Note: A group of academics and church leaders have been producing worship materials for use in local churches during the quarantine. It comes from Ministry Matters which is a project of United Methodist Communications. We offer this link as a way to share resources:
Easter Sunday! A day for exclamation points! If there is any day you need to pull out all the stops (as the organists say), it is this day. This is the day that changed everything. Easter is the reason we worship on Sunday rather than Saturday, the first day of the week rather than the seventh day, the Sabbath day when the Lord rested. Because of this day, our worship life is reoriented toward the rising of the sun, rather than the setting.
Resurrection Day is a day of light and color, singing and laughter. It is a loud day and a day for running or at least moving with a lighter step. “Hold on there,” you’re thinking, “We don’t have the resources to hire an orchestra or to repaint the sanctuary, and it’s all we can do to keep the kids from running down the hallways, and now you want to bring that exuberance into the worship area?” Well, yes; yes, we do.
OK, it’s not about spending vast amounts of money making the worship experience like what you see on TV. But it is about the attitude you bring to worship. Exuberance is a good word, as is joy. Words that speak of the overflowing nature of the gift of grace that is this day of celebration, that’s what we’re seeking here. It’s not about the trappings, but about the heart. What can you do to bring a childlike lightness to the hearts of all those who worship with you today? What can you offer that will bring a smile, or better yet, a laugh-out-loud guffaw of pure joy?
The colors assigned to Easter are white and gold, perfect for the purity and the glory of Resurrection Sunday. But those aren’t the only colors allowed on this day. Color should splash and dazzle, like spring is breaking out everywhere. When the gold light of dawn rises, it enhances all the colors of creation, not just its own brightness. Let the lilies take the center, but surround them with spring flowers of every hue and height.
Let the room be full of the voices of children. If children usually are elsewhere during worship – Sunday school or Children’s church – bring them into the sanctuary for this service. Let them sit and wiggle and move and bring light and life to the whole proceedings. Have a children’s time, call it a “Peter and John Race,” and have them run from the back of the sanctuary to the Communion Table. Let whoever wins look in as if into a tomb; let the second-place winner run up and sit in the preacher’s chair or join the choir. Let whoever doesn’t want to run declare to the congregation, “Do not be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.”
The scripture should not be read today. Wait, not just read. It should be proclaimed; it should be sung; it should be shouted. Find the ones who have drama in their souls and let them read the text today. And then hang on every word.
It’s Easter – the day of light and laughter, the day that defines us. Every Sunday is a little Easter, so let this Easter Sunday be the day that sets the tone for the rest of the year and the rest of your life as the people of God.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.