April 12, 2020 Service




The moment of Easter is the watershed for Christians. The whole existence of the church, its faith and its belief hangs here. As John Shelby Spong writes in his book, The Easter Moment – “If there is no eternal, unshakable, life-giving truth behind the Easter event, then Christianity collapses into a pious hope, a false dream, and even a cruel delusion.” So, while the story raises many questions and doubts, and a variety of opinions, today’s readings celebrate that behind these stories is some mystical, eternal truth, stronger than any fact, and irrefutable. To quote Psalm 118, “This is the day our God has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Thanksgiving for Baptism

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Joined to Christ in the waters of baptism, we are raised with him to new life.  Let us give thanks for the gift of baptism.

We give you thanks, O God, for in the beginning you created us in your image and planted us in a well-watered garden.  In the desert you promised pools of water for the parched, and you gave us water from the rock.  When we did not know the way, you sent the Good Shepherd to lead us to still waters.  At the cross, you watered us from Jesus’ wounded side, and on this day, you shower us again with the water of life.  We praise you for your salvation through water, for water in the font, and for all water everywhere.  Bathe us in your forgiveness, grace, and love.  Satisfy the thirsty, and give us the life only you can give.  To you be given honor and praise through Jesus Christ our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.


God of mercy, we no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for he is alive and has become the Lord of life. Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ, and help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life with you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.


Our gifts for Mission & Service help alleviate poverty and homelessness.

The Downtown Mission of Windsor, Ontario, provides food for the body, nurture for the spirit, shelter for the homeless, advocacy for the impoverished, and opportunity for human growth—all through its outreach program.

This faith-based, not-for-profit organization focuses on serving and advocating for men, women, and children who struggle with poverty and homelessness. Whether it’s providing emergency shelter, a hot meal, or a food pack for an individual or a family, the Downtown Mission is there with faith and caring.

Thanks to a grant from Mission & Service, The Downtown Mission opened its doors in 1972 when a group of forward-thinking individuals at Central United Church started a coffee program for the area’s homeless men. Called the Open Door Lounge, it had a maximum capacity of 28 and served coffee and donuts.

More than 40 years later, the Mission continues to give thanks for the support of the community and of Mission & Service that has enabled it to grow and meet the needs of those it serves by offering a wide and diverse range of services. Many people’s lives have been changed as a result of the love, care, and respect they received from The Downtown Mission during difficult periods they faced. A little help made a great deal of difference.

If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.


God of grace and power, we have longed and prepared for this joyous day:  on Ash Wednesday we humbled ourselves before you, on Maundy Thursday we learnt a new commandment, on Good Friday we cried at the foot of the cross, on Holy Saturday we kept vigil, and on this Blessed Sunday we rejoice in the risen power of love, hope, and new life.  Make this rising real in our own lives and the Spirit alive in us as we hear, once again, the resurrection story.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

Jeremiah 31:1-6 

God’s final word is always “Yes.” Because God’s love is everlasting, God always remains faithful. Ancient Israel is assured that it will be rebuilt and have plentiful crops. The people of God too will ultimately be reunited.


Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24)


Colossians 3:1-4

Easter means new life for us as it first meant new life for Christ. His resurrection reshapes the entire focus and motivation for our lives since we are now hidden with the risen Christ in God.


John 20:1-18 

John’s gospel describes the confusion and excitement of the first Easter: the stone is moved, disciples race back and forth, and angels speak to a weeping woman. Then, Jesus himself appears.



Canadian author, Margaret Lawrence, titled one of her books, A Jest of God.  For the lives of some people, this would appear to be a present reality.  Either that, or they are just victims of bad timing and circumstance.  Whatever the reason, life does not seem to acknowledge fairness or justice for some individuals or their families.

When the new family moved in down our street, my sisters and I became close friends with their daughter, Susan.  Susan had her struggles.  She was also obsessed with death.  She spoke about it in a joking way, yet there was an edge to her comments.

