Acts 10: 34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43
John 20:1-8 or Matthew 28:1-10

Bill Loader commentary on reading from Matthew, John, Colossians, Acts.

Music: Singing from the Lectionary
Easter Day: Easter Day Melody Line & Words (Helen Wiltshire, Norm Inglis)

See also Easter Sunday B and COCU31 Easter Sunday C

“Take Care”
In the journey to the light,
the dark moments should not threaten.
Belief requires that you hold steady.
Bend, if you will, with the wind.
The tree is your teacher,
roots at once more firm
from experience in the soil made fragile.
Your gentle dew will come and a stirring
of power to go on towards the space
of sharing.
In the misery of the I, in rage,
it is easy to cry out against all others
but to weaken is to die
in the misery of knowing
the journey abandoned
towards the sharing
of all human hope and cries
is the loss of all we know
of the divine reclaimed
for our shared humanity.
Hold firm. Take care.
Come home together.
Source: Michael D. Higgins

Pope Francis’ 2017 Easter Vigil sermon.
“When the High Priest and the religious leaders, in collusion with the Romans, believed that they could calculate everything, that the final word had been spoken and that it was up to them to apply it, God suddenly breaks in, upsets all the rules and offers new possibilities. God once more comes to meet us, to create and consolidate a new age, the age of mercy. This is the promise present from the beginning. This is God’s surprise for his faithful people. Rejoice! Hidden within your life is a seed of resurrection, an offer of life ready to be awakened.”

‘The tomb was empty,’ the Scriptures said later, metaphorically perhaps but pointedly, nevertheless. People had known His presence again, not the same as before the crucifixion, true, but real, nevertheless. Transformed. Somehow or other Jesus had defeated death, had snatched new life from its cavernous throat. The implications were overwhelming. Death, even once transcended, could never be permanent again. In fact, life itself could never be the same again. Jesus risen from the dead made life the stuff of eternity. Jesus transformed leads us to look beyond the obvious, to allow for the presence of God in alien places in unanticipated ways. Resurrection begs the scrutiny of the obvious, the celebration of the sacrament of transformation.
(Source: Joan Chittister)

I love this detail that John includes in his account of the resurrection: that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb “while it was still dark.” I am counting on that beautiful detail: that resurrection happened in the night and in the shadows; that in the presence of deep mystery filled with uncertainty and hope, life still begins again. On this day, while it is still dark for so many, I offer this blessing for you.
SEEN (for Easter Day)
You had not imagined
that something so empty
could fill you
to overflowing,
and now you carry
the knowledge
like an awful treasure
or like a child
that curls itself
within your heart:
how the emptiness
will bear forth
a new world
you cannot fathom
but on whose edge
you stand.
So why do you linger?
You have seen,
and so you are
already blessed.
You have been seen,
and so you are
the blessing.
There is no other word
you need.
There is simply
to go and tell.
There is simply
to begin.
(Source: Jan Richardson, from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons)

At the Tomb — A litany for 5+ voices
1st voice: Woman, why are you weeping?
1st woman: We mourn these dark days of death and denial.
Abandoned, betrayed, forsaken.
Left alone. Jesus gone.
Where have they laid him?
1st voice: Woman, why are you weeping?
2nd woman: We are afraid for our Leader.
Humiliated in both life and death.
Robbed from the grave.
O where have they laid him?
2nd voice: Mary, do not hold onto me.
1st voice: Women, why are you weeping?
Women: We weep for Jesus, missing.
We weep for Columbian* kin, missing.
We weep for children entangled in bitter domestic disputes, missing.
1st voice: Men, why are you weeping?
Men: We weep for Jesus, humiliated and tortured.
We weep for all political prisoners, suffering at the hands of oppressors.
We weep for Muslims vilified by world powers and the media.
We weep for peaceful protestors violently opposed.
1st voice: Women, why are you weeping?
Women: We weep for Jesus, abandoned and alone.
We weep for the elderly, separated from family and community.
We weep for children, orphaned by AIDS.
We weep for the our young, devastated by war.
2nd voice: Do not hold on to me as I was.
For I am with you, now, in the least of these.
As you weep for them, you weep for me.
As you serve them, you serve me.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Christ lives in the gardener,
in the immigrant who mows our lawns and trims our shrubs.
Christ lives in the teacher,
the day care worker who minds our children.
Christ lives in the tortured,
the prisoners of “the war on terrorism.”
Christ lives in those for whom we weep.
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!
*Columbian: consider changing this reference to a nation currently in crisis.
(Source: Ana Gobledale, Worship Words)

Good News God,
your angels appeared to the faithful women of Jesus’ company,
bringing them news more wonderful and awe-inspiring than they could imagine –
Christ is Risen!
Surely your angels can interrupt our lives, too,
breaking into our losses and sorrows
and offering a message of tremendous joy to change our lives!
Come this Easter morning, we pray,
and fill us with the joy of the women disciples,
the first witnesses to your resurrection,
that our lives may also be renewed in hope and glory.
Let us roll back the stone of the grave
and pick up the stones of Alleluia once again!
In Christ we pray, Amen.
(Source: Elizabeth Dilley, Worship Ways, United Church of Christ)

