Easter B (04-04-2021)

The following service was streamed live via Zoom  on April 4th at 10:30am.

The entire text for the service is printed below for home use by those who are not ready to return to public gatherings or who are otherwise not able to be at church on the day.   Even though the service is streamed live, those who are unable to participate online may use this material at any time for their private devotions.  If ‘two or three’ are gathered with you, you may choose a ‘leader’ in order to use the responsive prayers and readings as you would in church. 

There  are also links to YouTube files for music and, should you rather listen than read, sound files for some of the text, including the sermon .  [I’m sorry about the commercials that sometimes come with YouTube clips. Be sure to click on the “Skip Ad” box if and when it appears in the lower right of the YouTube clip]   When a YouTube clip has finished, simply click on the ‘back’ button of  your browser to return to this page. Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.



L: Today we are aware that the power of resurrection has forever changed who we are, and given us the courage to boldly proclaim a living faith. Today we celebrate: new life, new joy, new possibilities. 

R: We give thanks for the Spirit of Life visible in Jesus, visible in us, visible in people in all walks of life. 


This is the day we re-ignite the flame that signifies the eternal presence of God in Christ. Alleluia.

(Recall that we buried the alleluia on the first Sunday of Lent, and we have not said nor sung this word since)

L: This is also the day life returns to our alleluias, that our voices may respond to new life. 

R: Alleluia, Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

HYMN 370Christ the Lord is Risen Today” (click here to listen)
(or if you’d rather here the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, click here)


L: We live at mystery’s edge watching for a startling luminescence or a word to guide us.

R: In fragile occurrence the Holy One presents oneself and we must pause.

L: Daily, there are glimmers, reflections of a seamless mercy revealed in common intricacies.

R: These circles of grace spill out around us and announce that we are part of this mystery 

L: Today we celebrate life over death. Today we celebrate the flame that lives again. We will light the fire.


God of terror and joy, you arise to shake the earth. Open our graves and give us back the past; so that all that has been buried may be freed and forgiven, and our lives may return to you. Amen.


     Meditation  “A Time of Preparation and Change”

…the leaves are falling around us through days growing ever clearer and more barren. Surrounded by little deaths, the drying of the grass and shrivelling of the flowers, we gather our lives in like the harvest. Our friendships, our experiences, our achievements we wrap around ourselves, against the coldness which is to come. For in this time, our lives will be lived within. Like the grapes that are harvested in happy sunlight, turning to wine in dark cellars, our thoughts will transform and grow richer. Come, Spirit of Mysteries, into the centre of our containment. Grow treasure from within us.


How good it is to be alive! Yes, we feel the beat of our own hearts, the pulsing of life in our veins, the rhythm of our breathing. We come into the silence of this time with gratitude for this day.  We come with our needs. And we come because we have gifts to share. In our coming and in our going may we be strengthened in our bonds of love and peace.  (30 seconds silence) 


God of the empty tomb, if we come to this joyful Easterfest with eyes focused on the lilies;  guide our timid eyes to the cross.

Remind us again of the tomb; filled and now empty.
Remind us again of Mary’s tears; of sorrow and now joy.
Remind us again of Peter’s words; denial and now telling.

God of the empty tomb, grant us the grace to accept both the cost and the joy of following you.


L: Christ is risen!

R: He is risen indeed!

L: As so I can declare to you, the door to life has been opened to us.

R: Thanks be to God!

IN AN AUSTRALIAN ACCENT- “Easter Morning” by Bruce Prewer

Black light transforms the clouds in the east,
the swamp hens wake at this new dawning.
Against the sky sacred ibis wend like angel forms,
to hopeless grief the sun comes up and the magpies sing.
God is alive in everything this Easter morning.

FROM THE GOSPELS – Mark 16: 1-8 (The Message version)

16 1-3 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they could embalm him. Very early on Sunday morning, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb. They worried out loud to each other, “Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for us?”

4-5 Then they looked up, saw that it had been rolled back—it was a huge stone—and walked right in. They saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed all in white. They were completely taken aback, astonished.

6-7 He said, “Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross. He’s been raised up; he’s here no longer. You can see for yourselves that the place is empty. Now—on your way. Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, exactly as he said.”

They got out as fast as they could, beside themselves, their heads swimming. Stunned, they said nothing to anyone.

