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For Us - John 5, 1 Thessalonians 4

A service plan for Eastertide focused on our personal resurrection from the dead on the day in which Christ returns in an Eastertide series focusing on Bible stories that occurred before Christ's resurrection but which shed light on how we should live after his resurrection.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Resurrection Previews

This is a series of five services examines previews of Christ's resurrection

Theme of the Service

In this Eastertide series of worship services, we have examined four previews of resurrection which teach us the implications of Christ's resurrection. In this service we focus on our personal resurrection from the dead on the day in which Christ returns. The two Scripture passages (John 5 and 1 Thessalonians 4) speak to us about the certainty of our own resurrection and how it is essentially connected with the physical return of Jesus Christ.


"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
(1 Corinthians 15:57)

We Gather Before God

Prelude: "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" [see music notes]

*The Call to Worship and God's Greeting:

As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.
As a mother comforts her child,
so I will comfort you, says the Lord.
You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bodies shall flourish like the grass;
and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants.
Come let us worship God, whose grace causes grief to give way to comfort,
and hope to blossom again.
May we experience during this time of worship
the searching of your Spirit and the healing touch of your compassion.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Amen! (based on Psalm 103 and Isaiah 66, NRSV)

*Song of Response: "I Know That My Redeemer Lives," TWC 239 [see music notes]

We Are Renewed in God's Grace

The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession

The Assurance of Pardon

Our Song of Dedication: "Christ, You Are the Fullness," PH 346, PsH 229, SFL 232

God's Guide for Grateful Living: Colossians 3:1-17 [see liturgy notes]

The Offertory Prayer
The Offering of Music: "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending" [see music notes]
We offer our gifts for..

God Speaks from His Word

The Children's Moment [see liturgy notes]

*Song: "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending" PsH 612 (Westminster Abbey), PH 6 (Helmsley), TH 318 (Holywood)

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: John 5:28-29 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: Resurrection Day: For Us

The Prayer of Application

We Respond to God's Word

*Our Affirmation of Faith [see liturgy notes]

Who will appear at the end of time?
When the time appointed by the Lord is come
(which is unknown to all creatures)
and the number of the elect is complete,
our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven,
bodily and visibly, as he ascended,
with great glory and majesty,
to declare himself the judge of the living and the dead.
Will everyone see him when he comes?
Yes, all human creatures will appear in person before the great judge-
men, women, and children,
who have lived from the beginning until the end of the world.
They will be summoned there by the voice of the archangel
and by the sound of the divine trumpet.
What about those who have already died? Will they miss it?
All those who died before that time will be raised from the earth,
their spirits being joined and united with their own bodies in which they lived.
What about those who are still alive?
As for those who are still alive,
they will not die like the others
but will be changed "in the twinkling of an eye"
from "corruptible to incorruptible." (from the Belgic Confession, art. 37)
© 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

*Song of Faith: "I Am the Bread of Life" SNC 152

The Prayers of the People [see liturgy notes]

We Leave with God's Presence 

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns," PsH 615 (Morning Song), RL 607 (St.Stephen or Bradfield), TWC 277[see music notes]

Postlude: "The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns" [see music notes]

* - You are invited to stand.


Liturgy Notes

1. Liturgy Note #4 of the first service in this series gives ideas for using Colossians 3 throughout this season as "God's Guide for Grateful Living." Various readings of Colossians 3 can be combined with "Christ, You Are the Fullness" very effectively.

2. We suggest that you use the Children's Moment this morning to speak on the subject of the sermon. Even if they leave for their own activities before the sermon, it is healthy for the children to hear about our resurrection. Though resurrection is a matter beyond their understanding (and ours!), some helpful images can be used. For instance, the image of a caterpillar, cocoon and butterfly may help them understand the change that is in store.

3. The affirmation of faith is an important part of a service like this. Worshipers need the opportunity to take words on their lips to express their beliefs. These words are a reformulation of Article 37 of the Belgic Confession. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

4. Once again we urge you to be particularly sensitive in the Prayers of the People. Since the focus of the service is on resurrection, it will evoke memories of those who have passed away as well as possibly feelings of grief and a sense of loss. It is important, therefore, that this prayer is one in which we affirm our hope of resurrection and confidence in Christ's finished work but also give thanks for the lives and testimonies of faith of those who have passed away. Intercessions for those who are grieving will be an important part of the sense of community at this service.

Sermon Notes

This sermon should aim to bring the truths of the past five weeks to focus on our own personal experience and expectations. Now we think not only of the resurrection of Christ and the experience of Enoch, Elijah, Jairus' daughter and Lazarus, but we also think of ourselves and our loved ones. Therefore, this sermon is intended to be intensely personal. Those who have recently lost loved ones will feel it most acutely, but everyone needs the encouragement that this message provides.

