Worship for Easter Sunday, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Call to worship (Stages on the way, Wild Goose Publications – adapted)

This is the good news:

the grave is empty, Christ is risen


This is the good news, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never put it out


This is the good news,

once we were no people, now we are God’s people Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Christ is risen

He is risen indeed, hallelujah!

Hymn: StF 298  Christ the Lord is risen today

1      Christ the Lord is risen today;                   Alleluia!
        All creation joins to say:                             Alleluia!
        Raise your joys and triumphs high;         Alleluia!
        Sing, you heavens; let earth, reply:        Alleluia!

2      Love’s redeeming work is done,             Alleluia!
        Fought the fight, the battle won;             Alleluia!
        Vain the stone, the watch, the seal;        Alleluia!
        Christ has burst the gates of hell:            Alleluia!

3      Lives again our glorious King;                 Alleluia!
        Where, O death, is now your sting?        Alleluia!
        Once he died our souls to save;                Alleluia!
     Where’s your victory, boasting grave?      Alleluia!

4      Soar we now where Christ has led,           Alleluia!
        Following our exalted Head;                      Alleluia!
        Made like him, like him we rise;               Alleluia!
        Ours the cross, the grave, the skies:        Alleluia!

5      King of Glory!  Soul of bliss!                     Alleluia!
        Everlasting life is this,                                Alleluia!
        You to know, your power to prove,          Alleluia!
        Thus to sing, and thus to love:                  Alleluia!

Charles Wesley (1707–1788). Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 298.

Prayer of approach (from Fire and Bread, Wild Goose publications – adapted)

Astounding God, very early on that first day you caught chaos unawares: planting grace in a garden, setting love loose on creation, flinging joy into the air.

Jesus, son of justice, very early on that first day, you staggered sin, throwing its weight off the world; you confounded death, leaving it alone in the grave; you opened the gates of the Kingdom, so all could follow you into life.

Holy Spirit, very early on the first day of the week, while we were washing sleep from our eyes and trying to make sense of our lives, you sang glad songs to us, rolling away fears from our hearts so we can see the risen Lord.

God in community, Holy and One, on this first day of the week, we lift our hearts to you in songs of praise and thanksgiving.  Amen

Reading: Isaiah 65:17 – 25

17 For I am about to create new heavens
    and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
    or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice for ever
    in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
    and its people as a delight.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
    and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
    or the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
    an infant that lives but a few days,
    or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
    and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
    they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
    they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
    and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labour in vain,
    or bear children for calamity;[a]
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—
    and their descendants as well.
24 Before they call I will answer,
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
    the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
    but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
says the Lord.

Hymn: StF 353 Jesus is Lord!

Jesus is Lord! 

Creation’s voice proclaims it 

For by His power each tree and flower was planned and made 

Jesus is Lord! 

The universe declares it 

Sun, moon and stars in heaven cry, ‘Jesus is Lord!’



Jesus is Lord! 

Jesus is Lord! 

Praise Him with hallelujahs 

For Jesus is Lord!


Jesus is Lord! 

Yet from His throne eternal 

In flesh He came to die in pain on Calvary’s tree 

Jesus is Lord! 

From Him all life proceeding 

Yet gave His life a ransom thus setting us free 



Jesus is Lord! 

O’er sin the mighty conqueror 

From death He rose, and all His foes shall own His name 

Jesus is Lord! 

God sent His Holy Spirit 

To show by works of power that Jesus is Lord!


David John Mansell (b.1936)

Reading: John 20:1 -18

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14 When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.


‘It’s going to be just like it always was’. That’s the hope of many people coming out of a difficult period. We look back to the old, familiar ways and long for everything to be just like it used to be – and it often takes time for us to realise that even when trouble is ended, there is no going back to how things were.

Easter morning is a time for celebrating the incredible moment of resurrection, the joyful realisation that trouble is ended, sorrow is over and grief is gone – for Jesus is alive! The figure in the garden, the companion on the road to Emmaus, the one who greets his disciples with the words ‘Peace be with you’ – Jesus is alive! As Paul says, ‘Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died – God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’.

And yet this new life does not lead to a return to how things were before. There is no more preaching or teaching, no more tramping the hills of Galilee or wandering the streets of Jerusalem. How long does it take the disciples to realise that everything had changed with Jesus’ resurrection? This is emphatically not a return to ‘business as usual’. Jesus is the same and yet different, eating and drinking, yet coming and going through locked doors. He still bears the wounds of the Cross, and yet he has left death behind him. He is the first inhabitant of a whole new world, a world alive with God’s power to create and reshape, where even the toughest problems become revelations of God’s love and justice.