HYMN  381 – “This Joyful Eastertide” (click here to listen)

“An Invitation to be Startled, not Frightened”

     Part 1

When it comes to celebrating Easter, we 21st century Australians do so in several ways:

      •  We celebrate it as a holiday, and have time off work.
      • We often celebrate it by ‘going away’.
      • We always celebrate it by eating… ‘hot cross buns’, smoked cod, chocolate Easter eggs.
      • And we, the minority that is, sometimes celebrate it by going to church.

Today is Easter Day 2021.  Tradition has it as the most important day in the life of the church; for it is the day when we hear again not just the stories of an ending, but the stories of new beginnings.

So what can be said on this day, Easter 2021, that hasn’t already been said before?  Probably not much, but maybe just enough so we are reminded that out of evil can come good, and that out of grief there can come new strength, new beginnings. Then again, that it falls just 3 days after April Fools’ Day this year raises the possibility that Easter is a 2000 year-long April Fools’ prank perpetrated on the wishful thinkers, conning them with the idea they could avoid their inevitable deaths.  And indeed, there have been many would-be Christians who have been put off by a church that demanded assent to the notion that a man had been bodily raised from the dead.

Much ink and blood, sweat and tears, have been spilt over ‘what is’ and ‘what is not’ considered to be the real Easter story and, of course, what is meant by ‘resurrection’. And this includes all the problematic stuff argued by a guy who changed his name from Saul to Paul, and whether or not the ‘resurrection’ was a ‘resuscitated body’ or an event in the lives of the disciples! All this, while also noting that all the biblical stories are different, and none of the gospel storytellers provides an unambiguous, totally convincing account!

Today’s gospel storyteller is Mark. Theologically, he seems to have been put off by post-mortem appearance stories, and steered clear of them; or perhaps, as his was the first gospel account, these stories hadn’t been invented yet.  But Mark’s empty tomb story would have appealed widely to readers in both the Jewish and the Greco-Roman world, who would have heard similar stories told of heroes who had been rescued from dire straits, and translated directly to heaven to live safely with the gods.

Indeed, if we only stay with the biblical stories, no one in the stories is convinced by the ‘empty tomb’.  So why should we try to be? Now I know some of you have heard all this before, and probably more; which, along with all the Christian art you have ever seen about the resurrection, and movies like the Passion of Christ, always make sermons on Easter morning difficult to preach.  The challenge for me is how to get past the old images and the beliefs of popular Christianity about resurrection to help lead you to the door of the Kingdom about which Jesus taught.  

Why is it so difficult?  Well, as Jesus himself said, “The gate to life is narrow and the road is restricted and few find it.”  Perhaps this is why, in Mark’s version of the story, the first reaction of the women who discovered the empty tomb was to run away in fear, and this is the way his gospel ends.  The main problem is that the road to life leads through death, and we don’t like to think about death very much.

     Part 2

There is a story of two single autumn leaves on an otherwise barren tree branch.

One leaf says to the other, “Anyway, why do we have to fall from the tree around Easter time here in the Bellarine and die?”

The other leaf begins to expound: “Well, the way I understand it, when autumn comes, changes begin to occur in the cells where our stem is attached to the branch, and the vessels that supply us with nourishment become plugged with gums, causing us to wither and fall from the tree.”

The first leaf determinedly replies, “That isn’t going to happen to me.  I exercise!”

Exercise, vitamins, Tai Chi, medical miracles, resurrection: whatever it takes to put off death, even when death is the only way to life.  The church too often, just like government and big business, has propagated an advertising spiel designed to trade on our fears, particularly our fear of non-being: No death for you. Believe in Jesus and you will live eternally in heaven. What is the main concern here?  For me; for number one.  I will survive! I will prosper.  It’s all about me.

This is about as far away from Jesus’ teaching as you can get: he said, “He who would save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life will gain it.”  In other words, worrying about protecting your life and what you have will suck the life right out of you. The path to Easter goes through Good Friday. Whatever resurrection is about, it is not about the ego – it is not about me living forever.  

So, perhaps at some risk, let me offer a few of my thoughts.  Jesus died. We can all agree on this much. Those close to him, naturally enough, were both surprised and shattered. Stricken with fear and grief, they were in no mood to be looking for that ‘silver lining’ that supposedly comes with every cloud. It was not only the loss of a relationship that is brought by death, but the disciples realised now that Jesus was dead, he could never carry to fulfilment the mission of the Jewish people as they had conceived it.  They had thought he would save the world by making the ‘good’ supreme over human existence, as seen from the perspective of Jewish culture.  Now they saw he never could do anything of the sort.  They reached the depth of despair that comes when all that seems to give hope to human existence is seen to be an illusion.

