Scripture Readings: Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; John 20:1-18 or Mark 16:1-8
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1:
L: Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
P: CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED!
L: Darkness has been vanquished!
P: THE BRILLIANT LIGHT OF HOPE HAS COME!
L: Come let us worship and celebrate the Good News!
P: ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! AMEN!!
Call to Worship #2:
L: The darkness is gone!
P: Bright light floods into this new day of hope.
L: Those who went to the tomb received good news.
P: Christ was not there!
L: Christ is risen in our hearts and our spirits!
P: Christ is risen from the dead! Alleluia! Amen!
Call to Worship #3:
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2115, “Christ Has Risen!”, offer the following call to worship as directed]
L: Come quickly to the tomb to see the place where He was laid.
P: Look! The stone is rolled away! He is not here!
Choir: singing verse 1 of “Christ Has Risen!”
L: Just as He said, He would conquer death.
P: We can see for ourselves this awesome sight.
Choir: singing verse 2 of “Christ Has Risen!”
L: Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
P: Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen!
Call to Worship #4:
L: This day dawns brightly!
P: Hope is restored!
L: Christ is Risen!
P: He has conquered death!
L: Come, open your hearts and spirits to the joyous Good News!
P: Let us celebrate the greatest victory of all time. Christ is Risen! Amen!
Call to Worship #5:
L: Rejoice! There is great news! Christ is risen!
P: Christ is risen, indeed!
L: Let all the earth proclaim the joy!
P: Let all heaven show forth in praise.
Call to Worship #6:
L: Welcome! Run with us toward the place of sorrow!
P: Jesus is not there! Christ is risen!
L: Shout the good news!
P: Sing, praise God, for the promise has been fulfilled.
L: Christ is risen!
P: Christ is risen. Alleluia!
Call to Worship #7:
[Using the UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 310, refrain only, have the choir and the congregation sing as directed below]
Choir: He lives, He lives. Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives. He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!
L: It’s true. Christ Jesus lives! He is risen from the dead!
P: The greatest foe has been overcome. Christ is risen!
L: The journey through the darkness is over.
P: This brilliant light of this morning floods our hearts and spirits.
L: Jesus lives!
P: Jesus lives forever!
All: He lives, He lives. Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!
Call to Worship #8:
L: Our long journey through the darkness is over!
P: We have danced into the light of Jesus’ resurrection!
L: No more do we need to fear!
P: No more will we feel that we are alone and lost!
L: Jesus lives in our hearts and our spirits!
P: Jesus calls us to be a source of hope and joy for others!
PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION
Opening Prayer Option 1:
Loving, Powerful God, joy floods over our souls on this day! Christ is risen! Fear is vanquished! Open our hearts and our spirits to receive fully the joy which has been given for us! Let us celebrate the victory of Christ and the hope for the future! Amen.
Opening Prayer Option 2:
Lord, this Lenten journey has been filled with the unexpected. You have asked us to look deep within ourselves, to identify the many ways in which we have turned away from you. Again this day we ask that you open our hearts to receive your word of healing and hope. The cross of Good Friday looms in our future and we face it with fear. Bring us through this time with confidence and trust in your guiding love. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
Prayer of Confession Option 1:
Gracious God, you have walked patiently with us throughout our Lenten journey. You have celebrated our successes and our growing understanding of your love; and you have mourned our failures and rejections of your healing mercies. This day, as we have gathered to celebrate the joy of Easter, let us remember that we are to become “Easter People”, people of the Resurrection; people who know that what was thought to be impossible has been conquered. Forgive our stubbornness and fears. Fill us with your healing love and help us to become the disciples that you need to serve in this world. For we ask this in the name of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Prayer of Confession Option 2:
Gracious and Patient God, we come before you with so many things which weigh us down. We would like an "easy" faith, one that doesn’t cause us to look within ourselves, to identify those many ways in which we have forsaken you. But faith is never easy. It requires our very souls. Forgive us, God, for all those things which we have neglected to do that would have helped someone else to be closer to you. Heal our hearts from the wounds which have been inflicted upon us by the anger and misunderstandings which occur in relationships. Prepare our lives to be of service to you. In silence we wait. We long for your presence and your healing touch. AMEN.
