Worship Helps for Easter Sunday

Artwork: Disciples John and Peter on their way to the tomb on Easter morning 
Artist: Eugene Burnand
Date: 1850-1921

Worship Theme: Easter is everything. If the Son of God had not come out of his borrowed tomb, Satan would have won, our faith would be worthless and we would still be in our sin. But Jesus lives! To the Lamb who stands triumphant upon God’s throne, all heaven sings a new song.

Old Testament: Exodus 15:1-11

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
“I will sing to the Lord,
    for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
    he has hurled into the sea.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
    the Lord is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
    he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers
    are drowned in the Red Sea.
The deep waters have covered them;
    they sank to the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, Lord,
    was majestic in power.
Your right hand, Lord,
    shattered the enemy.

“In the greatness of your majesty
    you threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
    it consumed them like stubble.
By the blast of your nostrils
    the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood up like a wall;
    the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy boasted,
    ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them.
I will divide the spoils;
    I will gorge myself on them.
I will draw my sword
    and my hand will destroy them.’
10 But you blew with your breath,
    and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
    in the mighty waters.
11 Who among the gods
    is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
    majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
    working wonders?

1. Why did Moses and the Israelites praise the Lord?

2. Since Jesus has risen from the dead, what has he, the Lord, become for us? (See verses 2, 3, 11.)

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

3. The good news that Jesus has risen is not just what Paul preached. What else is it?

4. What will happen if we stop trusting in Jesus and start trusting in ourselves?

5. How does Paul prove that Jesus really died?

6. How does Paul prove that Jesus really rose from the dead?

Gospel: Luke 24:1-12

 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? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’  Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

7. What, besides the heavy stone, had the women who went to the tomb forgotten?

8. Why didn’t the Eleven believe the women?

1. With a colossal miracle, God had just rescued them from the most powerful nation on earth. God had drowned all of Pharaoh’s army in the Sea of Reeds, hurling the foot soldiers, chariots, horses, and horse-riders into the sea.

2. He has become our Strength, our Song and our Salvation—he has rescued us from our guilt and our graves and given us eternal life through faith in his blood. Every day, he strengthens us by his Word and gives us such reason to sing. He is also our Warrior against the forces of darkness. No one else compares. No one even comes close.

3. The good news that Jesus has risen is what we have received deep in our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have taken our stand on it.

4. If we do not hold to the gospel firmly to our dying day, but end up trusting in ourselves instead of Jesus, our current faith in the Risen One will have been worthless. We will be damned, as we deserve.

5. Paul proves that Jesus really died by adding that Jesus was buried. Friends who could not have been fooled laid Jesus in a tomb near the place where he was crucified.

6. Paul gives many proofs that Jesus really rose from the dead: Jesus appeared to Peter on Easter day and to all the apostles on Easter evening. Then he appeared to more than 500 Christians at the same time—no mass hypnosis—many of whom were still alive and could testify to seeing the Risen One. Then he appeared to his brother James and to all the apostles again. Lastly, he appeared to Paul on his way to Damascus.

7. The women had forgotten that Jesus said he would rise on the third day.

8. The Eleven didn’t believe the women because in their grief the women’s words seemed to them like nonsense.

Putting your faith into action
Very rarely is emptiness seen as a positive attribute. An empty bank account, an empty gas tank, an empty cradle, an empty seat at the table—they’re all reminders of our limitations and the losses we are doomed to experience. An unexpected emptiness is often even worse. The women who came to prepare Jesus’ body that Easter Sunday had experienced such a sudden loss: their Jesus, who had seemed so beloved by everyone just a week earlier, had suffered such a humiliating, public death. They and the disciples found themselves practicing a type of stewardship they had never expected: collecting their Messiah’s body and preparing it for burial. They had experienced so much emptiness already that they were shocked to experience a sudden, different, positive emptiness: he had risen indeed! The emptiness of the tomb replaced their empty hopes with hopefulness and their empty works with the fulfilling task of telling everyone that he has risen! When we see that empty tomb, we no longer see a great loss, but a great gain: salvation has been won, and we have been made right with God!

A reading from the Book of Concord for the Resurrection of Our Lord
      Scripture teaches that we are justified before God, through faith in Christ, when we believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake.  Now if the Mass takes away the sins of the living and the dead simply by performing it, justification comes by doing Masses, and not of faith. Scripture does not allow this.
      But Christ commands us, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).  Therefore, the Mass was instituted so that those who use the Sacrament should remember, in faith, the benefits they receive through Christ and how their anxious consciences are cheered and comforted.  To remember Christ is to remember His benefits.  It means to realize that they are truly offered to us.  It is not enough only to remember history.  (The ungodly also remember this.)  Therefore, the Mass is to be used for administering the Sacrament to those that need consolation.  Ambrose says, “Because I always sin, I always need to take the medicine.”
            Because the Mass is for the purpose of giving the Sacrament, we have Communion every holy day, and if anyone desires the Sacrament, we also offer it on other days, when it is given to all who ask for it.  This custom is not new in the Church.  The Fathers before Gregory make no mention of any private Mass, but they speak a lot about the common Mass, ‹Communion›.– Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV, The Mass (paragraphs 28-35)

Hymns for this Sunday: 157; 142; 162; 163; 152; 153; 752

157  Jesus Christ Is Risen Today
1  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!

2  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!

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

4  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!

Text: Latin hymn, 14th century, st. 1-3; Charles Wesley, 1707–88, st. 4;

tr. Lyra Davidica, London, 1708, st. 1-3, alt.


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