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Celebrating Christ’s Resurrection with the Asian Church

Easter is the most important day in the Christian calendar, and its celebration should focus on the retelling of the resurrection story, the hope Jesus brought to the church, and the love of God toward humankind through Jesus’ selfless sacrifice.

This Easter service is based on Acts 10:34–43, one of the 2020 Easter lectionary readings (Year A). The text reminds us that God loves every nation and that God’s forgiveness is available to those who fear God. The Asian music chosen for this service can give congregations a taste of God’s love for the world on a day we celebrate Christ’s victory over death—a victory that knows no bounds.

Gathering

Call to Worship

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
—Psalm 118:1–2

Procession Songs and Preparation

Song: “Lift Up Your Heads” Koh, LACR 69B
This hymn is based on Psalm 24. The first two stanzas may be used for Palm Sunday, while the third stanza is very appropriate for Easter. The hymn may also be sung as a response to the Gospel reading or any time that reflects on the resurrection of the Lord.

Options:
“Lift Up the Gates Eternal” Duba, Jabusch, LUYH 144, PfAS 24E, GtG 364
“The Earth, with All That Dwell Therein” Psalter 1912, LUYH 499, PfAS 24A, TH 68
“Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” Wesley, LUYH 182, PH 113, PsH 388, TH 273, GtG 245

Opening Call and Response
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
He has given us new life and hope.
He has raised Christ 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!
—HUP(2006) #271, Based on 1 Peter 1:3–5; 2:9–10

Choir: “Watashiwa-Hukkatushi/ I Am Resurrected” Takada
This beautiful four-part choral anthem with organ accompaniment is suitable for Easter Sunday.

Translation:
I am resurrected and I am with you once again.
You have placed your hand on me.
How great is the depth of your wisdom!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

Source: tinyurl.com/y489lmt8
YouTube: youtu.be/IZtnsQH9uwU

Songs of Praise

Song: “Risen Lord” Yung and Ng, CS5
A simple three-part round praise chorus with alleluia. It reaffirms the mystery of the faith that Christ has died because of our sin, Christ is risen, and his resurrection will bring us eternal hope. This short chorus, written in 1985 by two Hong Kong composers, may be sung in parts, congregationally or by a youth choir. Begin with part 1 and repeat adding part 2 and then part 3. (See music above.)

Song: “In the Mist of Early Morn” Cai, TNH 110
The text retells the story of the empty tomb on Easter morning. The hymn could also be sung as a joyful recapitulation to the Gospel reading of the day. There is also a choral version (tinyurl.com/yyyrg5jw) of the same text arranged by David P. L. Yeung, a well-known Hong Kong composer.

Options:
“Christ Is Risen” Maher and Fieldes
“See, What a Morning” Getty and Townend, LUYH 181
“This Is the Day the Lord Has Made” Patterson, PfAS 118D

Prayer
Alleluia, Christ is risen,
Christ is risen indeed.
Jesus is the First and the Last,
He has lived among us, was dead,
and is now alive for ever and ever,
and he holds the key of death and Hades.
Jesus has taken away all our doubts and fears.
Let us trust in him with all our heart.
—HUP(2006) #263, based on Revelation 1:18

Confession

Song: “Tama Ngakau Marie/Son of God, Whose Heart is Peace” LUYH 619
This is a prayer of confession originating from the Maori people of New Zealand set to a Maori traditional melody. (See music above.)

Assurance of Pardon

Song: “Jaya hos Yishu raja ko/O Give Praise to Jesus, the King” Anonymous, para. Murray, SB 204
This contemporary Nepalese praise music emphasizes the message of John 3:16. Accompanied by guitar and drums, congregations can learn to sing it quite easily. (See leadsheet above.)

YouTube: youtu.be/w-RONfKZnX8

Options:
“Alleluia! Alleluia! Hearts to Heaven” Wordsworth, LUYH 179, PsH 387
“Beneath the Water (I Will Rise)” Ligertwood and Ligertwood
“What the Lord Has Done in Me” Morgan, LUYH 800

Word

A suggested theme for the sermon is the resurrection of Christ and the transformed life for Christ followers. Alternatively, worship leaders and the congregation may declare the following Scripture passages creatively using a dramatic reading or responsive reading.

Psalm of the Day
The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.
Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

This is the gate of the Lord
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
—Psalm 118:14–23 (NIV), 24 (ESV)

Scripture Readings
Acts 10:34–43
Colossians 3:1–4
John 20:1–18

Music Sources

Because we are not able to include the music for all the songs. we are providing a list of hymnals where they can be found.

