Benefice of Harston, Hauxton and Newton

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Easter Day 1

Easter Day 2

Easter Day 3

Easter Day 4



Acts 10:34-43

Then Peter began to speak to them: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ--he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 

We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."



From Andrew:

We pray to Jesus who is present with us to eternity.
Jesus, light of the world,
bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations
during this time of pandemic.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, bread of life,
give food to the hungry
and nourish us all with your word.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, our way, our truth, our life,
be with us and all who follow you in the way
and bring us to glory through your death and resurrection.
Deepen our appreciation of your truth
and fill us with your life.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, Good Shepherd who gave your life for the sheep,
recover the straggler,
bind up the injured,
strengthen the sick
and lead the healthy and strong to new pastures.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

We remember before you all who walk in darkness and fear,
all who are weighed down, all who are heavily laden.
We pray for all who have lost hope,
for all who are caring for the ill,
and for those in hospital or a hospice.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, the resurrection and the life,
we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you.
We pray especially for all those who have died in medical isolation.
We pray for those left behind
who have been prevented by the emergency
from saying farewell properly to their loved ones.
Raise us with them to eternal life.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us,
accept our prayers, and be with us always.


John 20:1-10


Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.



In 1998 I went to prison.

I was one of the few there that day, in Whitemoor, who walked out at the end of the day. I was there with a BBC badge and a microphone and I went to visit the last of the series in a restorative justice course called the Sycamore Tree Project that a Christian prison ministry was running. 

I'd never been in prison before. It was stark. There wasn't much to see, because there isn’t much to see, just walls and barred gates. But the sounds of that day I still recall: jangling keys, metal gates slamming, heavy doors closing, and a guardedness of speech. 

I listened and watched as a small group of high security prisoners brought their summary of the course they had just done. They bought A4 bits of paper on which they had written, or painted, or perhaps both. And it was a little like looking at the end of a primary school class day, as not all of them were very literate, and most of them had struggled to articulate the tide of feelings that they carried and were now given the chance to express. “I'm sorry”, one piece of paper said, but the texture of the marks of the pen on the paper spoke of the strength of conviction attached to those words.

That was enough.


I remember hearing from BBC Radio 4's Food Programme about a man called Al Crisci. As a teenager Al had two good friends whose lives went seriously wrong; they died, and at their funerals Al thought long and hard about how some people's lives just go wrong. And that once on a path, it rapidly becomes the slippery slope.

 57% of offenders will be back. They re-offend. So Al went to prison, as a free man, and got a job in the prison kitchen as a catering manager. He started to change that part of prison life. It was the time when Jamie Oliver was transforming school canteens. Al was inspired similarly, and then, quite unexpectedly in 2005 Al won a BBC Food and Farming award and, as he went to receive it, he said, “we're going to set up a restaurant, it's going to be called Clink. An exclusive restaurant,” he joked, “by invitation only,” and people chuckled good naturedly. 

We'll come back to Al. 


Our focus today is Peter, Peter who was taken to prison later in his life, for talking about Jesus. But for now, we meet Peter, in our reading from John’s Gospel. He is the first person that comes into Mary Magdalene's mind when she comes to Jesus' tomb, and it is empty.

I am glad to know that she could find Peter straight-away. Because it had all gone wrong for him, on the Thursday. He had been afraid of being in the same trouble Jesus was in, and publicly he’d denied he even knew him.

Where was Peter, I wonder, on the day Jesus was crucified?

.... Was he hiding away at home in fear of his life? He'd been seen and recognised in the company of a proclaimed criminal. 

Did he forget the whole thing and go off fishing?

Ah, yes... Was he in the middle of the Sea of Galilee that day? Certainly after the resurrection he was found back at the old trade. It would have been his default mode, a place of small comfort at a time of devastation and confusion. 

See him pushing he boat out and climbing slightly wearily in and rowing hard, driving himself out into the middle of the huge lake. Hear him..

‘Who was this Jesus?’ - “I never knew him!”


“Actually…” thought Peter, “I didn’t. I never knew him. I had no idea he was like this! Only this week he was turning over the tables of the money changers in the Temple. Sparks were flying, from the end of the whip and from Jesus' mouth, (he didn't mince his words when it came to the Pharisees!) It was awesome, it was shaking at the foundations...

