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Easter Sunday, 2020: The Garden of Life

Series: Community Amidst the Coronavirus

Please participate in the following liturgy, reading aloud all the parts in bold italics.


Invitation

To all who are weary and need rest,
To all who mourn and long for comfort,
To all who feel worthless and wonder if God cares,
To all who fail and desire strength,
To all who sin and need a Savior,
The Church opens wide her doors
With a welcome from Jesus Christ,
The Ally of his enemies,
The Defender of the guilty,
The Justifier of the inexcusable,
The Friend of sinners.
Welcome!


Gardens (The Story Until Sunday)

In the beginning, there was a garden where everything was right, yet went terribly wrong. God came looking for his people, and found them hiding from him, ashamed and guilty.

So he came looking again, this time donned in the disguise of one of those very humans. For when the world runs away from God, God runs to the world.

So we come to Holy Week.

On Thursday, the God who became flesh to find his children now found himself in agony – in a second garden. All was about to go wrong, but it would make all things right.

In the first garden, Adam hid behind a tree – naked, covered in shame and conquered by sin. In the second garden, Jesus surrendered to being hung on a tree – naked, yet clothing shame and conquering sin.

So Friday came, the day when Jesus revealed just how far God would go to go to re-create a way home. With the whispering prayer, “Father, forgive them,” he unveiled the heart of God.

On Saturday, silence. Death prolonged. Or, at least so far as we could tell. But in the midst of Saturday’s quiet, Jesus slipped into the pit of hell. And why wouldn’t he? Just as he did with prostitutes and tax collectors, he always had a way about drawing near to the condemned and damned. In the depths of darkness, he preached good news, and unleashed from Hades’ clutches the host of captives.

So it turns out that by Saturday, Jesus was very much alive. But we don’t know that. All we know is where the story left us last:

“There was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb. So they laid Jesus there.”

In a garden. Of course. New worlds always begin in a garden.


Is He Worthy? (The Story of Sunday)

Do you feel the world is broken?
We do
Do you feel the shadows deepen?
We do
But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through?
We do
Do you wish that you could see it all made new?
We do


(The Good News from John 20)

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.

Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.”


Is all creation groaning?
It is.
Is a new creation coming?
It is.
Is the glory of the Lord to be the light within our midst?
It is.
Is it good that we remind ourselves of this?
It is.


“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’

When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.”


Song: Is He Worthy?

Is anyone worthy? Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave

Is He worthy? Is He worthy
of all blessing and honor and glory?
Is He worthy of this?
He is

Does the Father truly love us?
He does
Does the Spirit move among us?
He does
And does Jesus, our Messiah, hold forever those He loves?
He does
Does our God intend to dwell again with us?
He does

Is anyone worthy? Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave

From every people and tribe
Every nation and tongue
He has made us a kingdom and priests to God
To reign with the Son

Is He worthy? Is He worthy
of all blessing and honor and glory?
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Is He worthy of this?
He is


Call to Worship

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Creator of the universe,
You made the world in beauty,
and restore all things in glory
through the victory of Jesus Christ.

We pray that, wherever your image is still disfigured,
by poverty, sickness, selfishness, war and greed,
the new creation in Jesus Christ may appear in justice, love, and peace,
to the glory of Your name.
Amen.


Now: The Last Week was Last Week

Song: Death in His Grave

Though the earth cried out for blood
satisfied her hunger was
billows calmed on raging seas
for the souls of men she craved

Sun and moon from balcony
turned their head in disbelief
that precious Love would taste the sting
disfigured and disdained

On Friday a thief, on Sunday a king
laid down in grief, but woke with the keys
of hell on that day, first born of the slain
the man Jesus Christ laid death in his grave

So three days in darkness slept
the morning sun of righteousness
but rose to shame the throes of death
and overturn his rule

Now daughters and the sons of men
would pay not their dues again
the debt of blood they owed was rent
when the day rolled anew

On Friday a thief, on Sunday a king
laid down in grief, but woke holding keys
to hell on that day, he first born of the slain
the man Jesus Christ laid death in his grave

He has cheated hell
and seated us above the fall
in desperate places he paid our wages
one time, once and for all

On Friday a thief, on Sunday a king
laid down in grief, but woke holding keys
to hell on that day, he first born of the slain
the man Jesus Christ laid death in his grave


Not Yet: Christ Will Come Again

Prayers of the People

Father God,
on this holy day we stand outside the tomb of Jesus Christ,
confessing our brokenness and the incompleteness of the present world.