There was fear.  There was guilt.  There was confusion. The rulers had once again prevailed over the ruled.  The urban elites of Jerusalem had gained an even tighter control of temple and Torah.

But later, as the grief eased, as it does, the disciples were able to think more about Jesus’ death.  It mattered to them, but only because his life mattered more.  And they began to speak of his death in ways that affirmed his life.  They came to see that his life stood for something so important, he was willing to give his life for it.  Or perhaps, it is more accurate to say that Jesus really had discovered that life is found in no longer trying to protect oneself, so in fact, he had given his life for that ‘something’ long before he actually died. And that ‘something’ was the vision of life that Jesus called, at least according to our common translation, the kingdom of God. Since “kingdom” is a rather patriarchal term, I will henceforth use the term, “realm” or “empire”- the realm of God; the empire of God.

     Part 3

Over time the disciples, too, came to reaffirm their own commitment to the values and vision stamped into their lives by his words and deeds. They even believed that in his words were God’s words, and that his vision of a new realm, cultivated by him among them long before he died, was something no executioner or cross could kill.  Jesus was dead.  But he was not dead to them. His spirit, his teachings, his vision was still coursing through their veins.

We can understand such ‘spirit’ or ‘creativity’ as 

      • the emerging of new understanding, 
      • the coming to consciousness of previously untapped potential in the psyche, 
      • the widening and deepening of community, 
      • or all of the above.

Likewise, when we believe in this vision of a possible new realm, we too can reaffirm our commitment to Jesus’ values and vision, and accept a ‘resurrection’ invitation to live life deeply and with zeal.  But it is still scary stuff, hence the ending to Mark’s gospel, because it means denying all of our natural animal inclinations for survival, and letting go of all those ways in which we protect ourselves.  Jesus’ Easter message to us is that to embrace death is to be embraced by life.

To be embraced by life, not scared of it, in all its particularity; it is the only way in which life must be concretely practised. This must become ‘a way of life’.

Perhaps this way of life could be practised and shaped by these thoughts:

        • How do we care for each other interpersonally in ways which do not suffocate and oppress?
        • How is the well-being of our neighbour pursued, where neighbours include the poor, the future generations and the other species of living things.
        • How are communities developed positively around respect and care for each person rather than around a common enemy?
        • How are the systemic causes of non-love eliminated? 

To live with these particularities coursing in our veins, is to live in the spirit of the sage we call Jesus.

Resurrection is not just a subject of a collection of religious stories about a so-called once-only event in the past. “How many years was Easter Sunday?” asks Theologian, Dominick Crossan. Resurrection can and does happen every day when we are:

        • moved by sacred hope and convinced of the profound significance of each person as an infinitely precious being; 
        • when we dream and plan and implement positive change to enhance the well being of the whole of creation, 
        • while also embracing and dealing with the reality of our imperfections and their impact on ourselves, others, and creation.

So, on this Easter Day in the twenty-first year of the twenty-first century, I invite you to consider, either for the first time, or yet again:

        • Life invites us to be startled by Easter, not scared by it.
        • Easter reminds us we are called into deeper community as we focus on the other rather than self.
        • Resurrection is not an escape from death, but an invitation to live life with zeal, because death no longer matters.
        • We are not alone in this life of faith.

How to summarise Easter?  1) Life is renewable. 2) The human spirit is indomitable. 3) A loving, caring existence is stronger than death itself.  Amen.


L: In response to the word reflected on, let us stand and share an affirmation of faith. Beckoning Christ, you call us out of our comfortable ghetto of ‘us’ and ‘them’ to risk discipleship without walls.

R: You call us into a world-wide fellowship where God is worshipped above all other.

Wn: You call us into a world-wide fellowship where prayer is offered day and night.

R: You call us into a world-wide fellowship where we can share what we are with others who love you.

Mn You call us into a world-wide fellowship where each person has something to give to the whole.

R: You call us into a world-wide fellowship where compassion and respect shape missionary endeavour.

L: Keep on beckoning us out of our safe havens into your rich fellowship of challenge and reconciliation, faith and hope.

HYMN 380“Thine Be the Glory” (click here to listen)


L: Lord, please receive our prayers for all your world. Especially we pray this Eastertide for those members of your human family who are dying, and for all who are grieving their passing. Wherever death arrives this day with the roar of bombs or the rattle of machine guns, come risen Christ Jesus;

R: Come quickly, living Friend, with your Easter light.