The firm foundation for our hope is set forth in the straightforward promises of Christ in the John 5 texts. Here Jesus promises resurrection for all, for some a resurrection for life and for others a resurrection for condemnation. His statements demand that we explore the significance of four concepts in this text: "all" (no one will be left), "graves" (where decay has taken place), "coming out" (Jesus' words to portray resurrection), and "hearing his voice" (a response to the call of God).

Paul's eschatological instruction in 1 Thessalonians provides more complete information. Still, his intent is to comfort and encourage (see v.18), and all the information in this pericope should be presented with this aim in mind.

In your presentation of this material, notice Paul is addressing (v.13) a misunderstanding among the Thessalonians. They apparently expected an imminent return of Christ and feared that loved ones who had recently passed away would be missing out on the return of Jesus. Paul clearly emphasizes that the visible return of Christ is certain, and no one will miss out! (see v.14ff.).

This passage gives us adequate basis to paint a picture of the accompanying events that will mark the return of Christ.

  • Jesus will visibly appear (v.16)
  • His appearance will be announced (v.16)
  • All the dead will be raised (v.16)
  • Those still living will be gathered with those who have been raised (v.17)
  • We will be "with the Lord forever" (v.17)
  • This is a source of great encouragement to the believer (v.18)

While you prepare this message, study Belgic Confession article 37 carefully so that when it becomes our affirmation of faith after the sermon, it will be familiar.

Music Notes 

The music suggestions for prelude are based on the opening hymn:

DUKE STREET ["I Know That My Redeemer Lives"]

  • Organ: 
    • Bender, Jan. Five Festive Preludes on Easter Hymns. Concordia 97-5495 [1979] (M)
    • Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book, vol. 4. Fred Bock B-G0776 [1985] (E-M)
    • Burkhardt, Michael. Five Easter Season Hymn Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-403 [1990] (E-M)
    • Burkhardt, Michael. Six General Hymn Improvisations, set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-846 [1992] (E-M)
    • Callahan, Charles. Partita on Duke Street. Concordia 97-5998 [1988] (E-M)
    • Callahan, Charles. Two Festive Organ Pieces. Morningstar MSM-10-761 [1999] (E-M)
    • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 3. AMSI OR-6 [1983] (E-M)
    • Haan, Raymond H. Festival Hymn Preludes. SMP KK329 [1985] (E-M)
    • Held, Wilbur. Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (E-M)
    • Held, Wilbur. Preludes and Postludes, vol. 1. Augsburg 11-9318 [1972] (E-M)
    • Hobby, Robert A. For All the Saints. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7537-1 [2002] (E-M)
    • Kemner, Gerald. Fantasies on Nine Familiar Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-5919 [1990] (M)
  • Piano:
    • David, Anne Marie. Here I Am, Lord. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (E-M)
  • Handbells:
    • Sherman , Arnold B. Jesus Shall Reign. Agape 1708 [1994] (2-3 octaves, E-M)


Notice that on the final week of this post-resurrection series, the congregation will sing a formulation of the text that has served in some capacity through out the series. Alternative harmonizations on the opening hymn can be found in:

DUKE STREET ["I Know That My Redeemer Lives"]

  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
    • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 3. Ludwig O-10 [1986]
    • Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 [1964]
  • Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
    • Organ, Anne Krentz. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]


Musical suggestions for offertory which will help to focus the congregation on the theme of the service can be found in the following resources:

WESTMINSTER ABBEY ["Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending"]

  • Organ: 
    • Baker, Richard C. A Fancy on Westminster Abbey. Randall M. Egan, The Kenwood Press [1992] (M)
    • Miller, Aaron David. Improvisations for the Church Year, vol. 2. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7676-9 [2004] (M)
    • Powell, Robert J. Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart. Augsburg 11-10478 [1994] (E-M)
    • Schalk, Carl. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 1. Concordia 97-7001 [2002] (E)
    • Sedio, Mark. The Praises of Zion. CPH 97-6728 [1998] (E-M)
    • Towers, George. Festival Postlude on Westminster Abbey. Cramer APS 484 [1981] (E-M)

Alternative harmonizations and postlude suggestions on the closing hymn can be found in:

MORNING SONG ["The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns"]

  • Organ: 
    • Held, Wilbur. Hymn Preludes for the Autumn Festivals. Concordia 97-5360 [1976] (E-M)
    • Johnson, David N. Augsburg Organ Library - Advent. Augsburg 11-1103 [2000] (E-M)
    • Johnson, David N. Hymns Settings for Organ. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7498-7 [2002] (E-M)
    • Page, Anna Laura. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (ed. Lyon, Sharron). Broadman 4570-31 [1976]
  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Busarow, Donald. All Praise to You, Eternal God. Augsburg 11-9076 [1980]


Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)