Worship Elements: April 9, 2023

Easter Sunday

COLOR: White
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18 (or Matthew 28:1-10)


How often do we really open our eyes to see the Risen Christ in our midst? Mary and the disciples saw only signs that Jesus had been taken away; they were not expecting to encounter a living savior, and so they missed the clues. How many folks come to church expecting to encounter a living savior? How many worship leaders live with that expectation? Maybe this Easter will be an opportunity to establish the belief in our congregations that the resurrected Christ is in our midst—this week and every week!


Call to Worship (Psalm 118, John 20)

Christ is risen!
God’s steadfast love endures forever.
Death never gets the final word.
(alternate line)
[Death has lost its sting.]
God’s steadfast love endures forever.
Rejoice in this day of salvation.
God’s steadfast love endures forever. Alleluia!

Opening Prayer (Psalm 118, John 20)

Living God,
rejoicing in this day of resurrection,
we have come to celebrate
the strength of your love—
a love that triumphs even over death.
As we exult in the miracle of your incarnate love,
we thank you for the opportunity
to encounter the Risen Christ
here in our midst. Amen.


Prayer of Confession (John 20)

Merciful God, we don’t always recognize Christ,
even when we are looking directly
at your Incarnate Love.
We cling to our assumptions
about how life on earth should unfold,
forgetting that life in your realm
shatters those expectations.
Forgive us when we go through our daily routine,
forgetting to look for the Risen One.
Forgive us when coming to worship
is more about seeing our friends
than it is about encountering you
and our Resurrected Lord.
Open our eyes and our hearts, O God,
to the full awareness of your presence with us,
in each and every moment of our lives.
We pray in the name of the Christ who is alive!
Alleluia and amen.

Words of Assurance (Acts 10)

The testimony of all the prophets is united
in this message of good news:
Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ
receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
Rejoice, for your sins are already forgiven!

Passing the Peace of Christ

I invite you to exchange signs of peace with one another using these traditional words that have been spoken by Easter Christians throughout the centuries:
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Prayer of Preparation (John 20)

(This prayer can be offered by the liturgist or the preacher, or it could be printed as a unison prayer.)
Open our ears to hear your Word
proclaimed in this place.
Open our hearts to know your Love
offered in this congregation.
Open our eyes to see your Presence
blessing us in this moment.

Response to the Word (John 20)

(This response is designed to be presented by two alternating readers, with the bold print done by both readers.)
The stone was gone,
so Mary assumed that Christ had been taken away.
The tomb was empty,
so Peter assumed that Christ had been taken away.
The angels had come,
so Mary assumed that Christ had been taken away.
The linens were discarded,
so Peter assumed that Christ had been taken away.
And yet . . . [pause]
Christ was risen.
Christ was alive.
Christ was in their midst.
They saw the Living Christ.
When our lives seem empty,
we assume that Christ has been taken away.
When our lives are full of pain,
we assume that Christ has been taken away.
And yet . . . [pause]
Christ is risen!
Christ is alive!
Christ is in our midst!
Let us open our eyes to see the Living Christ
here with us today!


Offering Prayer (Psalm 118, John 20)

Thank you, God,
for the gift of this amazing day of resurrection!
Our hearts are overflowing
with the joy and excitement of Easter.
We pray that you will take our exuberance
and use it to bring light and hope
to those trapped in darkness and despair.
Use these gifts of money to empower our work
with those who have not yet seen the risen Lord
in their midst.
Use the gift of our very lives to empower our calling
to carry your Incarnate Love into the world.
We pray this with the boldness of those
who have encountered the living Christ. Amen.



Christ is with us in this place.
Christ goes with us into the world.
Go now in peace. Christ is risen!
Risen indeed! Alleluia!


Gathering Words (John 20)

Liturgist: Women, why are you weeping?
Women: They have taken away the Lord.
Liturgist: Men, why are you weeping?
Men: They have taken away the Lord.
Liturgist: Kids, why are you weeping?
Children: They have taken away the Lord.
Liturgist: Christ has not been taken away!
Christ is risen! Christ is alive,
here in our midst!
Everyone: We have seen the Lord! Alleluia!

Praise Sentences (Psalm 118)

O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good.
God’s steadfast love endures forever!
There are glad songs of victory
in the tents of the righteous.
This is the Lord’s doing.
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

From "The Abingdon Worship Annual," edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © Abingdon Press

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