Call to worship (see also general listing for call to worship)
Christ is risen. 
Christ is risen indeed!
Do not be afraid. 
The risen life of Christ is clothed with grace.
We will look with trembling hope
into the face of a love which is beyond understanding.
We will see the glory of God!
All the earth may resound with joy,
for the costly courage of our God
has overcome all which would threaten life.
The Christ has entered every dark place
and now stands before us,
surrounded by the light of true life.
This life will never be defeated
by the betrayals or violence of humankind. 
For love is stronger than death
and Christ is the source of our salvation.
Praise be to you, Jesus Christ!
(Source: Words for Worship 2011)

Call to worship
This is the day:
When God rolls away the stone of fear,
and enters the tombs of darkness
This is the day:
When sin has lost its power
and shattered hearts are filled with hope
This is the day:
When we celebrate the victory of love,
and the eternal life of Christ.
This is the day – Easter Day,
Christ is risen, Hallelujah!
(Source: St Martin’s Presbyterian Church, Christchurch, NZ) 

Call to Worship
We come to this place,
seeking Jesus in the familiar story of our faith.
Do not meet us only here, O Living Christ,
but surprise us with Resurrection power
in all the places of our lives!
We gather together to sing and pray the story we know by heart,
a story of loving triumph and powerful grace.
This story of “Alleluia!” means great joy
for the One who lives and the ones who witness to this new life
in all the places of our lives!
We rejoice and thank you for the life of your son,
resurrected by the power of your loving, vibrant Spirit.
Let this same Spirit fill all the places of our lives,
that we may know the truth
of resurrection for the rest of our lives!
We join our hearts in song and sing
“Alleluia! Gracious Jesus!”
for Christ is living and so are we!
Alleluia indeed!
(Source: Elizabeth Dilley, UCC, Worship Ways)

God of new creation,
from the womb of earth
you raised the Lord of life:
may we receive the word of women
who braved the soldier’s spears
and met him in the dawning light;
may we live with morning joy
that love will never die,
through Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life.
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 Christ,
the firstborn from the dead. Amen.
(Source: Steven Shakespeare, Prayers for an inclusive church)

Call to Worship
This is the day:
hope tiptoes us awake;
light guides us through the shadows.
This is the day the Lord:
plants joy in our winter hearts;
drowns out despair’s cries with laughter.
This is the day the Lord has made:
the day grace does cartwheels in graveyards;
resurrection wonder outshines the brightest sun;
an empty tomb fills us with good news.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Prayer of the Day
Each morning,
we put on those
comfortable garments
of burdens and worries,
but now they are gone!
Each day,
we walk through life,
our good and faithful
friend, death, at our side,
constantly whispering
in our ears,
but now he has disappeared!
Each evening,
empty our fears
out of our pockets, leaving
them on top of the dresser,
but now, they have been taken away!
We could continue to live
in the same old ways, the same old days,
but now, resurrection life is ours,
and we can sing, dance, and rejoice!
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Prayer of Confession (Call to Reconciliation)
We are Easter people, yet we also know how often we live in the shadows, afraid to follow the light. We wander in the gardens of the world, looking for you, never noticing you at our side. Let us confess how we have failed to be God’s people.
We come on this day, Dispeller of fears, walking through the shadows of our lives.
Too often, we believe our foolishness is hidden from you;
too often, we stand before the open door of hope,
wondering if we dare enter.
Uncertain of the good news offered to us,
we would rather return to the comfort of our familiar ways
rather than trusting in you.
Yet you come, as persistent as Mary at the tomb,
Joy of our hearts,
to open the gates of hope,
so we might walk in the gardens of hope;
you come, to open the gates of grace,
so we might plant peace in the wilderness of the world;
you come, to open the gates of resurrection,
so we might know our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
This is the day of resurrection and new life.
This is the day God offers us steadfast hope and love which will never end.
We will sing and dance on this day!
We will rejoice and give thanks to the God who saves us. Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Prayer of Confession
God, we confess to you
that while we know well the story of your victory over the grave,
it is not a story we always live.
We are dragged down by all manner of death –
Fear may suffocate us: the loss of dreams and hopes
for ourselves, our families, our communities and our nation.
Sorrow may wall us off like a grave,
isolating us with anger, frustration, and grief. A silence is kept
Yet the smooth stones of our faith are inscribed
not with the marks of death,
but with the word, “Alleluia!”
So on this Easter morning,
we pray that you will fill us with “fear and great joy”
so that, like those women who came to the tomb expecting death,
we may instead find the radiant new life
that is ever before us in your Resurrection! Amen.
(Source: UCC, Worship Ways)