  • CS5: Come and Sing, Book 5 (Hong Kong: Hong Kong Association of Christian Music, 1985)
  • HUP (1936): Hymns of Universal Praise (Hong Kong: Chinese Christian Literature Council, 1936)
  • HUP (1977): Hymns of Universal Praise (Hong Kong: Chinese Christian Literature Council, 1977)
  • HUP (2006): Hymns of Universal Praise (Hong Kong: Chinese Christian Literature Council, 2006)
  • LACR: Let the Asian Church Rejoice (Singapore: Methodist School of Music and Trinity Theological College, 2015)
  • STB: Sound the Bamboo, 2nd edition (GIA Publications, 2006)
  • TNH: The New Hymnal, English-Chinese Bilingual (Shanghai: China Christian Council, 199

Response

Song: “Long Desired One, Heaven’s Splendour” Lew, HUP (1936) 127
Extending the message from Acts, the hymn text affirms believers’ fellowship across different nations and social classes. Timothy Tingfang Lew was a renowned Chinese hymn writer of the early modern era. Bliss Wiant, the composer, was a missionary and musician who combined many folk Chinese tunes with hymn texts. This hymn is also fitting as a communion hymn.

Options:
“Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing” Alington, LUYH 184, GTG 239
“Mfurahini, haleluya/Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia” Kyamanywa, LUYH 188

Suggested activities
Here are three activities that could help the congregation respond to the Word of God.

Invite missionaries or people who have been on recent mission trips to talk about their work, both to expand the congregation’s worldview and to provide and opportunity to celebrate how the gospel is being shared around the world.

Make an Easter card. Have congregants draw or write their own resurrection stories, including hymn texts or Bible verses that are important to them. Mail the cards or give them to people who need to be reminded of the good news of Christ’s resurrection. Pray that the recipient may hear the Good News and respond in faith. If possible, follow up with a call or visit.

Collect an offering for an organization in a country your church has some connection to. In the weeks before the offering, share some information about the country and the organization with the congregation. Invite them to join in the ministry through prayer and financial gifts. Continue to pray for this country, especially that more people will have opportunities to hear the resurrection story of Jesus Christ.

Song: “To Incarnate God on Earth” Chhòa, LACR 74B
A hymn retelling the story of Jesus’ life on earth. It calls people to follow Jesus and to spread his love. This hymn is appropriate as an alternate response to the Word. Both the author and the composer are Taiwanese, and the music reflects the style of Taiwanese folk music.

Options:
“Because He Lives (Amen)” Tomlin, Gaither, et al.
“Jesus Is Lord” Chua, LUYH 226
“The Strife Is O’er, the Battle Done” Symphonia Sirenum, LUYH 185, PsH 391

Sending

Prayer
May the Lord lead us to walk with Christ
in the way of the Resurrection.
Lead us, O Lord.

Help us set our minds on things above,
and open our hearts to embrace one another.
Teach us, O Lord. Amen.
—HUP(2006) #282, Prayer Two, based on Colossians 3:1

Song: “Joyful, Joyful, Joyful” Wong, HUP (1977) 624
The hymn emphasizes the joy of the triumphant victory of Jesus’ resurrection. Both the text and music are written by Chinese sacred music master Wong Wing-Hee, who composed numerous Chinese hymns and conducted many church choirs in Hong Kong and the United States. The uplifting, march-like melody is very suitable for the sending liturgy. (See music above.)

Song: “Aku Nemu Jesus Idup/I Know That My Redeemer Lives” Medley, LACR 85
The well-known 18th-century hymn lyrics of Samuel Medley were adapted for a new and energetic melody from the Kenyah people living in the Belaga region of Sarawak, Malaysia. A descant may be added to the third and fourth stanzas. (See music above.)

Options
“I Know That My Redeemer Lives” Medley, LUYH 193
“I Know Not Why God’s Wondrous Grace” Whittle, LUYH 690, PsH 495
“Risen” Binion, Houghton, Dufrene

Art Resources

An Asian art piece that would complement this service is Dao Zi’s painting Resurrection: 153 Fish, created using a Chinese technique called ink wash. Dao Zi (Wang Min) is a well-known poet, art critic, and painter in China. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and Beijing Normal University and is a professor and doctoral supervisor at the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University. He tries to inject new energy into the traditional Chinese ink painting technique by creating opportunities for spiritual reflection. Resurrection: 153 Fish suggests a new angle on the resurrection story. Instead of an image of Jesus, Dao Zi drew 153 fish—the number of fish the disciples caught in John 21:11—in a pyramid of seventeen layers to represent the church Jesus built. He explained that the Chinese characters for Jesus (耶穌) include a combination of fish (魚) and bread of life (禾), and the fish is also an early symbol of Christianity. The seventeen layers represent the seventeenth day after Jesus’ resurrection, when his third appearance is recorded (John 21:14). The subtle symbolism allows viewers to reflect more deeply on this special day.