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Main Street Community Church, Frodsham

Loving God
Loving Frodsham

Easter Day, 2019

This talk was given by Paul Wintle on .

The total length of the recording is . The talk is interactive with participation from several others. Some contributions are not audible and sound levels are inconsistent.

Before the talk, John 12:1–8 is read by Alan W.

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Outline

Transcript

Alan W: John’s gospel,

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

‘Woman,’ he said, ‘why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned towards him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord.’ And she told them that he had said these things to her.

(John 20:1–18, NIV1984)

Paul W: On that first Easter morning, the impossible happened. I need some help, I need some help to roll the stone away. Who’s going to help me?

Matthew: I’ll help.

Paul W: Rachel, Matthew, thank you very much. Excellent, let’s roll this stone away, let’s move this chair out of the way first, shall we? That’s it: roll it away, roll it away, roll it away. Fantastic, thank you very much. Most of you can’t see that. Thank you very much. Rachel, I need you, come back! [Comment from Bethia] In a minute. Yes, you can see it too. Right, the massive stone had been rolled away. Nobody knows how, nobody knows who, but we know that some hefty blokes were put there , and put it there in the first place. Inside the tomb where Jesus’ body had been, there was now no sign of it. All that was left to see were some clothes that his friends of Jesus had wrapped around him.

How odd, how odd, nobody could have stolen the body. I mean who would want to do that anyway, but the leader of the area had put guards on the tomb. Looks like to me the impossible happened. To help us remember the empty tomb, I need a hand. I’ve got an Easter egg here. I need a hand unwrapping it. Can we unwrap it? Keep unwrapping, keep unwrapping. We may be here for some time. Don’t worry about ripping it. Now, fantastic, it’s open.

All right. Now, do you want to keep it together and then show everybody what’s inside it? Show everybody wants inside, turn around and show everybody what’s inside. The egg is empty. Nothing is inside the egg and that is what– have this, thank you very much.

[laughter]

I know it’s very sad, isn’t it? Because I’m so horrible. Thank you very much for helping. Thank you very much for helping. We’ve got one for all of our normal Bible study people, Matthew , happy Easter! Is Effy too young for an egg? Not yet? That’s a shame, more for the rest of us later. What’s inside the egg? Nothing. Nothing’s in the egg and that’s what the disciples found. That’s what Mary found when she went to the tomb; literally no body. Not only was the tomb empty, but Jesus was walking around meeting Mary and his followers.

Jesus had risen from the dead, and over 500 people saw him in this new body over those next 40 days. On the first Easter morning, the impossible happened. Jesus was raised to life and he met the people he knew, their lives were transformed, their transformation from sad and confused and despairing , they became joyful and hopeful and full of awe.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life,” and that’s our theme this morning. What does that mean for us today? I’ve got four very quick points all beginning with F because I come from a Baptist tradition and all of the sermon points begin with the same letter. Make mum and dad feel very much at home because they go to a Baptist Church.

The first F is forgiveness. The Bible teaches us that each of us has rebelled against God, that we have ignored the way that is best for us to live. The Bible teaches us that there had been a way for us to get to God but we had messed up. Our wrong things have put a blockage between ourselves and God. So God so loved the world that He gave his only son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life. Let’s listen to what Peter has to say to Cornelius in Acts Chapter 10. May, would you come forward and read for us? Thank you.

May:

Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

‘We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen – by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’

(Acts 10:34–43, NIVUK)

Paul W: Thank you. Peter told Cornelius whoever believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through his name. Let me illustrate sin and forgiveness. With this sellotape and this Matthew, because when we choose to ignore God’s way, so Matthew will turn around and face everybody. When we choose to ignore God’s ways, which we all do, the Bible says calls this sin, explains that we become like slaves.

So Matthew’s sin might, for example, you might want [inaudible 00:10:10] thank you. Matthew’s sin, for example, might be lying. So you might lie about something and then somebody else did something else. The problem with that is that you then have to make another lie, and then you have to make another lie, and then you have to make another lie, and the problem with lying is that we don’t know when the true things and the lie begin. Of course, with Matthew, I’m sure he never lies, but, of course, we’re all guilty of doing something, I’m getting really dizzy now. Matthew, do you want to turn around?

