Original Posting At https://johntbryant.wordpress.com/2020/04/09/easter-worship-at-home/
Shiloh United Methodist Church
April 12th 2020 Worship at Home: Easter Sunday
24 Hours That Changed the World: The Resurrection
Items you may want to gather before worship:
- computer, tablet, or other way to play video and follow reading links/prompts
- candle and lighter
- offering, envelope, stamp
Call to Worship
Light a candle in the center of your gathering space
as you bring the Light of Christ into your time of worship.
One: Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
Response: Christ is Risen, indeed!
Christ the Lord is Risen Today UMH 302
Charles Wesley’s stirring Easter hymn states “Christ the Lord is risen today.” Where do you see evidence of the resurrection today?
Lyrics are on screen. Please sing along!
It feels good when people call us by our name rather just “Hey you!” To be called by our name means someone knows us, knows who we are.
In our story today, Jesus’ friend Mary doesn’t recognize him until he says her name. We are reminded that Jesus knows our name too. Jesus wants to be our friend.
Let us pray: Thank you Jesus for knowing our name and being our friend. Amen.
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (UMH 839)
Consider reading responsively with someone reading the odd verses and others reading the even verses.
The Word of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.
Tombs in ancient Israel were carved out of the rock. See some examples and a stone that blocked the entrance to a tomb here.
Mary goes to the tomb and there finding it empty begins to cry. Remember that for Mary it’s the day after Jesus’ crucifixion and death. John doesn’t tell us why she’s gone to the tomb. Maybe it was to anoint Jesus’ body following Jewish burial rituals, like the women in the other gospels. Maybe she’s going for confirmation or simply to be near Jesus however she can right now. The weight of grief and uncertainty in this moment is palpable. It’s the weight of the day after.
The day after is the day after the worst news: the diagnosis, the “there’s nothing more we can do,” the layoff, the silence. When all the pieces have fallen apart but you haven’t been able to start putting them back together again. When the new reality has been shared but is only beginning to sink in.
In many ways I feel like we’re living in the day after. While it’s been a few weeks now, the reality is still sinking in. I feel like I’m still learning more about what life looks like during this time. I’m still unsettled, still unsure about what the future holds. I’m still grieving missing friends and family, canceled plans, and regular routines. So I empathize with Mary on a different level this year than I ever have before.
Then Jesus arrives, on the day after. Not on our best day, but on the hardest. Easter happens when we are at our lowest. In the darkness, in our grief and uncertainty, in the midst of fear, Jesus arrives. Jesus speaks our name so that we will recognize God’s grace and power to offer resurrection and hope.
Resurrection shows us that the worst thing is never the last thing. God has the final word. There is no power greater than God’s life and grace. Not even death can defeat God’s resurrection life.
Jesus arrives this Easter to share with us the promise that the worst thing is never the last thing. None of us know when this pandemic will end or how life will change on the other side of it. But we hold to the promise that this illness is not the final word. Jesus is with us through everything, God’s grace will sustain us, and resurrection power has the final word. That is good news, the best news, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Watch a sermon from Church of the Resurrection on this story here.
Apostles’ Creed (UMH 882)
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Prayers of the People
Please lift the names of the people, situations, and places for which we ask God’s grace to be known. After all share prayer needs, the leader may prayer this or another prayer:
Loving God, thank you for being our strength and our salvation. We praise you for bringing us to this morning, however we are, meeting us in grace and the promise of new life. We are hungry for the new life you promise.
Saving Christ, we are distracted by our grief even in the midst of the presence of your resurrection. We are hungry to hear you call us by name. Reveal yourself to us, wherever we may find ourselves, waiting to hear words of freedom and safety and mercy.
Living Spirit, breathe into us when our breaths are shallow. Revive us with your grace and peace as we celebrate the work of Easter, of turning death into new life again. Travel with us in all things, so that we may be able to proclaim that in this day, we rejoice because the Lord has made it.
Holy Father, Risen Christ, Present Spirit, we thank you for the promise of new life that comes with Easter. Guide us into your celebration, that we may remember the gift you continue to give us, and long for the day when your promise of the Kingdom of God will be complete.
In the name of Jesus, the risen Christ, we boldly and joyfully pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven.
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory, forever. Amen.
Please consider mailing your offering to the church (PO Box 315 Granite Quarry NC 28072).