We were made for union,
 but we wallow in introspection.
We were made for joy,
but we settle for pleasure.
We were made for justice,
` but we clamor for vengeance.
We were made for relationship,
but we insist on our own way.
We were made for beauty,
but we are satisfied with sentiment.

But a new creation has already begun.
The sun has begun to rise.

On this holy day we desire to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ,
The brokenness and incompleteness of the present world.

Sorrow and mourning.
we leave in the tomb.
Fear and shame.
we leave in the tomb.
Sin and death.
we leave in the tomb.
Our old ways and our old selves.
we leave in the tomb.

Forever entombed by Christ the Son.
He who has conquered the grave.
He who is risen.
He who reigns.
Amen.

Spontaneous prayers are offered.


Confession Assurance

O how He takes the cross
O how He lifts it up
To take the weight from us

O how He pays the cost
O how He drinks the cup
To make a place for us

Hear how He breaks the curse
Hear how He cries aloud
Hear how His voice resounds

O how He forms the words
O how He cries them out
“See, It is finished now”

Take us O Lord and all we have known
Shape us O Lord and form us into your own
Take every heart and know every sin
Break us O Lord that we may be whole again

How deep the wounds
He wears How dark the scars
He shows How well
the name He knows

Written upon His palms
O what a name to find
That name before Him mine!

Take us O Lord and all we have known
Shape us O Lord and form us into your own
Take every heart and know every sin
Heal us O Lord, as You’ve been made whole again


Sacrament of Desire

There are many times and places in Church history where participating in Communion was not possible (times of persecution, martyrdom, imprisonment, famine, sickness, and warfare).

While our gatherings are always intended to reach their apex at the Lord’s Table, God is not limited to the physical partaking of the elements as a means of mediating grace into our lives.

In times when communion cannot be taken physically, a Sacrament of Desire is made available instead. In keeping with this tradition, we’ll engage now a Liturgy of the Table culminating in a prayer which expresses desire to receive God’s grace.


The Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts!
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We praise you and we bless you,
holy and gracious God,
source of life abundant.
From before time you made ready the creation.
Your Spirit moved over the deep and brought all things into being.

You made us in Your image, and taught us to walk in Your ways.
But we rebelled against you, and wandered far away;
and yet, as a mother cares for her children, you would not forget us.
Time and again you called us to live in the fullness of Your love.

And so this day with join with Saints and Angels
in the chorus of praise that rings through eternity,
lifting our voices to bless you we say:

Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord God Almighty
heaven and earth are full of Your glory,
Glory to you, O Lord most high.

Is the Father with us?
He is.
Is Christ among us?
He is.
Is the Spirit here?
He is.

This is our God.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We are his people.
We are redeemed.

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Now, in union, O Lord with the faithful at every altar of Your Church,
where the Great Thanksgiving is celebrated,
I desire to offer my praise and thanksgiving too.

I present to You my soul and body
with the earnest prayer that I will remain united to you.

And since I cannot now receive You sacramentally,
I pray that you would come to me spiritually.

I unite myself to you, and embrace you with my soul’s affection.
Let nothing separate me from you,
that I may live and die in Your love.

Amen.


Song: Mystery

Sweet Jesus Christ, my sanity
Sweet Jesus Christ, my clarity
bread of heaven, broken for me
cup of salvation, held up to drink
Jesus, Mystery

Christ has died and
Christ is risen,
Christ will come again

Sweet Jesus Christ, my sanity
Sweet Jesus Christ, my clarity
bread of heaven, broken for me
cup of salvation, held up to drink
Jesus, Mystery

Christ has died and
Christ is risen,
Christ will come again

Celebrate his death and rising
lift your eyes, proclaim his coming
Celebrate his death and rising
Lift your eyes, lift your eyes!

Christ has died and
Christ is risen,
Christ will come again


Community Life

The Cross of Christ

All our problems,
We send to the cross of Christ!
All our difficulties,
We send to the cross of Christ!
All the devil’s works,
We send to the cross of Christ!
And all our hopes,
We set on the Risen Christ!


Blessing & Sending

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever he may send you.
May he guide you in the wilderness,
protect you in the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing,
at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing,
once again into our doors.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Amen.

Alleluia, Alleluia!
Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Alleluia, Alleluia!


3 Good Minutes (Optional)

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