Easter Sunday

Holy Week 2017 — Through Death to Life Series Overview

Easter Sunday, Year A

Easter Sunday is the principal Easter Sunday morning service of word and sacrament celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and kicking off the Easter Season of fifty days (through the Day of Pentecost).

Reading Notes

NRSV texts, artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers for this service are available at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé

Calendar Notes

The sanctuary is restored to its full glory, colors are white or gold, and flowers may abound today and throughout the Great Fifty Days of Easter Season until its final celebration on Pentecost, when the colors are red.

For Your Planning Team: Holy Week — Through Death to Life

Easter Sunday: The Dawning

In This Series… and the Next!
Today marks at once the conclusion and climax of the Holy Week series and the kickoff to our Easter Series.

Our Easter Season series includes two three-week miniseries: “Awakening,” which focuses on the meaning and grounding of ministry, Holy Communion, baptism, and “Becoming,” which focuses on claiming our spiritual gifts and callings and becoming one in Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world in the power of the Holy Spirit and the name of Jesus. The series culminates with Pentecost and a service of commissioning people into the ministries to which they are called. Be sure to use today to draw attention to the weeks coming ahead. People who have been part of formation groups during Lent may continue in those groups through Easter Season. New groups may also be formed, starting today, for professing members and other committed Christians who seek deeper formation in doctrine and preparation for ministry in the world.

As of the conclusion of the service on Holy Thursday, our worship life had moved toward starkness and silence, the silence of death.

Today, that all changes. Every stop is to be pulled out. Everything removed is returned to its place. Flowers may abound. Music may become lavish. Today, we move from sorrow to rejoicing, from silence to loud praise, from death to life. In the words of the Orthodox Easter Troparion alluded to in today’s suggested Great Thanksgiving, “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, to those in the tombs restoring life.” And we rejoice.

Today’s service, themed “The Dawning,” begins by walking with Mary Magdalene on her journey from grief and fear to boldly proclaiming the Resurrection of Christ to his other disciples. The sermon follows the Easter Proclamation and singing, and concludes with Mary’s proclamation followed by more singing in which we confess and declare the Resurrection together.

From the singing we move immediately into a joyous Great Thanksgiving. The service concludes with more bold Easter music and a sending forth with joy. It is customary in many churches to conclude such Easter services with the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus. A link to a score you may freely reproduce for congregational singing is included.

In its structure, today’s service is fairly straightforward. The one unusual structural element is the gospel reading occurs over a period of time, through an extended entrance to the sermon and just beyond. If you have a deacon, the deacon should be the reader of all but the final verse, which is the domain of the preacher for the day. If you do not have a deacon, invite a lay leader to join your processional party and offer the readings along the way. Since reading will occur from several places, make sure the reader either has a wireless microphone (lavalier or headset, if possible) or can project so all can hear.

The most complicated logistics for Easter services may be music. Many congregations have additional instruments or instrumental ensembles, particularly brass, as part of Easter celebrations. Some of these instrumentalists may not know your worship space well. Be sure to greet these people and orient them to the space well. Since they may very well be playing during Communion, also be sure to send a team of servers to them during or after the distribution so they may receive Communion if they wish. Wind and brass players, as well as singers, will not be able to receive while they are playing or singing! But the server team may remain near them so they may receive as soon as it is convenient for them to do so.

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for Easter Sunday

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan

In This Series...

Passion/Palm Sunday — Planning Notes Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday — Planning Notes Holy Friday/Good Friday — Planning Notes Easter Sunrise — Planning Notes