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Prayer for 10 April 2021 (Easter Week: Saturday)

Listen to a service of Prayer for 10 April 2021 (Easter Week: Saturday)

Preparation

O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Praise

God of glory,
by the raising of your Son
you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill your Church with faith and hope;
for a new day has dawned
and the way to life stands open
in our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Psalm 118.1-4, 14-21

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his mercy endures for ever.

Let Israel now proclaim,
‘His mercy endures for ever.’

Let the house of Aaron now proclaim,
‘His mercy endures for ever.’

Let those who fear the Lord proclaim,
‘His mercy endures for ever.’

The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.

Joyful shouts of salvation
sound from the tents of the righteous:

‘The right hand of the Lord does mighty deeds;
the right hand of the Lord raises up;
the right hand of the Lord does mighty deeds.’

I shall not die, but live
and declare the works of the Lord.

The Lord has punished me sorely,
but he has not given me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.

I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have become my salvation.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Reading
Mark 16.9-15

After Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.

Reflection

Having told the story of Jesus’ earthly ministry in a direct and uncluttered narrative, Mark rounds off his gospel in a similarly terse and succinct way. In just seven verses we are told of the finding of the empty tomb, the walk to Emmaus, the appearance to the remaining eleven disciples and the great commission to proclaim the good news to the whole creation. However, despite the fast-moving pace of Mark’s account of those post-resurrection days, there is one recurring theme of which we need to take careful note. This theme is summed up in two expressions of doubt: they would not believe it and they did not believe them.

On the first Easter day something happened that was totally unprecedented. The world-changing event of that day had not happened before and will never happen again … a man was raised from the dead. No one can doubt that that man had died. He had been put to death in the cruellest and most certain of ways … he had been publicly crucified. Then came the tales of his resurrection.

As Jesus had predicted throughout his earthly ministry, and as had been prophesied throughout the Hebrew scriptures, Jesus, the Messiah, rose from the dead on the third day after his execution. The risen Christ met with and conversed with faithful followers who, in obedience to his command and in sheer excitement, shared that news with his other followers. But, those other followers would not and did not believe.

It is not uncommon to hear people speak of ‘believing what they can see with their own eyes’, and similar down-to-earth, practical common sensical statements. These self-justifying statements seem logical and reasonable, but they are built on a fallacy. These apparently sound statements presume that those who make them are always right and never misinterpret what they see and hear; they are based on human wisdom, the human wisdom that is folly when compared with the divine wisdom we see in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is easy to imagine the disciples huddling together in despair and fear after the crucifixion. It is also easy to imagine their description of the accounts of those who first met with the risen Christ as ‘wishful thinking’. But, all of this flies in the face of the power of faith. If we will only allow ourselves to believe what we see for ourselves, how can we ever claim to be faithful disciples of Christ? As Jesus says to Thomas: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.

The resurrection of Jesus represents an incredible moment in the history of humanity. It represents a moment when God established an unbreakable covenant between himself and humanity for ever. As we pause to ponder on that let us consider that word ‘incredible’ for a moment. Yes, it is used to mean ‘unbelievable’ and ‘difficult to believe in’, but it has other meanings. ‘Incredible’ also means ‘very great’ and ‘unusually good’.

Let us not join in the first, and very human, reaction of the disciples. Let us not focus on the unbelievable, but let us focus more on the very great and unusually good truth of the resurrection. Let us then, in faith and joy, go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.

Prayers of Intercession

We pray to Jesus who is present with us to eternity.

Jesus, light of the world, bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations.

Jesus, bread of life, give food to the hungry and nourish us all with your word.

Jesus, our way, our truth, our life, be with us and all who follow you in the way. Deepen our appreciation of your truth and fill us with your life.

Jesus, Good Shepherd who gave your life for the sheep, recover the straggler, bind up the injured, strengthen the sick and lead the healthy and strong to new pastures.

Jesus, the resurrection and the life, we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you. Raise us with them to eternal life.

Jesus, Lord of life, in your mercy, hear us, accept our prayers, and be with us always.

Prayer for the week

Lord our God, as we celebrate with joy
the resurrection of Jesus our Saviour,
help us to make the Easter faith
a deeper reality in our lives;
that we may know something more of the peace
he bequeathed to his disciples,
and lay hold of the victory
he won for us over sin and death,
rejoicing in the hope of the life immortal
which is ours in him,
our Redeemer and our Lord.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

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.

The Grace

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.

Hymn

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not,
as thou hast been thou for ever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness!  Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided,
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is thy faithfulness!  Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided,
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Thomas O. Chisholm (1866–1960)