into the mystery of divinity, and for the assurance of our sinful bodies being restored by Christ’s holiness. Let us not waste the time we have left on this world. Help us Lord to turn from this world's ways and turn our lives around to the way of glory.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

………………………………………………………………………………….

Wednesday, 20th May, 2020 10.00am.

14th Witness – Paul

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

All. For by your glorious Resurrection you have given life to the world.

‘ Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain.’                  (1Cor.15: 8-10)

Paul had been a ruthless persecutor of Christians until Christ appeared to him. The impact of this encounter with Jesus had a profound effect. Paul turned from persecutor to teacher, spreading the Gospel of salvation throughout the Gentile world.

We give thanks for the God-given gift of faith, for the love that changes us, and the grace that enables us to do things we could never do on our own. Help us, Lord, to turn away from pride and self-will, and be humbly responsive and attentive to the call of God in our lives.

Time of quiet.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. All. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

We Sing -  ‘Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!’

 

 

 

The Blessing.

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make us perfect in every good work to do his will, working in us/you that which is pleasing in his sight: and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among us/you and remain with us always. Amen.

 

 

 

Acknowledgments

Books –

  1. ‘Stations of the Resurrection’ by Raymond Chapman
  2. Enriching the Christian Year by Michael Perham
  3. The Holy Bible, NRSV, OUP

Pictures –

  1. He is Risen by Arthur Hughes
  2. Empty Tomb by George Richardson
  3. Bible women arriving at the tomb by He Qi
  4. Disciples running to the tomb of Jesus by Eugène Burnand
  5. Mary Magdalene, by Rowan Le Compte, Resurrection Chapel Washington DC
  6. Repentant Peter by Anthony Van Dyke
  7. The risen Jesus appears to his disciples in a 15th. century Italian painting. (Newscom/Prisma)
  8. The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio
  9. Road to Emmaus by Robyn Sand Anderson
  10.  Jesus on shore of Galilee by Michael Dudash
  11. Jesus appears to the 500, artist unknown (dual ravens.com)
  12. St. James Mosaic artist unknown St. James’ Church, Hampton Hill, Middlesex.
  13. The Ascension of Christ, St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Moscow.
  14. Unknown.