Community of Christ

Worship Resources - 01 April 2018

Worship Suggestions

Easter Day, Resurrection of the Lord

MARK 16:1–8/16:1–7 IV and JOHN 20:1–18

Alleluia! Jesus Lives!

Additional Scriptures

Acts 10:34–43; Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24; 1 Corinthians 15:1–11

Prelude

Welcome

Morning at the Empty Tomb

Play “morning sounds” in the background to help the congregants visualize the scene. Suggestions: “Sounds of the Earth: Morning Birds,” or “Dawn Chorus” available on iTunes. Morning sounds can also be found on YouTube or other websites. As the soundtrack is playing, invite people into the following reflection. (See Worship Service Suggestions in the front of this book for copyright guidelines.)

Morning sounds begin to play.

Reader 1: Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb (John 20:1).

Reader 2: Close your eyes and imagine for a moment the walk to the tomb. Breathe in the scent of fresh morning, listen for the sounds of dawn, and see the darkness of night beginning to fade in the growing light of the new day. Imagine walking through the morning and arriving at the empty tomb. How are you experiencing the hope and promise of new life this day?

Pause for a few moments of reflection then fade out the morning sounds until they are silent.

Opening Hymn

“Earth, Earth, Awake!”   CCS  472

A soloist sings the first three verses. The congregation joins for last verse.

OR “Celebrate Jesus”      CCS 474

The congregation sings or the hymn can be played from Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings.

OR “Lift Your Glad Voices”            CCS 475

Confessional Prayer for Peace

Light the peace candle.

Prayer

Holy One,

We pray to you this Easter morning to open our eyes so we might recognize you in the breaking of the bread and be prepared to follow wherever you lead. Breathe on us your peace.

We confess our fear and shortcomings. We ignore the poor and the hungry and overlook those who mourn. We abuse the earth you made for us. We are deaf to the cries of the burdened and indifferent to calls for peace.

Forgive us.

Help us to trust in you to change our lives and make us new that we may know the joy and peace of Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord.

We give thanks for your steadfast love that endures forever! Amen.

—Psalm 118:1–2, adapted

For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org /daily-prayer-for-peace.

Response

Focus Moment

Read The Easter Story by Carol Heyer (Scholastic, Inc., 2006, ISBN 9780439855358). Begin reading with the women at Jesus’ tomb. OR Tell the Easter story in your own words. OR read the Easter story from a children’s story Bible (for example, Lectionary Story Bible, Year B by Ralph Milton, Wood Lake Publishing, Inc, 2007, ISBN 9781551455648 or The Children’s Illustrated Bible by Selina Hastings, DK Publishing, Inc., 2005, ISBN 9780756609351).

Scripture Reading

John 20:2–9

Song

“Siyahamb’ Ekukhanyen’ Kwenkhos’/We Are Marching in the Light of God” CCS 95

OR “Amen, Siakudumisa!/Amen, Sing Praises to the Lord!” CCS 109

Invite the congregation to stand, clap, dance, and praise, singing the hymn multiple times. You may consider adding other instruments, such as drums and shakers.

Disciples’ Generous Response

Read the lyrics to “Sometimes We Wait, Expecting God” CCS 304

Prayer

We celebrate the Living Christ but also pray for sharpened attention to see him everywhere he dwells in the world around us. The Living Christ will show up sometimes where we least expect—on the street corner, in the grocery store, at the dinner table with our own families. When we see him, may we have the courage also to be him—to be the Living Christ who redeems, restores, and reconciles to everyone we meet, in every place we are in. May our offerings—of awareness, resources, time, and advocacy—continue to make way for the peace of Christ to be present in our world. Amen.

As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, please use this time to consider your commitment and how you will tithe to your true capacity of time, talent, and testimony.

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

Hymn

“Sometimes We Wait, Expecting God”     CCS 304

Invite the congregation to sing or use as a ministry of music while offerings are being received.

The first Sunday of the month focuses on Abolish Poverty, End Suffering which includes Oblation and World Hunger ministry.

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.

