Home Service for Easter Sunday

Service 9th April 2023

Easter Day

Acclamation: Alleluia, Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Prayers of Approach

Lord we come together on this not so ordinary Sunday – Easter Sunday, the day you rose from the dead! We have gone through the fear and darkness of Good Friday with you – now it is time to rejoice. But emotions are funny things, Lord. Sometimes we just can’t put into words how we feel. Different feelings seem to contradict each other. The women at the tomb were afraid, yet filled with joy. How could that be? Life’s like that sometimes. Thank you that today you have taken away all our fear. And today we celebrate.

The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed, hallelujah!

Living Lord, as we listen to today’s message of hope, help us to put aside our doubts and fears. Fill us with hope and joy and give us a glimpse of the risen Jesus in our midst. Amen.

Risen Lord, on this Easter Day, we bask in the knowledge of the amazing love you have for us. Today is special. We know it in the core of our beings, in the depths of our souls. The spirit witnesses within us; our salvation is assured; your love conquers all fear. Mighty risen Lord, we fall at your feet in wonder. We worship and adore you for all time. Amen.

Hymn Christ the Lord is risen today (R&S 232)

Readings: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Matthew 28:1-10


Two women, disciples of Jesus, visit his tomb once the sabbath is over. They find the tomb empty, and experience both fear and joy. They are sent by an angel to tell the rest of the disciples that Jesus is raised. As they run, they fleetingly meet Jesus himself, who repeats the angel’s message.

Most, if not all, of us know the feeling of being at rock bottom; this is the experience of the two women in today’s Gospel story. Jesus had died a cruel death and they go to prepare his body for burial. What they are not prepared for is the sudden change from despair and fear to great joy

Having been through the events of Holy Week, the death and the resurrection of Jesus, his disciples now stand in a new light. For those first Christians the eyes and ears that perceive the world have been changed and they find deeper meanings in the words of Psalm 118 which was, and still is, sung at Passover.

Hymn Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord (R&S 234)


Of the four Gospel accounts of the resurrection Matthew’s is by far the most dramatic. In the other Gospels the women find the stone rolled back, but in Matthew they see God’s angel descending, rolling back the stone, and sitting on it! Matthew highlights the earthquake, the angel, the terror of the guards, and the women whose fear is displaced by overwhelming joy. They had come to tend a corpse. Instead, they were met by the risen Jesus. The resurrection shakes the world, and it is with both fear and joy that they run with their news. It was a transformational moment that impacted on the whole course of their lives.

For us today the Easter story is a familiar one and we tend to blend together the four different accounts, overlooking the drama and their different viewpoints, and in the process losing the element of shock and surprise. In all the Gospels however there are two pervasive themes in the resurrection stories: surprise (or awe) and joy. Despite Jesus telling his disciples that not only would he suffer and die, but he would rise on the third day, they would not believe the first, and could not believe the second. Our problem today

is rather different. We are so familiar with the story that it ceases to surprise us. No matter what we see and hear and say today, no matter what joyful hymns we sing or alleluias we loudly proclaim we have done it all before. How can we recapture the sense of surprise and joy today?

Perhaps it would help to ask ourselves what brings us joy, and what would make us want to share that joy? Recalling or even anticipating a supremely joyful moment may help us to put ourselves in the place of those women who first met the risen Jesus and to rejoice with them. To ask what was their reaction to the earthquake; the angel; the empty tomb; the angel’s message? And above all how did they feel when they met Jesus himself?

Matthew adds joy to the women’s understandable fear after seeing Jesus’ grave so dramatically opened. The privilege granted to the two Marys is a mark of authenticity in a world that regarded women’s evidence as worthless. Not only do they see the tomb, they are also commissioned to tell others, first by the angel and then by Jesus himself. They cannot contain their joy – the Easter message is not meant to be kept secret. The women are at the head of a long line of witnesses stretching to the present day.

In CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, after Susan and Lucy discover the empty and broken stone table, they meet Aslan. ‘“Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” said Lucy. “Not now,” said Aslan. The important point was that he was dead but, from their own experience, they knew that he was not dead – ‘not now’. Are we sometimes so caught up in and by the events, and what really happened at the moment of resurrection – which none of the Gospels records – that we do not spend enough time reflecting on the experience (and testimony) of the women: he was dead. But not now. He is risen. He is alive.

Matthew draws out both the continuity and newness of Easter. God’s ancient promises take a new and surprising turn in the resurrection of the disgraced and crucified Jesus. The emphasis throughout is on the resurrection of Jesus as God’s gracious action, which suggests that it is Jesus of all people who brings the transforming life of God into its sharpest possible focus.

Hymn Christ is alive! Let Christians sing (R&S 260)

Prayers of Intercession

Lord God, we thank you for today’s experience of your amazing resurrection. We want to take our response into our everyday.

God of grace, we bring before you those who have no joy and no hope, those who see no future, no light at the end of the tunnel, those scarred by pain and sadness, those who grieve. God of grace and resurrection power, bring your joy and healing today.

We pray for those yet to hear your good news, whether that is because they live in far-flung places, or because they are closed to the message and the possibility of ‘What if?’ May we be Easter people, willing always to share the good news of hope, restoration and freedom to all those we meet – neighbours, friends and strangers alike. God of grace…

We pray for those recovering from natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, famine, flood and poverty, for all whose darkness is very real. God of grace…

May all share in the joy of your resurrection. Amen.

Hymn Thine be the glory, risen conquering son (R&S 247)


Father God, we have come with the women to your tomb and we have felt their reactions. We have shared their dawning realisation that Jesus is alive. We have experienced their joy at your living presence. Send us out, with your blessing, with your love in our hearts, and your praise on our lips that those we meet might share our joy too. In the name of Jesus, who lives for evermore. Amen.

Prayers and other material (adapted) © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

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