Welcome to this Online Meeting for Worship. Usually below you will find songs, scripture or poems, and a short message to frame and guide your time in worship, however for this celebration of Easter, below is a meditative procession of scripture, poetry and song, followed by a time of silent worship and closure. I have found along my own spiritual journey that setting aside a time for worship at sunrise on Easter morning has helped me connect deeply to the Divine and I encourage you to find a special time this Easter time to seek out God's presence. To create a contemplative flow, instead of offering a message or sermon, I've included all four Revised Common Lectionary scriptures as well as more songs and a poems and a quote. I hope that they will guide your time of worship and contemplation of this year's celebration of Easter.
Easter: Proclaim the Empty Tomb
Centering Silence: Take a few moments to center yourself. Perhaps light a candle. Find a comfortable place to sit and put away any distractions. Take a few deep breaths as you center yourself for this time of worship. Feel your body relax as your breaths become deeper. Turn your attention to the presence of the Divine throughout your body and throughout your life. When you are ready let the following worship elements guide your worship.
“This is the day of resurrection, freedom, and empowerment. At Easter, we celebrate Jesus’ victory over the powers that enslave us, ushering in a new reign of justice and peace. In the Jeremiah passage, we see that God cares for and comforts those who are exiled. In the Psalter, we learn that one who was once rejected has become the chief cornerstone. In the Acts passage, we are reminded that “God shows no partiality.” Arbitrary human categories have no significance in the realm of God. And, in the Gospel of John, the first woman preacher testifies as a witness to the resurrection. Mary Magdalene, told by Jesus to go and tell, shares the good news that Jesus is alive, and she offers her hearers the assurance that God is with them in life and in death… We are all together, expectantly waiting to relive, once again, the resurrection story. We come to hear the testimony of witnesses who proclaim that “Christ has risen, indeed.” And we are reminded again that we have been given the gift of life eternal from a God whose love never ends.” (p. 193)
Hunter, Rhashell “Easter Day (Resurrection of Jesus) in Preaching God's Transforming Justice: A Lectionary Commentary, Year A. Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition. edited by Allen, Ronald J. (2013-08-16).
Scripture: “At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.” This is what the Lord says:
"The people who survive the sword
will find favor in the wilderness;
I will come to give rest to Israel.”
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
I will build you up again,
and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.
Again you will take up your timbrels
and go out to dance with the joyful.
Again you will plant vineyards
on the hills of Samaria;
the farmers will plant them
and enjoy their fruit.
There will be a day when watchmen cry out
on the hills of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”
— Jeremiah 31:1-6, New International Version (NIV)
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.”
— Psalm 118: 1– 2, 14– 24, New International Version (NIV)
Scripture: "Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.'"
— Acts 10:34-43, New International Version (NIV)
Scripture: "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for? Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her."
— John 20:1-18, New International Version (NIV)
By Keri K. Wehlander
We are the locked door
The stone not rolled away.
You invite us to cross through waters,
Walk dry roads
Look towards transformation
In every wilderness
You believe we can.
We want other commodities—
Depth without daily searching
You offer us a simple table
And the words follow me.
You believe we will.
We choose a meager vision,
Hold tight to the catch of our nets.
You tell a story that asks,
Which one was the neighbor?
We are perplexed
When you appear in our untended
You say, peace,
To all our uncertainty.
You show that new life
Comes with time, with practice
And the sowing, however small,
Of stubborn hope.
You believe we will grow.
Silence-Waiting Worship: This is a time for you to turn your attention fully inward. The songs and passages and the offered message have prepared you to listen deeply to the Divine. Spend at least 20 minutes in silence listening for that still small voice of God. You may want to join an online waiting worship community. A few links for these can be found below.
When you have come to a place of closure in your waiting worship, continue on to bring your time of worship to a close.
Afterthoughts: Afterthoughts are thoughts that rose for you during waiting worship that didn’t completely form into a message. Perhaps you discerned that what was rising for you in waiting worship was a message for you alone, something not to be shared with others or perhaps you only received fragments of a message and it didn’t come together completely during the silence. Take a few minutes to journal these afterthoughts so that you can look back at them another time. Perhaps God is speaking to you through these partial messages and the fullness of their meaning will be revealed in time.
Joys and Concerns: It is traditional in Programmed Quaker Worship to have a time for the sharing of joys and concerns. Take a few moments to write down in your journal a few things from this week that you are thankful for and a few things that you are holding in prayer. Feel free to post these in the comments below as well (though remember that it may take up to 24 hours for them to be available to others to read) so that others can include your requests in their prayers and celebrate your joys alongside you.
Closing: Take another few moments of silence to close your worship time. Breathe deeply and give thanks for your time in worship today. When you feel ready end in vocal prayer, either of your own creation or read out loud the following: “O Holy One, at this celebration of Easter, let us find life in the life of the risen Christ, a life to be all that God empowers us to be; a life that fuels our hearts to make change in this world; a life that proclaims freedom, justice and mercy. Amen."