On Ash Wednesday, 1980, just before we left for worship, we received a phone call saying that Susan had committed suicide.  She was 19.

Susan had talked about suicide often.  Unfortunately, none of us took her seriously.  At the age of 16 she told my sister, Kelly, that she knew she would not live to be 30.  The Sunday before she died, Susan told Kelly that she was going to kill herself.  Kelly thought she had talked Susan out of doing it.  Sadly, she was mistaken.       

A jest of God?

One spring morning my mother called to tell me that my second cousin, Nicole, died on that Thursday from an assumed aneurysm.  She was 19.  Apparently, the last few years were tough for her because she had struggled with low self-esteem.  Nicole was just beginning to get her life back together.  She was to graduate in a month and had been shopping with her mom and sister for a grad dress. 

A jest of God?

You raise your children praying that they will stay away from alcohol and drugs, keep away from the wrong crowd, live clean, study hard, find a good job and hope you got the message through to them that you love them no matter what.  Then, the rug of life is pulled out from under their feet.  As a parent I would find it difficult NOT to be angry with God, NOT to accuse God of some horrid joke, or worse, taking my kid to test my faith!  When those situations in life occur that leave us sitting numb and void, is it even possible to keep the faith in that moment?  Should anyone blame us if we can’t?

It all started when he entered their lives.  In retrospect, it was a rather odd appearance.  For some, they were compelled from within to search out this individual who possessed a gentle but authoritative presence.  Others were called personally, much to their surprise.  And still others, it would appear, had gotten to know him by word of mouth, witnessing miracles, or through personal connections.  A small, close-knit group of women and men grew to love deeply the person called Jesus.  And how could they not?  The compassion, understanding, acceptance and love that was offered to them so freely filled their every longing, loneliness, ignorance and desire.  To know Jesus was to gain new understanding of oneself, and one’s relationship with God.  There was something beautiful, mysterious, yet sad, about him.  He even had the power to raise Lazarus from the dead!  Yes, that was it–the power–Jesus must surely be from God!  This was the Messiah they had been waiting for! 

And then came betrayal, arrest, conviction, crucifixion.  Their loved one, the source of their hopes, dreams, wholeness, their future, was dead.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

The human body is capable of coping with relatively high levels of stress, yet while the body may cope, the brain becomes confused.  There stands Mary Magdalene, alone, weeping.  Her grief is so great.  It is the dark before the dawn.  Her mind is so overwhelmed that she does not comprehend that she is speaking with two angels, nor does she recognize Jesus – until he calls her by name.

I have tried to think of a moment in my life where my joy could have matched that of Mary, upon having her eyes opened and throwing herself upon Jesus in exhilaration.  I cannot. However, I am unable to get the moment of Mary’s insight out of my mind.  Jesus called her by name and she knew him.  Her life was changed.  Despair was changed to hope.  Christ’s resurrection held tremendous meaning for her in that moment.  It was a present reality.

Easter Sunday in 1980 was painfully relevant and very powerful for me.  I knew Susan had been a Christian, but she, like many, was so filled with despair and depression that she could not hear the comforting words of Christ, “I will not leave you desolate, I have called you, you are mine.”  Susan was not able to trust the wonderful hope that Christ gave when he conquered death, bringing with that new life.  She doubted that Jesus had called her in her baptism to be a child of God.  Instead of hearing Jesus call her name in love, Susan heard only the overwhelming sound of silence.

 It took a conscious effort to rest the pain of the death of my friend at the foot of the cross, trusting in the victory of Christ and the belief that Susan would see her Redeemer, be embraced in the arms of grace, and, like Mary, have her despair turned to joy by the calling of her name.

Easter Sunday, 2002, was also painfully relevant and very powerful for me.  My prayer was that Nicole’s parents and sister would hear the voice of Jesus amidst their shock, their pain and their grief; would hear that death is not the end; that there is hope; that God’s promises are true, and that, indeed, through Christ there is healing and ultimately wholeness.

