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The following link givse you access to significant music resource collections

Bill Wallace | Songs for Download from Progesssive Christianity website

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Tags: Easter, Resources

The Work of Easter Today

Rosalie Sugrue writes...with thanks to Thurman and Tirabassi

(too many words for Jim Strathdee’s tune)

When the song of the wind starts to growl,
when the clouds dim the sun in the sky,
when the chocolate eggs are melted,
and the bunnies back to being pests,
the work of Easter begins:

to visit the those who can’t get out,
and those who won’t remember
whose only moment left is now.

Winter prods and
Easter prompts us:
to write cards to friends not on the net,
to stand up against oppression,
to notice discrimination,
and write emails and submissions
to hassle those who hold the power.

Winter prods and
Easter prompts us:
to move from
complacent indoor comfort
by turning thought to action
and see Christ alive in justice
and find compassion risen indeed.

To bring the peace where we can pass it,
share hosannas beyond the church
and hold Alleluia warmth as music in our hearts.

Easter Responsive Prayer for Others - Penny Guy

https://kiwiconnexion.nz/user/view.php?id=351

Living Christ

Today we celebrate your resurrection with the hope it brings for transformation and new life
and we think of those who desperately need change and hope

Those who, like Judas, have lost their way
who have been tempted by the prospect of fame, fortune or an easier life to abandon their principles and start down the wrong path.

Resurrected Christ, help us to roll away the stone of bad choices
so that your love may break through.

We think of those who, like Peter, see violence as the answer
who are quick to resort to swords, fists or hate-filled words to solve their problems.

Resurrected Christ, help us to roll away the stone of violence
so that your love may break through.

We think of those who, like the disciples, let their friends down
who are too tired, too busy or too wrapped up in their own problems
to help those who need them.

 Resurrected Christ, help us to roll away the stone of self-centredness
so that your love may break through.

We think of those, who like the Pharisees, are not open to new ways of thinking
who are narrow-minded - clinging to old prejudices and points of view
and refusing to listen to those who think differently

Resurrected Christ, help us to roll away the stone of self-righteousness
so that your love may break through.

We think of those, who like Pilate, who wash their hands of situations
who don’t want to be inconvenienced or have their life upset
so choose to do the easy thing instead of the good and moral thing

Resurrected Christ, help us to roll away the stone of expediency
so that your love may break through.

We think of those, who like Peter, are too afraid to speak the truth
who don’t challenge those who say hurtful, bigoted or untrue things
because they fear the consequences.

 Resurrected Christ, help us to roll away the stone of fear
so that your love may break through.

We think of those, who like Mary, are in mourning
who have lost something or someone near and dear to them
and are in deep despair

Resurrected Christ, help us to roll away the stone of sorrow

so that your love may break through.

Living Christ, help us to recognise the stones in ours and others’ lives
and to roll them away to reveal the prospect of new life.

Amen

Easter Through the Eyes of John by Earnest Willis

Easter study resource. You can also download the booklet Easter Through the  Eyes of Peter, Mary and John, as a print ready A4 booklet to fold. You will find the link to it  below as the attachment to this journal entry.

It was by the Sea of Galilee that I first met Jesus. Peter always thought he was the strongest fisherman amongst us. My brother James and I were younger. Mum had always told us we were destined for greatness. I believed her and saw myself as confident and handsome. James and I liked to keep up with what was happening in our area so we had gone and heard this new preacher John the Baptist. He talked of preparing the way of someone great coming. Would the long awaited Messiah come in my life time?

We were sitting in father’s boat one day helping him to mend the nets when along the shore came Peter, his brother Andrew and a stranger. They said he was a new Preacher who had asked them to “come follow him.”. James and I were not going to let Peter and Andrew have the upper hand. Us fishermen are a pretty competitive bunch really. Can’t hurt, we thought. We were due for a break anyway so we joined them.

