Worship Planning for Eastertide, Year B

The Resurrection of Christ
Dome of the Chora Church, Istanbul. Public Domain.

Lent is and historically has been about preparing converts to receive the sacrament of baptism. Eastertide has a missional logic for discipleship as well. Eastertide is about finding and claiming our identity in the Risen Lord and preparing for our ministries in the body of Christ. While in Lent the congregation's larger role is as midwife at new birth; during Eastertide, the congregation's role might be described as life coach. Born anew in baptism on Easter Sunday, we discover our gifts, connect with our God-given passion, hone our skills into excellence, and are commissioned into ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit at the Feast of Pentecost.

Worship guided by The Revised Common Lectionary (1992) and its Calendar (both in The United Methodist Book of Worship, 224 and 227-37) can support your congregation's efforts to live into and fulfill our Eastertide mission.

Second Sunday of Easter: Resurrection in Real Life

First Reading: Acts 4:32-35
The lived pattern of the church in Jerusalem shows clear signs of the Risen Christ among them: sharing all things, continually learning the way of Jesus, and caring for all who are in need.

Second Reading: I John 1:1-2:2
More signs of the presence of the risen Lord in our midst: honest confession, assurance of God's forgiveness, and lives where sin's power is being overcome.

Gospel: John 20:19-31
To help Thomas believe, Jesus showed him his real scars and invited him to touch them.

Third Sunday of Easter: Resurrection Invites Real Repentance

First Reading: Acts 3:12-19
After a lame beggar is cured by the power of the Risen Lord through Peter and John, Peter invites the wondering crowd to repent and follow Jesus.

Second Reading: I John 3:1-7
Repentance is no one-time act, but a lifelong commitment to abide in Jesus and so continue to purify ourselves so that we may be like him when he appears.

Gospel: Luke 24:36b-48
After his appearance to two dispirited disciples heading toward Emmaus, he tells the rest of those gathered at another meal to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name.

Fourth Sunday of Easter: The Authority of the Risen One

First Reading: Acts 4:5-12
The leaders who had Peter arrested for healing the lame man and proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus demand by what authority he acted. Peter boldly proclaimed it was by the power and name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and that all salvation there is comes through him.

Second Reading: I John 3:16-24
By the authority and power of the Risen Christ we are led to love not in words only, but also in truth and in action.

Gospel: John 10:11-18
The authority of the Good Shepherd over his flock comes from knowing his sheep by name, caring for them, and laying down his own life to protect them.

Fifth Sunday of Easter: Living Resurrection Wide and Deep

First Reading: Acts 8:26-40
Philip, deacon and evangelist, "hops on board" the chariot of an Ethiopian official puzzling over the meaning of Isaiah 53, and Philip re-reads it through the story of the life, execution and resurrection of Jesus. The man is baptized and will become a "road evangelist" in his own right.

Second Reading: I John 4:7-21
The heartbeat of life in the Risen Lord -- Abide in love; abide in the Spirit given to all who confess Jesus as Son of God; abide in God, and you will abide in love; love one another.

Gospel: John 15:1-8
More of the heartbeat with wide spread -- abide in Jesus as the branches of a vine, and bear much fruit that will endure.

Sixth Sunday of Easter: The Risen One Calls the Shots

First Reading: Acts 44-48

Getting used to a Risen Lord and the sovereignty of the Spirit can take some time. Here, the Spirit pours out upon Cornelius and his household while Peter is in the middle of speaking, even before they are baptized. Peter recognizes it's time to baptize them and consider them kindred in Christ raised.

Second Reading: I John 5:1-6
The world's powers are conquered through the power of the Spirit of the Risen Lord among those who are born of God, keeping Christ's commands.

Gospel: John 15:9-17
Jesus reminds his disciples who have become, over time, his friends, that they did not choose him; he chose them and appointed them to go and bear much fruit.

Seventh Sunday of Easter: Christ is Risen; Now What?

First Reading: Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
The gathered band of 120 or so disciples completes its leadership team for the next steps, whatever the Spirit may bring.

Second Reading: I John 5:9-13
The eternal life we have been given begins now. How will we live it?

Gospel: John 17:6-19
Jesus himself prays for the "next steps" his followers will need to take, confident that God will make us holy in God's word and to act in grace and power as we are sent into the world in his name.

Final Sunday in Eastertide -- The Day of Pentecost: Come, Holy Spirit!

First Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Ezekiel is ordered to prophesy to the Spirit that dry bones may live.


Acts 2: 1-21
The Holy Spirit falls upon the 120 gathered in a room in Jerusalem, and they proclaim the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the languages of all the people gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost.

Second Reading: Acts 2:1-21 OR Romans 8:22-27
All creation has been waiting for us who have the first fruits of the Spirit, the same Spirit who helps us pray when all we have may be sighs and groans.

Gospel: John 16:4b-15
Jesus teaches what the Spirit will do: teach, reveal truth and falsehood, sin and righteousness, and continue to lead the followers of Jesus into all truth.

For additional planning helps related to music, preaching, and worship, go to "Lectionary Planning Helps." For more on the Lectionary, baptism, and the discernment of ministry for the newly baptized, see Come to the Waters: Baptism and Our Ministry of Welcoming Seekers and Making Disciples by Daniel Benedict (Discipleship Resources, 1997).

Categories: Worship, Worship Planning, Services and Liturgies, Easter