The passion of Jesus Christ was not a jest of God!  It was a loving God who chose to walk with a broken and lost humanity in a frail human body.  It was a loving God who, in the midst of the struggles and pain of life, connected with people so they could encounter unconditional love, acceptance and the healing power of forgiveness in an intensely personal way.

For Mary Magdalene and the others, their grief was exchanged with immense joy.  And so, it is for us.  We have been redeemed!  We are loved and forgiven!  We have been died for!  Christ has overcome death! 

Yes, we experience the loss of loved ones here on earth.  We suffer pain and anguish, we grieve.  Sometimes we may feel angry at God, experience confusion and ask many, unanswerable, questions – as I am sure the followers of Jesus did.  Jesus has said we will not be left desolate.  A place is prepared for us and we shall be able to embrace Christ in our resurrected form.  Christ’s love for us, his resurrection, give us that hope. 

In the midst of despair Christ calls us, individually, by name.  We belong to Christ.  I am certain that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, no, not anything in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our triumphant, resurrected Lord.

CHRIST IS RISEN!  Christ is risen indeed!

Go forth then, and spread the Gospel of Christ so that others may be called, believe and receive hope, peace and everlasting life.  AMEN.



We pray for all newborns – those tiny ones who have made the journey of birth.  They are embarking upon a life full of possibilities and potential. May the positive choices of life be theirs.  Risen Christ give us new life in you.

We pray for all those baptized this Easter. May their lives be full of the gifts that you shower upon us.  Risen Christ give us new life in you.

We pray for all children – those energetic ones who grow before our very eyes, exploring every nook and cranny of creation, expanding our understanding of you.  May they deepen their love for you.  Risen Christ give us new life in you.

We pray for all teens – those growing in faith who help us discover you in the questions as well as the answers. May they strengthen their faith through the testing of their doubts. Risen Christ give us new life in you.

We pray for all students – those pondering ones who, in stretching the boundaries of their thoughts, help us explore the wonder of your creation. May they keep you as the foundation upon which to build their sense of the universe.  Risen Christ give us new life in you.

We pray for all those who work – those down-to-earth ones who struggle to maintain a sense of your presence amidst the hustle and bustle of survival. May they be assured that you are with them always, even in those times of turning away. Risen Christ give us new life in you.

We pray for all parents – those concerned ones who know only too well that no person can be fully protected from the bad things of this imperfect world. May they know in their hearts that you have experienced, even to death, all that the world can wreak upon its children and can both rejoice with those who celebrate and weep with those who mourn. Risen Christ give us new life in you.

We pray for all in our world who suffer and are broken-hearted – those wounded ones who despair and see no light anywhere in their lives. May they experience such a sense of your abiding love, and find in the human faces that surround them such a depth of care, that no despair will become too great to bear or to heal. Risen Christ give us new life in you.  We bring before you our family members, friends and community members who are in need of your peace and healing hand at this time:  Rita Covernton; Mike Froese; Brooke Alexiuk; Abbie; Tracy Skoglund; Carolyn & Douglas; Don; Amber; Nicole; Gordon Dreger; Scott Brown; Diane Dreger; the family of Annie Grossman; Elizabeth & David.

We pray for all who are experiencing the pain of aging – those enduring ones who wonder if life has anything but more limits to offer. May they become aware of new opportunities opening within their limitations and a sense of peace in simply being.  Risen Christ give us new life in you.

We pray for all who are dying – those tired ones who may fear that great unknown.  May they rest in peace in the embrace of your certain mercy and care and know that they are coming to a new journey of birth into eternal life. Risen Christ give us new life in you.

We offer these prayers to you dear God, sure that in you is new life for all creation.  Amen.

(The Whole People of God™ • April 12, 2020 Copyright © Wood Lake Publishing)




May the One who brought forth Jesus from the dead raise you to new life, fill you with hope, and turn your mourning into dancing.

May the blessing of God – Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all life – be with us now, and always. Amen.


From Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2015 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS011617