Jesus travelled through Galilee preaching in the synagogues and healing people. Sometimes large crowds gathered in the open air to hear him. I thought to myself this Preacher is above all others. I had a feeling right from the start that he might be the one John the Baptist spoke of. It was strange because I couldn’t get enough of his words. To watch how he spoke and treated people who were sick was absolutely amazing.

One day Jesus said I’m going to choose 12 men to work more closely with me. How I hoped he would pick me. When he said my name John it was sheer music to my ears. Was this my chance to achieve greatness? Where would this lead me.
One day Jesus took us 12 up a mountain just to have time to ourselves. He taught us so much that day I thought my brain might explode. He talked about the commandments and the Jewish Law in a new way. A way that seemed to make sense. He spoke about the issues of life. Anger and revenge, lust and love, worry, giving, fear, money. In fact he touched on almost everything possible. Really special was the day he taught us how to pray. I could remember every word almost straight away. Our Father it began, We could call God our Father. Some how I just knew everything he said was true. I marvelled how so many people came to hear him. But you should have seen how he could debate with the Religious Leaders.
On one occasion he gave us such a buzz. He said “I am sending you out in pairs to do the things you have watched me do. Preach, teach and heal the sick. You are to take no money or provisions but learn to rely on the support the people give you. Anyone who listens to you and receives you receives me.”

Was I ready for action. Ready to preach, teach and heal as I had watched Jesus do. When we all got back together we had some great stories to share. I just had the feeling I had achieved more than the others. All I wanted to be was Jesus’ right hand man. His best friend and confident. Jesus did seem to trust me, my brother James and Peter.

I knew in my heart I had found my destiny. One day we argued about which one of us was the greatest. Who should sit in the top spot. That’s when Jesus burst my bubble. He put a child in our midst and said we had to have faith like a kid. That whoever thought they should be first had to learn to be last. Jesus seemed to look straight at me when he said that. Then he said “if you want to follow me you have to take up a cross to follow” then he paused and added “for whoever wants to save their life will lose it but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Sometimes it seemed that he almost talked in riddles.
Did I have to lose my life for him? These thoughts went round and round in my brain. Then Jesus started to talk about his own death. Surely the Messiah could not be killed. I must admit I worried about what terrible events might be ahead of us.
One day I asked my brother James to go with me to Jesus and ask if one of us could sit on his right hand and one on his left. Jesus said we had to learn to be servants as he was. In his kingdom there was no place for greatness.

Passover was near. It became clear that Jesus was headed for Jerusalem. We entered the city in style but things quickly got out of hand. We found a nice room to have our last passover meal together in. Later we went with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane. Everything went from bad to worse after that. There was Judas with a bunch of soldiers. Jesus arrested and pushed from pillar to post while the Religious Leaders figured out what he had done wrong. We all scattered but I was mindful of Jesus mother Mary and Mary Magdalene and kept a pretty close eye out for them.
Of course we wanted to know what was happening but we were trying to stay safe ourselves.

It was terrible watching that last long slow painful walk. The condition he was in made me so fearful. Watching those last final hours of my friend and master Jesus was almost more than I could endure. But there was no way I would leave the two Marys on their own.

Then I was stunned. One of the last things Jesus did was speak to me and say “look after my mother, she is your mother now.”

Jesus made a new person out of me. He taught me how to love and how to serve. That will be my life’s work.

Study Note
John was self assured and confident almost to the point of arrogant. He had a lot to learn from Jesus. His quest to be great, the best, first in line were stumbling blocks. It seemed Jesus had to work quite hard to break down these things and teach John to love and serve. When he was the one who had compassion to see that Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene needed support, Jesus knew he had learnt well.
We too can be tripped up by a sense of confidence and a need to be the best and greatest at everyone else’s expense. Sometimes we don’t really see how we look to others, we are so busy getting the things we have decided must be achieved. How does this fit with the servant role?
Jesus said the first have to learn to be last to allow the last to be first in His Kingdom.

