Good News!

A Lenten Series Based on Readings from the Gospel of Mark and John with Services for Good Friday and Easter Sunday

To say that the spring of 2021 was a difficult time in the life of our church would be an understatement. As the province of Ontario faced lockdowns due to the coronavirus and stories of variants and delays in vaccine distribution made headlines, our congregation—like everyone else—was bombarded with bad news every day.

There was the inconvenience of masking and other safety protocols. There were questions about whether or not the government and medical establishment had been handling the crisis correctly. There was a feeling of isolation as people stayed in their homes and practiced social distancing. There was the loss of community and of livelihood for those whose jobs and businesses had been affected. There was unexpressed grief as many people who had lost a loved one hadn’t been able to have a funeral to mark the passing. And, of course, people were worried about what might happen if they contracted the virus themselves. This was in addition to all the regular stuff that we deal with as fallen human beings living in a world that is broken and tainted by sin at every turn.

In the midst of all of that it seemed important to preach on the good news of the gospel during Lent. It seems that the challenges persist, though they may look different from last year. If that is true for your congregation, you may find this series especially meaningful.

One of the highlights of this series was a feature we added to our services that we called the “Good News Café.” For five out of the seven Sundays in Lent we interviewed a church member, asking them these questions:

  • When was a time in your life when you were waiting for good news?
  • What was the news you received?
  • How did the news you received affect your life and your relationship with God?

The answers varied, but they always focused on the goodness of God even in the midst of trials.

This series was made with significant input from Lauren Koersen, the worship director at Palmerston Christian Reformed Church and author of the readings for the Good Friday service.

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

Call to Worship
Let us worship God, who has done great things.
We rejoice in our God, who made a way
through the desert of this world.

Let us worship God, who has caused streams of mercy
to flow in the wasteland.
We are the people God has formed through Christ;
we worship him, and we rejoice!

Let us worship God in spirit and in truth.
We praise God for the grace that has saved us.
Alleluia! We rejoice!

—Based on Isaiah 43:19–21, The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd ed., J.1.2.1

God’s Greeting

Worship Song
“Amid the Thronging Worshipers” Psalter, LUYH 511, PfAS 22E

Call to Confession
Today is the first Sunday in the liturgical season of Lent, the lead-up to Good Friday and Easter. Lent is traditionally a season of preparation, reflection, renewal, repentance, and fasting. Lent is a time to mourn the brokenness of the world and the damage caused by sin, including and especially our own sin. Yet it is also a time to rejoice and to celebrate the good news of salvation that is freely given through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

We’re starting a new series in which we’ll be looking at good news. We’ll hear some testimonies from members of our congregation in something we’ll be calling the “Good News Café.” But now I invite you to join me in a moment of silent prayer in which we can acknowledge our sins before God.

Silent Prayer of Confession

Song of Reflection
“Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me” Robinson, Farren, and Thompson

Words of Assurance
Listen to these words from 1 Peter 2:9–10: “For you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

As we hear these words from God, we can’t help but find ourselves both assured and challenged: assured that we are indeed God’s people who are forgiven, loved, and cherished, but also challenged to live as people of light who have been called out of darkness. For it is God’s will that we who believe and who have been shown mercy would live lives that glorify him and give praise and honor to Jesus Christ.

Children’s Message

Children’s Song
“Soon and Very Soon” Crouch, LUYH 482, GtG 384, SSS 194

Congregational Prayer

Scripture Reading
Mark 1:9–15

Sermon
“Good News!”

Sermon Notes
As Jesus began his earthly ministry the situation around him was grim. It had been centuries since there had been a prophet in Israel. They were living under Roman occupation, and religious life was fractured as leaders from various Jewish sects all vied for the people’s attention. Every generation of God’s people has experienced trouble of some kind, and in our generation we are bombarded with bad news 24/7. Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River reveals his identity as God’s solution to humanity’s problems, and his time in the desert shows that he is prepared to do battle with the forces of evil. So we ought not to despair at bad news; the kingdom of God is coming in all of its fullness. Our response should be to repent and believe the good news of the gospel.

