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O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your 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.
Psalm 16.1-2, 6-10
Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge;
I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my lord,
all my good depends on you.’
All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land,
upon those who are noble in heart.
I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel,
and in the night watches he instructs my heart.
I have set the Lord always before me;
he is at my right hand; I shall not fall.
Wherefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices;
my flesh also shall rest secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Death,
nor suffer your faithful one to see the Pit.
You will show me the path of life;
in your presence is the fullness of joy
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
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.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’
While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, ‘You must say, “His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.” If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’ So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.
So they took the money and did as they were directed.
We live in a materialistic society. We are all encouraged to value the acquisition of money and ‘things’ above everything else. On a daily basis we are bombarded with advertising that reinforces and feeds our need to acquire more money and more ‘things’. This venal attitude to life leads down a path that could not be further from the truth of the victory of Christ’s resurrection.
In today’s reading we encounter two completely different reactions to the reality of the resurrection. Firstly, we see two faithful women who left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Then we see the soldiers accepting a bribe to keep quiet about the truth of what they had seen.
Immediately prior to the beginning of today’s reading we read of a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord who rolled back the stone. It is clear from Matthew’s account of this moment that both the women and the soldiers witnessed this great event, but only the women remained faithful to the truth of their experience. Yes, the women ran to the disciples with fear, but they also ran with great joy. The soldiers, on the other hand, shook and became like dead men. The soldiers were paralysed with fear and never got to the point of experiencing the joy of the moment.
The reaction of the women is an example to us all. The women experienced fear. We should not be surprised at that. They had seen Jesus perform many miracles, including raising his friend from the dead. But, this was different. To have undergone the torments, the pain and the cruel execution must, surely, have been the end. But, no! There was Jesus standing before them. This, the greatest miracle of all, would have struck fear into the strongest of hearts. However, the women did not stay in that place of fear. The women mustered their strength and did what all believers in Christ are called to do … they ran to share the message of the resurrection with others.
Today we are called to make a decision. Are we paralysed with fear and prepared to compromise our commitment to Christ because it is politically expedient to do so? Or, are we fearful of Christ’s power but, in that holy fear, resolved to be faithful apostles … running with great joy to tell the world the Good News of Jesus Christ?
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to the Father who raised his Son to life that we might live for ever in him.
Strengthen your Church to be the Body of Christ at work in the world. Heal our divisions and imperfections, and give grace to ministers of the Gospel in proclaiming the message of the Resurrection.
We pray that the joy of the Resurrection may be known throughout the world, that those who are ignorant of the love of Christ may feel his presence and share his risen life. May all human endeavour become part of the new creation and the life without end.
Give grace this Easter time to heal the wounds of differences among our families, friends and neighbours. By the offering and acceptance of pardon where there has been wrong, may we know together the fullness of the Easter life.
Grant to all who suffer the knowledge where true healing is to be found. Heal the hurt and broken bodies, give peace to the troubled minds, restore hope to the grieved and anxious spirits. Lead all human sorrow through the pain of the dying Christ to the joy of his Resurrection.
As we rejoice in the Resurrection of Christ our Saviour, we remember all who, like him, have suffered the death of the body. May the power which brought him from the grave give them a part in his victory over death and in his risen life for ever.
Risen with Christ and filled with new life, we pray as his people on earth.
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.
The Lord’s Prayer
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 of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.