Worship Service for Easter Sunday

Hi everyone,

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Welcome to worship this day for Easter Sunday, landing on March 31, 2024!

The bulletin for this service can be found here. We are going back to our regular format for worship since Good Friday, but the beginning will be a bit different as we’ll dress the chancel during the opening hymn and call to worship. Otherwise you can follow along in the above linked bulletin or with the words that will appear on your screen. The sermon is also on this page below the video.

For a more full worship experience online, you can have a candle lit in your space for the beginning of the service and have it extinguished near the end, when the altar candles are put out after the sending hymn. And if you wish to participate in communion, you can do so by having something small to eat and drink ready for consumption at the right time in the service. You will be given further instruction when that time comes.

May God’s grace and love seen in the Resurrection fill you with joy and peace, this day and always!

Open our eyes, O God, and soften our hearts, that through the work of your Spirit we might hear your truth and receive the life that you give, through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

As it was Spring Break these past couple of weeks, our family tried to do more activities together while the kids had a bit of extra time.  But because it’s Easter today, that meant that I had a bit of less time to spend with the family, so I guess it all balanced out.  I blame the decision makers at the public school schedule planning department for completely disregarding pastors who have school aged kids.  You know, all 3 of us.

Anyway, one of the activities we planned to do as a family was to go to the movies and watch Kung Fu Panda 4.  Now, I should say that when we decided this, none of us have seen any of the other Kung Fu Panda movies, but we decided on watching the 4th one because we had these vouchers that are expiring like today, and it was the only kid-friendly movie in theatres right now.  So because we knew we were going to watch the 4th installment of a franchise of movies that we never watched, that meant that we were going to spend some time watching Kung Fu Panda 1, 2, and 3.  That were, conveniently enough by the way, streaming on 3 separate platforms.  For this I blame the streaming companies for completely disregarding pastors who have school aged kids on Spring Break and also soon to expire movie vouchers.

But now that we’re all caught up on the crazy Fong antics of the past week, I must say that I quite enjoyed the Kung Fu Panda binge experience.  If you haven’t seen them or know about them, they are these animated movies by Dreamworks that follow the adventures Po, voiced by Jack Black, who is this bumbling panda that turns out to be the fabled Dragon Warrior… and you know how I feel about dragons.  He goes on different adventures defeating different villains with the help of a growing cast of supporting characters featuring talented actors like Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, and Jackie Chan as the monkey.  The stories are set in ancient China, and it’s pretty cool how they draw on a lot of factual things around the culture, the landscape, and even the fighting styles of that time period, while being an obviously fantastical movie series.  What, with their talking animals, mystical kung fu powers, and Jackie Chan not doing his own stunts.  Pure crazy talk.

On the most part, these movies followed the very typical formula for any successful animated movie geared towards children.  Which is basically that there is a problem that needs to be solved, there are some likely characters who can solve it, but it ends up that it’s the least likely character that ends up being the hero that fixes everything, saves the day, and recreates the paradigms of everyone who didn’t initially believe in them.  Watch any animated movie from Dreamworks or Disney or whoever makes animated movies and you’ll see that I’m right.  It’s always the least expected that become the saviour of them all.

And of course, just in my saying it in that way, all our minds are drawn to today, Easter.  And of course to Jesus, who is the point of Easter and by all rights in that culture would have been the least likely to be the Saviour of us all, God’s chosen Messiah.  I mean, Jesus was poor, relatively unknown, and shamefully born from unwed parents.  He wasn’t educated, born in the right kind of place, or have the right connections.  He didn’t follow the traditions, didn’t come into the city riding a warhorse, and he most certainly didn’t seem intimidating or powerful by any stretch of the imagination in those days.

Even with all this against him, Jesus did end up being our Saviour.  Jesus did end up being the Messiah.  Jesus did end up showing the world a new way of seeing life, not one that promotes power in might, wealth, or fear, but one in humility, compassion, and service.

But that seems too easy and straight forward for an Easter sermon, doesn’t it?  I mean, that can’t be all, can it?  There must be more to all of this than just that, right?

Well, of course there is more to the Easter gospel message.  Of course there is more than this obvious kid’s animated movie plotline to commemorate the joys and hope of the resurrection of our Lord.  Of course my sermon isn’t over, it’s just been like less than a page and a half so far.

Of course there is, why else would I even bring it up if there wasn’t?

See, while the Kung Fu Panda did basically follow that same cookie-cutter recipe, each one of the movies added something a bit different and perhaps a bit surprising.  Yes, the titular character did have to get over everyone’s assumptions and perceptions of him as the Dragon Warrior, but in each of the movies, he had to get over the assumptions and perceptions that he had… of himself.

So the movies taught the lesson that while everyone has to work on how they see others, we also have to work on how we see ourselves.  I thought was pretty cool, I’d recommend them.

And we see these themes throughout the readings today, even in the gospel of John which isn’t technically part of our readings.  There we see how Peter talks about equality in Acts and reminds us how we are equally loved and gifted by God.  Then Paul talks about who he is and how that in itself is by the grace of God.  And in the two gospel accounts we heard from today, we see how the women perhaps didn’t believe that they would be the first messengers of those immortal words, “I have seen the Lord” and “He is risen.”

And so it is with us often times, isn’t it?  Don’t we often look at our own lives and think that we aren’t good enough?  Don’t we often think that God probably wouldn’t choose and anoint us for whatever role that might present itself?  Don’t we often think God wouldn’t ever call us?

But even in those thoughts, comes the point of Easter.  From the beginning of this story of our faith, no one really thought that they could be who they are as God’s people.  From Adam and Eve, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to David, to Ruth, to Esther, and even to Mary the mother of Jesus, none of them believed at first that God would even consider them.

Just like how we might think that God wouldn’t consider us.

Or maybe we would think that, but we deny it because, you know, it’s easier to sit on the sidelines.  It’s safer to be out of the limelight.  It’s more comfortable to not have to do anything too spiritual or Christian-y.  But the thing is, God does call us, God does choose us, God does love us.

Calls us not necessarily to be great and powerful warriors, but into community and right relationship.  Chooses us not necessarily to lead people to higher heights and deeper depths, but to be God’s own people in humble service to each other.  Loves us not because we are so great and lovable, but because God simply decides to and sees us as worthy.

Because if God didn’t, then Easter would have never happened.  The resurrection would have never happened.  God’s unending forgiveness would have never happened.  But it has and does and always will.  We see it in the empty cross.  We can feel it in the ups and downs of our lives.  We can know it in who we are and in our welcome and belonging in this family of Christ.

Friends, this is the message of Easter.  This is the hope of resurrection.  This is the promise that God gives to us all, that we, even in our shortcomings, our sin, and disbelief in ourselves because of it, God lovingly sends to us grace, mercy, and salvation.  We are lifted up and empowered to be not just moral and ethical people who can pray your socks off, but to be the best versions of ourselves.  This doesn’t mean that we won’t make mistakes.  This doesn’t mean that we won’t ever fall short.  This doesn’t even mean that we’ll always believe in ourselves.

But it does mean that God calls us into something greater.  It means that God recreates and reforms us to be saints even in our sin.  It means that God loves us into forgiveness, resurrection, and salvation.

That even when we don’t live up to the standard, we are still worthy.  Even when we are bogged down by guilt and shame, we are still included and welcomed.  Even when all we can see is death, we are still given life.

So in this season of Easter and beyond, may we fully embrace God’s gift of love, life, and welcome, knowing that no matter who we are or where we’re from or what our pasts look like, we all continue to be cherished, worthy, and forgiven people of God.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.