August 9, 2020

Easter in August – Part 2

Passage: Matthew 26: 30-56 and Psalm 103

Bible Text: Matthew 26: 30-56 and Psalm 103 | Preacher: Rev. Bruce W. Kemp | Series: Easter in August | Of Bunnies and Chocolate:

At first glance, it’s hard to imagine what a rabbit has to do with any type of religious holiday. But people having been celebrating the coming of spring even before Christianity. A goddess of fertility named Eostre—was worshipped and that is exactly the trait rabbits are most famous for. It’s thought that German immigrants brought their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” to the U.S. in the 1700s.

Now that we know why Easter is associated with rabbits, little chocolate bunnies actually make sense. But why are so many of them hollow inside? As it turns out, it’s not just to get kids used to disappointment at a young age. According to the R.M. Palmer company, one of the oldest makers of chocolate bunnies in the U.S., the empty insides are really just in consideration of your teeth. Mark Schlott, executive vice-president of operations says: “If you had a larger-size bunny and it was solid chocolate, it would be like a brick; you’d be breaking teeth”.

Of course, there’s also the “wow” factor—confectioners can make a larger, more impressive-looking bunny for a reasonable price if there’s nothing inside of it.

Christ the Lord is risen today – 247

Charles Wesley wrote more than 6,500 hymns. This is one of them.

Born in 1707, Wesley had a full life of service both within the Church of England and within the wider community.  He served in a variety of positions as a priest and spent much time as chaplain at the Newgate prison.

His legacy lives on in the Wesleyan hymnal where 623 of the 770 hymns were authored by him.

The tune, St. George’s, Windsor was composed by George Job Elvey in the mid 19th century.

This hymn is a celebration of the great victory won by Christ for us. The redeeming work of God’s love is complete with the resurrection of Jesus. The fight to overcome the power of sin over us and the world has seen the end of anything that could ever again stop it from being a reality forever. As nothing could stop Christ from rising, so nothing can stop us from rising with Christ.  There can be no sting to death. The grave cannot hold us for now we have the promise of life eternal with God. The gates of hell can never be closed and those who have passed from this life will never know a time without the presence of God.

Let us sing Christ the Lord is risen today.

Alleluia, Alleluia, give thanks to the Risen Lord – 260

This hymn was written and set to music by Donald Fishel who was inspired by the words of the apostle Paul. Born in 1950 in Hart, Michigan, Donald received a bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education from the University of Michigan in 1972.  A year before this he was inspired to write this hymn. It is said that he composed both text and tune “rather spontaneously” during the summer of 1971 in a house on Church Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The hymn was first sung in services of the Word of God community in Ann Arbor, a charismatic Roman Catholic congregation that Donald has recently joined. He later served as publications editor of Servant Music. He later gave up editing after returning to University and gaining a degree in computer science.

This wonderful hymn of celebration helps to raise our spirits and encourage us in our journey through life.

Let us sing Alleluia, Alleluia

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun – 275

We are now treated to a hymn which fits the Easter theme but helps us to go beyond the event itself to realize that Christ did not just rise from the dead but ascended into heaven.  This means for us that the reign of Christ is not just over a small bit of the earth where he carried out his ministry but that the reign of Christ reaches to every part of the world. As we know that the sun truly never sets, so Isaac envisioned that the reign of Christ would be present wherever the sun would go.  Everywhere in the world there is somewhere that prayers are being offered, praises sung, weary people finding rest, prisoners of mind, body and spirit finding release and people suffering from illness or persecution finding blessing and hope.

You will no doubt remember that Isaac himself was a person who suffered much in body as he never recovered from a fever that left him unable to work. Yet he never lost his faith and trust in God and remained a joyful and hopeful believer until this life ended.

Let us sing Jesus shall reign where’er the sun.

Look, ye Saints – 205 OB

Thomas Kelly, the author of our last hymn today, was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1769. As his father was a judge, it was expected that he would follow in this father’s footsteps and become a lawyer, but a very marked spiritual change led him to take Holy Orders in 1792.

He was an evangelical preacher and he soon found himself on the outs with the established church and was banned from preaching. Thomas did not stop his preaching, though, and began holding services in two unconsecrated buildings in Dublin as well as Plunket Street and Bethesda.  After seceding from the church, he erected places of worship in Athy, Port Arlington and Wexford.

Over a period of 51 years, Thomas wrote a total of 765 hymns.  He has not always received credit for his work, but this is one that still acknowledges his authorship. It is said that his strength appears in hymns of praise.

The tune that accompanies this hymn was written by John Goss and has remained the favoured tune over the years.

Let us close with Look, ye Saints