Signs of Hope and Joy; A Dramatic Easter Service for Home Use

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By Alex Gondola, Alfred Schroeder adapted for our current circumstances from Reformed Worship.

Items to be used and need to be collected ahead of time:

  • Drum (djembe, hand drum, or anything else that makes a drum-like sound)

  • Cymbals (or two pan covers or other items to make loud noise)

  • Candle (and lighter)

  • Pitcher with water

  • Bowl

  • Flowers (fresh of any kind is preferred but you can also make some,  draw, or color a picture). 

  • Bible

  • Bread 

  • Cross (a small wooden cross wrapped with brown ribbon. If you don’t have a wooden cross, make a substitute with whatever materials you have available, i.e. cardstock, sticks, cardboard, etc).

This dramatic Easter presentation has a strong scriptural foundation and it engages worshipers in a creative, participatory manner. You are encouraged to adapt it to suit your home and family, using, for example, fewer participants or different symbols as necessary. 

Easter is the celebration of the pivotal moment in history, a world-changing event: God raising Jesus from the dead, victor over death and sin. It forever proclaims our faith that the risen Christ continues to live in us and through us and among us. Such good news deserves unique worship. Please consider the following outline as encouragement to develop your own creative and joy-filled Easter worship.

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THE SERVICE

[Gather around an empty table with all the “props” close by.]

Narrator: This Easter the Word of God will come through a dramatic presentation and celebration of God’s gifts. In many traditions, the Lord’s Supper table is stripped on the Thursday of Holy Week. If there is a cross on the table, it’s taken away. The candles and Bible are removed, along with any cloths, and the baptismal font is closed. The table is left empty, just as Jesus’ life seemed empty of hope as he suffered for us on the cross. 

So we have gathered around this empty table. 

This Easter Sunday, we will return signs of hope and joy to our table as we celebrate God’s good gifts and as joy pours back into the world and back into our hearts with Christ’s resurrection.

THE GIFT OF CREATION: LIGHT

Narrator: The first gift we celebrate is the gift of creation. Listen to the mystery and wonder of the first creation account in Genesis 1, which is echoed in Christ’s resurrection and new life.

[ Turn the lights off with the room as dark as possible. A drum slowly begins to sound. Narrator speaks, making sure to leave enough time between phrases for drum beats.]

Narrator: The earth was formless [drum] and empty [drum]. Darkness was over the surface of the deep [drum] and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters [drum] (Gen. 1:2-3). And God said, “Let there be light!”

[Cymbals crash, or loud sound. All lights turned on simultaneously.]

Narrator: The body lay in darkness [drum]. Jesus Christ, crucified [drum], dead [drum], buried [drum], in darkness [drum]. Listen! I tell you a mystery [drum]. The trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. Death has been swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15:51-54). Christ is risen!

Hymn: “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”LUYH #182, Audio accompaniment, Score

Or Christ the Lord is Risen Today (He is Not Dead)” 

[When the singing starts, place the candle on the table and light it.]

THE GIFT OF BAPTISM: WATER

[During the last verse of “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” place a water pitcher and bowl on the table. Pour a small amount of water into the bowl as this next reading begins.]

Reader 1: Before the world had shape or form, God’s Spirit moved over the face of the waters.

Reader 2: In Noah’s time the earth was washed with the waters of the flood, and God set a rainbow of hope and promise in the sky.

Reader 1: Through the saving waters of the Red Sea, the people of God were led from slavery to freedom.

Reader 2: Through the waters of the Jordan, God’s people entered the Promised Land.

Reader 1: Our Savior, Jesus Christ, was nurtured in the water of the blessed womb of Mary.

Reader 2: Jesus was immersed in the waters of the Jordan and lifted to a ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing.

Reader 1: Jesus of Nazareth became living water to those who followed him.

Reader 2: In the upper room, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and invited them to a life of service.

Reader 1: The great commission is to baptize all nations by water and the Holy Spirit.

Adapted from The United Church of Christ Book of Worship, 1986 edition, page 141. Local Church Ministries, Worship and Education Team. Used by permission.

Reader 2: Please join me in prayer.

Lord God, you have called us by name and promised your love. We seek your continued blessing, growing continually in your grace. Remind us of the promises of our baptism. Renew our faith, that we may be your disciples, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[At this time if those present have been baptized, they are encouraged to dip a finger into one of the bowls and touch their forehead as a reminder of their baptism. If there are those present who have not been baptized but desire to grow in their walk with God, they are encouraged to touch the water as a testimony of their growing faith.]