[laughter]

Keep going, keep going, keep going. Excellent, thank you.

Matthew: I’m giving up.

Paul W: So am I.

[laughter]

The problem with our sin, whether it’s lying, whether it’s jealousy, whether it’s being really, really angry at the wrong things, whether it’s gossip, the problem is it happens to us all and this sin just kind of wraps us up like this.

Matthew: Except not exactly with sellotape.

Paul W: Except not exactly with sellotape.

Matthew: I don’t think there’s any way out.

Paul W: No, that’s the problem, I don’t think there’s any way out, Matthew said, there’s no way out. That’s the problem with sin. That’s the problem. So we might have this problem with sin, and it’s like you can’t see it but there are chains; they’re like the chains of sin. You can’t see them, but they are there. You can kind of see the tape, but you know what I mean.

The good news is that God so loved the world that He gave his only son that whoever believes in him might not die but have eternal life. When Jesus died on the cross, he made payment for our sins and that’s why there were earthquakes and the sun went out and people were coming alive again; because God’s power overcame everything including sin.

When Jesus rose from the tomb, he showed that every sin can be forgiven and that nothing can keep us from God. [Holding up scissors] I only remembered these part way through the service.

[laughter]

As Peter told Cornelius, our part is to trust in what Jesus has done for us. So if Matthew turns to Jesus-

Matthew: Hi, Jesus.

[laughter]

Paul W: -and ask forgiveness for his sins.

Matthew: Can you forgive me, please?

Paul W: Matthew will be forgiven and literally set free. I wonder if we can do this without cutting your arm off.

Matthew: If you do cut my arm off then I’ll be …

[background chatter]

Paul W: Let’s cut it down, shall we? We’ve got a doctor here in case things go terribly wrong. There you go. You might want to …

[applause]

Matthew can be set free from his sin and we always have an opportunity– Rachel wants to be tied up now, does she? You want to be taped up as well? No? What’s your hand up for?

Paul W: What do you want to say?

Rachel: I know another one of the words, fellowship.

Paul W: Fellowship, we’ll come to that in just a minute. You’re ahead of me. You’re ahead of me, but well done. Good thinking. So we can be literally set free. We have the opportunity to turn to Jesus to ask for his forgiveness to help us in our lives to be his friend because God so loved the world that He gave his only son that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.

That’s the first F, the second F is friends or , as Rachel said, fellowship. Jesus’ resurrection means that the impossible happened because our sin keeps us away from the goodness of God. Jesus’ life and death and resurrection means that we can now be friends with God. Everyone’s got a friend, right? Yes. Even if we feel lonely right now, there will be people in our world who care for and about us: family, friends, people in the playground at school, those who we spend time with at work, we get to know them, they become our friends.

We trust them with our secrets. We might even go on holiday with them as we enjoy spending so much time with them. There’s a reason why there’s a big banner by our doors here and the banner shouts, “Everyone always welcome.” That’s because Jesus is alive and Jesus is your friend and he is my friend, and we want others, our friends, to become friends of Jesus too; it’s that simple. That’s why our church exists. It isn’t to make sure that they know the right way of understanding the Bible, though that’s important, or to tell them how to live, the work of the church is just to love people.

Actually, when we look at the life of Jesus, he was friends, especially, with the ones who were perhaps a little bit odd and a little bit different. Says he, trying not to make eye contact with anybody here.

[laughter]

Even if people don’t become friends of Jesus, it’s always our job to ensure that everyone is always welcome and they feel cared for and loved, because for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. That’s our second F; friends or fellowship.

Our third F is the word follow. Now that we are friends of God because we have been forgiven for all the wrong things in our lives, the way for us is open for us to follow Jesus , to be part of his mission in the world and to be Jesus to other people. The stories that Jesus told, the miracles that he did, all point to us taking part in his work now, to be his hands and his feet and his eyes and his ears all around the world.