Isaiah envisioned this world, hundreds of years earlier. It’s a world where illness does not take people before their time, where violence does not rob people of their livelihood, where even the animals are reconciled. And this ‘new heavens and new earth’ is made real in Jesus, risen from the dead. It’s infinitely better than anything that went before – and yet this new way of life demands that the disciples move on from their old ways of being. They have to cope with change and uncertainty as they find their way in the new world brought about by Jesus’ resurrection. They have to navigate new relationships and explore new ways of walking with God. Much of the time, this is an enthralling adventure – yet perhaps just sometimes, the disciples look back to the old days, where familiarity made life more straightforward.

We are not yet out of the difficulties life has brought in recent years. Covid continues to damage life for millions. The horrors of the war in Ukraine are unimaginable – there are no words in face of the devastation and wanton violence. This Easter, we pray passionately for resurrection – trouble ended, sorrow over, grief gone, life renewed beyond hope or imagination. And at the same time, we recognise that this renewed life won’t follow the old, familiar patterns, and pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit to empower us to engage wholeheartedly in the new things that our God is doing among us, as citizens of the new heavens and the new earth.

Prayer of thanksgiving (Fire and Bread – Wild Goose Publications, adapted)

Easter God, we bring you our praise and thanks. You take away the pain of our Good Fridays, the watching of suffering and the waiting for death, and transform our helpless into the fragile beginnings of hope.

You take the bleakness of our Holy Saturdays, the weariness of defeat and desolation, and transform our despair into the will and courage to go on.

You take the grieving of Easter Sunday morning, the fearful approach to the tomb, and transform our bewilderment into the breathless excitement of new life.

And so, with Mary and the other disciples, with all who have wept and been comforted, with all who have mourned and found hope, we sing your Easter praises, through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, Amen.

Hymn: StF 309 See, what a morning

See, what a morning, gloriously bright
With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem
Folded the grave-clothes, tomb filled with light
As the angels announce, “Christ is risen”
See God’s salvation plan
Wrought in love, borne in pain, paid in sacrifice
Fulfilled in Christ, the man
For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead

See Mary weeping, “Where is He laid?”
As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb
Hears a voice speaking, calling her name
It’s the Master, the Lord raised to life again
The voice that spans the years
Speaking life, stirring hope, bringing peace to us
Will sound till He appears
For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead

One with the Father, Ancient of Days
Through the Spirit who clothes faith with certainty
Honour and blessing, glory and praise
To the King crowned with power and authority
And we are raised with Him
Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered
And we shall reign with Him
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead

Stuart Townend (b.1963) and Keith Getty (b.1974) © 2003 Thankyou Music

Prayers of Intercession

Lord Jesus Christ, risen from death
We praise you for changed lives and new hopes at Easter.
You came to Mary in the garden
And turned her tears into joy.

For your love and your mercy:
We give you thanks, O Lord.

You came to the disciples in the upper room
And turned their fear into courage.
For your love and your mercy:
We give you thanks, O Lord.

You came to the disciples by the lakeside
And turned their failure into faith.
For your love and your mercy:
We give you thanks, O Lord.

You came to the travellers on the Emmaus Road
And turned their despair into hope.
For your love and your mercy:
We give you thanks, O Lord.

You come to us in our unworthiness and shame
And turn our weakness into triumph.
For your love and your mercy:
We give you thanks, O Lord.

Lord Jesus
Wherever there are tears
Or fear, or failure,
Or despair, or weakness:
Come, reveal to us
Your love, your mercy,
And your risen power;
For the glory of your name.
Alleluia. Amen

From the Church of Scotland’s Weekly Worship resource for today

 Hymn: StF 313 Thine be the glory

   1      Thine be the glory,
        risen, conquering Son,
        endless is the victory
        thou o’er death hast won;
        angels in bright raiment
        rolled the stone away,
        kept the folded grave-clothes
        where thy body lay:
            Thine be the glory,
            risen, conquering Son,
            endless is the victory
            thou o’er death hast won.

   2      Lo, Jesus meets us,
        risen from the tomb;
        lovingly he greets us,
        scatters fear and gloom;
        let the Church with gladness
        hymns of triumph sing,
        for her Lord now liveth,
        death hath lost its sting:

   3      No more we doubt thee,
        glorious Prince of Life;
        life is naught without thee:
        aid us in our strife;
        make us more than conquerors
        through thy deathless love;
        bring us safe through Jordan
        to thy home above:

Edmond Budry (1854–1932) translated by Richard Birch Hoyle (1875–1939) Reproduced from Singing the Faith Electronic Words Edition, number 313.

Prayer of Blessing

May Easter’s incredible joy fill you
And may the blessing of God almighty,
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
Be among you and remain with you.