Prayer of Application
Gracious God, we thank you that you have drawn us to yourself. We thank you for the one who was lifted up and crucified. And while the ways in which you have worked in our lives are mysterious, and while each of us has a unique story about how you have drawn us to you, we pray that together in this congregation we would show the world how we are united in Christ. God, we thank you for the good news of the gospel that tells us that you were lifted up for us all and that all of us belong together in the body of Christ. Help us to love one another as Christ has loved us. We pray that you would use us to draw others into this family, where there is life and hope and salvation. These things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Worship Song
“Jesus Paid It All” Hall, TH 690

Blessing

Closing Song
“O Praise the Name (Anatasis)” Hillsong

SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT

Call to Worship
Let us worship God,
who reconciled us to himself through Christ.
We are new creations;
the old has gone, the new has come!

Let us worship God as Christ’s ambassadors.
Through us and through our worship
may we announce the good news to all.

Let us worship God in spirit and in truth.
Praise God! We are reconciled, redeemed, renewed!
—Based on John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17–21, The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd ed., J.1.2.2

God’s Greeting

Worship Song
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” Neander, LUYH 575, GtG 35, SSS 453

Call to Confession
This is the second Sunday in the season of Lent, a time when Christians traditionally have focused on repentance. Of course, any time is a good time to repent of sin, but for centuries the followers of Jesus have used this time leading up to Good Friday and Easter to carefully consider their lives and what is in their hearts. With this in mind, hear these words from Psalm 139: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24).

Prayer of Confession

Assurance of Pardon
“Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”
—Psalm 130:7–8

Children’s Message

Children’s Song
“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” Townend

Congregational Prayer

Good News Café
A woman in our congregation shared how her father’s transplant surgery affected her spiritually.

Scripture Reading
Mark 8:31–38

Sermon
“Good News—Worth Dying For!”

Sermon Notes
Just before the events of this passage, Peter had professed that Jesus was the Christ. In this passage, Jesus reveals what kind of Christ he would be: one who would suffer, be rejected, and be killed. The disciples had anticipated that the Christ would be a strong political leader who would crush their enemies! But only the way of the cross would bring the kind of salvation that humanity needed more than anything else. Shockingly, the followers of Jesus are called to emulate him, to voluntarily lose their lives for him and for the sake of the gospel (literally, “good news”). There is no long-term future in any life that is lived for oneself. While Christians ought not to live their lives recklessly, we have the privilege of putting petty, selfish ambitions aside and investing our lives in kingdom service.

Prayer of Application
Loving God, as strange as it may sound, we are grateful this Lenten season that Jesus, the Christ, our Messiah, walked the path of suffering, death, and sacrifice. We are grateful because it was through this that our souls—in fact our very lives—were saved! We pray that by your Spirit you will help us to gratefully put Christ and not ourselves at the center of our lives so that as we follow Christ’s lead, as we experience suffering and rejection and make sacrifices in this life, those around us would see in us people who have been shaped by the gospel. We pray that our Christian witness, as individuals and collectively as a church, would be so compelling that people would be prompted to ask us how we can continue to worship you no matter the circumstances. We pray that we would have openings to tell good news to those around us. All this we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Worship Song
“Lead On, O King Eternal” Shurtleff, LUYH 328, GtG 269, TH 488