Choral Anthem

“Alleluia, He Lives!” (SATB)           Joel Raney, Hope Publishing Company

OR “Christ Is Risen, Alleluia!” (SATB)          Jay L. Althouse, Hope Publishing Company

OR Congregational Hymn

“Christ Is Alive!” CCS 473

OR “The Risen Christ” CCS 477

OR “Mfurahini, Haleluya/Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia” CCS 471

Easter Sermon

Based on Mark 16:1–8/16:1–7 IV and John 20:1–18

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

Invitation to the Table

Just a few nights ago, we remembered Maundy Thursday where the disciples gathered for the Last Supper. Today, we remember Christ’s death and life. This pattern is repeated in our own lives of discipleship. On Maundy Thursday, we break bread. On Good Friday, we go to the cross. On Easter Sunday, we gaze in awe at the empty tomb. And each month we come to this table to partake again of the bread of life, that Christ may be alive in us as we become his presence in a hungering world. How does this table call you to see the Living Christ in the world and to be the Living Christ to those you see?

Song of Preparation

“As We Gather at Your Table”      CCS 523

OR “In These Moments We Remember”   CCS 515

OR “I Come with Joy, a Child of God”        CCS 533

Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine

Pastoral Prayer

Closing Hymn

“Jesus Christ Is Risen Today”  CCS 476

OR “Now the Green Blade Rises” CCS 482

OR “Good Christians All, Rejoice” CCS 479

Sending Forth

Go in peace!

Postlude


Sermon Helps (Easter)

Easter Day, Resurrection of the Lord

JOHN 20:1–18

Exploring the Scripture

The Gospel of John presents Jesus as the Risen Lord, the Messiah, and Son of God; one in whom we should have faith. The resurrection account is the climax of that faith statement and, for John, the final proof of Jesus’ identity. The scriptures tell of two separate traditions of witness to the resurrection: one was the tomb, emptied of death; one was the report of the Living Christ. Some saw only the empty tomb. Some never witnessed the tomb, but experienced the Risen Christ. The Gospel of John tells us Mary Magdalene saw both. It was not the empty tomb that won her faith but the sound of her teacher’s voice.

In John’s account of Easter morning, different people came to faith in Christ along different paths:

The beloved disciple looked into the empty tomb, and believed instantly. What did he understand when he saw the empty tomb? What did he believe? John gives us no answer, but merely says faith was the result.

Peter saw the empty tomb and empty shroud where the body had been. But, unlike the beloved disciple, Peter returned home without faith or understanding.

Mary Magdalene saw the empty tomb, but understood only the body was gone. Stolen? Moved to another location? The empty tomb did not prompt her to believe in the resurrection. She saw two messengers of God within the

tomb, but that didn’t lead to faith. She encountered the Risen Christ, but mistook him for the gardener. Her eyes were opened only when he spoke her name, recalling a familiar relationship of love and caring. “My sheep hear my voice. I know them…” (John 10:27). The Living Word and the one word, her name, brought Mary to faith and rejoicing.

From that point, relationship is the key theme of the story. With a surprising economy of words, in verses 17–18 John outlines a swift reordering of relationships.

Jesus tells Mary not to hold onto him. The word touch in Greek implies “being attached to,” in essence, holding onto. It could mean: “Don’t hug me”; “Don’t be too attached to me”; “Don’t become dependent on me”; or “Don’t expect this relationship to be a continuation of the old.” Resurrection had transformed the old relationship into something new.

“I am ascending…to my God and your God.” The relationship with God must take priority, in death and resurrection as it did in life. But in addition, Jesus was saying his followers could enjoy the same relationship with God that he enjoyed. The disciples, as Jesus’ siblings, could claim God as Father in a new, complete relationship.

Jesus directs Mary to go and tell the disciples. Despite betrayal, denial, fleeing in fear, and lack of support, the disciples were still Jesus’ disciples. He claimed them. His relationship with them was closer than ever.

Mary’s relationship to time changed. She had focused on the past and what was lost. Jesus pointed her toward the future and what could be. As she hurried to tell the disciples what she had seen, she became the “apostle to the apostles.”