L: Wherever death arrives today with the malnutrition and disease of refugee camps, come risen Christ Jesus;

R: Come quickly living Friend, with your Easter light.

L: Wherever death arrives today with the assassins knife or the bullet of the hit man, come risen Christ Jesus;

R: Come quickly living Friend with your Easter light.

L: Wherever death arrives today with the swallowing of illegal drugs or the insertion of an injection needle, come risen Christ Jesus;

R: Come quickly living Friend with your Easter light.

L: Wherever death arrives today with the squeal of car tyres or the shouts of an alcoholic brawl, come risen Christ Jesus;

R: Come quickly living Friend with your Easter ight.

L: Wherever death arrives today despite the best of medical care, and watched over by loved ones, come risen Christ Jesus;

R: Come quickly living Friend with your Easter light.

L: Whenever death arrives today as a most welcome friend to those whose bodies are wasted and who long to go home, come risen Christ Jesus;

R: Come quickly living Friend with your Easter light.

L: Wherever death has left in its wake desolate loved ones, desperate orphans, or angry people looking for revenge, come risen Christ Jesus;

R: Come quickly living Friend with your Easter light.

L: God of Easter, please let it be written indelibly on our mind and soul, that nothing can defeat your love, nothing sever us from the grace of our risen Christ. Let is be so written that we awake each morning with faith and hope ingrained, and with love ready flow through every deed we do, to the glory of your wonderful name! Through Christ Jesus, who taught us to pray: Our Father….


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Save us in the time of trial and deliver us from evil.  For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.          

CELEBRATING COMMUNITY: Sacrament of Holy Communion


In praise and gladness lift your voices. In praise and gladness lift your eyes. In praise and gladness lift your hearts. Worship God, Ground and Source of Life, in thankfulness 


L: God is the heart of life.

R: And we are the heartbeat.

L: May our hearts be filled with thanks and praise and songs of joy.

R: We rejoice in the miracle of life and delight in our participation.

L: We give thanks for the invitation to be at this table, for here we are shown our lives. The daily bread of our work and care, the wine of delight, pressed from the fruits of our creativity and our brokenness, with all its pain and self-knowledge. We celebrate the life that is ours for we know we are precious in God’s sight. We celebrate the life on the one called Jesus, pattern of reality for us: life that is love revealed love given and received love in action. Therefore, with all your lovers throughout the ages we praise you saying:

R: Holy, holy, holy, resurrecting God, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God. Hosanna in the highest.

     Bread and Wine

L: We give thanks for the Spirit of New Life active in our lives as it was in the life of Jesus. At this gathering in this sacred place we take bread as Jesus took bread, and we remember as Jesus remembered, the constant presence of the Spirit of Life and Love. We break and share this bread as Jesus broke and shared it.  (Break bread)

R: We share it as our pledge of openness to the Spirit in our midst, and in acknowledgement of our eternal connectedness with the Spirit of Life.

L: We take wine and pour it as Jesus poured it. (Raise cup) We drink as Jesus invited his friends to drink, mindful of a relationship of love and trust between ourselves and the Spirit of Life,

R: believing as Jesus believed, that beyond pain and darkness and death, life in the Spirit continues in ways beyond our imagining.   (Silence followed by consumption of the elements)

     After Communion

L: Living God, we give thanks for this time shared around this table. From now on, whenever we walk in strange places,

R: we shall find your footprints there;

L: whenever we meet with unknown faces,

R: we shall see your image there;

L: whenever we face nameless terror,

R: we shall hear your ‘Fear not’ there;

L: whenever we stumble into unexpected joy,

R: we shall feel your heartbeat there.

L: Wherever we go

R: we start from here.

HYMN 375 – “Come, Let Us With the Lord Arise” (click here to listen)


L: As we prepare to leave this sacred space where we have worshipped together, let us return to our work enlivened and renewed. Where Christ walks,

R: We will follow.

L: Where Christ stumbles,

R: We will stop.

L: Where Christ cries,

R: We will listen.

L: Where Christ suffers,

R: We will hurt.

L; When Christ dies,

R: We will bow our heads in sorrow.

L: When Christ rises again in glory,

R: We will share his endless joy.  


May God the starmaker cradle and circle you.
May God the storyteller beckon and encourage you.
May God the life changer challenge you and cherish you.
May you walk in the light of God’s love and laughter all the moments of your nights and days. Amen!


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