Blessing

Closing Song
“God Be with You Till We Meet Again” Rankin, LUYH 943, GtG 541

Learning from Subscribers

Beauty, Blessing, and Truth
Over the past several years, we have offered The Apprentice Series by James Bryan Smith as a means of forming disciples. One value that emerged from this series was the dynamic of witness defined as beauty, blessing, and truth. The basic idea here is that the beauty of our lives, as they are transformed in the energy and work of Christ’s Spirit, is compelling, drawing the attention of those not yet followers of Christ. Living beautiful lives involves blessing—tangible acts that convey God’s goodness—and those who are compelled both receive and are invited to participate in the distribution of these blessings. They witness the effects of this in the lives of those blessed, and they sense the joy of blessing in themselves. As this takes hold in them, they then want to know the truth that informs our beautiful lives so that it might become the truth that informs theirs as well. This triad of witness often finds its way into messages, and it frequently forms the context of the benediction reminding us all to display Christ’s beauty, be vessels of blessing in the world, and create a hearing for truth.
—Rev. Frank Baresel, pastor of Lake Forest Park Presbyterian Church, Seattle, Washington.

THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT

Call to Worship
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down
at the right hand of God.
Let us consider him who endured such opposition from sinful people,
so that we will not grow weary and lose heart.
—Hebrews 12:2–3, The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd ed., J.1.2.4

God’s Greeting

Worship Song
“The Wonderful Cross” Walt, Reeves, and Tomlin, LUYH 176

Call to Confession
This is the third Sunday in Lent, the season leading up to Good Friday and Easter. It’s a time when Christians have traditionally reflected upon the cross and the price that Jesus paid for our sin. It’s also a time of repentance and renewal, a time of turning away from sin and toward Jesus Christ. In a moment I’m going to invite you to join me in a time of silent prayer in which we’ll confess our sins before God. Before that, though, hear these words from Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Silent Prayer of Confession

Assurance of Pardon
Jesus said: “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness
but will have the light of life.”
—John 8:12, The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd ed., J.2.4.6

Children’s Message

Children’s Song
“Oh, qué bueno es Jesús / Oh, How Good Is Christ the Lord” Puerto Rican, LUYH 192, SSS 196

Congregational Prayer

Good News Café
An interview with a missionary who returned from overseas and trusted God to help him find work.

Scripture Reading
John 2:13–22

Sermon
“Good News: The Temple is Rebuilt!”

Sermon Notes
There are a few things we would do well to understand as we approach this passage. The first is the fierce and holy passion behind Jesus’ extreme actions. The second is how spiritually dysfunctional the Jerusalem temple had become. Jesus came into our fallen world as the true temple that would link heaven and earth. This temple would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days, just as he said. This is the good news of the gospel! And we who believe are the assembled body of Christ on earth who will proclaim his kingship until his return.

Prayer of Application
Holy God and heavenly Father, we give you thanks that you sent Jesus into the world to be the gate that links heaven and earth. We thank you that, through the temple of his body that was broken and the blood that was poured out for many, he reconciled us to you. We thank you that we don’t have to go to a particular place or building to have our sins forgiven, but that we have the opportunity as Christians to gather and together be the body of Christ in this world. We pray that you will fill our hearts with gratitude for all that is ours in Christ Jesus and that we would bear fruit by your Holy Spirit. Give us courage and opportunities to share with excitement the good news of the gospel to those who need to hear it so they would experience with us the joy of salvation. We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Worship Song
“In Christ Alone” Getty and Townend, LUYH 770, SSS 656

Blessing

Closing Song
“Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” Newton, Tomlin, LUYH 693

FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT

Call to Worship
Come to the Lord, who is rich in grace;
approach our God, who is full of mercy.
We will praise God with all our heart
and glorify the name of the Most High forever.

The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd ed., J.1.2.6. Church of the Servant, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Used by permission.

God’s Greeting

Worship Song
“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty” Heber, LUYH 538, GtG 1, SSS 450

Call to Confession
This is the fourth Sunday in Lent, a time Christians historically have reflected upon their lives, identified sin, and repented of it. Of course these are things we should always be doing! But there’s something about the weeks leading up to Good Friday and Easter that makes one consider the cross and the price that was paid for our sin. Hear these words from 1 John 1:8–9: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Let us pray.

