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Easter Celebration

A Service of Word and Song
This Easter worship service centers around the theme of celebration through festive music, the retelling of the resurrection story from the gospels, communion that focuses on hope and victory, and a commission to serve with joy. Worship leaders may choose from several musical selections and arrangements.

Celebrate As We Gather

Song: “A Resurrection Declaration” with choir, brass, and bells Roger Thornhill and Victor C. Johnson

Alternative: A more contemporary church may want to begin with “He Is Alive” by Chris Sayburn and Jonathan James, which starts with the crucified Savior but brings us to the resurrection with the refrain “He is alive.” This could be sung by a worship team or by the congregation.

Call to Worship
Children’s choir comes forward during the call to worship.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He has given us new life and hope.
He has raised Jesus from the dead.

God has claimed us as his own.
He has brought us out of darkness.
He has made us light to the world.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed. Alleluia! (based on 1 Peter 1:3–5)

Song: “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” with congregation, brass, bells, and choirs LUYH 182, PH 113, PsH 388, SWM 132, TH 273/277, WR 288, GtG 245

God’s Greeting

We Greet One Another

Song: “See, What a Morning” LUYH 181

Optional arrangement: Children’s choir sings the first verse; adult choir women sing the first phrase of verse two; men sing the second phrase; all sing in parts on the second half of verse two; choirs and congregation sing verse three, brass added.

Song: “Come You Faithful, Raise the Strain” LUYH 199, PsH 389, TH 266, GtG 234

Children’s choir may be seated during this song.

Alternative: There are many contemporary songs celebrating the resurrection. Choose to sing something familiar to your congregation, such as “My Redeemer Lives” by Reuben Morgan or “Jesus is Alive” by Ron Kenoly. A more contemporary choice is “Forever (We Sing Hallelujah)” by Brian Johnson, Christa Black Gifford, Gabriel Wilson, Jenn Johnson, Joel Taylor, and Kari Jobe.

Confession and Assurance

Call to Confession
The days before Easter are filled with stories of people surrounding Jesus—some of them who loved him deeply—falling short. And though we love Jesus, there are times when we too fall short. Please join together in a prayer of confession:

If, at times, we deny you:
God forgive.
When the risks of discipleship are high,
and we are nowhere to be found:
God forgive.
When we wash our hands of responsibility:
God forgive.
When we cast our lot with powerful oppressors
and seek to buy freedom with silver:
God forgive.
When fear keeps us from witnessing to your truth,
or prejudice keeps us from believing it:
God forgive.
In the bright light of Easter morning, O God,
our sin is exposed,
and your grace is revealed.
Tender God,
raise us in your love so that, with joy,
we may witness to your awesome deeds,
in the name of Jesus, the risen one. Amen.

—Reprinted from Book of Worship, United Church of Christ. © 1986 by United Church of Christ Office for Church Life and Leadership, New York; Reprinted © 2012 by United Church of Christ, Local Church Ministries, Cleveland, Ohio. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Assurance of Pardon
Jesus Christ is the hope of God’s world.
In his death, the justice of God is established;
forgiveness of sin is proclaimed.
On the day of resurrection,
the tomb was empty, his disciples saw him,
death was defeated, and new life had come.
God’s purpose for the world was sealed.
Thanks be to God!
Our Song of Hope, st. 4, Reformed Church in America

Song: “Oh, to See the Dawn/The Power of the Cross” LUYH 177
Women sing verse one; all sing chorus. Men sing verse two; all sing chorus. All sing verses three and four. For other ideas on how to interpret and sing the hymn, and for a descant, see Reformed Worship 110, page 16.

Alternative: A more contemporary song choice is “Christ Is Risen” by Matt Maher and Mia Fieldes.

Prayer

Offertory: “This Joyful Eastertide” by bell choir with optional trumpet Ron Mallory, arr.

Celebrate with God’s Word

Scripture

Read one of the following texts of the Easter story:

Matthew 28:1–10: The women are met by an angel and then by Jesus himself.

Mark 16:1–8 could be read early in the service with the sermon then based on Mark 16:9–14, which tells the story of those who had a hard time believing.

Luke 24:1–12 leaves Peter wondering what happened. Luke 24:13–35 is the account of Christ on the road to Emmaus with disciples whose eyes are opened at the table.

John 20 holds great tension between wondering, seeing, doubting, and believing.

Message: “Christ is Risen!”

Prayer

Celebrate at the Table

Come forward with singing as we partake.
“O Christ, Our Hope, Our Heart’s Desire” LUYH 828, PsH 485, TH 161
“This Is the Feast of Victory” LUYH 845
A more contemporary option: “Behold the Lamb” LUYH 840

Celebrate as We Go and Serve

Sending: Worship Sourcebook, N.9.1.6, p. 659
Benediction
Song:
“Oh, qué bueno es Jesús/Oh, How Good Is Christ the Lord” LUYH 192, SWM 159