Prayer
Dear Lord - so much of what you were teaching the disciples seemed to be upside down to how they thought things should be. Nothing has changed. Today it is just the same for us. Forgive us when we are slow to learn. You taught love and service to each other over and above our own need for success and achievement. May this Easter season teach us all something new. In Jesus name. Amen.

Easter Through the Eyes of Mary by Earnest Willis

Easter study resource. You can also download the booklet Easter Through the  Eyes of Peter, Mary and John, as a print ready A4 booklet to fold. You will find the link to it  below as the attachment to this journal entry.

It’s hard for me to explain what my life was like before I met Jesus. I know life was not easy for those living with me. An illness meant that people kept their distance. It could be unnerving and I guess some folk were even frightened of me. I suffered with strange attacks that would just suddenly happen. They sent my body our of control. I didn’t seem to know what I said or did. People thought that I was possessed by demons. That’s what I heard them whisper and mutter amongst themselves. Mother used to despair and say “Mary, what am I going to do with you,”

I only know that I got a feeling that something was going to happen. It did - this something and the next I knew I would find myself lying on the floor or on the street. Dirty, disorientated and sometimes even bleeding and injured. I always felt sick and really tired afterwards.

One day I picked up from some very excited village folk that Jesus the preacher, teacher and healer was headed to our town.
I wondered. Could this be my chance to get well? The more I thought about it the more I became sure that this might be my only chance of living a normal life. Of marriage and children. I carefully listened to conversations and watched and waited. Would this man called Jesus really stop by here? Then word came that he and his followers were getting near. Nothing and nobody was going to stop me now. I waited my chance trying to mix and mingle with the crowd. Jesus seemed to be looking my way. I made sure my eyes met his. I just looked at him with every part of my being and tried to talk without saying anything. In an instant I felt he knew my need. When his eyes met mine a strange calm spread through my whole body. I got my chance. Jesus healed my illness. It just vanished. Suddenly I felt healthy and well and my mind was crystal clear.

Rushing back home I cleaned and dressed, grabbed some things and what money I could. Noticing that there were other women travelling with Jesus. I decided to become one of them. Right at that moment I felt I could follow this man Jesus to the ends of the earth. As I found out later Jesus had healed some of the other women in the group so we became firm friends.

We always new our place. Men’s business was just that. We women knew to keep in the background and support the Master and his disciples in any way we could. If and when we were asked.
As we moved about the countryside the crowds who came to listen and learn from Jesus grew. I had not only found healing. I had found a purpose, friends and support amongst this group. Like the other women I listened and learned and helped where and when I could.

Frequently I watched Jesus look at others with that knowing meeting of eyes as he had done when I first looked at him. I watched his gentleness, his concern, his ability to leave everyone he came in touch with in a better place. Many, like me, would never ever forget the day they met Jesus. He said a lot of things to the disciples as he called them; the trusted 12 he had picked to be his inner circle. Sometimes I heard them talking amongst themselves and going back to ask him questions as they tried to understand. This Jesus seemed to have a different spin on all the things they thought they knew.

No one could doubt his way with people. The time went so fast. Soon it would be passover when many headed to Jerusalem. I heard the men say that the Romans were ready to control the crowds and that any trouble would be quickly dealt with. I could see by the worried looks and I could hear some of the whispers that said they hoped Jesus would stay away.
Jesus seem to change a bit. Almost preoccupied with his own thoughts. We all knew that he was the boss. Then it seemed that almost with a sense of relief he said it.

“We are going to Jerusalem.” I know some of his closest friends tried to ask was this wise. But even I could see his mind was made up.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem a large crowd met us. Jesus had folk find a young donkey for him to ride into that great city. I thought what fun. It was a happy, party like atmosphere. The people got into the swing of things waving palm branches and cheering. Jesus arrived into Jerusalem in great style. Not one person in that great city could have missed knowing about this event. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief and thought this passover will be OK.

