Easter Sunday – April 17, 2022

Lectionary Texts

In Luke 24.1-12 the women come to Jesus’ tomb and find that he has been raised. They go and tell the others, who find it hard to believe.
—Or— John 20.1-18: Mary finds the empty tomb and tells Peter and the beloved disciple, who come and look. Mary then encounters Jesus in the garden.

In Acts 10.34-43 Peter tells the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
In 1 Corinthians 15.19-26 Paul proclaims the resurrection for all people: “as all die in Adam, all will be made alive in Christ.” Christ rules over all, even death.
Psalm 118 is a song of God’s victory. What we thought was failure God has made triumph: “the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

Guiding Thoughts

The Gospel readings
If there is both a sunrise service and a regular one, I recommend using one Gospel at each. The John reading lends itself to two scenes that may be separate readings: verses 1-10, Mary at the tomb; and 11-18, Jesus and Mary. I like to begin the service with the first part of the gospel reading (Luke 24.1-7, or Jn. 20.1-0) followed by a response as a call to worship.

Preaching Resurrection
It’s common, I think, to preach stuff that’s almost Resurrection but not really. For some folks Easter is some kind of victory party as if our team won the championship. Easter is about victory, yes, but not ours. It’s God’s victory over our sin, over our judgment of others, over our injustice and violence. It’s love’s victory over death and our our fear of it.

Resurrection is not just happy endings. Resurrection isn’t the same as “bouncing back.” There’s no “back” to it It’s about being plunged forward, into a new life that’s not just more of the old one. Resurrection is more like an unexpected beginning than a happy ending. God miraculously creates life where there was none—and no potential—before. Resurrection is not the same as near-death. It’s actual death. Failure. Surrender. It’s out of our brokenness that resurrection comes. Resurrection is not “return;” it’s transformation. (I think that’s why his friends didn’t recognize him on Easter: he was changed.)

It’s tempting to make resurrection the doorway to the afterlife, but it’s not that, either. Resurrection is the doorway to this life. “Unless a seed dies and is buried it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn. 12.24). Jesus wasn’t interested in the afterlife—that is, being dead—but in living this life with love. “Eternal life” doesn’t mean immortality. (Are you kidding? People act as if they want to live forever but they can’t even abide a worship service that goes a few minutes over an hour—and they want to live for millions of years? No way.) Eternal life doesn’t mean life that’s long; it means life that’s infinitely deep. It means life with infinite life in it, with God in it. It means life that can’t be taken from us—not by what happens to us, not by our own actions, not even by death. It means harmony with the infinite love of God.

Resurrection is also about the rejected stone that becomes the cornerstone. Again, I don’t mean the triumph of the underdog. I mean the Divine Presence in places we don’t see it, in situations we discount and people we reject. It’s about God’s justice that comes about even if we miss it.

Call to Worship

1. [I like to use two readers for the leader part. They alternate two lines, then read the third in unison, to create a sense of crescendo.]

Christ emptied himself and became obedient to death,
obedient to death on a cross.
But Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!
He is not among the dead anymore!
The stone has been rolled away!
The Crucified One is risen again!
He has come out of the tomb!
Christ has conquered by the cross!
All our hope is in him! Alleluia!
God has rescued us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the dominion of God’s beloved Son.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! ALLELUIA!

2.
Leader: Christ is risen!
All: Christ is risen in deed!
Light out of darkness!
Life out of death!
Hope out of despair!
Power out of surrender!
God, this is your grace, marvelous and wonderful!
This is your way, always and forever.
You raise us up with Christ, and we thank you.
You create us anew, and we worship you. Alleluia!

3.
In the nighttime of our sin, the grace of God rises like the dawn.
In the coldness of our hearts, hope rises like the sun.
Into all that is cold and shadowed in our lives, the light of God shines.
From the sleep of sin and the dust of our death
O God of grace, shine your light upon us!
Come to us, and renew us, O God of life!
May the light of Christ, rising in glory,
dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.
Thanks be to God for the light of Christ. Alleluia!
This is the Passover of Christ, the victory of love
over sin and death, evil and violence.
Thanks be to God for the life of Christ. Alleluia!
Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
Holy God, we thank you and praise you for the mystery of your grace. On the cross Jesus your Christ bore all that separates us from you and from life; yet sin and evil and suffering and death were unable to defeat him. By his glorious resurrection you have delivered us from the power of death. Gracious God, make us die every day to sin. Birth us anew, so that we may walk in newness of life with Christ, in the joy of eternal life and in the company of the Holy Spirit, O God, our Creator and Redeemer. Amen.

2.
God of life, all that defeats life you have vanquished. All that opposes love you have overcome. We are in awe of your glory. We are in debt to your grace. We are in love with your Christ. Raise us up now in worship; create us anew, that we may serve you with joy and confidence as your resurrected people, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. , Amen.