Prayer of Confession
Holy God,
as we worship you this day
we do not want to be people who deceive ourselves.
Instead we want to clearly see who you are
and clearly see who we are.
We cannot claim to be without sin.
So we confess our sin before you,
trusting that you are indeed faithful and just
and that you will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Hear our prayer,
for we pray these things in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Assurance of Pardon
Hear these words of assurance from Scripture: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17–18). As the church today, we share the good news about new life in Christ, about sins forgiven and the restoration of our relationship with the God who made us, who created us in God’s image, and who loves us more than we can even imagine.

Children’s Message

Children’s Song
“God Is So Good” Traditional, LUYH 777, GtG 658, SSS 461

Congregational Prayer

Good News Café
A woman was to share her story of how a life-saving medical intervention changed her perspective on life and death.

Scripture Reading
John 3:1–21

Sermon
“Good News: A Fresh Start”

Sermon Notes
Nicodemus was likely the very picture of a successful person in his culture. This makes him an unlikely follower of a perceived troublemaker like Jesus. In this famous passage, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he needs to make a fresh start and be “born again.” This actually is good news for Nicodemus and for us. God can and will give us a fresh start, a spiritual rebirth, when we believe in the savior who was lifted up on a cross and raised from the dead to deal with our sins.

Prayer of Application
Gracious God, we give you thanks for the good news that there is new life available for those who believe in your Son, Jesus Christ. We know in our hearts that what Jesus said about people choosing darkness rather than light is true. It’s our default position. And it’s wrong. Not only is it wrong, but it hurts us. It’s toxic. And it leads to death. God, we pray that you would use these words from this passage in Scripture to bring new birth into the lives of those today who need to experience it. These things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Worship Song
“There Is a Redeemer” Green, LUYH 833, GtG 443, SSS 495

Blessing

Closing Song
“Father, We Love You” Adkins, PsH 634, SSS 427, WR 146

FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT

Call to Worship
The day of the Lord is coming!
The day of the Lord is near!
The time is fulfilled! The reign of God is at hand!
O people, repent! Believe in the gospel!
Come, let us turn and follow the Lord!
Litanies and Other Prayers: For the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C. Phyllis Cole and Everett Tilson. © 1991, 1994, Abingdon Press. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

God’s Greeting

Worship Song
“How Great Is Our God” Tomlin, Reeves, and Cash, LUYH 574, SSS 458

Call to Confession
Today is the fifth Sunday in the season of Lent, a time when Christians have traditionally reflected upon the cross of Christ. They’ve also reflected upon their own lives and repented of their sin. The whole idea of repentance presupposes that we realize we’ve done something wrong. This is something that we are often reluctant to do, especially in our current culture. We live in a time of changing values, a time in which morality is often seen as something subjective. But when we really understand that there is a moral standard to which all human beings are accountable, and that this standard has been given to us by the God who created the whole universe and made us in God’s image, and that this God is completely holy and righteous and perfect and cannot be in relationship with us when we are guilty of violating the standard to which we will be held accountable, it puts the importance of repentance into perspective.

To use myself as an example, I know that I don’t live up even to the standards I have for myself, let alone the standards God has for me! I know that I haven’t always loved the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And I certainly haven’t always loved my neighbor as myself. If I were to get a letter grade for my performance even on just those two things Jesus used to sum up God’s law, it would be an F. Fail. That’s why Romans 5:8 is so encouraging for me: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God didn’t wait for me to clean up my act before he stepped in to do something about my sin problem. In fact, even before I was born or took my first breath or committed my first act of rebellion against God, he sent Jesus into the world to live the perfect life that I never could have lived and to die a sacrificial death in my place and yours. I invite you now to turn with me to God in a time of silent prayer. Let’s confess our sins to the Lord, after which we will hear some words of grace.

Silent Prayer of Confession

Assurance of Pardon
People of God, hear these words of assurance from Ephesians 2:8: “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” The salvation that we have from the Lord is a gift. We didn’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. God just gave it to us by God’s grace. So now we become motivated to live for Christ. Even though we don’t do it perfectly, we still aspire to live for him because he gave up his life for us.

