The following prayer of dedication is from worshipingwell.com. Bountiful God, we come with our offerings in response to your love. With the new life in Christ, we give ourselves in service to others. With the energy bestowed by the Spirit, we seek to inflame all your people with a zeal for your way. Receive the work we do, and the gifts we bring, that they may become a blessing in your sight.
The following prayer is by Andy James and Teri Peterson via LiturgyLink.Net. We go to your tomb, O Christ, expecting to be met by the cold hardness of stone, sealing the death of hope. Instead, we find that the stone has been rolled away and you are not there! Help us to encounter your risen presence everywhere we go and live in the joy of Easter morn each and every day, through Christ our risen Lord. Alleluia! Amen.
Submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, Queens, New York, and Rev. Teri Peterson, Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, Crystal Lake, Illinois.
The following prayer for illumination is by Scott Cervas via LiturgyLink.Net. Holy God, remove the stones that block the portals of our minds… shine your light so that it may take over the darkness within… and fill our thoughts with your perfect vision for creation so we may go, and tell, and be, and do. Amen.
Submitted by Scott Cervas, pastor at Meadowthorpe Presbyterian Church (Lexington, KY)
This is the day:when tears are wiped away; shattered hearts are mended; fears are replaced with joy. This is the day the Lord: rolls away the stone of fear; throw’s off death’s clothes; goes ahead of us into God’s future. This is the day the Lord has made: death has no fear for us; sin has lost it’s power over us; God opens the tombs of our hearts to fill us with life. This is the day - Easter Day! Christ is Risen! Hallelujah!
Submitted by Rev. Thom Shuman, author of Lectionary Liturgies.
The following Prayers of the People is by Carol Penner via re:Worship. God of the bright and morning star, God of the rising sun, God of darkness banished, we praise and worship you! For empty tombs: thank you! For disciples running with good news: thank you! For your presence, alive, powerful, resurrected: thank you! We celebrate your victory over death, over all the powers that would defeat us.
Help us to grasp resurrection; to understand its power, to see its force at work in our world, overturning evil empires, changing the hatred within us, moving the world slowly, forcefully, bending us towards love and truth.
On this day of great gladness empower us to be your ambassadors, proclaiming good news. Good news in our kitchens and living rooms, good news in the offices and workshops good news in the fields and factories Help us to be that good news, walking softly on this good earth caring gently for all people, living hopefully into your kingdom.
Today we think of all who are grieving, especially… [name those who are grieving] and for the sick and dying…. [name those who are ill] for places in the world that are torn by war and bloodshed… [name countries at war]
In this world of broken hopes and dreams we catch sight of your kingdom come, in the person of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns in us forever. Amen.
~ written by Carol Penner, and posted on her Leading in Worship blog. http://carolpenner.typepad.com/leadinginworship/ Visit that site for other great worship resources.
The following paraphrase of Psalm 118 is from my dear friend and mentor, Michael Morgan. This paraphrase of Psalm 118 (and, in fact, every psalm) can be found in his published psalter, Psalter for Christian Worship, Revised Edition. The suggested tune for this Psalm (22.214.171.124.8.8.7) is MIT FREUDEN ZART (#483 in the Blue Presbyterian Hymnal - "Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above"). Psalm 118 is the lectionary psalm for Easter Sunday, Year C. Give thanks unto our gracious God, Whose love endures forever; The Lord, our strength and song shall be, From whom no fault can sever. Sing mighty songs of victory, Both now and for eternity, For God will leave us never.
I shall not die, but I shall live, And sing God's grace with elation; Though I deserve no more than death, God blesses me with salvation. The gate that should unyielding be Is open wide to welcome me, Give thanks and adoration!
Upon the stones the builders judged Imperfect, weak and tender, Now rest the corners of God's house, Still unsurpassed in splendor. This is the day the Lord has made; God is my sun, and God my shade; Rejoice, and praise gladly render!
Shared with permission of Michael Morgan.
The following Call to Worship is from the Mennonite Church of Canana. We are here today because the weeping Mary of Magdala once said: “I have seen the Lord!” We are here on this Easter morning because Jesus still comes into our locked spaces and says: “Peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit.” We are here today like doubting Thomas who finally cried: “My Lord and my God” We are here like Peter, tempted to forget the call of Jesus: “I’m going fishing.” We’re here this morning because of Jesus, who asks us face-to-face: “Do you truly love me?” We gather here to whisper timidly. “Yes, Lord, you know that we love you.” We are here as a congregation only because many faithful disciples have listened to Jesus’ words: “Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid! Go and tell, ‘Jesus has been raised!”
The following Call to Worship is by Nathan Decker. Morning has broken, but this morning is different. The birds are singing tunes of joy in the trees surrounding the graves. The flower buds are bursting in colors vibrant around each stone.
We've come to visit the grave of a friend, but "he is not here."
The Sun is rising in the East; the shadowed grays turn bright! The Son is risen in our Hearts; darkness and death end in defeat.
Now we understand what Christ said, what God did.
Now we can proclaim, CHRIST IS RISEN! HALLELUJAH!
The Rev. Nathan Decker is the pastor of the South Sussex Charge of the James River District of the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. His great love is the diversity and inspiration of God's creative nature in worship.
The following responsive confession is from the United Church of Christ. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. We anoint the death of our dreams, even before we allow them a chance to live. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. We give up on hope so easily, on the expectation that God will do something incredible. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them God speaks through the strangers we encounter, but we don’t hear, we don’t want to be challenged by a new word. “Why do you look for the living among the dead? Jesus is not here, but has risen.” We seek life from the death of the past. We hold to that which breathes only in our memory; to mistakes long past; to hurts long inflicted; to strings attached to forgiveness. “Remember how Jesus told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man, the ‘Human One,’ must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified and on the third day rise again.” Too often torn and scattered, we feel unworthy of the healing of God’s grace or the promise of restoration. Then they remembered Jesus’ words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. We forget the promises of God, even those whispered just moments ago. We want proof before we’ll believe, before we’ll be faithful. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. We don’t risk enough to trust the messengers in everyday appearance. We don’t dare ourselves to understand. But these words seemed to the apostles an idle tale, and they did not believe them. We think our problems too big for God! We act like frightened disciples, unwilling to allow God into our crowded lives, unwilling to make room for the One who creates and creates again. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened. We are like Peter. We deny God; we fail to share the miracle; we keep the good news to ourselves.
Forgive us, God, for our disbelief—for seeing an empty tomb and thinking a cruel trick; for discovering a discarded burial cloth yet still holding to death; for hearing words of life but keeping them to ourselves. Restore us even in our unbelief. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon:
“Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11 NRSV) Do not be afraid! Receive the good news with great joy! God’s promises are true. Christ has risen. Believe and be alive.
The following assurance of pardon is from the United Church of Christ. Sisters and brothers, the power of resurrection is at work in us and with us! Through the former things of our lives and in the new heaven and earth that God is yet creating, the Spirit of Christ leads us onto paths of victory over sorrow and death, disbelief and fear. Receive God’s grace in the secret place in your heart, where there are no words. For the forgiveness of God is too marvelous for words. Amen.
The following benediction is from the United Church of Christ. Go forth to live boldly, as if death has no power over you. Live as if your lives count for something--because they do. God calls us in abundant love to serve something greater than our own finite lives, a greater cause for which we would even lay down our lives, as Jesus did. For just as death on a tree could not stop the Christ, so our lives in service to God become larger than ourselves, part of the ever in-breaking realm of God— that realm of justice and truth, of enough for all and not too much for any one. Go in peace, to love, to serve, and to proclaim:
One: Christ is risen! Alleluia! Many: Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!