See the texts, artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers for this service at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.)
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Para obtener más recursos leccionario, Estudios Exegético: Homiléticos.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé
Lecionário comum revisado (português)
Peter proclaims to Cornelius and his household: We are witnesses that Jesus Christ is raised and ascended, Lord of all, and appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.
Psalm 118:(1-2), 14-24 (UMH 839).
Sing at least the response today (response 2). If also chanting, use Tone 1 in B-flat major.
I Corinthians 15:1-11
Paul declares the things of first importance: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Peter and the beloved disciple verify Mary Magdalene's story that the tomb of Jesus is empty. Mary Magdalene, weeping by the tomb, hears angels tell her Jesus is raised from the dead, but does not believe it. Jesus calls her by name and sends her to announce his coming ascension to the other disciples.
Mark's account of women who went to embalm the body of Jesus, an empty tomb, a young man in dazzling garments, the announcement of the raising of Jesus, and a commissioning to tell the others. They tell no one (at the time) because they are struck with overpowering awe.
Calendar: The Resurrection of the Lord, The Second Service of Easter
Today, The Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord, is the Day of Days to celebrate the resurrection of Christ as fully and powerfully as you can. Rejoice with the church throughout the world that Christ is risen, as he said. Rejoice with the newly baptized that they are reborn in him and raised to walk in newness of life. Rejoice at the work of the Spirit who gives life to your mortal bodies and who clothes us with immortality, so that we, too, will be raised with all the saints in the New Creation. Rejoice in the Entrance. Rejoice in the Word. Rejoice around the Lord's Table. Rejoice to be sent into the world to proclaim the Risen Lord. Rejoice!
Today also kicks off Easter Season. Easter is more than just today. It is a season of 50 days that continues to and concludes with Pentecost. Easter is also more than just an extended celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Its initial purpose was to continue the formation of persons who received final preparation for baptism during Lent and were baptized on Easter Sunday. This formation is both doctrinal and practical. The readings for each Sunday are chosen to help congregations continue both kinds of formation in worship from week to week and in formational groups during the week outside of worship. See "Planning Lent and Easter Season for Worship and Discipleship Year B" for a week-by-week guide to help you plan worship and small-group work to support the doctrinal and ministry training for each week of the season. These helps will expand on those materials throughout this season.
Easter Season culminates with Pentecost when the church may commission these persons into the ministries they have discerned during these weeks. See our "Pentecost Commissioning of Laypersons for Ministry in Christ’s Name. "
The Second Service of Easter?
Yes. Historically, the service held in the morning of Easter Day is the second service of Easter. That's because The Great Vigil of Easter, held just after sundown on Saturday evening or just before sunrise on Sunday morning is the first.
As for Christmas, there is also a third service and set of readings available for this day. The third service is typically held in the late afternoon or early evening.
All Month: Asian-Pacific-American Heritage Month
Christian Home Month
May 10 Mother's Day (USA)/Festival of the Christian Home
May 14/17 Ascension Day/Sunday
May 24 Pentecost
Heritage Sunday/Aldersgate Day
May 25 Memorial Day (USA)
May 31 Trinity Sunday
Peace with Justice Sunday (Discipleship Ministries Resources)
June 21 Father's Day (USA)
June 24-28 Youth 2015
July 4 Independence Day (USA)
August 6 Hiroshima Nagasaki Memorial
Easter Season begins and ends with a Day of Days, a day of sheer celebration. Today it is Easter Sunday, a day to revel in Resurrection. On May 24, it is Pentecost, a day to call upon the Holy Spirit with thanksgiving for the abundance of gifts poured out upon the church and the world as sign of God’s kingdom come and coming.
Between these celebration days, each Sunday includes two dimensions, or two foci, week by week. One is on doctrinal formation (mystagogy). The other is on formation for ministry. As during Lent, worship during Easter Season points toward and supports this season’s formational purposes and calls for an ongoing formational process for persons that best occurs in small groups.
For this Day of Days, prepare to pull out all the stops to convey and celebrate the mystery of the Resurrection. Many congregations will fill their worship spaces with lilies or other fragrant, white flowers today. Some may use incense as a sign of our praise and prayers joining with the praise and prayers of all the saints on earth and in heaven. Baptismal candidates (on the day of their baptism) and all the recently baptized may be invited to wear white robes (albs) during worship throughout the season as a sign of the new life they have received.
If you are offering baptism today, use plenty of water (see more below on this). If you are receiving persons by profession of faith or confirmation today, use plenty of oil as well. Consider grinding incense into the oil to create a fragrance that will last as a reminder of the work of the Spirit in baptism and receiving professing members.
