COCU31C.Easter Sunday C


Acts 10:34-43: Peter preaches that God shows no favouritism, but that anyone who believes in Jesus, who did good and healed those oppressed by the devil, was crucified, and was raised, receives life and forgiveness.

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24: A song celebrating God’s mercy and strength, and celebrating the restoration of God after struggle – foreshadowing “the stone that the builders rejected” who “became the cornerstone”.

1 Corinthians 15:19-26: Christ is the one who died and came back to life in order to bring all people to life. Finally, death itself is destroyed.

John 20:1-18: Mary finds the empty tomb and reports it to the disciples. Peter and John investigate and witness the empty tomb, but Mary remains and becomes the first to meet, and witness to, the Risen Christ.

OR Luke 24:1-12: The women find the tomb empty and meet two angels who report that Jesus is risen. They return and report the event to the disciples, who are initially sceptical.
(Bible readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Gospel Feelings website – fresh resources for Easter

Easter Chant
From death to life with Christ we move
from death to life (repeated)
Words: William Wallace. Click here for music score. 

Rising Christ
Rising Christ,
You are rising indeed.
Rising up hope where hope has died
Rising up people to follow your way
Rising up justice in the hearts of those who would take up compassion
Rising up grace as a challenge to the world
Rising up repentance and reconciliation in the face of arrogance, hate, bitterness and resentment
Rising up peace as a possibility to be striven and worked for
Rising up the way of the cross as the roadmap to meaning, purpose and eternal life.
Christ, you are rising indeed,
Rise up in us,
That we may live you and your love to others
Rise up in us,
That we may be who you call us into being
Rise up in us,
That we may be your resurrection people,
Your body of followers
Your disciples
Always striving to be better
Always on the way to the promised end
Now and always so
(Source: Jon Humphries)

You Can’t Keep the God-man Down
There it is for us.
The tomb is empty.
The stone is rolled away.
Where people least expect you, there they experience you.
God with us,
Grace unbounded,
Love unstoppable,
Forgiveness transcending.
Come to us anew.
May we meet you in faith
May join with you through loving and serving others,
And enter into your communion. Amen.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
I do not understand
how Jesus Christ can have risen from the dead,
but I believe that he did,
and that he is alive today.
I believe it because the women saw him,
because their love recognised him,
because his love brought them back from grief
to astonished witness.
I believe it because
no two stories of what they saw
are quite the same, yet they all say:
he is not here; he is risen!
I believe it because
the peace he breathes
is hope for the world, and for us.
And because I believe it,
I will keep telling it, writing it, singing it:
alleluia, alleluia alleluia!
(Source: Elizabeth Smith 2019)

Gathering prayer
empty tombs and risen lords
stones that have rolled
and resurrection,
for some it is easy to believe
for others it is just daft
but for most
we wonder
we wonder what might be possible
and God
if love is the greatest power in the universe we wonder
what might be possible
if love chooses to carry on loving even those who try and kill it
what might be possible

and if love decides to give of itself for the sake of others
what might be possible
so in our wonder
and our longing for such a love as this
that changes things
may we dare to believe
in what seems impossible
and dare to live
impossible lives
that hope beyond death
but believe in life before death
may we life this kind of love
that dares to work for justice
and the fullness of life for everyone dare to work for peace
and the fullness of peace for everyone because we believe in love
which has become
the most powerful thing in the universe because it gives of itself
may we make time
this season of renewal and life to wonder
and wonder
what love might make possible in us. Amen.

(Source: Stephen Stark, Kirkwood UCC)

New song by Kathy Douglass – I have seen the Lord
with Mary Magdalene we say ~ I have seen the Lord!
I have seen the Lord, Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
And he calls me by my name, Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Every hope has been restored, Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
I have seen the Lord, Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Why do you seek the living among the dead? (Luke 24.5)
Easter God, roll away the stone
from the tomb of my heart.
Let the morning light
of your love shine in.
As light forgives darkness,
fills it,  transforms it,
your love forgives me,
fills me, transforms me.
I am not among the dead –
my guilt, my shame, my fear.
You have brought me to life.
The light of your love raises me,
sets me free,
leads me out into this new day,
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Lord of the dawn,
revealed to women of courage
and men of doubt:
take us from the empty places
where death holds power
to the rising of your love
as light for all the world;
God unlimited
by mortal fear
or tomb’s cold grip:
in the lingering dark
give us grace to know
your life triumphant
your love undimmed
in the face of Jesus Christ, the firstborn from the dead,
the Resurrection and the Life. Amen.
(Steven Shakespeare, Prayers for an inclusive church)