3.
Christ loved us so dearly that he clung to us in this death; and still he holds us close as he rises. We are raised with him to new life. We are new creations. Grant us the grace to receive the new life you offer, to be transformed by your glory, and to serve you in the power of your love, as the risen Body of Christ, for the sake of the world. Amen.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1. (1 Pet. 1.3;   Eph. 2. 4-6;   Rom. 6.4;   Col. 3.3   Ps. 51.10)
Alleluia! Blessed be God, who has given us Jesus Christ.
In Mercy God has given us a new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
God, rich in mercy, out of great love for us,
has made us alive together with Christ,
and raised us up and seated us with Christ.
We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death,
so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of God,
we too might walk in newness of life.
Gracious God, we have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in you.
Spirit of Life, create us anew!
Create in us a clean heart, and put a new and right spirit within us.
Forgive our sin, and wash us clean in the water of new birth.
Heal us, redeem us, and set us free.
Spirit of Blessing, be our freedom and our life!
Through your risen Christ give us courage to love fearlessly,
and to resist evil, injustice and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves.
Through your crucified and risen Christ, we pray for your church,
that, committing our spirit into your hands,
we may die and rise to newness of life.
We pray for all those who suffer, struggle or despair,
that they may find renewal, hope and peace.
Grant us the joy of your life-giving resurrection,
and make us by your grace a new and holy people. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Spirit of Life,
roll the stone from my heart.
Let your light invade my shadows;
let your life transform my death.
I surrender all in the tomb of my heart.
Raise me to new life.
In the garden of this stillness,
come to me. Speak my name.
Fill me with your light.

Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively with the leader and congregation, or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

1.
God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

God of glory, the rising sun praises you;
the light of day proclaims your goodness.
You create light out of darkness,
and you create your people out of the dust of the dearth.
You bring slaves out of Egypt to freedom,
and you bring Christ out of death to life.
Wonder of wonder, you raise us with Christ!
You bring new life to us, miraculous and beautiful.

Like wheat, sown and harvested and risen into bread,
we are made into the Body of your Risen Christ.
Therefore as risen people we sing your praise with all Creation:
     [Sanctus, sung or spoken]

Blessed are all who come in your name and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He brought healing where there was brokenness,
love where there was fear, and life where there was death.

He shone with your light, light that the darkness could not overcome.
He was crucified, but the life in him was eternal and could not be taken;
you have raised him from the dead.

[The Blessing and Covenant] *

Remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith.
    
 [Memorial Acclamation, sung or spoken]

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again in love.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be the Body of Christ,
crucified and risen with Christ, made new for new lives,
by the eternal power of your love.

     [Amen, sung or spoken.]

_____________________

2.
God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

God, we thank you, for you create us in love, and each moment you re-create us.
You create us in the image of your love, and claim us as your Beloved.
When we are lost and imprisoned you stay with us;
you overcome the forces of death and oppression, and set us free.
By the mystery of your grace you have raised Christ from the dead,
and raised us to newness of life.

From the power of death you have set us free.
From our fear and the failure of our love you save us,
and accompany us toward your peace.
Therefore with all Creation we sing your praise.

       
[Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He loved and taught, he healed and embraced the outcast.
He occupied all that separates us from you, accepted our suffering and our sin,
and poured out your love for us, even to death, for our sake.
He was crucified, but you raised him to new life.

[The Blessing and Covenant]

Remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith.

[Memorial Acclamation]
Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, that we may be the Body of Christ,
crucified and risen with Christ, made new for new lives,
by the eternal power of your love.
God, may your will be done on earth now
by all your church, the Body of Christ.
Praise to you, Mother, Son and Spirit. Alleluia. Amen.


____________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

1.
The Day of Resurrection has dawned upon us, for Christ, our life, has risen. We give abundant thanks and praise to you, O God! In your victory, O Christ, help us shed all sin and death. In your rising, help us receive new life. In your power, direct our lives as your new creation. In your Spirit, guide us in lives of compassion, trusting by the light of your glorious rising the great victory of love over all things. Grant that we may live new lives in Christ, free of our old ways, free of fear and distrust. Sustain us with your mercy, and bestow upon us your abiding peace, hope and gladness, so that we may find joy in serving you. O Christ, you are our life, which is eternal. We thank you. Grant us grace to receive the gift of life, and by your Spirit to live as fearless servants of your love. Amen.

2.
God of love, you have raised Jesus from death to life!
Lead us always into newness of life.
Light of Christ, rising as the sun on a new day,
overcoming the darkness of sin and death,
shine on our path, chase away all darkness,
and lead us to the heart of God.
Light of Christ, rising in glory,
be the light of our hearts!
Spirit of Resurrection, grant us your grace.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have fed us with the body of the risen Christ, the bread of life, life that is eternal, and deeply beautiful. By the grace of these gifts, may the power of resurrection be within us. Send us out into the world, unafraid, to give of ourselves; to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you, in the name and the Spirit of the risen Christ, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view on the Music page)

See all songs with “Easter” tag—especially these:

Communion Songs for Easter set to familiar tunes
(Eight songs of invitation to the table, set to these melodies:
All Creatures of Our God and King,
Infant Holy, Be Thou My Vision,
The Gift of Love / Water Is Wide,
Morning Has Broken, Fairest Lord Jesus.

