Prayer As We Gather: Help us, loving Creator, amidst the cumulative distractions layered upon Easter’s original stark revelation, not to miss resurrection’s shimmering truth: “God does not show partiality to one group of people over another.” Whatever may be the disconnect between that singular claim and any folly we have embraced and misnamed faith, we urge you to bridge that chasm in this holy hour so we might be drawn nearer to your risen spirit, as vested in our Galilean Lord. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Acts 10)
Call to Worship:
The sounds of deliverance songs are heard in the tents of the righteous;
The Lord’s strong hand is victorious!
I will live and declare what the Lord has done,
Disciplining me but not handing me over to death.
I thank you, God, because you answered me,
Because you were my saving help.
This is the day the Lord acted;
We will rejoice and celebrate in it! (from Psalm 118, The Common English Bible)
Morning Prayer: Thank you, Lord, bombarded as we are by pitiful pretenders vying for our attention, cluttering our hearts with a despair born of deceitful narcissism, for apostle Paul’s stubborn hope of a coming day when “every form of rule, every authority and power will be brought to an end, every enemy put under God’s feet.” May we not postpone the celebration of that victory for some distant day in a life yet to come, but be found delirious this very moment with Easter’s startling boast: Death is the last enemy to be brought to an end. Thank you, Lord, for coming to us, in ways never dreamed before nor equaled since, in the person of a Galilean carpenter who taught us to pray, saying …*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by 1 Corinthians 15)
Prayer of Confession: Forgive, Lord, the church’s ancient sin of de-valuing women, beginning with the male disciples’ refusal to believe the first-hand report of Jesus’ female associates who were first to discover the empty tomb. To the latest generation, we have found it easier to accept those men’s dismissive rejection of the women’s unsettling resurrection revelation as mere ”hysteria,” the very term itself based on the word for “womb.” Forgive our shameless forsaking of Jesus’ strong example, affirming women as he did without question or pause. May this Easter find us releasing our sister, wives and daughters from the tombs of disdain and abuse they have too often inhabited in the church. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Luke 24)
Assurance of Pardon: Hear the good news: God’s love is stronger than death, as a group of women discovered when “they set out early in the morning on the first day of the week” to visit Jesus’ tomb. Indeed, the good news of resurrection was first revealed to those very women, though they neither anticipated it nor understood its implications, because all they had intended to do was anoint Jesus’ dead body “with fragrant spices.” But even though “they didn’t know what to make of this” and were frightened witless by the angelic messengers’ explanation that Jesus had been raised, they faithfully reported all they had witnessed. God’s good news still comes to us when we least expect it and are ill-prepared to respond. God’s grace is not hampered by our inability to grasp it, thanks be to God!*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Luke 24)
Thought for an Easter Sunday: “Christ is not Jesus’ last name, but the title for his life’s purpose. Christ is our word for what Jesus came to personally reveal and validate – which is true all the time and everywhere.” -Richard Rohr, Franciscan friar