Children’s Message

Children’s Song
“Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” Founds, LUYH 610, SSS 205, WR 88

Congregational Prayer

Good News Café
A church member who had been diagnosed with cancer shared her struggles and spoke of how the gospel is precious to her.

Scripture Reading
John 12:20–33

Sermon
“Good News—For All”

Sermon Notes
In Jesus’ day, people were divided by ethnicity, gender, and social and economic class. The Pharisees in particular liked to keep people in their place and were disturbed at how Jesus upset the social order (John 12:19). Our culture today hasn’t overcome division either. In this passage, Jesus tells us that when he is lifted up on the cross, all will be drawn to him. In a world of division we are reminded of the universal call of the gospel. (This sermon closed with two members of our church who were born overseas reading the Scripture passage again in their first languages.)

Prayer of Application
Lord, we thank you that you have drawn us to yourself. We thank you for the one who was lifted up and crucified. And while the way in which you have worked in our lives is mysterious and while each of us has a unique story about how you have drawn us to you, we pray that in this congregation we would together show the world how we are united in Christ. We thank you for the good news of the gospel that tells us that you were lifted up for all and that all of us belong together in the body of Christ. Help us to love one another as Christ loved us. We pray that you would use even us to draw others into this family where there is life and hope and salvation. These things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Worship Song
“Man of Sorrows—What a Name” Bliss, LUYH 170, TH 175, WR 301

Blessing

Closing Song
“New Doxology” Bourgeois, Miller

PALM SUNDAY

Call to Worship
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.
Hosanna in the highest!
—Based on Psalm 118:26, NRSV, The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd ed., K.1.2.1

Worship Song
“Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)” Brown

God’s Greeting

Worship Song
“May the Peoples Praise You / Holy, Holy, Holy” Getty, Zimmer, Townend, and Cash

Call to Confession
Like the people who greeted Jesus
as he entered Jerusalem
and then later pronounced “Crucify him,”
we are fickle people who often deny Christ
in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
Remembering the events of Jesus’ last week
helps us see ourselves for what we are:
sinners in need of a savior,
a savior—praise God—we have in Christ.
In honesty and hope, we confess now our sins to God.
The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd ed., K.2.1.1

Silent Prayer of Confession

Assurance of Pardon
Hear the Word of the Lord from Psalm 118:

Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me free.
The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.

In Christ, God answers us and sets us free!
In Christ, we are forgiven! Thanks be to God.
—Based on Psalm 118:4–5, 14–15 NRSV, The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd ed., K.2.4.1

Children’s Message

Children’s Song
“Shout Hosanna” Evans

Congregational Prayer

Good News Café
A staff member told of how she learned to see the blessings of God following a season of life in which she struggled with postpartum depression and the disruption caused by moving.

Scripture Reading
Mark 11:1–11

Sermon
“Good News—Even Better than Expected”

Sermon Notes
As Jesus approached Jerusalem, the crowds shouted excerpts from Psalm 118 as they had for generations and called out for salvation from the realities of the Roman occupation. We are struggling in many ways too. The crowd expected the Messiah to be an earthly king who would restore the Davidic dynasty. While they were wrong about the kind of king Jesus would turn out to be, they were absolutely right to connect Psalm 118 to Jesus (see vs. 22 and 27, for example). The good news of the gospel for us today is that Jesus saves us from our sins even as he is with us in our struggles. We can cry out “Hosanna!” to him (“Save us!”) and know that he will.

