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Sermon and Liturgy (2) for Easter Sunday - Year C
Psalm 118:14-24; Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18
"Why Do You Weep?"

READING:  Psalm 118:14-24; Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18
SERMON :  "Why Do You Weep?"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-ea01smsu 929605

   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:  Sermon elements from Mike Bennett, "Why Are You
   Weeping", Posted to Ecunet, March 1989.  Further sermon elements
   from Dana Carroll, "God's Surprise".  The latter resource was
   posted on TELOS during the week of April 10-16, 1995.

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

Only necessary announcements and Rubrics For the Day


* WORDS OF WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP  (based on Psalm 118:14-24)
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    The Lord is Risen.
P    He is risen indeed.
L    The right hand of God has triumphed!  
P    The right hand of God 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    The Lord has punished me, 
     but has not given me over to death.
P    Open to me the gates of the Temple.  
     I will go in and give thanks to God.
L    This is the gate of God.  
P    The righteous shall enter through it.
L    I thank you, God, that you have answered me 
     and become my salvation.
P    The stone the builders rejected 
     has turned out to be the most important of all.
L    This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.  

* INTROIT:  "This Is The Day" (verse 1)                            - VU 412

Let us pray:  Most gracious and loving God, you who have swallowed up
death with the resurrection of Christ Jesus, we lift our hearts to you in
praise this blessed morning.  We celebrate the Good News revealed by the
stone that was rolled away and the tomb that was empty -- that news which
was confirmed by angels and by Christ Jesus himself as he appeared to his
disciples and followers.  We thank you Lord for the miracle of this day
and for how it gives to your people a sure and eternal hope..  Be with us,
we pray, in this holy celebration and lead us in the path of
righteousness.  We ask it through your Son, Christ Jesus our Lord, who
conquered the grave and by your grace rules over both the living and the
dead.  Amen

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

This time requires you to make or buy enough symbols for each member of
the Sunday School or Congregation, put in them in bags by type and hide
them or put them where the symbols are found in the church (ie - crosses
by the cross, candles by the Christ Candle, etc).  During the following
time have children find them and then distribute them during the song
after the Lord's prayer.

Symbols of The Resurrection
Lily      - Arises from a "dead" bulb - Resurrection - also Christ's
          footsteps                                                      -   by Choir
Eggs      - Holds promise of new life inside - Resurrection       - By Font
Palms     - Signs of Christ's kingship (Palm Sunday)      - By Coffee Table
Thorns and Nails - reminder of how the victory of Easter was won
                                                          - Under the cross
Pieces of Silver - Payment to Judas                     - Under Piano Bench
Cross     - empty - Resurrection                                - front pew
Candles   - light of the world                         - on Communion Table
Butterflies - New Life From the Tomb                          - Near Window
Birds     - return in Spring - like reborn                    - Near Window

     Loving God - giver of life and love eternal - we thank you for
     this day - the day Jesus rose from the dead. - We thank you for
     the signs of new life - in us and in all creation - we thank you
     for Easter - and for the hope it gives - Amen

     And in the word's taught to us by our Lord Jesus, let us pray:

     Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom
     come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us
     this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we
     forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into
     temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom,
     the power and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen 

               Distribution of Symbols of Resurrection and
               Easter Cards to Each Child in attendance.

* HYMN: " Now The Green Blade Rises"                               - VU 186

     (NIV)  Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is
     that God does not show favouritism but accepts men from every
     nation who fear him and do what is right.   You know the message
     God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace
     through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.  You know what has
     happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the
     baptism that John preached   how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
     with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing
     good and healing all who were under the power of the devil,
     because God was with him. 

     "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the
     Jews and in Jerusalem.  They killed him by hanging him on a
     tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and
     caused him to be seen.  He was not seen by all the people, but
     by witnesses whom God had already chosen - by us who ate and
     drank with him after he rose from the dead.  He commanded us to
     preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God
     appointed as judge of the living and the dead.  All the prophets
     testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives
     forgiveness of sins through his name."

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

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

A READING FROM JOHN 20:1-18                                
     (NIV)  Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark,
     Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been
     removed from the entrance.  So she came running to Simon Peter and
     the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken
     the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!" 

     So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.  Both were
     running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the
     tomb first.  He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen
     lying there but did not go in.  Then Simon Peter, who was behind
     him, arrived and went into the tomb.  He saw the strips of linen
     lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around
     Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from
     the linen.  Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb
     first, also went inside.  He saw and believed. (They still did
     not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the
     dead.) Then the disciples went back to their homes, {11} but
     Mary stood outside the tomb crying. 

     As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two
     angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the
     head and the other at the foot.  They asked her, "Woman, why are
     you crying?" 

     "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know
     where they have put him."  At this, she turned around and saw
     Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 

     "Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking
     for?"  Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have
     carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get

     Jesus said to her, "Mary." 

     She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!"
     (which means Teacher). 

     Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned
     to the Father.  Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am
     returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your

     Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen
     the Lord!"  And she told them that he had said these things to

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

SERMON:  "Why Do You Weep"
     O Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our
     minds and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and
     in the thoughts we form.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants
     listen.  Amen.

No one expected it  - not one single person.

What we celebrate here today was totally outside of the frame of reference
of every single disciple, and this even though Jesus had told them over
and over again that it would happen,
     that he would be killed
     and that on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

Yet not one of them believed it would happen
Not one of them took Jesus at his word.

On the day after the Sabbath - on Sunday morning - while it was still dark
Mary Magdalene and some other woman went to the tomb of Jesus with special
spices to finish the process of preparing his body for burial.  Mary it
went out first - by herself - ahead of the others.

She went ahead of them - not because she was expecting a surprise, but
because she wanted to be alone for a while in the graveyard.  She went out
alone because her best friend had been tortured and killed and because she
wanted to grieve awhile before undergoing the ordeal of doing what needed
to be done, before she touched the wounded lifeless body of Jesus and
honoured him by treating his broken body with the dignity that the dead
should receive.

When she got to the tomb, something was different than it had been when
she had been late Friday afternoon.  The huge boulder in front of the tomb
had been rolled aside - exposing the entrance to the place where Jesus'
body had been laid.

Mary is stunned by this, she shocked 
- not because she suddenly figures out that it was true after all 
- not because she remembers that Jesus said that he would rise from the
dead and at last believes it;
No, she is shocked and stunned 
because she believes that someone has stolen the body.

And Mary turns and she runs and she tells Simon Peter and John the Son of
Zebedee exactly that.

          "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we
          don't know where they have put him!" she tells them.

And they return to the tomb with her and they look in the empty tomb and
then they go away - back to their own homes.  
And when they go back, with the exception of John, none of them comprehend
what they had seen,
- the strips of linen laying on the rock bench,
- and the burial cloth for his head, folded neatly and set apart from the
     rest of the linen, much in the fashion that a carpenter in those days
     communicated that a work was finished by placing a folded work cloth
     neatly on the piece.

The return home - still in mourning, 
for as John puts it in today's Gospel

          "as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he
          must rise from the dead."

When they leave, Mary is again alone by the tomb - and she is weeping.

The body of the one she loved is gone.  
She cannot even do the little that she had come to do.

She stands there weeping - and, after a while she musters up her courage 
and she looks into the tomb.  And when she does she sees two angels - two
persons -  dressed in white  - seated on the ledge of the tomb where the
body of Jesus was supposed to be.

And does she, who has heard the promises Jesus then believe those
promises?  Does she believe that Jesus has been raised from the dead?

She does not.  

Rather, when they ask her why she is crying - she says to them: because
"someone has taken the body of my Lord and I don't know where they have
put it!"

Then - still weeping - still in shock - still unbelieving - still not
expecting or hoping for a single thing Mary turns around, and she sees
Jesus standing there and she supposes he is the gardener.

Mary doesn't expect to see Jesus walking about - fully alive 
- and so she doesn't.

She doesn't see Jesus even when he talks to her
even when he says to her - as did the angels -  
"Woman - why are you weeping?  
Who are you looking for?"  

Still thinking he is the gardener she asks him if he has moved the body.  
"Tell me," she says, "where you have laid him, and I will take him away."

It then that Jesus calls her by name, "Mary" - and it is then - suddenly -
that her eyes clear - that her heart clears - and she realizes that Jesus
is alive - and standing in front of her.  

And she grabs hold of him and embraces him - and clings to him - until
finally - Jesus tells her to let him go - and to go tell the others what
she has seen - to tell them that he has risen just as he said he would.

And she does as Jesus has asked.

The scriptures record that they do not believe her 
- nor do they believe the other women who encounter the angels 
at first 

Indeed each of the first disciples has to go through a process of being
convinced - of being convinced either by Jesus himself or by the
overwhelming testimony of others who have seen him.

The reason I have laid so much stress upon Mary's disbelief this morning,
and upon the disbelief of the other disciples -
is because we are like them.

We hear the message that Jesus proclaimed.  We witness the miracles that
he performs in other people's lives.   But when it comes to the hard times
 - the times of trial 
 - the times of loss 
 - the time of mourning,
it can be oh so very hard to believe in what Jesus has said about being
raised on the third day, so very hard to believe that not only was he
raised - but that we too will be raised, that death does not in fact have
the last word.

Why do you weep?

There are many ways to answer that question.
Indeed there are many good reasons to weep.

But today - Easter Sunday 
- the empty tomb, the angels, the lilies, Mary's encounter with Jesus,
- the testimony of Peter - and indeed the existence of the church itself
is a reminder to us that while there are many reasons to weep, there is
also a great reason to rejoice.

Jesus was crucified 
- he died 
- and he was laid in the tomb
but that tomb could not hold him.

And because of him - it cannot hold any of those whom God loves.

