Easter Sunrise Worship

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Hints & Ideas


Read by the Leader

There’s an ancient Christian tradition, held by many groups in one form or another, that when a church gathers together to celebrate Communion, in a mystical sense the entire Church, throughout all time and all space, is present with them in that act of worship. In a similar way, although the circumstances of this year have forced us to worship separately this morning, we know and trust that, through the Holy Spirit, we don’t worship alone this morning, but alongside our brothers and sisters just as truly as if we were all in one place. May God accept our worship, and may we know both him and each other better through this sunrise celebration.

Let us pray:

Opening Prayer: Psalm 108:1-6

This is a responsive prayer. The leader prays the regular text, and the rest of the group responds with the text in bold.

My heart is steadfast, O God!
I will sing and make melody with all my being!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
That your beloved ones may be delivered,
Give salvation by your right hand and answer me!

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

The Apostles’ Creed

Read together.

We believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.


Reading: Matthew 28:1-10

Select someone in the group to read this.

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Hymn: Christ Arose

Open Sheet Music

Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave he arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er his foes!
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior,
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!


Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!


Words and Music by Robert Lowry
© Public Domain

Devotion: The Resurrection Reality

Read by the leader.

We are here this morning to commemorate Christ’s resurrection. Obviously, we Christians think this is a big deal, but it can be hard to think about well. For some of us, the idea of the resurrection is so different from regular human experience that we just can’t make sense of it. For others, we’ve heard and told the story so often that we’ve gotten used to it. In either case, Easter can morph into something like a legend in our minds, a good story that gives us warm feelings and nostalgia. It’s not that at all, however: the most remarkable thing about Easter is that it really happened.

At sunrise on April 5, AD 331, outside a city called Jerusalem in a territory called Palestine, a dead man named Jesus rose from the dead. He wasn’t mostly dead - he had been executed and his executioners took their jobs seriously. There was no one there trying to revive him. Instead, quite simply, one minute Jesus was dead and buried in a dark sealed cave, and the next minute his heart started beating. He got up and walked out of the tomb. That morning, he talked to his friends when they came to see where his body had been, and over the next month he was seen by at least five hundred witnesses.

The foundation of our faith is in this living Jesus. Jesus claimed to have battled sin and death when he died on the cross, and because he returned to life we believe that he did so—and that he was victorious. He claimed to be God in the flesh, and we take the fact that he raised himself from the dead as proof of that claim. And because of these facts, we believe his promise that he will share his unquenchable life with those who believe in him and submit to him. This is the great promise and hope of the Christian life, both now and into eternity.

The living Jesus, far from being a legend, is the reality that undoes all other realities. Because he lives, the world as we have known it, broken and sick, is fading away. The new creation that began in his resurrected body is coming closer every day, working in and through his people. The time is coming soon when he will return, still alive and still in the flesh, and finish the job, and all will be renewed. In that day all will be as it should be, and all will be well.

And that day will be just as real as the man in that garden on April 5th, a little less than two thousand years ago.

Benediction: 1 Corinthians 15:1-7, 19-22

Select someone in the group to read this.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles…

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Closing Hymn: Worship Christ the Risen King

This is sung to the same tune as the Christmas carol “Angels From the Realms of Glory.”

Open Sheet Music

Rise, O Church, and lift your voices,
Christ has conquered death and hell.
Sing as all the earth rejoices;
Resurrection anthems swell.
Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ the Risen King!

See the tomb where death had laid Him,
Empty now its mouth declares:
“Death and I could not contain Him,
For the throne of life He shares.”
Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ the Risen King!

Hear the earth protest and tremble,
See the stone removed with power;
All hell's minions may assemble
But cannot withstand His hour.
He has conquered! He has conquered!
Christ the Lord, the Risen King!

Words by Jack Hayford © 1986 Living Way Ministries
Music by Henry Smart © Public Domain
CCLI License # 564868

¹ This is an educated guess by scholars. We know Jesus rose on the Sunday after Passover, but Passover moves each year and we don’t know what year it was. Our best estimate is AD 33, and in that case the date would be April 5th.