Community of Christ

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Worship Resources - 04 April 2021

Worship Suggestions

Easter Day

MARK 16:1-8/16:1-7 IV and JOHN 20:1-18 (A,B,C)

Risen!

Additional Scriptures

Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Doctrine and Covenants 16:3c-d


Preparation

Arrange a worship setting with a white cloth draped on a cross. If candles were part of the worship setting during a Good Friday service, light all those candles for the Easter service. The purple cloth used during the season of Lent will be needed during the Focus Moment.

Prelude

Spirited music selections

Welcome and Invitation to Worship

Scripture Reading

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; for, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; he suffered the pain of all of us, that we might repent and come unto him. And he has risen again from the dead, that he might bring us all to him on conditions of repentance.

—Doctrine and Covenants 16:3c-d, adapted

Responsive Reading

Leader: Let Israel say,

People: “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Leader: Let those who fear the Lord say,

People: “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Leader: The Lord is my strength and my might.

People: He has become my salvation.

Leader: I shall not die, but I shall live,

People: and recount the deeds of the Lord.

Leader: Open to me the gates of righteousness,

People: that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.

Leader: This is the day that the Lord has made;

All: Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

—From Psalm 118:2-24, excerpted

Hymn of Praise

“Good Christians All, Rejoice” CCS 479

OR “Christ Leads!” CCS 28

OR “Lift Your Glad Voices” CCS 475

Opening Prayer

Response

Disciples’ Generous Response

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-3

Statement

During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we are able to tangibly express our gratitude to God who is the giver of all.

As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

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

Focus Moment: What Color Is Easter?

Find a discussion of liturgical colors and the Easter season at: sermons4kids.com/color_of_easter_gotwald.htm

Hymn of Easter Joy

“Celebrate Jesus” CCS 474

Use the vocal recording found on Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings and sing along. This song works especially well with children and youth. Encourage their leadership of the sing-along.

OR “Woman, Weeping in the Garden” CCS 478

OR “I Danced in the Morning” CCS 23

Easter Homily

Based on Mark 16:1-8 and John 20:1-18

Prayer for Peace

Congregational Hymn

“My Peace” CCS 149

OR “Dona Nobis Pacem” Divide the congregation into 3 parts; sing as a round. CCS 155

Statement of Peace

Reading: “My Peace,” CCS 149

As the disciples were radically changed, empowered, emboldened, and filled with hope and peace as a result of their encounter with the resurrected Christ, may we also choose to be changed and to share that peace, knowing the assurance of God’s love.

Light the Peace Candle.

Prayer

Loving God, as we light the candle of Peace, help us to remember those who are experiencing moments so difficult that they have lost sight of your existence. On this Easter morning as we meditate on the hope your resurrection brings, that even in the face of evil, tragedy and death, we need not fear. Let your glory be revealed in our lives in such a way as to help restore their faith and reflect the peace that you have to give. Amen.

—Lois Hillman

A Daily Prayer for Peace service is held at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA 365 days a year. Additional ideas for Prayer for Peace can be found at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.

Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn

“O Risen Christ, Still Wounded” CCS 41

OR “Jesus, Promise of an Angel” CCS 32

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

Communion Message

Based on the sacrament of Communion

Communion Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23–26

Hymn of Preparation

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

OR “Eat This Bread and Never Hunger” CCS 530

OR “As We Gather at Your Table” CCS 523

Invitation to Communion

All are welcome at Christ’s table. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is a sacrament in which we remember the life, death, resurrection, and continuing presence of Jesus Christ. In Community of Christ, we also experience Communion as an opportunity to renew our baptismal covenant and to be formed as disciples who live Christ’s mission. Others may have different or added understandings within their faith traditions. We invite all who participate in the Lord’s Supper to do so in the love and peace of Jesus Christ.

Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine

For guidelines on the Lord’s Supper, including online participation, see
www.CofChrist.org/common/cms/resources/Guidelines-Lords-Supper-9-2019-EN.pdf.

Hymn of Rejoicing

“The Risen Christ” CCS 477

OR “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” CCS 476

OR “Now the Green Blade Rises” CCS 482

Benediction

Response

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Easter Day, Resurrection of the Lord

MARK 16:1–8 and JOHN 20:1–18


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”?


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?

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Easter Sunday

Isaiah 25:6–9 NRSV

The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.

The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.


 

Gathering

Welcome

Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is the most important day in the Christian calendar as we rejoice in his eternal presence with us. Halleluiah!


Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.

Light the peace candle.

Resurrected God,

Would we recognize you? Would we understand the incredible power you have over death? Grant us the peace that was present in the garden in those moments before your resurrection, and may we spread that peace as the women who first saw you alive spread the news of your resurrection! Help us to recognize opportunities for peace—that once seemed extinguished—now as new soil for growing peace. Clear away our fear that peace may not come to pass, and show us how to work to create peace in places across the world. 
Amen

—Tiffany and Caleb Brian

Spiritual Practice

Dwelling in the Word  

I will read a scripture aloud. As you hear the scripture allow words, images, or phrases to come to mind. Try not to focus on them. Let them rest with you.

After a moment of silence, I will read the scripture a send time. As you hear the scripture again listen for how God’s spirit is nudging you or catching your attention.

Read the scripture passage: Mark 16:1–8 NRSV.

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”

When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Pause.

Read scripture a second time.

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”

When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Invite group members to share responses to these questions:

  1. As you listened to this scripture passage, what words, phrases, or images came to mind?
  2. What is God’s Spirit revealing to you through the hearing of these words?

Sharing Around the Table

Isaiah 25:6–9 NRSV

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines,
    of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
    the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
    the sheet that is spread over all nations;
    he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
    and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
    Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
    This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

This scripture is fitting for Easter Sunday and celebrating Jesus Christ’s resurrection. 

Previous chapters of Isaiah focused on God’s judgment of nations, including Israel, because of their resistance to God’s will. Here the text moves from judgment to blessings. God will provide a royal feast for all nations. Note: the text does not specify that only the faithful will be invited. All will be welcome. Salvation is universal. 

The shroud of death, which casts a shadow over all nations, will be destroyed. Grief and loss are not the last words. God promises life, abundant, overflowing, and joyful. However, “death” in these verses does not concern only physical death, which is the natural end of all life. “Death” also symbolizes spiritual death and separation from God. In the reign of God to come, all separation and brokenness will be swept away. All evil and destruction will end. Only in those circumstances can it truly be said that God will wipe away the tears from all faces. On that day, all people will affirm: “This is the Lord for whom we have waited” (verse 9). 

The coming feast and God’s future reign are not yet our lived reality. But Jesus promised the kingdom is near, and the kingdom is within us. We are called to be those who are making the reign of God a reality in small, intentional ways amid the brokenness of the world. 

Questions

  1. What does it mean to you to be invited to feast at the Lord’s table?
  2. When have you felt you were experiencing a “shroud” of darkness or despair? How did God’s love and light break through in your life?
  3. How do you understand God’s invitation to bring about and take part in God’s kingdom?

Sending

Generosity Statement

Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint.
—Doctrine and Covenants 163:9

The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response. 

The offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:

God of Rejoicing,

We share our gifts joyfully and with thanksgiving in response to the generous gifts you have given us. May the offerings we share bring joy, hope, love, and peace into the lives of others that they might experience your mercy and grace. 
Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

Community of Christ Sings 471, “Mfurahini, Haleluya (Christ Has Risen, Alleluia)” 

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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