How wrong we were. Trouble seemed to come out of nowhere. Yelling and fights and arguments and soldiers rushing around with drawn swords. It was hard for our group to keep together. Naturally us women sort of moved around at the rear so we didn’t always see exactly what was happening.
It quietened down by night time and we all met to have the traditional passover meal together. As was our place, we helped prepare the food and did the domestic things. I heard that the Religious Leaders were ready to get rid of Jesus. How could they? He was their long awaited Messiah. Why couldn’t they see that?

I was on the edge of the Garden of Gethsemane when Judas arrived with a bunch of soldiers. Judas. No. He was one of us. Jesus was led away.

Over those next awful days I tried to follow everything that was happening and why. Then came the moment when Jesus was brought out before the crowd and Pontus Pilate asked. “Who do you want set free? Jesus or Barabbas? “

I couldn’t believe it. Everyone shouted Barabbas. “What will I do with Jesus?” Pilate asked. Every voice around me shouted crucify him, over and over again. I felt sick.

Then Pilate announced that Jesus would be crucified and washed his hands of the decision. I was so angry. His hands might be clean but his soul would never be free of this terrible deed.

I was so tired and stressed and upset and angry that by the time Jesus appeared on that last walk to Golgotha carrying that horrible big wooden cross my feet did not seem to want to move. I could see he had been badly beaten and a crown of thorns pushed into his head. This was my Jesus. My healer, my Saviour, my friend and I could do nothing for him.

Yes I could—I could look after Jesus mother. Her heart was breaking so hard that she could not speak.

Together we held each other tightly and slowly followed the crowd. Tears mixed with dust and dirt stained our faces.
How could we watch—Yet how could we not watch?

Study Note
Mary - owed so much to Jesus. For her need was so great. Her life was miserable and uncertain. Family struggled with her and no one wanted to be her friend —that was until Jesus came into her life.
Her relationship with Jesus was life changing.
Our relationship with Jesus should be life changing too. Yet for most of us I guess we don’t have as much that needs changing in our lives as Mary had.
Or do we? The important thing for Mary was she knew her need. And she knew that Jesus was the one who could supply her need.
Maybe, just maybe we sometimes struggle to know our need and to realize that just like Mary Jesus is our answer as well.

Prayer
Lord you have given us so much. Thank you. We live in a time and place where it seems we have everything we need. For we are able to source and supply for ourselves whatever it is we think we want.
Forgive us when we are unable to separate wants from needs. The important stuff from the unimportant. Forgive us when we don’t even see the needs of those around us.
Jesus saw every need that came his way and the people whose lives he touched were never the same again. As the hands and feet and heart of Jesus today help us to be the same. Amen

Easter Through the Eyes of Peter by Earnest Willis

Easter study resource. You can also download the booklet Easter Through the  Eyes of Peter, Mary and John, as a print ready A4 booklet to fold. You will find the link to it  below as the attachment to this journal entry.

There I was that day fishing from the shore of Lake Galilee with my brother Andrew. We were throwing the net into the water and letting it sink, giving it some time then hauling it in. A strange bloke came along and stood silently watching us for a while.

Then he said, "come follow me and I will show you how to fish for people."

Imagine that. I've always been known for my quick thinking and decision making. I was a bit tired of fishing anyway and this guy had something sort of different about him. I thought let's give this a whirl. We can always come back to our nets. I had no idea what Andrew and I were letting ourselves in to. Soon a few more men joined us. We watched and listened and followed as this man Jesus went about preaching and teaching.

One day he said he had chosen 12 of us to be on his team. He was obviously a prophet of some sort, a preacher and a teacher. His stories and charisma held us spellbound. Sometimes he preached to crowds and then there were special times when with just us present he taught the ways of God.

We watched him do many things no ordinary person could do. I for one wouldn't even try. It wasn't magic. It was sheer power from a pretty spectacular source.