Trumpets and other bold instruments may become part of the musical ensemble today and perhaps for the entire season as well.
And it would be hoped that the bread you use for Holy Communion today, as well as the juice or wine, is of the very finest quality. This is the feast of victory for our God! (See UMH 638.)
The reading from Acts today is sheer proclamation. Let the text be read well so that it can be heard well.
Cornelius had already heard some things about Jesus that were “in the air,” so to speak. But what he had heard was not enough, and perhaps not entirely accurate. Peter’s role was to help Cornelius know with confidence what most needed to be known about Jesus.
There were two key elements in Peter’s proclamation. First, God raised Jesus from the dead and ordained him as judge of the living and the dead. Second, Peter and his colleagues were eyewitnesses of these things and commissioned by Christ to proclaim this in all the world.
The church in the power of the Risen Jesus does the same things today. We proclaim the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus as Judge of the living and the dead. And we are sent to make this proclamation in all the world.
I Corinthians 15 addresses the reality that some of the earliest Christians questioned or rejected the necessity or even the possibility of the resurrection of Jesus. Paul rejects that rejection. Resurrection is not an “add-on” to the gospel or the faith of Christians. It is “of first importance” (I Corinthians 1:3). The resurrection of Jesus cannot be separated out or taken away if the gospel we have received is still to remain gospel.
What we have in today’s reading is Paul’s retelling of the matters of first importance, followed by his account of the many appearance of Jesus to others, including himself, after his resurrection.
The United Methodist version of the Revised Common Lectionary gives us two choices for this morning -- John and Mark. In John, the empty tomb is verified as a fact, but its meaning and implications are left up to each person for the time being. Peter sees and goes home. The beloved disciple (perhaps John?) sees and believes (something!), but the very next line leaves it unclear whether he believes that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Mary Magdalene leaves weeping, but later rejoices to believe when one she thinks is a gardener calls her by name and sends her to tell the others of his accomplished resurrection and soon-to-be-accomplished ascension. A story beginning in sorrow concludes where we are called to conclude: with one of those who have seen the Lord telling others the good news. (See illustration above).
In Mark, the women who come and are sent to tell others by the dazzlingly bright young man they meet there. But at least at first, they are too awestruck to speak. We know that eventually they did speak (else we wouldn’t be here!). But the oldest and most reliable manuscripts of Mark’s gospel conclude with their awe at what they have seen and heard. It is an open invitation for us to do the same in worship today— to abide for a while in the sheer awe of this news.
In Your Planning Team
Today will be a high energy and high attendance Sunday in most congregations. You can and should expect many first-time visitors as well as folks who may attend only on “high holy days.”
This means two very important things. First, hospitality is a must today. Have greeters stationed and ready to welcome all who come. Have a reception time planned after worship or between services. And have greeters posted to continue the invitation to folks as they leave, whether immediately after worship or after the reception time. As folks leave, make sure the greeters hand them a flyer announcing the series you have designed for the weeks of Easter Season that follow.
That leads to the second thing. Today is a series kickoff Sunday like no other in the year. So be sure you actually DO have a plan for the series, ready to go, or at least ready enough to announce its overarching theme and its weekly emphases. Use “Planning Lent and Easter for Worship and Discipleship Year B” for ideas that help this season be all it was created to be.
On a day of celebration, such as this, the temptation is to blow the trumpet as loudly as you can for the whole service. Like a good composer, modulate the volume and flow of this service.
Specific Suggestions for Readings
Invite the congregation to stand (as able) and join, as living witnesses with Peter, in the reading aloud of verses 38-42. Have the reader proclaim verse 43 at full voice, then move into a joyous Easter hymn.
I Corinthians 15
Consider your context. Think about the tone you need to take with the possibly larger than normal number of worshipers who may gathering with you today. Do you need to address their doubts about Resurrection with reason and logic, or even strong assertions? (Perhaps you do!). Or do you need to have them enter into this text’s sweeping movement of ever more appearances and tellings of the Risen Lord? (Perhaps this would work better where you are?).
If you choose the latter, consider how to create a visual and kinetic experience of being surrounded by witnesses who add their Amens and Alleluias to the declaration that Jesus Christ is risen. Here is one suggestion. First, take brief pauses after each witness or group of witnesses to the Resurrection is named. Second, during this pause, either project images of these witnesses on a screen or a wall (adding new projections in other places after each section) or unveil artwork depicting these persons at a different place in the worship space. Third, at the end of the reading, invite all those present who consider themselves to be witnesses to the Resurrection to stand. By the end of the reading, the screen or the room will be filled with images of witnesses and what may be a large number of people standing as living witnesses.
