Easter Sunday-Greeting

The Salvation Army, Prestonpans Corps
Easter Sunday, 12 April 2020

Song     Low in the Grave he lay (Tune: Christ Arose)

Low in the grave he lay,
Jesus, my Saviour;
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus, my Lord.

Up from the grave he arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er his foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And he lives for ever with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch his bed,
Jesus, my Saviour;
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus, my Lord.

Death cannot keep his prey,
Jesus, my Saviour;
He tore the bars away,
Jesus, my Lord.

Robert Lowry (1826-99)

 

Pray the Lord’s Prayer

Bible Reading                           John 20: 1-20

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

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

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Reflection

We live in strange, confusing times. We have been told to Stay at Home, to avoid venturing out except for exercise or essential journeys. We can only speak to our loved ones or friends via telephone or video calling. We feel a sense of loss, grief even, as we wait in limbo for the restrictions to be lifted. It must be worse still for those whose loved ones have died and been buried, but they could not be present due to the current restrictions.

Perhaps the disciples felt the same on the Saturday following Jesus’ crucifixion. Joseph, Mary Magdalene and a couple of women had placed the body in a tomb but could do no more until the Sabbath was over. The sense of loss and grief would have been overwhelming, and they hadn’t even been able to perform the customary burial rituals.

No wonder, then, that the women left “very early in the morning, while it was still dark,” to tend to the body of their beloved master. Imagine the surprise, then, when they found the stone rolled away. When the women rushed to the upper room to share the news, Mary Magdalene remained behind, and fell into conversation with a stranger.

The simple greeting, “Mary,” was enough to reveal his true identity. Mary grasped his feet in a sign of devotion, but Jesus responded as many are doing just now, “don’t touch me!” How hard that must have been to hear.

On our daily walks, we’ve recently witnessed many families conversing across the length of a garden path, unable to hug each other. Children from our After School Club have called out, “we miss you!” (We miss them, too). How hard it is not to be able to embrace those we love. Yet there were reasons for Jesus, as for us in these times of social distancing.

The disciples had also decided to Stay at Home out of fear, not of a disease, but of the Jews. Having killed an upstart rabbi from Galilee, surely they would next come for his followers! Just as much of our conversation centres on Coronavirus, they would have spent hours going over the events of recent days, and possible scenarios for the future.

Imagine their surprise when Jesus simply appeared in the room. The man they thought was dead, standing before their very eyes. It was probably as scary as a knock on the door from the Temple guards. Yet Jesus greeted them with the words, “Shalom alechem”, “Peace be with you!”, the response being “Alechem Shalom.” Most Christians only say these words in the context of a church service (often called “passing the peace”). But this was the normal greeting between Jews; a kind of “Hi, how are you?”

When life does not go as we planned, we can be tempted to give up, to shut the world out, to hide away to avoid further pain or disappointment. In those situations, Jesus comes to us and says, “Shalom alechem”, “Peace be with you.” If we have given our lives to him and his Spirit lives in us, we can experience that peace, even in the midst of the anxieties of a global pandemic. And we can learn to greet each other with those same words:

“Shalom alechem” and receive the response, “Alechem Shalom.”

Song             Lord, I lift your name on high

LORD, I LIFT YOUR NAME ON HIGH;
Lord, I love to sing Your praises.
I’m so glad You’re in my life;
I’m so glad You came to save us.

You came from heaven to earth to show the way,
From the earth to the cross,
My debt to pay.
From the cross to the grave,
From the grave to the sky,
Lord, I lift Your name on high.

Rick Founds.
© 1989 Maranatha! Music Adm. by CopyCare.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, these times are strange and more than a little frightening. We cannot see through the next few weeks, let alone the coming years. Come to us now with your greeting of “Shalom alechem.” May we experience your peace in our hearts during this testing time, and be able to share that peace with others. Even as we take sensible precautions, may we not be afraid of loneliness, sickness or death, knowing that you walk by our side and will take us to be with you when the time is right.

In your glorious name we pray.    Amen.

Song      Thine is the glory

Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son;
Endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won.
Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away.
Kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.

Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son;
Endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets thee, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets thee, scatters fear and gloom;
Let his Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing,
For her Lord now liveth; death has lost its sting.

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of Life!
Life is naught without thee; aid us in thy strife;
Make us more than conquerors through thy deathless love;
Bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.

Edmond Louis Budry (1854-1932),
trs Richard Birch Hoyle (1875-1939)

Benediction: May God’s blessing surround you each day

May God’s Blessings surround you each day
As you trust him and walk in his way.
May his presence within
Guard and keep you from sin.
Go in peace, go in joy, go in love.

About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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