‘Resurrection’ – 18th April 2021 – 3rd Sunday of Easter

The Order of Service:

Order of service as word file:

21 04 18 3rd Sunday of Easter Eucharist

Order of service as PDF file:

21 04 18 3rd Sunday of Easter Eucharist


Livestreaming link:

The Readings

Acts 3.12-19

When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

‘And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.


Luke 24.36b-48

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon
By the Revd Canon Dr Matthew Rhodes, Assistant Priest at St Mary's.

I don’t suppose I’m the only one who has been reflecting a bit on the death of Prince Philip in the past week. It’s been interesting to observe the very varied reactions among people in this country and around the world. From those who were angry at having their television schedules disrupted to the people of Tanna in Vanuatu who worshipped him as a divine figure. From older members of the population who might remember when Prince Philip married young Princess Elizabeth, to our younger people who probably knew him only as a sometimes politically incorrect elderly man. Prince Philip lived a long and active life. Like Her Majesty the Queen he was a committed Christian. So I find it hard to see his death as a tragedy. But I have come to appreciate what an extraordinary person he was and how much there is in his life that we should thank God for, and not least his support for the Queen.

When preparing services in the past eight days, it has been a challenge to find the right balance between official mourning and the celebration of Easter. Working out how many alleluias I should put in or leave out. People seem to be in such a wide variety of places. And I suppose that was also true in the days after the resurrection. For the vast majority of people, the resurrection passed them by. Many were hostile or at least indifferent to the carpenter who had been executed on a cross. Rumours of his resurrection probably meant very little to them. For those on the inside, to his disciples and followers, there was sadness, guilt, grief, doubt and then elation, joy and peace. But the rollercoaster of emotion continued as Jesus kept appearing unexpectedly. To Simon, and to Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus. And in today’s Gospel we are told that the eleven were startled and terrified, full of wonder and disbelief. The risen Jesus comes to the disciples where they are but the good news of the resurrection is not simple or easy to digest. It disturbs and challenges. And that is probably important. The resurrection should challenge us. Upset old certainties. Make us see the world in new ways.

One of the great legacies that Prince Philip leaves behind is a movement to modernise the monarchy. He understood the power of television and it was because of him that the coronation was televised. He tried to show that the Royal Family was made up of real human beings and he wasn’t afraid to reveal his own humanity. In our Gospel today, the risen Jesus also demonstrates that he is human. Although he can pass through walls and locked doors he is not a ghost. He shows the disciples his hands and feet and invites them to touch him. At the same time though, the risen Jesus seems to be slightly out of focus. Hard to pin down. And perhaps we just need to be open to that ambiguity.

To prove that he is not a ghost, Jesus asks the disciples for something to eat. They give him a piece of broiled fish and he eats it in front of them. I don’t suppose that the risen Jesus really needed to eat but by doing so he showed the disciples that it was his body that had risen, not just his spirit. And for me that is a reminder that the resurrection is about this world. Not just about forgiveness or what happens to us when we die. Not just about the promise of heaven. It’s about the redemption of all that is.

I expect Prince Philip has touched the lives of quite a few of us in one way or another. I was lucky enough to meet him when I got my Duke of Edinburgh Award 34 years ago and even then he seemed quite old. He had had to stop shaking hands with people. As a curate, I helped out a reception at St James’ Palace for the Council of Christians and Jews and I was impressed at how knowledgeable Prince Philip was and by how much interest he took in people. I’m also very thankful for the leadership programme that Prince helped establish at Windsor. In the past week we have been reminded of the extraordinary range of interests that the Prince had. From the Royal Navy to engineering. From carriage riding to painting. And from the environment to interfaith matters. Prince Philip read voraciously and widely and many of his books were on matters of religion.

We don’t often see that range of interests in one person. As I’ve been reflecting on them this week, I’ve been challenged to expand my ideas about what resurrection might mean. Forgiveness of sins and life everlasting are fundamental of course. But resurrection is so much bigger than these things. It is about the whole of our lives. The whole of creation. We are used to seeing resurrection in terms of the arrival of spring. Flowers opening and new leaves budding. And this year we have a strong sense of resurrection as another lockdown ends. As the vaccination programme is rolled out. As shops and pubs and businesses reopen. As a Church, resurrection involves the reopening of our buildings. The resumption of public worship.

But of course, resurrection is much bigger than all these things. Surely it means things like an end to inequality. An end to things like foodbanks. An end to racism. An end to totalitarian regimes. Resurrection is not always comfortable. It unsettles, challenges the status quo. In recent years we have become increasingly aware of our impact on the climate and biodiversity. Resurrection surely means the reversal of global warming and the restoration of creation. And that involves change. Sometimes costly change. But it is something the Church of England has committed itself to and we can all play a part in helping make it happen.

I wonder then what resurrection means to you. What does might it look like in your life? Or in the lives of those around you? How might you help to bring about resurrection in your family life, in the lives of friends or of your local community? What might resurrection mean for the church on the street? Of course, it’s not just about the resumption of public worship but how we go out into the community and share good news with others. Resurrection is not something we can keep to ourselves behind closed doors. Part of our calling as Christians is to share it with others. Jesus sends us, as he sent the disciples, to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem, from Walkley, and to the ends of the earth. We are witnesses of these things. Amen.

The Prayers
Prepared by Veronica.

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

O God, the creator and preserver of us all, we pray for all your people throughout the world at this time of mutating pandemic. Guide those in authority to work in partnership with all, especially the poorer parts of the world, to use the inventiveness of our geneticists and virologists to share the vaccines that are being developed. Guide them also to seek peace where there is war, and to bring aid to all who are suffering where there is conflict or natural disaster.
Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for our Queen and all the members of the Royal Family as they mourn Philip Duke of Edinburgh whose funeral took place yesterday. We give thanks for his life of service to this country and the Commonwealth, remembering how millions of young people’s lives have been enriched by participating in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, in addition to his many royal duties.
Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for the Church worldwide, especially for the Queen, the supreme governor of the Church of England, that her faith will give her strength at this sad time. As we continue to celebrate our risen Lord, may all Christians seek to live according to the promises made by Christ, and work together for the good of all the peoples of the world.
Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for our city and community and for the elections due in the next few weeks. We pray that you will inspire successful candidates to work for the good of all constituents in their community. We give thanks for all the volunteers who give their time to provide services, and keep our streets and green open spaces clean and beautiful.
Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for all who are ill at this time, whether from corona virus or other conditions and have to wait longer for treatment than normal. Be with them all, and all who work in the NHS at this time of great strain, that they may know your care and healing grace. In a moment of quiet we remember by name those known to us who are suffering at this time.
Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We remember those who have gone before us in the peace of Christ, especially your servant Philip and others known to us, including Patricia Browning and her family. Grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom. Rejoicing in the fellowship of Mary and all your saints we commend ourselves and all creation to your unfailing love.
Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.