Our conference has also set up online giving here. Make sure to put in Granite Quarry, Uwharrie, John Bryant, and general offering.
Because He Lives (UMH 310)
This hymn’s author speaks about writing in the midst of social upheaval and times of fear. “It was in the midst of this kind of uncertainty that the assurance of the Lordship of the risen Christ blew across our troubled minds like a cooling breeze in the parched desert.”
Lyrics are on screen. Please sing along!
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you
wherever he may send you;
may he guide you through the wilderness
protect you through the storm;
may he bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders he has shown you;
may he bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.
Jesus Remember Me UMH 488
Blow out your candle and be the Light of Christ in the world!
Call to Worship and Pastoral Prayer written by Rev. Kathy Randall Bryant
Today’s Call to Worship is adapted from the traditional Paschal Greeting across many traditions.
For Your Week
John records that Mary does not recognize Jesus until he speaks her name (John 20:16). Our names are powerful. Hearing our name spoken, especially by friends and family, builds an instant connection. God’s promise of the resurrection is for all of creation and for us as individuals. God knows us. Jesus speaks our name. God’s grace and life are offered to us personally. When have you experienced God offering you grace on a personal level?
Reflect on this quotation from Frederick Buechner, Presbyterian pastor and author. “The worst isn’t the last thing about the world. It’s the next to the last thing. The last thing is the best. It’s the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even. Yes. You are terribly loved and forgiven. Yes. You are healed. All is well.” (Frederick Buechner, The Final Beast)
Read John 20:14-16. When Jesus first arrives, Mary doesn’t recognize him. She instead mistakes him for the gardener. This sounds like an odd detail, until we remember than John loves to drop hints for the reader to understand Jesus in a deeper way. When Jesus leaves the Last Supper to go pray, John says he went to a garden (John 18:1). Many scholars believe John was comparing Jesus to Adam and Eve (Genesis 2-3), who chose their will over God’s in a garden, while Jesus prays in the garden “not my will, but yours be done.” In what ways did the risen Jesus begin restoring this world as God’s “garden”? How has his restoring work shaped your life? *
Read Matthew 28:1-20. Like the other gospels, Matthew says women were the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection (hardly a fact anyone would invent in that male-dominated culture). He notes the plot to spread a false account of what happened to Jesus’ body. He ends with a grand summary of Jesus’ mission for, and promise to, all of his followers (the “Great Commission”).
Christ the victor, risen from the dead, began his final commission with the words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). What, or whom, did Jesus defeat through the cross and resurrection? What does his victory over evil, suffering and death mean in your daily life?
Matthew’s description of the women’s reaction— “afraid yet filled with joy”—carries a ring of truth. It’s often the way we feel when something amazing happens that will bring about huge changes in our life. What is there about having God at work in your life that might make you afraid? What fills you with the greatest joy? *
Read John 20:19-31. Matthew noted in passing (Matthew 28:17) that some of the disciples doubted, even after the Resurrection. John gives a fuller account of Thomas’ reluctance to accept the witness of others, and then of his joy when he met the risen Lord. Again and again, Jesus called his first followers to peace. He extends the same call to all who believe in him.
You’ll notice that the disciples hadn’t gathered for a worship service. They were together “with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders.” It’s little wonder, then, that Jesus twice said, “Peace be with you.” In what part(s) of your life do you most need the assurance of Jesus’ peace? How can you live into that peace today? *
Where do you see signs of hope or new life today? Call or text someone and share one.
Jesus, I feel like Mary at the tomb: uncertain, unsure, afraid, grieving. But you come to speak life and hope into the darkness. Help me listen for your voice speaking my name, reminding me that you are with us through all things. Show me see signs of resurrection, big and small, so that I will know your power is greater than any other. Guide me to share hope with others as we support one another. Amen.
Burnand’s Disciples Peter and John Rushing to the Sepulcher
In this painting, Eugene Burnand has captured the moment just after Mary Magdalene has reported to the disciples that Jesus’ tomb is empty. Here are Peter and John, looking and leaning forward, like the clouds and the horizon line, toward their destination: the empty tomb. The men’s facial expressions and body postures reveal some of their feelings. What story does the artist want us to experience in this scene? *
Questions marked with a * are adapted from ShareChurch.com, a ministry of Church of the Resurrection.