But then what?…

…Then all he could talk about was death and suffering …Horrible talk, so disturbed he was in the olive garden... How could he let himself be taken so easily like that?? He'd always been a master of dissolving into the crowd, said just enough to really get the message over and then disappeared until it was safe again.

I don't really know him do I? 

I had no idea..”

Perhaps Peter that day was out on the Lake..


And yet, if we look at the first letter of Peter, in 1 Peter 5:1 we read him saying... As an elder myself and a witness to the sufferings of Christ.

Peter was not named at the foot of the cross....but perhaps he had done a Zachaeus. Perhaps he'd found a vantage point, even looking out from the leaves of a tree? Could you see the crosses from the garden of Gethsemane? I don't know, but perhaps a garden like it, or a hillside opposite..

And as Peter stood afar, perhaps sitting awkwardly in the rough branches of a tree, words and looks came into his mind,

“You are Simon, son of John,. you are to be called Cephas”.  Peter, Cephas, meaning the rock. That was Jesus' words on his naming, calling day.

And he called with pain the warm smile that Jesus gave out so willingly. 

Jesus thought he knew Peter, the Rock, the reliable one.. Ha! Yes he had been, he had...right up to that Thursday…then, suddenly, he was no rock, he was sand, slipping through the fingers of the accusers, his courage leaking out like water at his feet.

He was so ashamed. 

“Get away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man,” he had said to Jesus, after a miracle. He could still feel his bony ankles and the sour smell of his sweaty sandals, that day, that naming calling day. That day on which they had fished all night and caught nothing, and then on Jesus’ instructions pulled in a heaving net.  Peter had both clung on to him and yet also known he must push him away and run, this man was like a god...


But what had Jesus done. Pulled him to his feet, looked into his eyes and smiled, so warm he was.

And what had he said? ....

You are to be called the rock..


Peter might have looked up from his bitter thoughts at that point on that Easter morning. 

Through the branches he looked across to those three figures hung up outside the walls to dry.  Even now there is a strength. Look! Jesus was holding his head high, looking straight at John and his mother, poor soul, And then John drew her close and held her.

“- My God! Jesus was sorting out last business, seeing his mother right. Jesus is the rock ...not me.. I never really knew him, I had no idea of his depths, had I? 

God, I want him to turn to me now.

He did turn to me. 

On Thursday night he turned straight at me after the cock crowed. So serious he was. I'd said I'd follow him for ever...what a fool I was! And Jesus knew it, he looked at me then, oh God, how did he look then? He was so serious, so quiet, but gentle, wasn't he?”


Jesus loved Peter.

24 times in the Gospel accounts Peter and his dealings with Jesus are specifically mentioned. One of the first miracles Jesus does is to heal Peter's mother-in-law.

8 times  Peter questions Jesus about something,  He wants to know about food laws, about the temple tax, about forgiveness, about future times, about the cursed fig tree, about being ready.  

Peter is particularly mentioned at the feeding of the five thousand,

Peter is not afraid to state how things are, he calls a spade a spade. He comments about their level of commitment to Jesus; he tells Jesus he cannot ask who touched him in a crowd? he declares Jesus the Messiah; he shies away from having his feet washed.

Peter is completely engaged with what Jesus is doing and teaching. He is actively seeking to understand and to learn and to challenge. And this is recognised, Peter is named as one of the apostles who are sent out by Jesus to do the work their master is doing.

Peter is also one of the three disciples seemingly closest to Jesus because they accompany him when the others don't. So Peter is taken aside to pray in the hills, he is there when Jesus is transfigured,he is sent to prepare the Passover, he is taken further in the garden of Gethsemane, he draws his sword when the crowd come to arrest Jesus. 


So it comes as a shock to hear Peter's words in the courtyard of the High Priest. not once, not twice but three times Peter says: 'I do not know the man.'

And that was the trouble, he didn't, really, and perhaps none of us do, certainly to start with, the level of depth of love that Jesus has for each of us. In our shame, that level of love is more than we ever come across, so we don't know it's there for us, we don't know the man. 

