PRELUDE “We Welcome Glad Easter” by Michael Cox Jan Green
(tune: St. Denio; Welsh Melody from Canaidau y cyssegr, 1839)
WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS - Chad
In the dark of the early morning, the Spirit descended. The very breath of God.
Dawn approached. The Spirit filled the lungs of our fallen One,
And his heart began to beat anew.
At the rising of the sun,
He awoke. He opened his eyes. He smiled. He rose. Victorious.
They say the tomb was empty, but we know otherwise.
Sorrow and mourning. Left behind.
Fear and shame. Left behind.
Sin and death. Left behind.
Our old ways and our old selves. Left behind.
Forever entombed by Christ the Son.
The One who has conquered the grave.
The One who is risen.
The One who reigns.
~ written by Mike Yager
Good Morning and Welcome to the Mantua Center Christian Church. Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! We have gathered this morning to hear the Good News of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Together we are a community seeking to have Open Minds and Open Hearts and Open Arms...to live and love like Jesus. We are apart, yet bound together through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Children, you have received a bag of eggs to open. I want to urge you to wait until the scripture reading to open those eggs. They will be in a specific order and I’ll invite you to open them one at a time. AND...there is one more egg to receive on your way out before you leave today...so don’t forget that one too.
You have also received a communion cup. There are TWO (2) seals to peel back.
Today is Easter Day. Resurrection Sunday. Welcome to Worship!
SCRIPTURE READING - Allie Owen
OPENING HYMN Christ the Lord is Risen Today! (chalice hymns v. 1-3)
1 Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
All creation join to say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, O heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
2 Lives again our glorious king; Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Jesus died, our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where your victory, O grave? Alleluia!
3 Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise. Alleluia
CHILDREN’S MOMENT - Ally Hurd
SPECIAL MUSIC - Morning has Broken (sung by Jon Secaur)
PASTORAL PRAYER - Pastor Sarah Smith
SCRIPTURE READING Luke 24:1-12
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, (yellow egg)
they came to the tomb, taking the spices (orange egg)
that they had prepared. They found the stone (pink egg) rolled away from the tomb,
but when they went in, they did not find the body. (purple egg)
While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, (blue egg)
and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths (green egg) by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
One-half dozen Easter Eggs to tell the story
Yellow egg: yellow ping pong ball- like the sun
Orange egg: whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and whole coriander
Pink egg: a rock
Purple egg: empty like the tomb
Blue egg: cross on burlap, from Ash Wednesday
Green egg: square of white cloth
Don’t Stop Living the Resurrection
I don’t know about you, but one of the most taxing realities of this last year has been all the yo-yo-ing--all the vacillating between hope and disappointment. Lots of ups and downs and trying to just keep on keeping on. A lot of situations have reminded me of the classic Peanuts cartoon moment when Lucy baits Charlie Brown into thinking that she’s actually gonna let him kick the football. How many times have we felt like that over the last year? And so everytime Charlie Brown takes Lucy’s bait we might wonder...is Charlie Brown a fount of perpetual hope...or is it just that the poor guy just can’t face reality. Why didn’t he just STOP trying? Just stop believing it would actually happen?
Over the course of this Lenten season, some of us were exposed to the amazing life of Julian of Norwich. Julian was a 14th Century anchoress...meaning she lived most of her life in a one-room cell adjacent to a church. Probably not on the list of things we want to be when we grow up. She was a mystic and had profound visions of Christ which she wrote down to share with the world around her. The world around her in Europe during the 1300s was a dark and scary place...due to the Black Plague. This plague that perhaps took her whole family and nearly killed her came back several more times during her lifetime. You can imagine that for so many this brought out a deep cynicism and resentment toward God and even the Creation itself.
Julian noticed the rhythm of life that kept happening:
“I was wholly at peace, at ease and at rest, so that there was nothing upon earth which could have afflicted me. This lasted for a time, and then I was changed ... I felt there was no ease or comfort for me except faith, hope and love, and truly I felt very little of this. And then presently God gave me again comfort and rest for my soul ... And then again I felt the pain, and then afterwards the delight and joy, now the one and now the other, again and again, I suppose about twenty times.”
She, too, experienced the yo-yo of life--From affliction to delight, discomfort to joy….and back again. No doubt she experienced the everyday mundane and maybe even boredom of that one-room cell, but instead of crushing and discouraging her, it connected her even more deeply with the God who knew and loved her. Despite all that she experienced she never stopped looking for God who was all around her She never stopped marveling at the extraordinary gifts of Creation. She never stopped trusting in God’s Promises and God’s great goodness.
In our scripture today we meet up with these extraordinary women who truly show extraordinary resilience and faith. Each one of them could have easily stopped a number of places along the way.
