Chapel — Monday 23 March 2020: Easter
Tuesday 24 March 2020
In these difficult times, we are extremely fortunate that our resident Chaplain, Rev’d Vindra, is able to put together twice-weekly online Chapel Services.
The first of these was delivered on Monday 23 March, and takes the form of a commentary on the lyrics of Isaac Watts’ beautiful hymn, ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’.
You can access the service from Wednesday 25 March, on the subject of the Resurrection in Matthew 28, here.
Good morning all and I hope that you are adapting well to the new ways of working. I am deeply grateful that the sun is shining where I am and I am comforted in the certainty of the rhythm of the earth, day and night and the seasons and indeed the joy that sunshine brings.
The theme for chapel this week is Easter and I will speak more about the actual Easter celebration on Wednesday. Easter is more than Easter egg hunts and chocolate bunnies!
Instead of a Bible reading this morning I am going to share the hymn we would have sung today, “When I survey the wondrous cross”. This hymn was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Isaac Watts was an English Christian minister. He wrote over 750 hymns and he wanted people to have a personal response to his hymns. He changed the style of hymn singing so that it would be easier for congregations to sing. He was a very gifted man and his book “Logic” became the standard text on logic at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale. It was used by Oxford University for over a 100 years. Here are two verses from the hymn, which will serve as the Bible reading today.
“When I survey the wondrous Cross,
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain, I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my souls my life my all”
This is a hymn about God’s love for us and our response to that love. Before the church celebrates Easter, it journeys with Jesus to the cross and that is a story about hopes being dashed, broken dreams, fear, betrayal, violence and the misuse of power. For Christians, Jesus who leaves the majesty of heaven and who has never done anything wrong and who was with God in the beginning, suffers all that humankind throws at him and on the cross he dies. The story however does not end there but on the third day he rose again. He has defeated death, fear, anxiety and offers us life in all it fullness, despite our disappointments and uncertainties. It is such an amazing gift from God that the hymn writer says that all other gifts pale in comparison.
The final verse then asks for a response. If we offered all our possessions to God as a thank you for this great gift of love that he has given us it would be insufficient. God’s love is so amazing that it demands everything from us. It means living a life guided by God and using our gifts and abilities to serve him. It means offering all we have to become the person that God wants us to be.
The world is hurting at the moment. There are worries and fears and concerns. And yet we do know that this time will come to an end, that we will learn new things, different ways of working and sustaining relationships. The broken will be healed and there will be possibilities…but more about that on Wednesday.
Please take one day at a time, do your best for each day. Do not be afraid to ask for help and to help others. Let us try to be the best people we can and to encourage others as well. As always, be kind to one another.
Let us pray
We pray, Lord, for those in leadership, who have to make the really difficult decisions, those who have all the information. Please give them guidance and humility.
Help us at this time to remember that our compassion for one another will make a huge difference. Help us to be aware, generous and kind.
We especially think of all those who are really struggling with this time of isolation. Give them the strength to ask for help and God’s peace which passes all understanding.
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it. Go well…