Prayer for illumination
Living God, by your Holy Spirit,
open our eyes to see the new light of this day;
open our lips to tell of the empty tomb;
open our hearts to believe the good news;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
From Feasting on the Word – Worship Companion, edited by Kimberly Bracken Long

just one
I ask for just one miracle this weekend:
that I will no longer believe the impossible is.
That I will find the faith to believe
that liberation will come
for those who are imprisoned by their own
– or another’s –
fear and judgement.
That I will find the faith to believe
that the most intractable minds can be changed
– even my own.
That I will find the faith to believe
a different world will be born
from the empty hells of this one.
That I won’t stop living for the end
of all that would destroy us. (Cheryl Lawrie, Hold This Space blogsite)

Call to Worship for Easter Morning
For those who first went out
into the early dawn, when the sky was grey,
taking spices to the tomb,
there was terror, and surprise.

For us, resisting the impulse to sleep in
as part of a long weekend,
and being over-familiar with the Easter story,
there is the risk of complacency.

So let us open ourselves
to the astounding possibility
that life can break out
at any moment!

Let us challenge the thought
that we have planned the future
so efficiently that
there will be no surprises!

Let us face the fact
that the walls of this church,
and the life of our institution
cannot entirely contain Jesus Christ!

Let us celebrate
the irrepressible power of God
breaking out with life
where we least expect it!
(Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Spirituality Centre)

Prayer of Dedication
Holy God:
as you fill us with the vastness of your power and love,
so use our gifts and transform the lives of your children,
that we all may be the living presence of your dreams for this world, now and always. Amen
(Source: Kirkwood UCC)

A contemplative service for Easter Day by Lyn Seils Robertson

An Easter Week prayer 

This light which bathes the world,
pours from a source so close, so near
and yet we cannot touch it
or fence it in that it not be lost.

This light which shatters darkness
is pierced together, flame by flame,
shining from a thousand sources
but is diminished by the loss of one.

This light which fills the furthest corner
brings with it warmth
to fill billions of hearts
and bind them with its common truth.

This light which pulls us toward tomorrow
is carried deep within each of our hearts
and lit by you and me and him and her
and all who live upon this earth.

This light which is yours and mine to carry
burns only in the hope-filled heart,
the source of all our inspiration
and all the beauty that will ever come to be.
Let it shine.
Words: Gretta Vosper, from We all breathe, poems and prayers
(*could be used at Sunrise Service)

Spare parts
We barge out of the womb
with two of them: eyes, ears,
arms, hands, legs, feet.
Only one heart. Not a good
plan. God should know we
need at least a dozen,
a baker’s dozen of hearts.
They break like Easter eggs
hidden in the grass,
stepped on and smashed.
My own heart is patched,
bandaged, taped, barely
the same shape it once was
when it beat fast for you.    (Trish Dugger)

Christ is Rising
You are risen
You are risen indeed
You are here
You are here indeed.
You are waiting
You are waiting indeed
You are wanting
You are wanting indeed
You are calling
You are calling indeed
You are leading
You are leading indeed
You are rising
You are rising indeed
Here, waiting, wanting, calling, leading and rising up people of the way to join you in your mission to renew the whole of creation and redeem and reconcile all in your love and grace.
You are rising
You are rising indeed. Amen      (Jon Humphries)

Sorrow and joy,
striking suddenly on our startled senses,
seem, at the first approach, all but impossible
of just distinction one from the other,
even as frost and heat at the first keen contact
burn us alike.

Joy and sorrow,
hurled from the height of heaven in meteor fashion,
flash in an arc of shining menace o’er us.
Those they touch are left
stricken amid the fragments
of their colourless, usual lives.

Imperturbable, mighty,
ruinous and compelling,
sorrow and joy
– summoned or all unsought for –
– processionally enter.
Those they encounter
they transfigure, investing them
with strange gravity
and a spirit of worship.

Joy is rich in fears;
sorrow has its sweetness.
Indistinguishable from each other
they approach us from eternity,
equally potent in their power and terror.

From every quarter
mortals come hurrying,
part envious, part awe-struck, swarming, and peering
into the portent,
where the mystery sent from above us
is transmuting into the inevitable
order of earthly human drama.

