April 4, 2021 – Easter

Bradenton-Sarasota Congregation Online Service
Easter 2021 – April 4

Christ the Lord is Risen Today by Joslin Grove Choral Society

Call to Worship

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; for, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; he suffered the pain of all of us, that we might repent and come unto him. And he has risen again from the dead, that he might bring us all to him on conditions of repentance. —Doctrine and Covenants 16:3c-d, adapted

Lift Your Glad Voices CCS 475

Opening Prayer

Lord God,
You loved this world so much that you gave your one and only Son, that we might be called your children too. Help us to live in the gladness of Easter Sunday, everyday. Let us have hearts of thankfulness for your sacrifice. Let us rejoice in our salvation. Help us to tell your good news to the world. Amen.
– Adapted from an Easter prayer by Rachel Marie Stone

Disciples’ Generous Response

We can only put our love into action through the choices that we have available to us – time, talent, and financial resources. Money is really just a way that we can quantify the financial choices we have available to us. Your personal financial choices, through your contributions directly or through eTithing,  are an important part of your stewardship for this community in Christ.

Hymn of Easter Joy I Danced in the Morning

Statement of Peace

As the disciples were radically changed, empowered, emboldened, and filled with hope and peace as a result of their encounter with the resurrected Christ, may we also choose to be changed and to share that peace, knowing the assurance of God’s love.

Prayer for Peace:

Loving God, help us to remember those who are experiencing moments so difficult that they have lost sight of your existence. On this Easter morning as we meditate on the hope your resurrection brings, that even in the face of evil, tragedy and death, we need not fear. Let your glory be revealed in our lives in such a way as to help restore their faith and reflect the peace that you have to give. Amen.

Ministry of MusicLove Crucified Arose by Michael Card

Easter Homily based on John 20:1-18 – Taken from the World Church Worship Resources for 4/4/2021.

The Gospel of John presents Jesus as the Risen Lord, the Messiah, and Son of God; one in whom we should have faith. The resurrection account is the climax of that faith statement and, for John, the final proof of Jesus’ identity. The scriptures tell of two separate traditions of witness to the resurrection: one was the tomb, emptied of death; one was the report of the Living Christ. Some saw only the empty tomb. Some never witnessed the tomb but experienced the Risen Christ. The Gospel of John tells us Mary Magdalene saw both. It was not the empty tomb that won her faith but the sound of her teacher’s voice.

In John’s account of Easter morning, different people came to faith in Christ along different paths:

  • The beloved disciple looked into the empty tomb and believed instantly. What did he understand when he saw the empty tomb? What did he believe? John gives us no answer, but merely says faith was the result.
  • Peter saw the empty tomb and empty shroud where the body had been. But, unlike the beloved disciple, Peter returned home without faith or understanding.
  • Mary Magdalene saw the empty tomb but understood only the body was gone. Stolen? Moved to another location? The empty tomb did not prompt her to believe in the resurrection. She saw two messengers of God within the tomb, but that didn’t lead to faith. She encountered the Risen Christ but mistook him for the gardener. Her eyes were opened only when he spoke her name, recalling a familiar relationship of love and caring. “My sheep hear my voice. I know them…” (John 10:27). The Living Word and the one word, her name, brought Mary to faith and rejoicing.

From that point, relationship is the key theme of the story. With a surprising economy of words, in verses 17–18 John outlines a swift reordering of relationships.

Jesus tells Mary not to hold onto him. The word touch in Greek implies “being attached to,” in essence, holding onto. It could mean: “Don’t hug me”; “Don’t be too attached to me”; “Don’t become dependent on me”; or “Don’t expect this relationship to be a continuation of the old.” Resurrection had transformed the old relationship into something new.

“I am ascending…to my God and your God.” The relationship with God must take priority, in death and resurrection as it did in life. But in addition, Jesus was saying his followers could enjoy the same relationship with God that he enjoyed. The disciples, as Jesus’ siblings, could claim God as Father in a new, complete relationship.

Jesus directs Mary to go and tell the disciples. Despite betrayal, denial, fleeing in fear, and lack of support, the disciples were still Jesus’ disciples. He claimed them. His relationship with them was closer than ever.

Mary’s relationship to time changed. She had focused on the past and what was lost. Jesus pointed her toward the future and what could be. As she hurried to tell the disciples what she had seen, she became the “apostle to the apostles.”

Those who witnessed resurrection appearances did not keep silent. They were transformed. From their testimony and witness came a movement that grew and changed the world. Followers continued to encounter the Risen Christ in various ways through the centuries. Sharing that testimony still makes a difference in the world, bringing new life. Resurrection, therefore, is not a one-time event that came and went. It is a daily event as people receive God’s grace, love, and new life through Jesus Christ. Embrace new life.

Questions to Consider:

  1. When have you encountered the Living Christ? What prompted you to believe?
  2. How have you experienced God calling you by your name? How has it transformed your relationship to God? To others?
  3. By what path did your personal faith expand into mission?

World Church Easter Service

An online Easter worship event on Sunday, April 4, is shaping up to be a globally diverse celebration. “Breathe New Life” airs at 5:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Participants will be encouraged to post their thoughts in social media as the recorded service plays on YouTube and Facebook.

Closing HymnNow the Green Blade Riseth

Sending Forth

Go Forth in joy and love to serve the risen Jesus in all that you do!

This service was prepared by Sherry Lindgren.