Sunday, April 5, 2020

April 12, 2020

Worshiping at Home on Easter

Hold your own mini-Sunrise service.  If the weather is right, set alarms to get up 15 minutes before sunrise.  Pull on jackets and shoes and head out hopefully to some place facing east, but also just on the back porch or balcony.  Read the Easter story from Matthew 28:1-10 or a Bible storybook.  Shout ALLELUIA! or sing “Praise Ye the Lord, Alleluia!”  Then duck back inside for Easter breakfast.  This could be done instead of the longer service described below or in addition to it – and possibly start a new family tradition.

Getting Ready To Worship

Prepare a worship center: spread a pretty cloth over a table or on the floor.  Add a candle and flowers (if they are available).  If you have an artist, Google “flowered cross coloring sheet free” for a grand collection of coloring sheets.  Choose one or more to print, color and display in your worship area.

It is possible to worship together without singing at all even on Easter.  But if your family sings together, decide before worship what you will sing.  Sing whatever songs about Jesus your family knows.  If you have a hymnal, look up “Easter” or “Jesus” or “Praise Jesus” in the topical index to find familiar hymns.  If you have instrument players, choose the songs enough ahead that they can practice and play along as you sing.  If you have recorded music sing along with your favorite singer.  Some songs to consider:

“Praise Ye the Lord!  Alleluia!”

“Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” – simple ideas and repeated Alleluia chorus for non-readers; a good one to sing every Sunday of the Easter season especially if you have instrumentalists

“Jesus Loves Me”

Prepare for a group reading of the Easter story.  Print the verses of the Easter story below into strips.  If you have empty plastic eggs, put one strip in each egg.  Hide the eggs before starting worship.  Begin your scripture reading by hunting for the eggs and opening them.  OR simply cut the verses into strips and put all the strips in an Easter basket or pretty bowl.  Either of these is a good worship leadership task for an older child or a teenager.

1.      After the Sabbath as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

2.      Suddenly there was a great earthquake.  An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and sat on it.

3.      His appearance was like lightning and his clothes were white as snow.

4.      For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.

5.      But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid.  I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.

6.      He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.  Come, see the place where he lay.

7.      Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’  This is my message for you.”

8.      So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples.

9.      Suddenly, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!”  And they came to him, took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

10.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.  Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee.  There they will see me.”

Worshiping God Together

Call yourselves to worship with this responsive reading.  Practice the repeated ALL line together before starting.

Leader:  On Good Friday Jesus was killed on a cross.
All:          But this is Easter!   This is the day the Lord has made!
Leader:   This year Corona Virus frightens us and 
                keeps us separated.
All:          But this is Easter!   This is the day the Lord has made!
Leader:   Because we are closed in we can get fussy and crabby.
All:           But this is Easter!  This is the day the Lord has made!
Leader:   Let us worship God together!

Sing one or more songs of happy praise that you selected as you got ready to worship.

A parent reminds the family that Jesus forgave even the people who killed him.  We may not have done anything as bad as killing Jesus, but each of us have done things we need to tell God we are sorry about, maybe from the last week, maybe from a long time ago.  Allow a full minute of silence for everyone to close their eyes and talk to God about the ways they have messed up.  The same parent then says, “Look at me.  Jesus promises us on Easter and every day that whenever we mess up and are truly sorry, God forgives us.  God always loves us no matter what.  Because God loves us no matter what, we can love each other no matter what.  So…”  Pass the peace as you do in the sanctuary if you are all healthy.

Two ways to do a group reading of Matthew 28:1-10:

Begin by hunting for the verses hidden in plastic eggs that are hidden around the room.  Open the verses.  If all are readers, each one reads the verses they found in order announcing the verse number before each verse.  If there are non-readers, pair them with readers.  If you have few readers, together arrange the verse slips in correct numerical order and have one reader read them all.

Invite family members to draw verse slips from a bowl.  If all are readers, each one reads the verses they drew in order announcing the verse number before each verse.  If there are non-readers, let them ask a reader to read the ones they draw from the bowl.  If you have few readers, together arrange the verse slips in correct numerical order and have one reader read them all.

After reading the story, ponder together the following questions.  There are few right answers.  It may help to reread key verses as you ponder each question together.

What do you think the women felt as they walked toward the tomb?

What do you think the women felt when they felt the earthquake and saw the angel take the stone from Jesus’ tomb?

What do you think the women felt when they heard the angel’s message?

That is a lot of different feelings close together.  Matthew says “they were filled with fear and great joy.”  How do you think that is possible?  When are sometimes when we can be filled with both fear and joy?

If God sent an angel to speak to us today, what do you think the angel would say after “fear not”?

A leader reads each line and the rest of the family echoes it.  If the family includes young children, read each phrase separately for easier echoing.

I know that even when I am most frightened, God is with me.
I know that even if I and people I love get sick or even die,
      God is with us always.
I know that God’s loving power is more powerful than 
       the worst evil.
I know that God is with us when life is hard.
I know that God helps us do kind and good things when 
       life is hard.
I know that God loves us no matter what.
I know Jesus is risen!

At a time when it is necessary for us all to stay at home, one gift we can give is keeping in touch with those we cannot see every day.  So do now or plan to do later today one of the following:

Chalk Easter messages and pictures on the sidewalk in front of your house or on the sidewalks in front of neighbors who will appreciate it. 

Make Happy Easter cards to send to people who are living alone or who you cannot see at this time.

Inside say a prayer for the people who will read your messages and sing whatever song you sing at offering time at church.

A prayer leader reads this prayer leaving silence between the requests for people to add specific concern related to each request.

Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus.  Thank you for all the strong kind things he said and did.  Thank you for raising him from the tomb.  Thank you for your “Fear not” message.  Hear us as we pray today for…
People who are afraid of getting the virus...
People who are worried about friends and relatives who 
     have the virus...
People who are sad about those who have died...
People who are worried about their jobs...
People who are worried about having enough money....
Be with us and help us know that you are with us always, no matter what.  Help us take care of each other and be kind to each other.


Each member of the family says to at least one other person, “Go in peace.  God loves you and I love you.”  This may be done by going around the circle or with each member of the family saying it to every other member of the family.

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