What, then, is joy? What, then, is sorrow?
Time alone can decide between them,
when the immediate poignant happening
lengthens out to continuous wearisome suffering,
when the laboured creeping moments of daylight
slowly uncover the fullness of our disaster,
sorrow’s unmistakable features.

Then do most of our kind
sated, if only be the monotony
of unrelieved unhappiness,
turn away from the drama, disillusioned,

O you mothers and loved ones – then, ah, then
comes your hour, the hour for true devotion.
Then your hour comes, you friends and brothers!
Loyal hearts can change the face of sorrow,
softly encircle it with love’s most gentle
unearthly radiance.        (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Believing in the resurrection does not just mean assenting to a dogma and noting a historical fact. It means participating in this creative act of God’s…. Resurrection is not a consoling opium, soothing us with the promise of a better world in the hereafter. It is the energy for a rebirth of this life. The hope doesn’t point to another world. It is focussed on the redemption of this one. 
(Source: Jürgen Moltmann)

From Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation:
Resurrection is simply incarnation come to its logical, certain, and full conclusion. It demonstrates, for those who are ready to see, that this world, this flesh, this physicality is part of the eternal truth and forever matters to God. The early church seemed to get this movement of incarnation as the pathway to divinization much more than we have in later centuries. Read, for example, St. Irenaeus and St. Athanasius in their classic texts from the second and fourth centuries. Irenaeus said, “Jesus Christ became what we are that we might become what he himself is.” Athanasius, who is called the Father of Orthodoxy, put it similarly: “For he was made man that we might be made God.”

Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we are God. We can’t live up to that, and we don’t want to have to live up to that. I am not saying, “We are the Divine One,” however, I am saying that we participate in a very real and objective way in the Divine. That’s the whole point of religion: to let us know that what we are drawing upon is already planted within us. We don’t create it by good moral behavior or by going to church on Sunday. We may awaken it that way, but we don’t self-create it.

Resurrection is saying that matter and spirit have been working together from the first moment of the Big Bang and they are moving toward a positive consummation. Frankly, Christians should have been leading the way in all notions of evolution. It is sadly revealing that we often opposed it instead, showing there was no active sense of the Indwelling Holy Spirit, especially among many fundamentalists who talk about the Holy Spirit the most. Theirs is still a static and inanimate universe and God is still “out there”!

Resurrection is not a one-time miracle to be proven; it is a manifestation of the wholeness that we are all meant to experience, even in this world. Eternal life is not “chronological moments of endless duration” but time as momentous and revealing the whole right now. When “time comes to a fullness” (e.g., Mark 1:15, Galatians 4:4, Ephesians 1:10) as in moments of love, childbirth, union, death, prayer, or exquisite beauty, you have experienced a moment of eternal life. Without such moments, it will either be very hard for you to imagine resurrection or, conversely, you will long for it like no one else, which is surely the meaning of the virtue of hope.

The Risen Christ is the standing icon of humanity in its final and full destiny. He is the pledge and guarantee of what God will do with all of our oppressions, abuses, and crucifixions. This, frankly, allows us to live with hope, purpose, and direction. It is no longer an absurd or tragic universe. Our hurts now become the home for our greatest hopes. Without such implanted hope, it is likely that we will be cynical, bitter, and tired by the second half of our lives. I am afraid this is much of Western civilization, which feels very tired and even in love with futility and death. The amount of mental and emotional illness, addiction, anger, depression, and basic unhappiness is the price we are paying for living in such an empty and meaningless world. The soul cannot live without purpose and meaning.

Gateway to Silence
God in me sees God who is also beyond me.

(John 20: 1-18)

~ 1 ~

From what I’ve known of emptiness
it’s usually an empty place,
but the empty tomb of Jesus
holds the world of time and space.

From what I’ve known of losses
there’s often nothing left to be heard,
but death could not hold Jesus
and does not have the final word.

From what I’ve known of tombstones
stillness is statement and claim,
but the stone rolled back for Jesus
and all our destiny is changed . . .

~ 2 ~

We spin our tombs out of tough threads
of rage, grief, bitterness, regret,
sealed inside with our guilt, our dreads

where no light comes. And yet
we are not abandoned, and there
in the hard cocoon, if we let it,

we may begin to change. Care
breaks in, God’s loving breath, warm;
and slowly the old life, stripped bare,

begins to break apart, transform,
emerge as something different, new –
the old hurts and wounds, the torn

places, the toughened parts too
starting to heal; our being beginning to change.
In time we can choose to leave our cocoon,

and with trust, it splits open. And with strange
bright wings unfolding to the fragrant air
we surface – by death and resurrection rearranged.