THE GIFT OF NEW LIFE: FLOWERS

Narrator: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these (Matt. 6:26-29).

Flowers are the symbol of God’s gift of new life. They speak of unparalleled beauty, regenerative power that cannot be extinguished, and bounty borne on the wings of the wind. Let us rejoice in life and the beauty of flowers, in their aromas and colors.

[Bring in flowers and place them on the table]

Sung Response: “All Things Bright and Beautiful” LUYH #20, Audio and print.

Or watch and listen to this video

Narrator: Let us pray. Gracious God, we are in awe of the mystery and majesty of creation. The seeds hidden in the earth grow and flourish. The seeds of faith grow within us, nourished by your Spirit. We give thanks for your gift of life and the gift of faith. Amen.

THE GIFT OF GOD'S PRESENCE: THE BIBLE

Narrator: These flowers as beautiful as they are, won’t last forever. In a letter to the churches of Asia Minor, Peter writes: “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God; for ‘All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever’” (1 Pet. 1:23-25).

The Scriptures are central to our faith. We place them in a central place as our way of saying that the living God is in our midst. God calls and strengthens us through the Word.

[During the singing, the Bible is carried in and placed in the center of the table.]

Sung Response: “O Word of God Incarnate” LUYH #757 (Score), “Speak O Lord” LUYH #755 (video), or Ancient Words (video) #762

THE GIFT OF RECONCILIATION: THE CROSS

Narrator: The Word of God testifies that Christ died on the cross in order to save us from our sins. For “just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:14-17).

Hymn: “Were You There?” LUYH #166, Score or Video

[Bring in the cross and  set it in a stand on the table beside the Bible or lay it down if no stand is available.]

Narrator: Then Jesus told his disciples: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for you to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?” (Matt. 16:24-26).

“[Christ] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor. 5:15-17).

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:7-9).

THE GIFT OF CELEBRATION: EASTER COLORS

Narrator: On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:1-6).

Hymns: Any appropriate Easter hymn

The Power of the Cross LUYH 177, video

In Christ Alone LUYH 770 video

At the Cross/Love Ran Red video

Mfurahini, haleluya/Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia LUYH 188 audio

[During the singing, decorate the cross that has been strapped with brown ribbon by inserting the stem of the flower into the strap or ribbon wrapping the cross. If you do not have the capability to flower the cross, lay a white cloth on the table beside or on the cross to symbolize the resurrected Christ.]

Narrator: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”(1 Pet. 4:10). Let us bring our offerings to the table of the Lord!

Hymn of Response: “All Creatures of Our God and King,” (LUYH 551 stanza 5, Audio accompaniment, Video (David Crowder arr.)

Let all things their creator bless,

And worship Him in humbleness,

O praise him, Alleluia!

Praise, Praise the Father, Praise the Son,

And praise the Spirit, three in one.

O praise him, O praise Him, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Narrator: Let us pray.

Thank you, God, for resurrection. We rejoice in Christ as the firstfruits of all that you make available to us. As you offered Christ to the world, so we offer ourselves. May we testify to the good news of your forgiving love and empowering acceptance. Amen.

THE GIFT OF COMMUNITY: BREAD

[Place the bread on the table. See this alternative service of communion for home worship - We Remember Jesus, Home Communion.]

Narrator: Luke’s gospel tells us of a time following the resurrection when Christ was with two of the disciples. “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Luke 24:28-31).

[The bread is broken and the two halves passed around as a symbol of our community in the Body of Christ.]

Narrator: We are the body of Christ for the world. Christ is the Bread of life. Let us join hands and silently offer a prayer, first for the person on our right and then for the person on our left, concluding with The Lord’s Prayer spoken together. 

[This could be expanded to include prayers for the world, the nation, the community, and the church.]

Blessing

Narrator: On this Easter Sunday, we remember that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means “House of Bread.” He taught, suffered and died, and rose again in Jerusalem, which means “City of Peace.” May we so live in the name and power of the risen Christ that we become bread and peace for a needy world. Amen.

Song: We Receive Your Blessing LUYH 947, video

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Adapted from Reformed Worship, Issue 90, © 2020 by Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. All rights reserved.

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