Prayer of Application
Holy God, we give you thanks for the awesome picture of the kingship of Christ that we see here in Mark 11. We thank you that he is who he said he is. He is who the Scriptures foretold and the one that the crowds were right about even though they didn’t fully understand how. We thank you that we can cry out to you to save us—and that you can save us and will save us because of the king that Jesus is. We pray that we would be moved to repent of our sin and to believe and to follow the Lord Jesus into a life of service for the sake of his kingdom and his glory. God, speed the day when King Jesus will return and make all things new. We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessing

Closing Song
“The Lord Is My Salvation” Getty, Myrin, and Nockels

GOOD FRIDAY

The readings for this service are excerpts from Psalm 22 amid “thoughts” from people based on the different ways people are suffering though the COVID-19 pandemic. These thoughts could be interchanged with other ways people suffer. Overall the message is that Christ is at one with us in our suffering because he suffered for us, and in our suffering there is hope for a new heaven and earth. This liturgy was designed for a Good Friday service of lament, so the song choices reflect that, but other songs that suit your congregation and the theme of the service could be chosen.

Reader 1: Psalm 22:1–2

Reader 2: I’m so lonely. I’m not sure I can take another day alone, staring at the same four walls. I miss seeing my friends and my family. Life is so mundane, and I’m not sure how long I can try to keep up a good attitude. Why won’t God fix it? Why won’t God make it end? I’m not sure how much longer I can be isolated and alone.

Reader 1: Psalm 22:3–5

Song
“My God, My God, Why (Psalm 22)” Vermeulen-Roberts (The Psalm Project)

Reader 1: Psalm 22:6–8

Reader 3: They keep saying that we’re all in this together, but does anyone really know how I feel? I’m worried and scared. I also don’t feel like I can talk with anyone about my worries and anxieties because they’ll shrug it off. I tried to tell them why I have such a hard time leaving the house or getting together, but they just laughed and told me I shouldn’t be so paranoid. Then there was the time when I told them I was scared of getting sick and dying, and they said I should just trust in God to save me. I mean, God, yes, I trust in you! . . . Or at least I want to. . . . But so much is uncertain, and so much doesn’t make sense anymore. After all this is over I’m not even sure who my friends will be.

Reader 1: Psalm 22:9–11

Reader 4: Things were going so well. I went to college, I set aside some savings, I made a plan, and had everything lined up to run my own business. I was very optimistic. Now I’ve had to let my employees go, and I’m about to lose my business. All my hard work, my savings, my dreams—they’re gone. I have nothing. I can’t sleep because all I do is worry about how I’m going to make it through this. I think I’m going to lose everything.

Song
“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” Latin, LUYH 168, GtG 221, SSS 168

Reader 1: Psalm 22:14–15

Reader 2: I lost a loved one this past year, and I was not able to say goodbye in person. We didn’t even get to hold a proper funeral. Friends and family couldn’t comfort me. I know what loneliness and grief feels like now, and my heart is aching. I’m not even sure how I’m feeling now. Some days I just press on, and some days all the small things build up until it’s too much, and I break down.

Reader 1: Psalm 22:16–18

Reader 3: Things have already been bad for years. The hurt and pain I’ve experienced these last few years have already isolated me from everyone else. My world was in upheaval far before the world was. Everyone seems so concerned with themselves now, and no one was ever concerned for me. I already knew what loneliness and brokenness felt like, and this last year just added to the pain I have desperately been trying to numb.

Song
“What Wondrous Love Is This” Anonymous, LUYH 164, GtG 215, SSS 177

Reader 1: Psalm 22:19–21

Reader 5: I can’t help but think about all the things I’ve missed out on: No prom, no in-person first year of university, no hanging out with friends, no mission trips, no summer trips, no sports, no extracurriculars, no youth group, no church. If someone adds something else to the list of things I can’t do I think I’m going to lose it. I know there’s a bigger picture, and I know I’m not the only one suffering, but all these things that I found joy in, so much of what was fun, is gone now, and some things I can’t get back.

Reader 1: Psalm 22:24

Reader 4: Are you listening? Do you hear me? Do you notice or see me?

Reader 3: Have you noticed how this world seems to be falling apart? Do you see how much hurt and anguish there is?

Reader 5: The killing, the lying, the hatred, the deception, disappointment, those hurting, and those dying—do you see it, God?