But Peter is so loved.


We know this because every one of the gospels gives an account of Jesus preparing Peter for the fact that he will deny him. Mark records Jesus asking Mary to tell Peter of his resurrection, and our reading from John sees Peter seeking Jesus at the empty tomb..


“she ran and went to Simon Peter ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.” John 20:2-4



Peter ran as fast as he could…did he slow down as his brain caught up with his legs? did he start to think, and wonder and fear?

But he didn’t look back. 

Not this time, and not from this time on, and after Jesus has ascended to heaven, and after Pentecost Peter becomes a lead voice, telling everyone about Jesus. Jesus who loves us at such a depth.

Until suddenly he is captured. James, Jesus brother has been killed, the Christians melt into the crowds but the officials are out looking for the ringleaders.

'About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. 


Has Peter's heart starts to race again? Has he noticed he's giving short answers and his palms are sweaty at the sight of a Roman spear?

Possibly not. Possibly Peter stands firm this time, determined. He stands and is arrested and chained to two guards. Now at last Peter can absolve himself of his deep hidden shame. This time he will do it. 

But isn't it wonderful, just as Peter is re-living what it must have been like for Jesus, just as he is given the chance to stand up and prove himself for Jesus this time....


….an angel comes and Peter is led free…


The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’


Peter is so loved. “I don't need you to do that," Jesus says to Peter's heart and mind that day, “That is past. And you are loved”

And Peter hears that and he explains in his first letter to the early Christians:


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, know that you were ransomed.’


At the beginning I told you about Al Crisci who, when he was young, saw two of his teenage friends demolish their own lives with drugs and die. And Al went to their funerals.

Some years later Al went  to  prison, to be the catering manager at HMP High Down in Sutton, Surrey, in 1994. And as a free man he started to change it from the inside. He knew what it was like, being in prison, from his friends and from his work there, he started to understand the shame, he knew the difficulty of ever getting beyond it, he knew for many it was a downward spiral, from those  one or two bad decisions they had one time made.

And the restaurant ‘Clink Cardiff’ set up in 2009 and was voted as the best place to eat in the city. For many it has been their redemption. Prisoners can opt to go and work in the restaurant, they cook, clean and wait at tables, they learn to work in a team, they learn skills, they learn to accept authority and see it is a good and safe thing. They even earn a little bit of money which is put aside and given to them when they leave. This project has enabled them to overcome shame and to engage again with life. To date there is Clink Cardiff, Clink High Down and Clink Brixton. There are also Clink events and Clink Gardens where the food is grown.


People chuckled good naturedly on the day Al received his award in 2005, they smiled at the name of al Crisci's restaurant: Clink. But it has been no joke, it is far deeper and more important to it's inmate workers. This is their redemption. Al could not buy back his two best friends. But he has been able to redeem others..


The cross is likewise no cruel joke of a cruel regime, no plot of a zealous religious minority jealous for their God, no bad end to a good story.  

The cross is redemption, for all of us, enabling all of us, whatever depths of shame we may know, to walk free. 

We, like Peter, are loved with an everlasting love, at depths below anything we can stoop to.


1 Peter 

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.





Confession - to say together at the appropriate point in the liturgy.











Holy Holy Holy Lord,

God of power and might

Heaven and earth are full of your glory

Hosanna in the highest

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord

Hosanna in the highest.




1 Joyful, joyful, we adore You,

God of glory, Lord of love;

Hearts unfold like flow'rs before You,

Op'ning to the sun above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;

Drive the dark of doubt away;

Giver of immortal gladness,

Fill us with the light of day!


2 All Your works with joy surround You,

Earth and heav'n reflect Your rays,

Stars and angels sing around You,

Centre of unbroken praise;

Field and forest, vale and mountain,

Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,

Chanting bird and flowing fountain

Call us to rejoice in you!


4 Mortals, join the mighty chorus,

Which the morning stars began;

God's own love is reigning o’er us,

Joining people hand in hand.

Ever singing, march we onward,

Victors in the midst of strife;

Joyful music leads us sunward

In the triumph song of life.



The following video has been produced by Arlette for children. It is also visible on The Family Page:

He is risen