Worship Helps for Easter

Edward Riojas

Worship Theme: What is Easter? For Americans who do not worship Christ, Easter may be a day for family gatherings, a day for candy, eggs and rabbits. What is Easter for a Christian? It is the resurrection of our Lord, a day to sing the praises of our Savior God. It is a day to rejoice in the victory over death that Jesus won for us. It is a day when the victorious Christ himself comes in his Word to dry our tears of despair and give us living hope.

Old Testament: Isaiah 25:6-9
On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-- the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. 9 In that day they will say, "Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."

1. What “day” is Isaiah speaking of in verses one and four?

2. How does Isaiah encourage us to respond to the salvation and protection that we have in the Lord?

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 15:19-26
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

3. Why does Paul call this a “mystery”?

4. Why is Paul so certain that we have the victory over death?

Gospel: Mark 16:1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6 "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'" 8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

5. Why were the women concerned about the stone that sealed the tomb? What does this tell us about their expectations on that morning?

6. What task did the angel give these women?

1. As is often the case with Old Testament prophecies, Isaiah here gives us what some call “telescopic prophecy.” In other words, the prophecy finds a partial fulfillment in events that occurred soon after the prophecy. The complete fulfillment, however, would come much later. In Isaiah 1, God had told the Israelites that their enemies would lay them waste, but that the day would come when God would restore them. God did restore them after the Babylonian captivity. The “day” of salvation spoken of here finds its complete fulfillment in Jesus: With his death and resurrection he rescued all people.

2. Isaiah encourages us to worship God with thanks, to proclaim his name worldwide, and sing out his praise.

3. Our resurrection is a mystery because at present we cannot see what we will be. It is also a mystery because by nature we do not know of Christ’s saving work and the glory that he offers to all who believe in him. Only through the eyes of faith can we see the truth. Only through God’s inspired Word can we know and believe in Jesus our Savior.

4. Paul is so certain we will defeat death because he saw that death results from sin. Jesus suffered death under God's curse in our place. No more payment for sin needs to be made. With his resurrection, Jesus proved his victory over sin and death―the victory that is ours by trusting in him.

5. Apparently the stone was large enough to require help to roll it away from the opening of the tomb. These dear women came to work on a dead body. All they expected was a tomb closed with a large stone and possibly some men to help them roll the stone away.

6. It was their delightful task to bring the good news of Jesus’ resurrection to the disciples. One can imagine that they were bursting with joy as the bearers of such wonderful news.

Putting your faith into action
Death has been destroyed. We live in the hope of the resurrection. With such hope, we look forward to the day when we will live with the Lord forever. Having such confidence our hearts are ready to serve the Lord with our talents, time, and treasures.

A reading from the Book of Concord for the Resurrection of our Lord
Christians are not under the Law but under grace.  For by faith in Christ the persons are freed from the Law’s curse and condemnation. Their good works, although they are still imperfect and impure, are acceptable to God through Christ. Because, in so far as they have been born anew according to the inner man, they do what is pleasing to God.  They act not by coercion of the Law, but by the renewing of the Holy Spirit, voluntarily and spontaneously from their hearts.  However, they still have a constant struggle against the old Adam.

The old Adam, like an unruly, stubborn ass, is still a part of them.  It must be forced to obey Christ.  It not only requires the teaching, admonition, force, and threatening of the Law, but it also often needs the club of punishments and troubles.  This goes on until the body of sin is entirely put off and a person is perfectly renewed in the resurrection.  Then he will need neither the preaching of the Law nor its threats and punishments, just as he will no longer need the Gospel.  These belong to this imperfect life.  Just as people will see God face-to-face, so they will—through the power of God’s indwelling Spirit—do the will of God with unmingled joy, voluntarily, unconstrained, without any hindrance, and with entire purity and perfection.  They will rejoice in it eternally. – Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article VI, The Third Use of God’s Law (paragraphs 23-25)

Text of our Easter processional hymn: Jesus Christ Is Risen Today
Jesus Christ is ris'n today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heav'nly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation has procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky he's King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!

Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as his love, Alleluia!
Praise him, all you heav'nly host, Alleluia!

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia!


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