Prayer for Easter Vigil

cropped-emptytomblight.jpgO God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we,
being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Easter Vigil

Easter Vigil

New Testament Reading and Psalm

Gospel


Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:3-11 New Living Translation (NLT)


The early church had a tradition of meeting late Saturday night into early Sunday morning.  It is called the Easter Vigil.  At sundown on Saturday evening, the first mentions that Jesus has risen are mentioned.

I’m sharing the same scripture that Pam will be preaching from tomorrow.  This is a great scripture about baptism, but it also speaks to Jesus’ resurrection.  Paul says, since we are united with Jesus in His death – or buried with him – we will also be raised to life as he was.

This is so important to remember.  We are crucified with Christ – the old way of sin no longer has sway over our lives – or at least it shouldn’t.  We are reminded that if we are crucified with Christ that we are no longer slaves to sin.  Because of Christ’s atoning work on the cross, we are free from the power of sin.

Because Christ was raised from the dead, death no longer has any power in the life of the believer.  When Christ died, he died to break the power of sin, but he also lives and he lives for the glory of God.

What does that mean for us?  Paul tells us that we should be considered dead to the power of sin and alive to God! We have this power because Christ died for us and was raised to life!

In Silence We Wait

Holy-SaturdayJob 14:1-14 •  Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16  •  1 Peter 4:1-8  •  Matthew 27:57-66

So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.

Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead. That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:1-8 | New Living Translation (NLT)


Last night we had a powerful Good Friday service.  The service ends as we hear these words: We hope for the dawning of a new day. We hope for God to bring newness out of endings.  But today…Go home.  There is nothing more to see.  Jesus is dead.

They are strange words to say and yet without those words “Jesus is dead” we are without hope.  So many are quick to jump to the resurrection.  We are uncomfortable with a dead Jesus…but for his disciples…can you imagine…remember it was Sabbath – a very Holy Sabbath because it was the Passover – they were good Jewish people – they couldn’t do anything because of the Sabbath…nothing to do but contemplate the events of the last 24 hours.  Perhaps they remembered Jesus’ words while He was here, but perhaps – especially Peter – they weren’t so sure…remember Peter had denied Jesus three times.  How was it like to wait, when you had denied your best friend?

So today we wait in silence, but while we do, let’s meditate on Peter’s words:

Peter reminds us in his letter to the church, that Jesus suffered physical pain and we are to have the same attitude that Jesus had.  I wonder if Peter wasn’t recalling the words to the ancient hymn found in Philippians 2.  Peter tells us that if we suffer with Christ – we too will be finished with sin. Christ’s work on the cross paid the penalty for our sin.  Because of the work done there we no longer have to live in sin…but we should be anxious to do the will of God – to glorify him – to enjoy him forever.

We are also reminded that when we do that – especially those who are transformed by the work of Christ – that our friends won’t understand.  What do you mean you can’t do those things you used to do?  They won’t understand. They will slander you.

Today is Holy Saturday – today we wait in silence…what will you do with Jesus today?

Holy Saturday

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O God, Creator of heaven and earth:  Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Community Good Friday Service

Greeting and Introduction

Blessing

Leader: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the father, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

People:  And also with you.

Scripture (Psalm 118:19-29)

Leader:  Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.

People: This is the LORD’s gate; the righteous shall enter through it.

Leader:  I will give thanks because you have answered me. You have become my salvation.

People: The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

Leader: This has come from the LORD.

People: It is marvelous in our eyes.

Leader: This is the day on which the Lord has acted.

People: Let us shout with joy and rejoice in it.

Leader: Please, save us, O LORD! Please!

People: O LORD, please bring success!

Leader:  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.

People:  We bless you from the house of the LORD.

Leader: The LORD is God

People: He has given us light. With cords bind the festival sacrifice to the horns of the altar.

Leader: You are my God, and I will give thanks to you.

People: You are my God, I will extol you.

Leader: O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.

People:  For his steadfast love endures forever.

Jesus Messiah

Prayer

Response: Speak, for your servants are listening.

Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die – Matt 27:11-14, 24, 26b

Response: O Lord, hear our prayers.

Beneath the Cross of Jesus

Jesus Accepts His Cross – Matthew 27:27-31, John 19:17

Response: O Lord, be merciful to us.

At The Cross (Love Ran Red)

Simon Helps Carry the Cross – Mark 15:21

Response: O Lord, hear our prayers.

The Power of the Cross

Jesus Speaks to the Women – Luke 23:27-31

Response: O Lord, be merciful to us.

O Sacred Head Now Wounded

Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments – John 19:23-25a

Response: O Lord, hear our prayers.

How Deep the Father’s Love For Us

Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross – Mark 15:23-32

Response: O Lord, forgive us for those things we have done and those things we have left undone. In your grace, be merciful to us.

Were You There?

Jesus Cares for His Mother – John 19:25b-27

Response: O Lord, hear our prayers.

The Love of God

Jesus Dies on the Cross – Mark 15:33-39

Response: O Lord, hear our prayers. We hope in you and trust in your mercy.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

A loud noise symbolizes the closing of Jesus’ tomb. Worshippers are invited to remain silently in prayer, and then leave in silence.

 

Good Friday

crown-of-thorns-2641239_640Isaiah 52:13-53:12  •  Psalm 22  •  Hebrews 10:16-25 • John 18:1-19:42

“This is the new covenant I will make

    with my people on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.”

Then he says,

“I will never again remember
    their sins and lawless deeds.”