[Offer a brief period of silence following this prayer]
Words of Assurance Option 1:
Darkness is gone! Light floods into our souls! Christ is Risen! His love and mercy are poured out for you. Rejoice! You have been saved through the gift of Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Words of Assurance Option 2:
God is merciful. God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Feel the healing, loving power of God in your lives, for it is given to you through Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Pastoral Prayer Option 1:
God of Awesome Joy, be with us this day as we celebrate the resurrection of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Let the light of your love flood into our lives and through us to all those who have been captured by darkness, that the light may give them healing, freedom and hope. As we witness the surprise of the women at the tomb, the appearance of the Savior to Mary, and her good news brought to the disciples, let us remember that this good news exists for us today. Darkness does not win. Death is not victorious. Christ is Risen, for us, for you and for me. We are raised with Christ to a new life of hope and service. Let the joy of this good news swirl around in our hearts. Let excitement for service and ministry burst forth from us. Let us truly be the “Easter People” that you have called us to be. For we ask these things in the name of the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Pastoral Prayer Option 2:
Why is it, Lord, that we rush headlong into holidays? The store shelves have been filled with bunnies, eggs, candy, and all the trimmings of the secular Easter, and we are drawn to planning for that day. We feel a sense of urgency, and yet you have called us to be on this journey, gradually coming with Christ to the Cross and beyond. Slow us down. Help us to look more closely at our own lives, at the many ways in which they are driven and demands are placed upon them. Remind us again of the ministry and mission of Christ, who came that we might have life. We have offered prayers for family and friends, for situations near and far. We have asked for your help, healing and blessing. Make us ready to receive these precious gifts. Walk with us on this pathway. Help us look at the barriers that have prevented us from following Christ and guide us through them that we may become stronger in our faith and our service to you, for we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN.
L: God knows us, inside and out!
P: Have mercy upon us, O God, according to your steadfast love.
L: We can’t run and we can’t hide. God is with us at all times.
P: Have mercy upon us, O God.
L: Don’t be afraid. God will heal your wounds and bind up your broken hearts.
P: Have mercy upon us, O God.
L: From the very beginning, God has known and loved us.
P: Open our hearts to receive your love, O God.
L: Through all our stumbling and bumbling, God has lifted and carried us.
P: Open our hearts to receive your love.
L: Rest easy in the Lord, for God’s healing presence is here.
P: Restore us and give us peace, O God.
L: Place your hand in Christ’s hand. He will lead and guide your life.
P: Bring us into your presence again, O God.
L: Be at peace. God’s love is with you.
P: Thanks be to God for God’s mercy, love, and grace. AMEN.
[Note: Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 314, “In the Garden”, offer this Easter reading. You will be using a soloist and a person to deliver a monologue for this reading. The reader may wear traditional costume or just appear in normal contemporary apparel.]
Soloist: Singing verse 1 of “In the Garden”
Reader: The burial was so hurried. We were not allowed to finish the preparation of our Lord’s body, and they hastened to bring him to the tomb, given by Joseph of Arimethea, for his burial. I wanted to complete the burial ritual, and so I decided that early in the morning, before others awoke, I would take the spices and go to the tomb. But when I got there, I saw that the stone had been rolled away. I was frightened and ran back to tell Simon Peter and the others about this. When they heard the news they ran to the tomb. John reached the tomb before Peter and he looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not see Jesus’ body. He didn’t go into the tomb, but when Peter arrived he entered the tomb and he also saw the linens and noticed that the cloth which had been placed on Jesus’ head had been rolled up in a place by itself. John then entered the tomb and they both were mystified. Had someone taken the body? Who? What had they done with it? Their questions unanswered, they went back to that upper room in which they had spent a last meal with the Lord. But I couldn’t leave! I couldn’t! My heart was broken! He had healed me! And now I could not do the last thing for him, to complete his burial. And I wept, sobbed. I had to look into the tomb to see for myself what the others had seen. But a surprise awaited me, for inside the tomb sat two angels in white, one at the place where Jesus’ head had laid and the other where His feet had been. “Woman, why are you weeping?” Why? Why? Did they not know? I blurted out “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him?” I turned around, and there was the gardener, at least I believed him to be the gardener. And He spoke to me:
“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” “Sir,” I said through my tears, “If you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” And then He spoke to me……He said, “Mary!”
Soloist: singing verse 2 of “In The Garden”
Reader: “Rabbouni!” There, before my eyes, stood the Risen Lord. He spoke to me. He called my name, me, Mary, a nobody, just one of the many He had healed! He spoke my name! Mary! Mary! And then instructed me to go and deliver his incredible message, :”I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” And I did exactly as he asked. I went, running, flying, my feet barely touching the ground, arriving breathlessly with the news that “He is Risen”!
