Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Matthew with St. Chad, Smethwick

3rd Sunday of Easter

Alleluia Christ is risen!

Readings: Acts 3:12-19 or Zephaniah 3:14-end; Psalm 4; 1John 3: 1-7 or Acts 3:12-19; Luke 24:36-48

Let us Pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight Lord our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

A Word from Barbara: I remember when I was little my favourite story in the Bible was the one about creation. I’ve always had a good imagination and I would imagine what the garden of Eden looked like with all the beautiful animals and plants and the peace which resonated there. I would sit in my own garden imagining the animals lined up and God giving them names as well as how God made butterflies with such beautiful delicate wings, or the flowers with the intricate patterns on the petals. The story gave me my own little world which I could escape too in my mind to sit with the animals and listen to nature, a place I found I enjoyed. The Bible has many stories, stories we hear over and over again, yet they are stories I would like to hope we share with our families, friends, new generations and sometimes those who have not heard the stories in the Bible before. What do we do with these valuable stories from the Bible (such as The Easter Story) when we read them, do we share them with others? We are witnesses to who Jesus is and what Jesus has done and is doing in our lives in the past and at this present time, through the joys, the tears, the disappointments, and the challenges in our lives. The Bible is invaluable full of special stories which speak to people at different times of their lives. We have just come through Lent and we are now in The Easter Season where we have heard the stories of Jesus death and crucifixion, we are witnesses, just as the disciples were witnesses. In our Gospel Reading in Luke today it states “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”, meaning the disciples. Also in our Reading today in Acts when it is said “To this we are witnesses”, this was about the way the people had treated Jesus but the disciples still witnessed it. We have a story too, a life in which God walks alongside us on our own individual journeys in different ways, loving guiding and helping us. We have a story to share should we choose too, to testify to who the God we believe in is. All God has done and is doing for us right now, we are first hand witnesses of our own lives. We are witnesses of God’s unending love and forgiveness, a God of peace and joy. Stories help us to understand many things and speak to us in different ways as do the Bible stories we hear over and over. To this day I can still receive a different message, a word on my heart or have a different perspective than I had previously when I hear a familiar story such as the Easter story. The word witness stood out for me on this occasion, something I should be doing more of possibly?? I am not sure but I am praying about it. We journey on in our lives as Christians with a God who loves us, we have many stories we can share, just like the disciples were told to go and share. Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”. We all have callings, we as believers should be sharing God’s story, remembering that God’s story is what we are about. The story of the garden of Eden I feel spoke to me a long while ago and on reflection, I feel has helped me to make a connection with nature, I remember being out and seeing a pigeon on the floor which was not moving, but it’s eyes were open and it looked very sad, I took off my rain coat and wrapped the pigeon in it and took it home. My mum called the RSPCA who assured me the pigeon would be okay. God speaks to us all, we just have to take time in God’s presence.

Believe it or not God still continues to use ordinary people like you and me to share The Good News. I followed The Lent App this year and this quote was present, “God continues to use people like you and me to share God’s story, the life changing news of the gospel of Jesus. We are the ordinary people through whom God is bringing about a revolution of his extraordinary love.” From Live Lent App Easter Day “I have seen The Lord”. It’s never too late to share God’s story and your story, something we need to remember. A song which entered my mind around the word witness while I was writing this sermon was “Come and let me tell you what The Lord has done for me”. We can’t sing in church at the moment, but hopefully very soon we can sing and share our stories of what the Lord has done for us together. Amen.

Lords’ prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen

The Grace: May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and evermore. AMEN

Thank you for joining us today. Happy Eastertide - Christ is risen.