Accompany the reading of the gospel today, whether from John or Mark, with a processional and sung alleluias before and after the reading.
John addresses the reality of skepticism, uncertainty and doubt, but ends with a commission to Mary to proclaim the Resurrection and upcoming ascension boldly to the other disciples, which she does. If you move directly into preaching from this text, consider what your better move may be, considering your congregation on this day. Should you pick up where the text leaves off, with strong affirmation and a call to equally strong praise and confession, or are you better off going back where the text begins, in near darkness and some confusion, then moving toward the end of the sermon toward the call to confess and proclaim?
Mark, like John, begins in darkness. But it ends differently. It ends with those who first hear the announcement of Resurrection being entirely unable to speak after what they had heard and seen. It moves, then, from somber sadness to overwhelming awe. The movement of this text may invite a similar movement in preaching and what follows preaching today. If you follow this trajectory, be sure to create an opportunity for the congregation to abide in the awe for a while. And then, at baptism (if offered) or baptismal reaffirmation and Communion afterward, be sure to sustain that sense of awe through the majesty of the words and gestures of the baptismal rites and the Great Thanksgiving and the music that accompanies them today. You may find the Great Thanksgiving for Easter Day or Season particularly helpful for today’s celebration.
Embodying the Word: Holy Communion
The Scriptures and the day itself cry out for Holy Communion. No musical extravaganza and no sermon can possibly take the place or should displace the fullest celebration of the living presence of our Risen Lord in body and blood.
What more tangible way do we experience Christ coming to each of us, individually, than in Holy Communion? This is the body of Christ, given for you. This is the blood of Christ, poured out for you.
Holy Communion today should be as joyous and celebratory as possible. Christ is risen! Death is vanquished! Christ is risen! Sin's power is gone. Christ is risen! Hell is conquered. Christ is risen! New life has come! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
You just HAVE to stand and sing the Great Thanksgiving today. Pick a version your congregation knows, or create a new one based on a joyous tune your congregation knows. Knowing the tune is important so all can stand and sing and maybe even shout with joy.
Likewise, selecting a prayer with familiar words is important today, for newcomer and oldtimer alike. Use "The Great Thanksgiving for Easter Day or Season" (UMBOW 66-67), which includes the basic text of the Great Thanksgiving most often used and adds joyous proclamations of the meaning and power of Christ's resurrection. If you can, project the words, so the congregation can have their hands free to raise them in praise to God throughout the prayer.
Baptism and the Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant
If your congregation has been journeying with candidates for baptism at Easter, make the sacrament of baptism, inclusive of the laying on of hands and Holy Communion, central to the Easter Day worship. If you will be holding an Easter Vigil service and if you will baptize candidates at that service, you may still want to consider reaffirmation of the baptismal covenant and Holy Communion in the service on Easter Day. Certainly, you will want to include in prayer the names of those newly baptized.
The current official services of the Baptismal Covenant are here. An alternative service of baptismal reaffirmation, used at the 2008 General Conference, is also available in Spanish. A version for infants and others unable to speak for themselves is also available. All of these make use of the vows required by Discipline for baptism and reaffirmation.
For services of confirmation and receiving professing members, be sure to use Baptismal Covenant I, which also include the current vows of membership in The United Methodist Church and the local congregation. All of these vows (baptism and membership) in this form (verbatim) are required for professing membership in The UMC. (See 2012 Book of Discipline, paragraphs 217 and 225.)
Use plenty of water! See “Using Water in Baptism and Reaffirmation” for suggestions of ways to use water in services of baptism, confirmation, and reaffirmation.
This is a big day and perhaps a longer than usual service. Schedule your day so the most important matters get the time each deserves. No one minds an extra 15-20 minutes when the preaching will be uplifting, the music spectacular, and the sacramental celebration rich and inviting.
- BOW 382 (1 Corinthians)
Call to Worship: UMH 658, "This is the Day" (Psalm) Prayer:
- UMH 320, "Easter Vigil or Day" (Easter)
Intercessory Prayer: BOW 399, Week 1 (Easter), followed by any of the forms on 395-397 (bidding prayers)
Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines
Baptism, Confirmation, Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant: Discipleship Ministries Website
Great Thanksgiving for Holy Communion on Easter Day:
- BOW 66-67
- A Contemporary Service of Holy Communion
- From New Zealand: www.liturgy.co.nz/html/ordinarytmliturgy.html#euchpr
(The third prayer, based on the third century text, "Apostolic Tradition," may be particularly appropriate today.)