Easter Sunday 2018 — Planning 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 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 »