Assurance of Pardon
Just as Christ did not come to condemn but to liberate,
so too is Christ raised from death not to judge but to celebrate.
Cast off the yoke of sorrow and instead raise up the scepter of joy –
Christ lives! We live!
All is made new on this Resurrection morning!
Alleluia and amen!
(Source: Elizabeth Dilley, UCC, Worship Ways)

We boast in the cross (echoes of 1 Cor 1:18-31)
Though it may seem foolish,
We boast in the cross!
The wisdom of God,
the place of infinite Love’s
extravagant sacrifice,
the sign of scandalous grace
welcoming all.
We praise you, O Christ, for your cross,
and for the love and grace we find there.
Though it may seem weak,
We boast in the cross!
The power of God,
the scene of death’s demise
and life’s unstoppable outbreak,
the mark of evil’s failure
to extinguish the light of goodness and peace.
We praise you, O Christ, for your cross,
and for the life and goodness we find there.
In the face of this world’s information economy
and petty power-games:
we boast in the foolishness and weakness
of the cross of Christ.
For in it we find all the wisdom and power
that makes this world whole. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we offer our gifts on this joyous morning, may the bring light to those in the shadows, laughter to all who mourn, and hope to those longing for life anew. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Prayer of dedication/offering
We are witnesses to the power of the Holy Spirit and the glory of God,
and now we turn in thanksgiving to share the good news
of forgiveness and grace to all the world.
Let these our gifts be a living testimony
to those who most need the healing grace of Christ this morning,
cornerstones of faith and joy for the entire world.
O God, you have become our light and our salvation –
let these gifts open the gates of joy
to all who hunger and thirst for your holy presence
on this and every day.
May they bear the gifts of Alleluia which we hold so dear,
and give away with great joy.
We pray in the name of the Risen One, Jesus the Christ! Amen.
(Source: Elizabeth Dilley, UCC, Worship Ways)

Do not look for the risen Jesus only here,
in the confines of this church building.
We will seek the risen Jesus on the roads and in the streets,
in all the pathways and byways of our lives.
Do not seek comfort in the familiar, but dare to risk the unfamiliar –
We know that Resurrection makes all things new!
Do not cling to all the old, expected notions about God, Jesus, Spirit,
but go forth and celebrate this truly new Good News:
Because Christ lives, new possibilities are ever before us!
Christ is Risen Indeed!
Alleluia and amen!
(Source: UCC, Worship Ways by Elizabeth Dilley)

Various Easter Day prayers at Faith and Worship

Communion liturgy
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May resurrection’s God be with you!
And also with you!
This is the day to offer yourselves to God.
We open our hearts to the One who fills them with grace.
Join in the glad songs of all creation this day.
Our voices praise the One who opens wide the gates of life.
When only emptiness stretched out, you spoke at that time, Joyous God,
and goodness and beauty sprang forth.
All this wonder and joy was your gift to your children created in your image,
but we ran to play with death, when sin opened the gates of seduction.
Time after time after time, you sent the prophets to remind us
of your never-ending love, but we chose to remain in sin’s tomb,
the stone of our rebellion locking us away.
So you sent your Hopeful heart, your grace made flesh
so we might not be given over to death.
With those who see and believe, with those who stand and question,
we lift our Easter songs to you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God who has made this day!
All creation celebrates your constant love.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who is revealed on this morning.
Hosanna in the highest!
When he could have clung to your glory, God who alone is holy,
Jesus chose to become human at that time, so we might be filled with your grace.
When we stood against the wall wondering if anyone noticed us,
he came to take us by the hand to teach us new dance steps.
When our lives crumble around us and we lie scattered on the ground,
he gathers us up, reshaping us into your beloved community.
When we were unable to break the power of evil over us,
he allowed sin to toss him aside like a pebble in a shoe,
until he was raised from the tomb because you refuse to give us over to death.
As we stand before the empty tomb,
celebrating the great news of this day,
we would have that faith which is a mystery:
Christ died, so sin could not hold on to us;
Christ was raised, so death could not hold on to him;
Christ will come, to hold us in steadfast love and hope.
At this time, in this place, pour out your Spirit upon your people
and on the gifts of the feast of the resurrection.
May the bread which is broken open like the tomb,
strengthen us so we may go to rebuild shattered hopes,
to bind up the hurts of the world.
May the cup which is filled with the fruits of your steadfast love,
nourish us to leave the shadows of our fears and doubts
to stand with the lonely and forgotten, to listen to the cries of the world.
And in that time to come, when we will be gathered with our sisters and brothers
of every place and of every moment, we will sing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One, as you hold on to us forever. Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Let us go with God into the world.
We will offer healing and hope to all
who wander in the shadows of life.
Let us go with Jesus to serve others.
We will listen to the ignored;
we will speak out for the forgotten.
Let us go with the Spirit to share steadfast love.
We will hold on to the fallen;
we will rebuild shattered communities.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Sunrise 2017 Sunriseservice2017.YearA
8am 2014 20140420 8am Easter Day Service
9.30am 2014 COCU31A.EasterDay.930am.2014
11am 2014 COCU31A.11am.Easter Day 2014

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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