Reader 2: We’re so tired and weary, and we’re crying out for you to heal us, save us, restore us, and redeem us.

Song
“He Will Hold Me Fast” Habershon, Merker

Sermon
“Good News—Good Friday”

Sermon Notes
In Psalm 22, David models pouring out his feelings to God while contrasting his intense emotion with what he knows to be true about God. What’s so amazing for contemporary readers of this psalm is that we know that these words were fulfilled a thousand years later at the cross. While we suffer too as believers in a broken world, we can know that we are not forsaken in our suffering. We know that this life and its suffering is not all there is! There is salvation and new life for those whose trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer of Application
Holy God and heavenly Father, we are so grateful for the good news that Jesus Christ completed his work on the cross on our behalf and that through his extreme suffering we can find salvation. Help us to be reminded of this as we go through our present difficulties and look forward to the glorious day of Christ’s return, when all things will be made new! Give us strength and courage to persevere in our faith, to reach out to you when we are troubled, and to hold onto your gospel promises. All these things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Celebration of Communion

Song During Communion
“Man of Sorrows—What a Name” Bliss, LUYH 170, TH 175, WR 301

Blessing

Closing Song
“Were You There” Spiritual, LUYH 166, GtG 228, SSS 176

EASTER SUNDAY

Call to Worship
This is the good news—
the grave is empty;
Christ is risen.
Hallelujah!
This is the good news—
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never put it out.
Hallelujah!
This is the good news—
once we were no people;
now we are God’s people.
Hallelujah!
Christ is our peace,
the indestructible peace
we now share with each other.
Hallelujah!
Stages on the Way: Worship Resources for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. Wild Goose Worship Group, 1998. © WGRG c/o Iona Community, GIA Publications, Inc., exclusive North American agent. Reprints permitted with a license from ONE LICENSE, onelicense.net.

God’s Greeting

Worship Song
“Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” Wesley, LUYH 182, GtG 245, SSS 181

Testimony Videos
Three people from the congregation shared testimonies about what the resurrection meant for them in a series of lightly edited prerecorded clips.

Songs
“In Christ Alone” Getty and Townend, LUYH 770, SSS 656
“Living Hope” Johnson and Wickham
“Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” Founds, LUYH 610, SSS 205, WR 88

Scripture Reading
Mark 16:1–8

Sermon
“Good News—He Is Risen!”

Sermon Notes
The empty tomb is a historical fact upon which the message of Christianity rises or falls. The women in Mark 16 were trembling and bewildered when they encountered it, and we have a hard time believing it ourselves. Yet the eyewitness accounts and the life transformation of the disciples are evidence that it is true. We need to believe this good news and share it.

Prayer of Application
Awesome God, on this Easter morning we are amazed again at the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We give you thanks that all these years later the tomb is still empty and lives are still being changed because of the good news of the gospel. I pray, Father, that by your Holy Spirit you would move those today who are listening to this message and need to make a decision for you. Give them courage and grace to do so, and begin to do your transforming work in their lives. And for those of us who do believe already and who are following you, we pray that you will lead us into opportunities to reach out with good news to the people whom you have put in our paths. All these things we pray in the name of the risen Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Song of Response
“Crown Him with Many Crowns” Bridge, Thring, LUYH 223, GtG 268, SSS 208

Blessing

Closing Song
“King of Kings” Hillsong

You can use the graphic above as a bulletin cover, or project it. You can download them at

Good News graphic: tinyurl.com/RW-142-Good-News-graphic
Good News bulletin: tinyurl.com/RW-142-Good-News-bulletin
Good News PowerPoint: tinyurl.com/RW-142-Good-News-PowerPoint

Resources

Rev. Andrew de Gelder has been the pastor at Palmerston (Ontario) Christian Reformed Church since 2010. He has degrees from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Andrew and his wife, Kerry-Ann, love living in Palmerston with their children and feel privileged to be part of such a dynamic family of faith.

Reformed Worship 142 © December 2021 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.