Soloist: singing verse 3 of “In The Garden”
Reader: You are witnesses today, for just as surely as Christ was raised from the dead over 2000 years ago, He is Risen today! You do not have to fear! Place your trust in Him! Listen as He calls your name! It is Christ who brings healing and hope; it is Christ who banishes the darkness and pours the light into our lives; it is Christ who calls each and every one of us to “trust”, “follow”, “serve”. Rejoice, dear people of the Easter Faith! Christ is Risen! Christ is risen indeed!
Benediction Option 1:
Dance, celebrate, sing, and shout for joy! Christ is Risen and He goes before us, into this world of fear and pain. He has called us to bring the Good News of healing and hope, of redemption. Go in peace, and feel the presence of the Risen Lord with you, now and forever. AMEN.
Benediction Option 2:
As God has forgiven our sins, let us go joyfully into God’s world, offering God’s love, forgiveness and peace. Go in peace and the peace of God goes with you. AMEN.
The traditional color for this Sunday is: White and Gold
THE THEME FOR LENT: TAKING STEPS TOWARD THE CROSS
Although the traditional color for this night is purple, I am asking you to consider covering the worship center with the brown landscapers’ burlap, so that the coarseness of the fabric will set the tone for the weeks which are coming. The movement throughout Lent this year will be taking step toward the cross. Each week, there will be a representation on each step concerning the gospel message for that Sunday (also including Holy Thursday and Good Friday). Each week will be built upon the previous week. moving upward from the bottom step toward the cross. Follow the prompts in the directions below to see the suggestions for each step. The Sunday in Lent will be in italics and bold print.
LENT 1: This is the first step (Ash Wednesday begins with the display on the floor of the worship center, in front of the steps). The journey upward toward the cross begins here. Today’s representation will be THE WILDERNESS.
LENT 2: This is the second step. Today we move forward in commitment, being willing to deny ourselves, and take up our crosses and follow Jesus. Today’s representations will be THE CROSSES of DISCIPLESHIP
LENT 3: Our greed and selfishness have become the focus of today’s representation. Jesus’ overturns the tables of the money changers, for they have been cheating the people for their own profit, they have corrupted the house of worship by their avarice. Today’s representations will the COINS.
LENT 4: We often want God’s purpose for sending Jesus to be that of retribution for all the hurts and alienation we have felt; however, Jesus came to heal and restore us to a right relationship with God….”for God sent Jesus into the world so that the world through him might be saved….God did not send him into the world for condemnation…”
Today’s representation is A SMALL GLOBE or A PARTIALLY UNFOLDED MAP.
LENT 5: Discipleship requires a willingness to give totally of one’s self to the Lord. Holding nothing back, our deeds of mercy, justice and peace will bear a great witness to all, long after we have moved on in our journey. Today’s representation is a bundle of WHEAT.
PASSION/PALM SUNDAY or PALM SUNDAY: Although churches may choose to celebrate this as either Palm Sunday or Passion/Palm Sunday, the artistic representation may vary only slightly. Today’s symbol are THE PALM BRANCHES and CLOAKS (for those specifically celebrating Palm Sunday only). If you are celebrating PASSION/PALM SUNDAY, you may want to add A CHALICE, CROWN OF THORNS, BLACK FABRIC (however, you may add some palm fronds, if you choose)
HOLY THURSDAY: There is no change in the “journey” scene, however follow the directions for the Table, etc. at the beginning of the worship service.
GOOD FRIDAY: All artifacts are removed from the worship center. See the directions listed in the beginning of the worship service.
EASTER SUNDAY: The final step on the journey is today. Dramatic changes have occurred in the worship area. Dark colors are removed and the whole worship area, including the risers in front of the worship center are covered in WHITE CLOTH. If you have a large cross available, preferably a wooden one about 5’ tall and painted white, you will want to drape it in GOLD FABRIC. EASTER FLOWERS AND PLANTS should adorn the worship center, being placed near the cross, but leaving a pathway up to the cross to symbolize the completion of the Lenten Journey.
SURFACE: All risers remain in place.
FABRIC: Remove the dark cloth and replace it with white fabric, covering the entire worship center. If you have gold fabric available, drape it over the large cross and down the center of the “path” to the cross, so that it puddles out onto the floor.
CANDLES: Large white pillar candle should be in front of the cross. Other candles may be placed on stands in the floral setting and on the “pathway”. However, be careful near the plants.
FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Fill the worship area with Easter Flowers, place plants and flowers on either side of the “pathway” toward the cross. The worship center should fairly burst with color.
ROCKS/WOOD: none are needed for this setting.
OTHER: If you have a large white wooden cross at your disposal, it would be good to use it at the top of the “pathway”, draping it with gold fabric.