On Wednesday 28th April, ministers from the churches and fellowships in town are going to worship together in the upper room at 7.00am. Following this they will pray for the town from the top of the tower and then breakfast together at County Stores. I report this to stress the good relationships between the minsters in Taunton. Long may that continue.
Don’t forget that we enjoy breakfast together after the 8.00 am communion on Friday. Everyone is welcome to come. It is the perfect start to Friday mornings.
Today we welcome Jenny Humphreys – The Diocesan Zambian Link Advisor – and a good friend to many of us here at St. Mary’s. Jenny will preach and encourage us with our link with the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka.
Very soon, Fr. Frank (Fr. Bob’s replacement) will be coming over and hopefully he will be with us.
We are arranging a number of stalls during the spring and summer, the first of which will be books, puzzles and tombola on the 11th May. We would like donations of books and puzzles, and bottles for the tombola and also, for future stalls, we will be looking for toys, bric a brac, handbags and accessories, and more bottles for future tombolas. Please leave anything you may have in the box provided.
‘JUST A BITE’ – MOTHERS’ UNION meets in St Mary Magdalene Church on the first Wednesday of every month at 2.00pm and everyone is welcome. On Wednesday, 1st May there is a talk on Action & Outreach and Finances by Eileen Heath, Bath & Wells Mothers’ Union followed by a cup of tea.
The women left the tomb “with fear and great joy” (v.8). Afraid, no doubt because the awesome power of God was at work; the empty tomb was totally beyond explanation. People fear what they do not understand. But fear on its own can be debilitating, and will undermine faith.
Jesus met them as they fled off towards the disciples. Certainly they were experiencing “great joy” (v.8), but they still carried fear with them. Jesus wanted to dispel that fear before it took root and did harm. “Do not be afraid” (v.10) he said. He did not tell them that there was no need to be afraid. He gave them an order. Fear can be controlled. We can either give way to it and let it sweep over us, or we can listen to the voice of the Lord: “Fear not” (v.10).
With the Lord by our side there is never anything to fear. He has all things under control, whether we understand it or not. “In everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Fear is from the devil who undermines our calm trust in a loving God. But fearlessness comes from our God, for “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John. 4:18).
Many things can frighten us: a shouting teacher, a school bully, an abusive father or husband, a falling Stock Market, bad news from the doctor, a dark and lonely house. Each time fear knocks at our door we need to hear those words of Jesus, “Do not fear” (v.10). Remember also the words of Peter when he uses the example of Abraham’s wife Sarah: “And you are now her (Sarah’s) children if you do right and let nothing terrify you.” (1 Peter 3:6)
Forgive me, O Lord, when I give way to fears and worries. Help me to trust you in all circumstances, and indeed to know great joy. Amen.
What a lovely picture this is! Imagine the gaggle of grieving women who come at first light to the tomb of Jesus to anoint his dead body. They haven’t considered how they will remove the stone – but grief is not reasonable. Then they are confronted by an open tomb guarded by angels, and if that was not astounding enough, they are met on their way back to the disciples by Jesus himself.
They were running to witness to what they had discovered. They were eye witnesses to the empty tomb and the angel’s message. They hadn’t got the full picture, but witnessing is not about telling the full story. Witnessing is about telling what we (ourselves) have seen and heard and touched (1 John 1:1). Of course, the rest of the picture was to be given them when the risen Jesus met them on the way. They now had even more to report to the disciples.
I expect they were bitterly disappointed when they burst into the room and told the disciples all that they had seen and heard only to find the men were less than persuaded. They presumed that the women were deluded. We cannot expect everyone to be persuaded by our witness. We are often treated with mild derision. We are thought to be somewhat sad and simple.
At least some were prepared to at least look into what the women claimed. Peter and John ran off to see for themselves. Some people will take us seriously enough to look into the faith for themselves. Take heart. Graciously tell it at you see it.
Thank Lord for those first witnesses to your resurrection. Help me not to be ashamed, even if I can’t explain. May I be a witness for you. Amen.
1. Who was the first witness of Jesus’ resurrection?
John 20:1, 11-18
2. Note the forecast of the resurrection of the dead?
What do we mean by the resurrection of the body? is it literal? Jesus’ risen body was identical to his earthly body but not exactly the same. it was the same Jesus, yet changed, only recognised by faith. His body was still substantial (not a ghost) but also spiritual (passing through doors) and, above all, immortal (living by spirit not blood). He was only recognised when he revealed himself (‘Mary’, or ‘breaking of bread’ or ‘miraculous catch of fish’). This glorious body will one day be the one all believers will receive.
Belief in the resurrection from the grave is not make-believe, nor is it fantasy or even mythology. Belief is based on the evidence of eye witnesses. The empty tomb was one of the key pieces of evidence. First the women saw it (v. 1), but when they reported it to the men they didn’t believe them! However, Peter and John went to see for themselves. Peter surveyed the empty tomb and studied the grave clothes, but scratched his head, perplexed. But when John went in, he saw and believed, even though he (and Peter) did not yet know the scripture that Jesus “must rise from the dead” (John 20:9).
The disciples did not make up an elaborate story about resurrection, since they were not looking for it or expecting it. However, the word had got around that Jesus had forecast that such a thing would happen; that is why they placed a guard in front of the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66). This very guard turned out to be even further proof that Jesus’ body was not stolen, but had actually disappeared.
Disappointed disciples needed some convincing that the very real death of Jesus that they had witnessed was not the end. Jesus had to disappear and then re-materialise in solid form. He ate before them and let them touch him. He said, “Handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke. 24:39).
The early faith, and our faith too, is based on the factual and historical miracle of the resurrection of Jesus. We have that eye witness account recorded for us in the Bible. We too will one day undergo the same transformation, “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Praise God!
What a wonderful faith you have given, Lord! How amazing it is, beyond my imagining! Help me to be assured and strengthened so that I may be confident in my faith. Amen.
1. What sort of evidence does John speak of?
1 John 1:1
2. Who found it hard to believe in the resurrection?
“On our return from Gibraltar, I received a lovely letter commending our Easter Services and particularly thanking us for the ministry of “Laying on of Hands” team, who offer to pray with folk at every service in the St. Andrew’s Chapel. So many people have found going for additional prayer so helpful throughout the years and I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who pray for others in this way. If you are worried or troubled, do consider going for prayer after you have received communion.”
The Church APCM is held on Sunday 28th April at 4.00pm. Tea will be served from 3.30pm. We will be discussing reducing the size of the PCC, reviewing the annual report, hearing a little more about our link with the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Zambia and electing PCC members.
If you have been on the electoral roll of St Mary Magdalene for at least six months and you feel called to stand for the PCC, please find two sponsors and put your name forward at the back of Church.
We thank our Electoral Roll Officer, Fred Sage, for all his hard work producing the new roll – a copy has been pinned to the church notice board. Your name needs to be on the list for you to be able to vote at the APCM.