Easter Sunday

Holy Week 2018 Worship Planning Series

Easter Sunday 2018, Year B

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 50 days (through the Day of Pentecost).


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 50 Days of Easter Season until its final celebration on Pentecost, when the colors are red.

April 1
Easter Day
Easter Series Begins
April 15
Native American Ministries Sunday
April 22 Festival of God’s Creation
April 25 World Malaria Day

All Month Christian Home Month (2018 Theme: Families Called to Peace, forthcoming)
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May 3 National Day of Prayer
May 4 May Friendship Day (UMW/CWU)
May 7-13
Christian Family Week (2018 resources forthcoming)
May 10
Ascension Day
May 13 Ascension Sunday
Festival of the Christian Home/Mother’s Day (USA)
May 19-20
Change the World Weekend
May 20 Day of Pentecost
Heritage Sunday (forthcoming)
May 24
Aldersgate Day
May 27 Trinity Sunday
Peace with Justice Sunday
May 28 Memorial Day (USA)

Pray for annual conferences convening throughout the month, for all receiving new appointments or assignments, for those leaving existing appointments or assignments, and for congregations and other ministries receiving new leadership.
June 3 June Worship Series Begins: “Transitions”
June 17 Father’s Day (USA)
June 19
Juneteenth (USA)

July 1 July Worship Series Begins: “Healing Hands”
July 4 Independence Day (USA)

All Month Back to School Resources
August 5 August Worship Series Begins: “Life Together”

All Month Season of Creation (2018 Discipleship/UMCom Series coming soon)
September 3 Labor Day (USA)
September 15-
October 15
Hispanic Heritage Month (USA)

October 6 October Series in Job (in development)
World Communion Sunday
October 14 Children’s Sabbath
October 21 Laity Sunday (2018 Resources forthcoming)
October 31 Reformation Day

November 1 All Saints Day
November 4 All Saints Sunday
Daylight Saving Time Ends (USA)
A Season of Saints (2018 Resources Forthcoming)
November 11 Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
Veterans Day (USA)
Extended Advent Begins
November 18 Bible Sunday
November 18-25 National Bible Week (USA)
November 22 Thanksgiving Day (USA)
November 25 Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday
United Methodist Student Day (offering)

For Your Planning Team — Easter Sunday

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: “In the Name of Jesus Christ,” grounds us in what it means to live and act in the name of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord. “And in the power of the Holy Spirit” helps us connect with the power we are given “to be for the world the body of Christ redeemed by his blood.” The series culminates with Pentecost and a service of commissioning persons into the ministries to which they are called. Be sure to use today to draw attention to the weeks coming ahead.


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 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. And love leads the way. 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 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 persons 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

2015 Planning Helps for Easter Sunday »

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle »

In This Series...

Passion/Palm Sunday 2018 — Planning Notes Holy/Maundy Thursday 2018 — Planning Notes Holy/Good Friday 2018 — Planning Notes Easter Morning 2018 Sunrise Service — Planning Notes