Death is not the end of the story of Jesus.
Nor is it the end of our stories.

Why do you weep?

Look around you - the signs of God's love are all about us in the midst of
our world's troubles and turmoil.

Listen - listen for the voice of the one who called Mary by name in the
garden is here to speak to us.

It is not over.

If were over - if Christ was not raised - the church would never have come
into existence for the disciples would never have gone on in the face of
the opposition they encountered to proclaim that God raised him from the
dead on the third day and that he is the one whom God appointed as judge
of the living and the dead.

They would never have passed to us their testimony
     for they would have had nothing to testify about
          for on that first day they did not believe despite all that
Jesus had said and done before he died.

I thank God today.

I thank God for Mary - and for Peter and for all the other disciples who
did not believe.

I thank God for them because their faith tell me that there is hope for me
when I weep; hope for me when I do not believe; hope for me when I face
the cross and the tomb and feel despair rising up within me.

But most of all I thank God today for the living Christ - for Jesus of
Nazareth - God's anointed one - for the one who was raised up on the third
day and who - for me - and for you - has broken the power of sin and

Let us Pray...

Great God in heaven, hear our prayers of gratitude today!  Hear our songs
of joyful thanksgiving and praise!  Despite our mortality, despite our
disobedience,  despite our lack of faith, you sent Jesus to die on a cross
and be born to a new life.  And because of that, everyday is a hope filled
day, filled with that which makes for wonder, joy, and peace.  Touch us
now with your Easter love...  Lord, hear our prayer....  
O God of love and life eternal, as Jesus appeared and spoke to Mary and to
the disciples - calling them by name, restoring their faith and giving
them the reason that is above all other reasons to proclaim your saving
power, so come unto us and make us witnesses to the resurrection.  Indeed
we pray that you might enliven your whole church and cause your light to
shine through us upon the whole world.   Lord, hear our prayer....

Eternal and everlasting Counsellor, Prince of Peace, Shepherd and Saviour
of your people, we acclaim you and we praise you and we render you all
honour and majesty.   Pour out now, we pray, on us and upon all those we
hold before you at this time, your healing and redeeming love.... (BIDDING
PRAYER)... Lord, hear our prayer...

We come before you O God with our praise, our thanksgiving, our prayers
and our petition  through Christ Jesus, our risen Lord, he who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, both now and forevermore. 

ANTHEM: "The Old Rugged Cross"

THE NEW CREED (VU 918 or inside front cover)
L    Let us join together and profess our faith.
P    We are not alone....

* 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
     Bless O God the gifts we present to you this day.  May they
     truly honour you and truly show the depth of our thankfulness
     and our devotion to your most Holy Will - that will that has
     opened to us the gates of heaven through Christ Jesus our Risen
     Lord.  Amen

* SHARING THE PEACE:     (We greet those around us with a sign of peace
                         and words like "The peace of the Lord be with

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

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.

L    Loving and Compassionate God, we give you praise for the care and
     grace which you show toward all that you have made.  We thank you for
     acting to deliver us from the power of sin and death through Jesus
     Christ your only begotten son, our Saviour and Lord.  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    Eternal God, we trust in you.  We thank you for raising Jesus from
     the dead, the first fruit of all who have fallen asleep.  His
     ascension into heaven to sit at your right hand we confess, and his
     coming again in triumph we await.
P    Come Lord Jesus, come.

L    We remember, O Father, in accordance with his command, how Jesus on
     the night he was betrayed, took bread and blessed it (as even now we
     do bless it O Lord), and broke it, and gave it to his disciples,
     saying, "Take, eat, this is body, broken for you".  We remember too
     how in the same manner he took the cup and gave it to his disciples
     saying, "This cup is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, poured
     out for you.  As often as you drink it, do so in remembrance of me".
P    Worthy is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain, to receive all power and
     wealth, wisdom and might, honour and glory and praise.

L    Worthy indeed, O Lord, is thy Son Jesus Christ, who died so that we
     might live and who rose from the dead so that we might be one with
     him in your sight.  We pray that our lives may always proclaim the
     mystery of faith:
P    Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

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.

THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELEMENTS:  Please come forward up the centre aisle to
     one of the stations, receive first the body of Christ - and then dip it
     into the cup to receive the blood of Christ.  An appropriate response to
     the words of the server are "and also for you" or "Amen")

L    Let us pray
P    Heavenly Father, we thank you for all that you have done.  Help us to
     show forth the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus our
     Lord by all that we say and do and are.  We ask it in his name.  Amen

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Thine Is The Glory"                            - VU 173

* COMMISSIONING:  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
Go love and care for one another in the name of Christ Jesus
- and may the peace of Him who has triumphed over death,
- the love of Him who is the Lord of life,
- the strength of Him who is the King of glory,
- and the joy of Him who redeems and saves all humankind
go with you all, both now and forevermore.  Amen

* CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace"                             - SFGP 964

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2004
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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