Some of us might think that we’ve got a special job in praying for someone who’s sick to get better. Someone of us might have the chance to stand up for someone in difficulty. We all have a story to tell. I’d like to invite Jo to join me. Jo was baptized a year ago on Easter Sunday, and I have just got three or four questions for Jo as she’s been changed and transformed. Jo, tell us what your year after being baptized has been like?

Jo: It’s been a very busy year. I’ve been – before my baptism, I was very, very ill and with two different illnesses and both consultants said it was a miracle that I survived and so that’s what brought me to have a faith and believe in God because there was a reason why I’m still alive. In the past year since my baptism, I’ve gone back to work after being off for 20 months. I took part in the Chester Mystery Play, which was an amazing experience, and I was a gossip which is …

[laughter]

Jo: Only in sort of-

Paul W: You were acting?

Jo: -for theatrical ways. Yes. What else have I done? I just seem to go to work and spend a lot of time with church and my friends in church.

Paul W: How has your faith encouraged you or blessed you or changed you in these last 12 months?

Jo: Before my baptism I think I was a little bit anxious that I had to do every single thing right, I had to pray at this time of day, had to read this bit of the Bible, I had to do things in a regimented order, but since baptism I’ve relaxed into it and my faith is part of my everyday life: I brush my teeth, I do my prayers, it’s part of my life; that’s who I am now.

Paul W: Thank you. Tell us , how do you talk about your faith to others?

Jo: It depends who it is. I mean at work I talk about church and talk about friends at church and different parts of the Bible and different parts of what’s happening in the theological calendar.

Paul W: I ’ll have to take lessons.

Jo: Well, to my family and friends I talk about different aspects of God and how my thoughts are of God. My daughter actually started talking to me a lot about God and Christianity and spiritualism.

Paul W: Excellent. Spiritual things. And finally, tell us about your church family, Jo?

Jo: When I first started coming to church with Gill and Gareth, everybody used to talk to each other and I used to think, “What are they talking about? How does everyone know everyone?” It felt a bit like a wallflower. Now my church family are my family; I talk to everybody, I’m interested in everybody and everybody is part of my family. I love them all.

Paul W: Excellent. Thank you. Is there anything else you’d like to say before we move on?

Jo: No. Happy Easter.

[applause]

Paul W: Thank you, Jo. So following Jesus is a joy by the sounds of things, t hough there are struggles. There are songs that say we should make a joyful noise to the Lord, especially on this Resurrection Sunday, because God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.

Finally, our fourth F is fantastic hope. Okay, that’s two words. We’ve just heard Jo talking about how living for Jesus has transformed her life. To add to that, Jo’s life is now safe with God. Not just now, but eternally; that means forever and forever and forever. Most of you probably can’t see what’s on this plate, but– maybe you can now. There’re tiny, tiny little cress seeds. Tiny little cress seeds. They’re little and they’re brown and they’re tiny and they’re not going to add up to much really.

Not much to look at, but if a seed is planted, if a seed is planted– these were planted last Monday or Tuesday, so they’re still getting there, really, but those seeds are starting to make something grow. That’s pretty cool I think really. I thought if I saw that seed just lying there I’d think, “It’s not going to add up to much, is it?” Then with a bit of water, a bit of warmth, a bit of love– well, I just left them on my desk and watered them really.

[laughter]

A little bit of care makes people grow. Fantastic hope. Just as followers of Jesus have hope that one day they will meet God face to face. Knowing that our lives are safe and secure in the God who created us, so we have fantastic hope that death is not the end. Although we feel the sadness and pain of people who are no longer with us, yet there is hope; sure and certain fantastic hope of resurrection to eternal life. That’s why we celebrate the importance of the life of Jesus and his resurrection today because there is eternal hope; that hope which begins now and goes on and on and on and on because God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him, may not perish but have eternal life.

Today we have discovered that on that first Easter morning the impossible had happened: the tomb was empty, Jesus had risen and death had been defeated. The resurrection of Jesus means that we can be forgiven, we can be friends with God. As a result, we are invited to follow Jesus as we have that fantastic hope. So this little verse, John 3:16 , is good news for you and for me and for the whole world; “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.”

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Scripture quotations marked NIV1984 on this page and in the talk are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked NIVUK on this page and in the talk are from the Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.