Easter Eucharistic Responses
Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen set to:
All Things Bright and Beautiful
(Includes Preface)
Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Fairest Lord Jesus
Morning Has Broken

Now the Green Blade Rises

Children of the Resurrection    (Tune: HOLY MANNA. Alternate: Ode to Joy)

Christ is risen! Baptized in his death and rising, so are we.
Children of the resurrection, we are one now; we are free.
Fear no longer holds us, and we live with love courageously,
giving gifts and sharing love for God, who loves eternally.

* In this feast we greet the risen Christ, who calls us all in grace,
gathered into one and fed with love, we now are mercy’s face.
Now we are Christ’s risen Body; for the world we now are light,
children of the resurrection, radiant with eternal life.

* Without communion: “With glad hearts we greet the risen Christ …”


Christ Is Our Sunrise (Tune: Morning Has Broken)

Christ is now living— Alleluia!—
wondrously giving life out of death,
hope gently spoken when we were hopeless,
when we were broken, life-giving breath.

God, you have sought us deep in our suffering,
and you have brought us out of our fear,
gently revealing your presence in us,
tenderly healing, drawing us near.

Christ, in your rising you are our sunrise,
drawing surprising green from the seed.
Still your light finds us, wrapped in our grave clothes;
from all that binds us, now we are freed.

God, your grace gives us brand new tomorrows.
As Christ forgives us we are made new.
Now liberated from sin and sorrow,
newly created, we follow you.


Like the Sun Rising     (Tune: Morning Has Broken)

Christ, we surrender all of our living
into your tender, merciful grace
Baptized in you, we join in your dying,
and rising, too, in your life’s embrace.

Christ, you are living in us in mercy,
faithfully giving life that is true.
Like the sun rising, fresh every morning,
free and surprising, we are made new.

Great Holy Spirit, live in us daily,
free from the fear that once bound us in,
free now to love our neighbors with courage,
rising above our death and our sin.

Blest and forgiven and resurrected,
set free for living by grace alone,
may we live lives of gentle compassion,
with the same light that in you has shone.


Morning is Breaking    (Tune: Morning Has Broken)

Morning is breaking, sorrowful morning,
as we are making haste to the tomb:
cold and despairing, numb and defeated,
painfully bearing darkness and gloom.

But in the dawning we see the grave now,
empty and yawning, bright like the sun.
Angels in glory say he is risen!
“Go tell the story: Death is undone!”

We came to grieve our crucified Jesus,
but, loving God, you opened his grave!
Jesus is living! Yours is the victory,
great in forgiving, mighty to save.

God, you have greeted sin with forgiveness;
you have defeated evil and fear.
Light of his rising, shine in our courage,
pure, energizing, radiant and clear.

Morning is breaking bright in our hearts now,
as we are waking, light in our eyes.
With him we offer love without fear, for
with him we suffer, with him we rise.


Resurrection Light (Tune: Joyful, Joyful)
[There are additional verses in the downloadable document, especially for a sunrise service]

In your mercy you have shattered every tomb we cannot flee.
From whatever binds and traps us you have set your children free:
free to live in every moment life that is a gift from you,
life unfettered, in your Spirit, life unbounded, always new.

Help us to receive this life that rises up and soars above.
Grant us courage for self-giving; grant us trusting, fearless love.
Help us lose the lives we cling to; with compassion and delight
give our lives, receiving new ones, bright with Resurrection light.


Spring Now Blooms     (Tune: Now The Green Blade Rises)

Early in the morning we come to the tomb,
bearing sins and sorrows, wounds and hearts of gloom.
But what is this? The stone is rolled away!
And the tomb is empty! Wonder and dismay!

Verse 2, Synoptic version:
* Then an angel greets us, speaking to our fear,
saying “Christ is risen. See, he is not here.”
Now our despair itself has passed away,
and we feel new life rise in the dawning day.

Verse 2, John version
So we ask the gardener where the body is—
and we hear the voice and know that it is his.
“Why do you weep?” Such sadness fills our eyes.
Then we see and fill with joy and glad surprise.

Christ now stands before us, living as he said.
Oh, what hope he brings us, rising from the dead!
Night was so dark, but with the rising sun
everything is changed now, in this grace-filled dawn.

We give God our spirits, buried just like seeds,
and emerge forgiven, healed, made new and freed.
Sorrow and dread are changed to joy instead.
Spring now blooms, for Christ is risen from the dead!