- They could have stopped when Jesus cleared the temple--wondering if Jesus was too meddlesome in the social-political-religious world
- They could have stopped at his arrest and disavowed themselves of him, as others did.
- They could have stopped at the crucifixion, when it was all too much to take in.
- They even could have stopped at the mystery of the Empty Tomb…a trick, a dead end, better to just move on.
- All along the way they could have stopped giving, looking, trying, seeking, living...
But they didn’t stop. They overcame their fear and perplexity and arose with Jesus. They looked for and believed in the light even amongst the darkness. In the face of great despair and even danger...they preached the Gospel. They shared the Good News. They served their neighbors. They Lived the Resurrection Story.
In this season of struggle and separation, where some days can feel like groundhog day, where we can be overwhelmed and discouraged, we have had to stop certain things and that’s been hard. But...there’s much and more we didn’t stop. Despite all that has happened...
- We didn’t stop worship
- We didn’t stop thinking and praying, learning and growing
- We didn’t stop creating and imagining what could be
- We didn’t stop giving and serving
- We didn’t stop sharing with and feeding our community
- We didn’t stop being the church
For everything we know about the story of Jesus...from beginning to end is that nothing can stop the mission of God. Nothing can stop God’s light from shining into every tomb and dark place Nothing can ultimately stop faith, hope, and love from enduring...not even death itself.
Life may feel like a yo-yo. The world may pull the football out from under us over and over again. There may be something that happens that seems to stop the world. We see today that there may even be a Cross and a Tomb and a BIG STONE rolled in front of it to try to get it in our way...But it won’t stop God’s Redemptive purpose. It won’t stop God’s people from being a people of JOY and JUSTICE. COMPASSION and EQUITY. REPENTANCE and FORGIVENESS. REACH and RESTORATION. KINDNESS and SERVANTHOOD. GENEROSITY and TRANSFORMATION. Everyday people, seeking to live an everyday faith.
Hear the GOOD NEWS! Nothing in all Creation--not even death itself--can separate us from the Love of God we know in Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ has never stopped loving us, knowing us, pursuing us. And may nothing stop us from Living the Resurrection in the name of the Risen Christ. May it be so...Amen.
SPECIAL MUSIC - O How He Loves You and Me (sung by Beth Schabel)
HOLY COMMUNION - Pam Baynes Meditation
Communion Song - I Come with Joy (in the folder) Sung by Pam Auble
Communion Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
Words of Institution - Chad
As we gather around Christ’s Table we remember that on the night that Jesus was betrayed, he took the bread and broke it, gave thanks and said to his Disciples, “This is my body which is given for you, eat of it all of you in remembrance of me.” Let’s Take the BREAD of Life together.
In like manner he took the cup and blessed it saying, “This is the cup of the new covenant in me, as often as you drink of it do so in remembrance of me.” Let’s pause and drink the Cup of Salvation.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s life, death, and resurrection until he comes again. Remember, all...ALL are welcome at the Lord’s Table.
(Share in the Bread and Cup together)
CLOSING SONG Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (Chalice)
1 Alleluia! sing to Jesus,
risen now to reign in love.
Alleluia! Praise the Savior;
with the multitudes above.
There the songs of saints
and martyrs thunder like a mighty flood,
"Jesus out of every nation
has redeemed us by his blood."
2 Alleluia! not as orphans
are we left in sorrow now.
Alleluia! Christ is near us;
faith believes, nor questions how.
Though the cloud from sight received him
when the forty days were o'er, shall our hearts forget the promise, "I am with you evermore"?
3 Alleluia! Bread of Heaven,
be on earth our food and stay. Alleluia! here the sinful flee to you from day to day. Intercessor, friend of sinners, earth's redeemer, plead for me, where the songs of all the sinless sweep across the crystal sea
BENEDICTION - Chad
It has been an absolute blessing to be with you today. Please know that May 2nd we will be be gathering as a church outside the building. Over the next few weeks we will be doing our YouTube Worship Services so we can prepare to come together starting in May. We will be sending details as we figure everything out.
As we close our service today I want to share with you a poem by Annie Johnson Flint
Some of us stay at the cross, some of us wait at the tomb,
Quickened and raised with Christ yet lingering still in the gloom.
Some of us 'bide at the Passover feast with Pentecost all unknown,
The triumphs of grace in the heavenly place that our Lord has made His own.
If the Christ who died had stopped at the cross, His work had been incomplete.
If the Christ who was buried had stayed in the tomb, He had only known defeat,
But the way of the cross never stops at the cross and the way of the tomb leads on
To victorious grace in the heavenly place where the risen Lord has gone.
Repeat after me!
Christ has Died, Christ has Risen, Christ will come Again!
Christ has Died, Christ has Risen, Christ will come Again!
Go in Peace, Amen.
POSTLUDE “Song Of Easter” by David Paxton Jan Green