~ 3 ~

I know you’re there, my Easter flower,
hidden for a while in earth’s deep darkness,
soon to break forth like song out of silence,
soon to show again your resurrection power,

rising up where no weed should be growing, out
of rough dirt, smooth lawns, cracks between stones,
rising again from being cut, pulled up, mowed down,
supposedly dead. I know the scented white shout

of the trumpets of lilies is the common choice
in sanctuaries showing Easter joy and glory,
but for me it is your undefeatable story,
the stubborn ruggedness of your sunlit voice,

that best symbolizes the resilience of faith
and the undying steadfastness of God’s love.
Try as the world might to root out and shove
you back to the dark, your bright yellow face

still blooms where it will. Irrepressible weed,
may your ever-renewing blossoms become
a sign of the kingdom of which every one
of us can be joyous, undefeated, irrepressible seed.
(Source: ©2016 by Andrew King)

Easter Prayer
Living God,
long ago, faithful women
proclaimed the good news
of Jesus’ resurrection,
and the world was changed forever.

Teach us to keep faith with them,
that our witness may be as bold,
our love as deep,
and our faith as true. Amen.
(Source: Kris, posted on RevGalBlogPals)

On the surface, it seems that death is triumphant.
It appears as though those who conspired to do evil have won.
Yet God does not inspire fear, hatred, or violence.
God did not inspire the fear, hatred, or violence of those who bring terror.
“Perfect love casts out fear” says the words of scripture.
Any voice or action that comes from a place of fear or harm
– that is not the voice of the Beloved.
The Beloved whispers softly to the soul:
“You are blessed. You are beloved. You are a reflection of me.”
You can tell it is the voice of the Beloved because it doesn’t stop there.
The voice keeps pointing to everyone and everything:
“You are sacred. You are blessed. You are beloved. You are a reflection of me.”
To listen to this voice is to treat each creature,
each precious child,
as an expression and manifestation of the Divine.
God does not inspire violence,
but always love.
This day, may we listen to that love,
open to that love,
spread that love.
Most of all, may we embody that love in the face of fear and hatred,
remembering our sacred calling as expressions of Light.
“Perfect love casts out fear,” the Voice whispers.
“Listen to your heart’s song. Listen to your soul’s song.
Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
(Matt Carriker, posted on Progressive Christianity)

Communion liturgy for Easter Sunday
(adapted from Michael Norwood in Praying a New Story, 2004)
May God of all hopefulness be with you!
And also with you!
Followers of Christ, lift up your hearts.
We offer them to the one who denied himself,
so that God’s love and grace might be carried into the world forever. Sing songs of praise to the God who is faithful in keeping promises.
We call upon our God, the One who calls us by name.


O God of never-ending New Life,
we give thanks for the awe-filled experiences in our lives
that have helped us see beyond the present
and have called us to live in hope and trust.
We give thanks for Jesus of Nazareth
who leads us to put our hope and trust in the Spirit of Life and Love moving in the depths of our being.
We give thanks for the way he opens our minds and hearts
to see and appreciate the intimate and never-ending connection between our loving and the Spirit of Love.
We give thanks for the courage given us
to move outside ourselves
and experience the vastness of your Creation
Bless this bread before us.
We take it and share it
as our pledge of openness to God’s miracles in our midst.
Bless this cup before us.
We take it and share it,
believing, as Jesus believed,
that beyond pain and darkness and death,
life in God’s Spirit continues in ways beyond imagining.
To being the Body of Christ
and to sharing the Spirit of New Life in our lives with the world:

Words of Institution

Sharing of Bread and Cup 
Everyone is welcome to take communion, regardless of church affiliation or no affiliation. Gluten-free wafers are provided in each basket.

Prayer after communion
For the journey that life has been,
for all that life is for us now,
for all that the future holds,
and for the mystery of resurrected life beyond death: Amen.
(Source: Kirkwood UCC)

Pilgrim Orders of Service
8am 2013, COCU31C.Easter Day.8am.2013.OoS

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
This entry was posted in COCU Year C. Bookmark the permalink.