One day he asked us who people were saying he was. We had heard all sorts of descriptions. Then he said "who do you say I am?" It suddenly hit me and I blurted out. "You are the Messiah the son of the living God." I was bang on and Jesus said, "well done. You are Peter (which means rock). God has given you this answer. You are the rock on which I will build my Church." Boy was I proud.

A little later with James and John Jesus took us away by ourselves. We went up a mountain. Jesus became like a heavenly light. We saw him talking with Moses and Elijah. I wanted to preserve this moment forever, it was so special.

 3 years we had been with Jesus, listening and learning the things of God. Just the way he explained everything made him a stand out leader. Then he became worried, a bit withdrawn and almost secretive.

 One day he just announced that we would go to Jerusalem for the Passover celebrations. I knew in my heart that this was dangerous. I felt worried and uneasy. I mean, he wasn't everyone's friend.

 When we got to Jerusalem what an entrance we made. The people came out to meet us and waved palm branches and cheered. Jesus had borrowed a young colt and proudly rode it into the great city.

We gathered in a room to have supper together. Before we ate Jesus took a basin and a towel and wanted to wash our feet. I protested loudly because it didn't feel right. Jesus said it was something he had to do.

Then as we ate all attention was focused on Jesus when he said he was going to be crucified and that one of us would betray him. There was panic amongst us as we looked at each other in disbelief.

He took the bread and broke it and said this was like his body which would be broken. Then he said that the wine was like his blood represented in the new covenant. It was so hard to piece things together. Then he said that 3 days after he died he would rise again. It was just so much to take in at once.

We were pleased to go to the Garden of Gethsemane to get some fresh air. But how my heart fell when I saw Jesus face. He seemed so withdrawn. He went off to the side of us to pray and asked James, John and I to watch and wait. We went to sleep. He was disappointed in us. He went several times to pray and each time he came back and woke us up. Finally he said in frustration. "Could you not watch with me for even one hour." I was angry and disappointed with myself.

He looked at me and said, "before the cock crows you will have denied that you know me 3 times." I said "no, never. I will never leave you or deny you. I will give my life for you." Jesus said, "Peter your spirit is willing but your flesh is weak."

Then it all happened, the noise and there was our friend Judas leading the soldiers and a large crowd of people. I yelled "no you can't do that." Judas stepped up to Jesus and kissed him. Jesus called Judas a friend. They arrested Jesus. I saw red, grabbed a sword and lashed out. It cut off someone's ear. He screamed in pain. Jesus calmly bent down, picked it up and reattached it. Surely that would be enough to prove that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Surely that would stop all the nonsense. As they led Jesus away he looked back at us with such sad eyes.

There was noise, and crowds and riots and trials. I ran away in a panic. Then I returned and crept as close as I could to see what was happening. Someone said, " you were with him, you are a follower." I yelled "no" and spat on the ground. This happened twice more. Each time I said "no". Then I heard the rooster crow,

I went off, found a dark quiet place. Hung my head in shame and cried my heart out.

Study Note

Maybe there is a little of Peter in all of us. Sometimes we can be too quick, sometimes too impetuous, too impatient. If we had been in the circumstances Peter found himself would we be prepared to tell the truth and proudly say yes I'm one of Jesus disciples.

All of us have been in a place where it has not been easy to be strictly truthful. The words of the Trump era are alternative facts. Sounds better than untruthful.

It's been said that failure as Peter felt is the price of freedom. The freedom to make our own choices. We can promise ourselves and others something today that we will do tomorrow. The reality is you have no power today over the you of tomorrow. We all think we have some ownership of our future actions but we really don't. Not until the moment comes to act.

Peter was devastated. We will all be able to think of times when we let ourselves and someone else down. The important thing is to do exactly what Peter did. Peter acknowledged his weakness but had to move on.

Prayer

Heavenly Father there are times when we stuff up. We don't always get it right. Forgive us when this affects others more than ourselves.

Like Peter help us to pick ourselves up, move on and in your strength continue to do great things for you. Amen

 

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