St. Giles’ Cathedral
Easter Day 2020
John 20: 1-18
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.
11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
A devotion for Easter Day.
“Death, be not proud.”
With this exclamation the poet John Donne begins one of his most famous poems in the series known as the Holy Sonnets. He ends it with the pronouncement, “Death, thou shalt die.” It is a good sentiment to frame our reflections for this Easter Day, which takes place in the context of a world scared by disease and death.
The long fast of Lent is over; we have journeyed through Holy Week; we have sung “What wondrous love is this?” (even if it was with the online choir!) and now, finally we are able to celebrate the victory of life over death, of light over darkness which is at the heart of the mystery that is Easter Day, the day of resurrection. Our hymn today is “The strife is o’er.”
Easter is what marks the very essence of the Christian faith. This person Jesus is not some ancient hippy wandering mystically about, telling people to be nice to each other and doing some healing. Jesus is the one anointed by God (in Greek, Christ) to be the agent for reconciling God’s people to God’s own self. That reconciliation takes place through the mystery of suffering, death and the great miracle of the resurrection which proclaims the ultimate defeat of that which is the great divider between God’s people and God – death itself.
Easter is about the promise of light in the deep darkness.
Easter is about hope when it all seems hopeless
Easter is about life in the midst of death.
The strife is o’er, the battle done;
now is the Victor’s triumph won;
now be the song of praise begun;
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions hath dispersed;
let shouts of holy joy outburst:
The three sad days have quickly sped;
he rises glorious from the dead;
all glory to our risen Head!
He brake the age-bound chains of hell;
the bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
let hymns of praise his triumph tell.
Lord, by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death’s dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live, and sing to thee:
The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed. Thanks be to God!
We give you thanks O God for all who are labouring in these days to mitigate the effect of Covid-19, from health and care workers to supermarket and shop staff; delivery drivers and essential workers to scientists searching for cure and vaccine.
Bless and protect all your children in these days of anxiety and uncertainty.
Help us to hear once again the good news of God’s love this Easter and in the days to come.
Charles Villiers Stanford Ye choirs of new Jerusalem
Be of good courage, render no one evil for evil, hold fast to the good and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you this Easter Day and for ever. Amen
Louis Vierne Final (Symphonie 1)
While the Cathedral is closed, we are losing a very substantial part of our regular income, and it may take a very long time for things to recover after we are able to re-open. All donations, large or small, are therefore very welcome, to help us to survive, and to continue to fulfil our role in the spiritual and cultural life of the city and the country.