Updated: Apr 11
Easter Day life & hope is ours, even in the midst of this remarkable cultural moment... firstly a few threads of church family news, resources & links in these most curious times & then the outline of todays talk & questions to accompanying this the brightest of days in Christian history!
Most cannot have missed hearing of dear Bob Whyte's passing away in the early hours of last Sunday morning. Beyond the constrictions of funeral practice at present, we'll update when a date is set for a thanksgiving service.
There's been a number of requests for a go-to-location with as many practical COVID-19 helps and links for our wider community: here's this blog.
Amidst the many logistical changes, the Church of England nationally has put back the APCM timescale till before the end of October. As soon as is practicable we will announce the date for this within the normal pattern of church communications.
As we can't put money into Sunday collection bags, here are the details for one off and regular direct debit giving: the bank details are Swanley St. Paul PCC Acc: 80859710 Sort code 20-25-42. Please email Sue at email@example.com with any questions and we will gladly assist. Although our church buildings are temporarily closed, God is very much on the move in our communities and we are here to support, encourage and resource many more at this time.
Our ongoing online resources accompanying this weekly blog piece, are as follows: daily Encouragements from Ephesians at 12noon by Johnny on his Facebook page, Wednesday Worship with Adam at 6pm on our church Facebook page and Sunday word & worship at 1030 on our church facebook page for all. This Sunday we'll continue our 'hospitality at home ' after church via an 1115 with a Zoom group church conversation; sign-in details are in the church family email sent by Sue. We'll aim to have 40minutes of Sunday content, time for you to stand, stretch & get a cuppa and dial in to the link if you're part of our church family! The sight of the many Zoom tiles & happy chaos of people connecting, reflecting & praying together afterwards meant so much too many. In this new-normal on social media particularly, comment, affirm & dialogue with what is being shared as it blesses & helps so many more! For your encouragement our patchy Sunday video offering from last week has had over 1700 views, over 1k full watches! Lots of kingdom life & encouragement!
It could be said that there may be two Easter days in 2020 for the church, today as we remember unforgettably the death-defying power of Jesus,... and that special time up ahead when we will reconnect as the gathered people of God! Until then keep doing your thanksgiving jars, daily capturing on the slip of paper what you are thankful for, where you are experiencing Gods grace, and then on that first Sunday back we'll share this thankfulness together!
Later today 4pm, Easter Sunday J John will lead 20 minutes of input...
In the continued breadth, depth & reach of ministry with and for people in all forms of need,.. rather than more loose foodstuffs, an overstocked Foodbank, small Asda shopping gift cards are welcomed in units of £5 and £10's if you wish, in envelopes & left for distribution via the Vicarage.
Knitting small hearts for those in ITU is a simple community action we could play a part in following a reply from our link at DVH, "Thank you and your Church for all of your support. Welcome to use any pattern, here's some details here, we are just asking that they are small enough to fit in your hand easily. Any wool, any colour of knitted hearts would be great! Anything you send, could you please put inside a plastic bag with the date on. We can then distribute them appropriately. We'll gather them up here at the Vicarage, and Liz Warwick will will liase directly with DVH or drop them off directly yourself, and after a 72-hr check and clean they will be distributed to those in ITU particularly. You can either drop these into the hospital, pull up to main entrance and call us on 01322428431 or post them direct: Wellbeing Team, Trust HQ, Level 4, Darent Valley Hospital, Darenth Wood Road, Dartford, DA2 8DA
General church giving, Asda vouchers or knitted hand-palm hearts may be part of your response, giving & service at this moment. Your participation is welcomed as ever...
In the absence of being together on Maundy Thursday to share in person in the renewal of ordination vows, I was reminded of the ministry liturgy that asks: “Will you be faithful in serving others and diligent in caring for those in need and trouble?" Yes, we will. The church will serve with humility and love, knowing who we are, and most importantly whose we are. We are an Easter people and resurrection is our song.
Here's an astronauts guide to self-isolation: Chris sugguests lots rightly in terms of self-care! Twenty-five mins of raw analysis & pastoral response from Jon Tyson, Phil Moores call to prayer & reflection on church history, Andrew Wilson on a virtual church in the new normal, the perspective that people are more open to the gospel than ever before from Nicky & Pippa Gumbel, Lockdown ideas & resources from Hope 1513, Cultural losses we need through Covid-19, Zack Eswine on trusting God in this cultural moment, there's a free online electronic book resource by John Piper about the Coronavirus & Christ, and here's Phil Knox brilliantly telling the story of God in this spoken word piece. Martin Bashir's take on the importance of Easter, enduringly so! The Spectators perspective on the Corona virus & it's impact on faiths resurgence, Tish Harrison Warren writes brilliantly on the impact of Easter, and Rob who's part of our church family: his delight in abundance! Spring Harvest is offering resources from 13-17th April online via youtube freely, connect if you'd like, and at WTC they're offering a range of short courses by their talented faculty. Here's the details to register for these free resources before the end of June.
Today in our scattered 1030 online offering, Johnny will speak from John 20:1-9 and Adam, Barbara & Steve, will sing In Christ Alone, Forever - the moon and stars, and the Blessing, with Easter Day youth resources, and children's & families materials here too.
God's most unmistakable Message
By faith, Jesus is our life & hope...
Easter Sunday is a string tied around the finger of the world, reminding us that God loves us absolutely.
Three men died, but only one is truly remembered.
Jesus is remembered because He remembers us.
God loves us even when we try to forget Him!
God paid the price in love, in Jesus… so you and I know the hope of God!
God loves us and give us new power of life!
Jesus promises: “I am with you always to the close of the age.”
Because of God’s love, the grave is not the end!
We cringe when we think of death.
Easter is such a mystery, as mysterious as death and life itself.
God has given us a gift -- the gift of life here and now.
Easter says to us, "Live! Love! Experience everything God has for you!"
Questions for discussion
How does the resurrection of Jesus change things for you?
Please consider a 45-second, 3 sentence finish to this sentence: "Easter changed my life...?" Record it, post it & share it on facebook or twitter... #EasterChangedMyLife
Jesus’ resurrection redeems our suffering because in it we can see the beauty of Jesus more clearly. How have or do you best understand this?
How is Jesus resurrection both promise and provision?
In what ways does the resurrection of Jesus give us confidence? I Corinthians 15 v 17.
What difference does it make in your life and mine to be an ‘Easter people’?
When others are afraid, what is our hope and comfort?
Are you and I living out a Good Friday or Easter Sunday world?
Read and reflect on what these scriptures mean for you: Philippians 3 v 10; John 10 v 10; John 20 v 29
‘Because He lives’... How would you finish this sentence?