Those who witnessed resurrection appearances did not keep silent. They were transformed. From their testimony and witness came a movement that grew and changed the world. Followers continued to encounter the Risen Christ in various ways through the centuries. Sharing that testimony still makes a difference in the world, bringing new life. Resurrection, therefore, is not a one-time event that came and went. It is a daily event as people receive God’s grace, love, and new life through Jesus Christ. Embrace new life.

Central Ideas

  1. Many who came to the empty tomb were not prompted to belief by what they saw. Faith takes different paths, but often it is because of relationships that speak to us of the Divine.
  2. Encountering the Risen Christ is a transforming experience that alters relationships and points us toward a future that calls us to Christ’s mission.
  3. Each person can experience daily resurrection as he or she lives in God’s love and grace. 

Questions to Consider

  1. When have you encountered the Living Christ? What prompted you to believe?
  2. How have you experienced God calling you by your name? How has it transformed your relationship to God? To others?
  3. By what path did your personal faith expand into mission?
  4. How has your congregation experienced resurrection and entered new life overflowing into mission?


Sermon Helps (Easter 1)

Easter Day, Resurrection of the Lord

MARK 16:1–8

Exploring the Scripture

On Easter morning people will come expecting to hear post-resurrection stories of Christ. Some will look forward to remembering how Jesus had breakfast with disciples by the sea, or overhearing a conversation with the Risen Christ in the garden outside the open tomb.

The text for today, however, does not refer to any meals on the beach or peaceful garden scenes with Jesus. This passage from Mark includes no post-resurrection appearances, and it is likely the original text of Mark did not include any such sightings.

Studying the earliest manuscripts of Mark, many scholars have concluded the original text ended with Mark 16:8. This ending is abrupt and leaves the audience dangling in awkward silence. It was not unusual for later writers or redactors to make changes to the texts they were copying. Therefore, what we now have as the “shorter” and “longer” endings to Mark could be the work of an editor trying to bring a tidier closure to Mark’s Easter story.

The text begins with a funeral, or at least the final preparations of a corpse. People came expecting to find the body of Jesus decaying in the tomb. The vision, mission, and movement to change the world to which these women and others were beginning to lay claim, had come to a screeching and tragic halt three days earlier. Now all that was left to do was prepare the body, mourn, and go back to life as it was before they met Jesus.

But they found the tomb empty and heard an incomprehensible message about Jesus being in Galilee. Leaving the tomb in terror, the women told no one of their experiences, possibly because they could not reconcile their experiences with the expectations they brought to the tomb. Our expectations, too, can become the lenses and filters for what we see and hear. Disciples and congregations must ask, “With what expectations are we viewing and hearing the world?”

A young man at the tomb told the women Jesus was not there. How could this be? This was where they last saw Jesus. He must be there because it was where they left him. The message of the Easter story is one of surprise, which means not always finding Jesus where we last saw him. In our lives we sometimes wander around old places still expecting Jesus to be there waiting for us. Sometimes those old places, even though they may be painful, can become more comfortable than the new places where the resurrected Christ may now be.

The women fled; terror had seized them. Before his death they witnessed how Jesus’ radical ways had angered religious and community leaders. Now he had overcome death and they were told to meet him in Galilee. How much more radical might a resurrected Jesus be? Is it possible the terror was from the uneasiness of considering what he might now be doing in Galilee and what they might be called to do?

Maybe the original abrupt ending of Mark is the most suitable way to tell the Easter story. The story continues, and as disciples who believe in a resurrected Christ we are called to

live out the next chapter of that story. That next chapter is about us meeting him in the Galilees of our communities.

Central Ideas

  1. Easter is about surprise.
  2. Our expectations influence what we see and hear.
  3. We are all called to help write the next chapters of the Easter story.
  4. The resurrected Christ is in our communities waiting for us to meet him there.

Questions to Consider

  1. Do we see the world through the lens of resurrection or through the lens of an unexplained empty tomb?
  2. What are the empty tombs in our lives on which we continue to linger and cling?
  3. Why is it sometimes more comfortable to linger around the empty tomb than to go find Jesus in Galilee?
  4. What evidence is there that you and your congregation are following the Living Christ into “Galilee”?
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