And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Hebrews 10:16-25 | New Living Translation (NLT)


Today is Good Friday. It is a high holy day, especially among Catholics.  I’ve mentioned this on other Good Fridays – for many it will be just like any other day.  That’s the way it was in Jerusalem. It was just another day, when the King of kings, nailed to the cross. Crucifixion was a common sight in the streets of Jerusalem.  There were many “revolutionaries” that the Roman government wanted to squash.  But there was something different about Jesus.

You may have noticed that we are really hanging out in Hebrews during this Holy Week. Some may ask, how could a day like this be good? I love this line that the author writes:

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Through the death of Jesus on the cross, there is new life.  I mentioned this last week during my sermon. We no longer have to go through the High Priest to have our sins forgiven. We can go directly to God. When the veil in the temple was torn, the old system went away.  The author says, “Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting in him.” Through the cross of Christ and his blood we can be free – if we choose – of sin and be washed by the blood of the Lamb.

On this day, many people like to skip forward to Sunday, but I encourage you. Spend some time looking at the various texts that are linked above.  Focus on the saving work of Christ on the cross.  If you have the opportunity, attend a Good Friday service in your area.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.  

Good Friday

faith-1344032_640.jpgAlmighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Maundy Thursday

32613-Communion-Maundy-Thursday-SliderExodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14  •  Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19  •  1 Corinthians 11:23-26  •  John 13:1-17, 31b-35

For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 | New Living Translation (NLT)


Today is Maundy Thursday.  I know that I get this question every year, so I’ll take that on first and then we will look at the scripture. What is Maundy Thursday? Maundy comes from the Latin word Mandatum, which is translated “commandment.” On Maundy Thursday, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment – to love one another.

Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:33-35

Many churches that normally don’t have regular services on Thursday, will have services to remember the events that happened on Thursday, the night that Jesus was arrested and betrayed.

That night Jesus was having dinner with his disciples. We often call that the Last Supper.

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During this dinner with his friends that have been with him for the last three years, he gives us the instructions for communion.  In 1 Corinthians, Paul repeats these instructions and they make up our reading for today.

Jesus takes some bread and gives it to his disciples and pronounces these words: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. These words are so powerful.  As I officiate communion, I always take the time – I don’t like to rush through communion. As I break the bread I remind our congregation, how Jesus’ body was broken for us – how it was beaten for us.  Each time we break the bread we remember that Christ died for us.  Then Jesus takes the cup and says: This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it. Jesus blood was spilled out for the forgiveness of our sins. Think of the pain and suffering that he endured.  

Often we think of communion as being a memorial of Christ’s death.  It was several years ago, while I was attending FLAME that one of the professors explained that communion is a full on celebration.  Yes, we remember that Christ died, but Christ – looking forward to Sunday – also rose.  It’s important to remember this because it helps us understand Paul’s last words about this meal.  For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. Paul doesn’t say it here but if we are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again, that means that Jesus also rose from the dead. This is important.  Our atonement requires both the crucifixion and the resurrection – it is what gives us hope in Christ’s return.  It is what we remember on this night.  

 

Maundy Thursday

32613-Communion-Maundy-Thursday-SliderAlmighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday of Holy Week

tartan-track-2678543_640.jpgIsaiah 50:4-9a  •  Psalm 70  •  Hebrews 12:1-3  •  John 13:21-32

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Hebrews 12:1-3 | New Living Translation (NLT)


This was my key text that I used on Sunday.  This week we have focused on key texts about the cross. Today is no exception.  The writer of Hebrews has just gotten finished quoting from the faith hall of fame.  This hall of fame shows how many of the Old Testament did things by faith.  We have all the famous ones in this passage, but then there are the unknowns.  That’s when the writer says, therefore…since we know what others have encountered and they are now cheering us on…

I think about the enormous weight that Jesus had on his shoulders on the way to Calvary.  He had the physical weight of the cross and the beating that he took, but he had the burdens and sins of us.  There was the mockery – the shame of the cross.  He took those burdens so that we could be free of our burdens.  Jesus took the shame of the cross so that we wouldn’t have to.  Since we have a great crowd of witnesses, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  This past winter I have put on more pounds that I really don’t need.  Those extra pounds slow me down.  The Christian life is a race – more akin to a marathon than a sprint, but still a race. As Paul mentions, we press on toward the goal.  The writer of Hebrews says, “let us run with endurance the race set before us.”

How do we do that? By keeping our eyes on Jesus. Sometimes when you are running – especially when you are struggling – to keep your head down, so you don’t see how much further you need to go.  But that is always a bad idea – for one it restricts your air passages and makes it harder to breath – also you can’t see where you are going.  The writer of Hebrews says, “keep your head up – stay focused on Jesus.”  You’ll run a much better race that way. An added benefit is that if you stay focused on Jesus, the sin won’t seem as enticing.

Jesus is the one who initiates our faith – Jesus is the one who perfects our faith – Jesus is the one who matures our faith.  Jesus is our great example. He was tempted and did not sin.  He endured the cross. He disregarded its shame.  Jesus was both God and man.  Hebrews tells us that he is our great high priest who has gone to the heavens. He knows what we have been through.

Are you going through a hard time – think of Jesus enduring the cross – think of the hostility he endured from his own people – his own creation.  I still think of that half-marathon I ran several years ago.  It was more like an endurance race.  The first 12 miles were miserable. I had to tell myself to keep pushing – to keep plodding along…but then a mile from the finish something rose up from with inside me.  I ran the fastest, most comfortable mile of the whole race.  I still don’t know what happened, but I was glad that I slogged it out.  I was glad that I didn’t become weary and give up.

Keep your eyes on Jesus – Keep your eyes on the cross.