Join our mailing list

Safety. Forever! - Psalm 23, John 11, 14

A service plan for Easter celebrating the resurrection of Christ as it is predicted in the final word of Psalm 23: "forever"! Part of a Lenten series focused on "Walking with God through Psalm 23."

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

The Theme of Easter

On Easter Sunday the church celebrates the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb! It is the most celebrative day of the church year, for Easter reflects the realization of all the hopes and expectations of Christians.

Easter is, therefore, a time of joy, celebration, and renewal. Even churches that do not customarily follow the church year celebrate Easter as the culmination of the heart of the gospel. The liturgical colors are white and gold. The worship space should be bright and celebratory. Music and songs reflect the joy of our faith in the victory of Jesus Christ.

In this service we center our celebration on the resurrection of Christ as we see it predicted in the final word of Psalm 23: "forever"!


Prelude: "This Joyful Eastertide," Burkhardt, Beck [organ], Afdahl [handbells]
"The Strife is O'er," Shoemaker-Lohmeyer [organ], Sherman [handbells], Hamilton [piano]

Introit: "All Shall Be Well," Foley

*The Call to Worship
Glory to you, O God:
On this day you won victory over death,
raising Jesus from the grave and giving us eternal life.

Glory to you, O Christ:
For us and for our salvation
you overcame death
and opened the gate to everlasting life.

Glory to you, O Holy Spirit:
You lead us into truth
and bring us to new life.
Glory to you, O Blessed Trinity, now and forever, Amen.

*Song: "The Strife is O'er, the Battle Done" PH 119, PsH 391, RL 319, TH 275, TWC 233

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting
Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

*Passing the Peace
Now as God has extended his peace to us let us pass his peace to one another in the
name of the risen Christ. We invite you to turn to one another and exclaim, "Christ is

*Response: "He is Lord" PsH 633, RN 29, SNC 160, SFL 178, TWC 97


The Children's Moment

The Reading of Scripture: Matthew 28:1-10
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Response: "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" PH 113, PsH 388, RL 325, SFL 172, TH 277, TWC 234
st. 1 - all
st. 2 - antiphonally: east side first; west side on "Alleluia"
st. 3 - all in unison
st. 4 - antiphonally; west side first; east side on "Alleluia"
st. 5 - all, with descant

The Reading of Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:3-11
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Response: "Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing" PH 111, PsH 397, RL 326, TWC 255

Our Affirmation of Faith
Howdoes Christ's resurrection benefit us?

First, by his resurrection he has overcome death,
so that he might make us share in the righteousness
he won for us by his death.

Second, by his power we too
are already now resurrected to a new life.

Third, Christ's resurrection
Is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.
(Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 17)

Anthem: "Since by Man Came Death," Handel


Our Corporate Profession
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not be in want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me,
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever
. (Psalm 23)

*Song: "I Am the Bread of Life" SNC 152
or "This Joyful Eastertide" PsH 403, RL 328, TH 284

The Prayer for Illumination

Sermon: Safety.Forever! (Walking with Jesus through Psalm 23 - #7)

Text: Psalm 23:6

View sermon notes for this sermon


The Pastoral Prayer

The Offering and Offertory: "Low in the Grave Christ Lay," Ferguson [organ]
or "Alleluia! Alleluia!" McChesney [handbells] or Shackley [piano]

The Reading of John 11:21-27

Response: "The Lord Is Risen Indeed" (refrain only) PsH 211, TWC 252
or "Alleluia, Alleluia! Give Thanks" (refrain only) PH 106, PsH 402, RN 271, SFL 173, TWC 240

The Reading of John 14:1-4

Response: "The Lord Is Risen Indeed" (refrain only)
or "Alleluia, Alleluia! Give Thanks" (refrain only)

*Our Affirmation of Hope
Our hope for a new earth is not tied
to what humans can do,
for we believe that one day
every challenge to God's rule
and every resistance to his will shall be crushed.
Then his kingdom shall come fully,
and our Lord shall rule forever.

We long for that day
when Jesus will return as triumphant king,
when the dead shall be raised
and all people will stand before his judgment.

We face that day without fear,
for the judge is our Savior.
(Our World Belongs to God, st. 56-57)

*Song: "Jesus Lives, and So Do We" (sung to tune of GROSSER GOTT) PsH 399, TWC 246

*The Benediction and Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Hallelujah Chorus," Handel

Postlude: "Toccata" from the Fifth Symphony, Widor [organ]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

View sermon notes for this sermon

Music Notes:

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)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult

  1. It is always a joy to prepare Easter music! You will find a variety of style, difficulty level, and instrumentation in the suggested service music. The prelude music as listed is probably longer than you will need, but is suggested as a helpful tool for an age where diversity among churches is the norm. You can find the pieces in the following sources:
    - "This Joyful Eastertide" (hymn tune VRUCHTEN) arranged for organ by Theodore Beck in Five Hymn Preludes published by Concordia 97-5391 [1976] (M) and by Michael Burkhardt in Five Easter Season Hymn Improvisations published by Morningstar MSM-10-403 [1990] (E-M). The handbell arrangement by Lee Afdahl is a new publication by Concordia. Margaret R. Tucker also has an arrangement for 3 octaves handbell choir published by Morningstar MSM-30-400 [1988] (E-M).
    - "The Strife Is O'er" (hymn tune victory) is arranged for organ by Lisa Shoemaker-Lohmeyer. This partita is published by Morningstar MSM-10-18 [1997] (M-D). The variations can each stand by themselves. The piano arrangement can be found in Gregory Hamilton's collection As the Grains of Wheat, published by Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7577-0 [2003] (M-D). The handbell arrangement for 3-5 octave handbell choir by Arnold Sherman is published by Agape 1847 [1996] (M).
  2. The anthem "All Shall Be Well" by John Foley S.J. is published by North American Liturgy Resources 5569 [1985] (E-M). This is an energetic, brief strophic anthem.
  3. A free harmonization for "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today/Jesus Christ Is Risen Today" (easter hymn) can be found in John Ferguson's Hymn Harmonizations for Organ book 2 published by Ludwig O-07. Check your hymnal for which tune is used (EASTER HYMN, LLANFAIR, ORIENTIS PARTIBUS ) and the number of verses.
  4. A free harmonization for "Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing" can be found in Dale Wood's collection New Settings of Twenty Well-Known Hymn Tunes, published by Augsburg 11-9292 [1968].
  5. The anthem "Since by Man Came Death" by G. F. Handel from the Messiah is published separately by Schirmer.
  6. If your congregation is unfamiliar with "I Am the Bread of Life" your choir, ensemble, or soloist could sing the verses with the congregation joining on each refrain.
  7. The offertory suggestions can be found in the following sources:
    - "Low in the Grave Christ Lay" (CHRIST AROSE),arranged for organ by John Ferguson in "Three Nineteenth Century Revival Hymns," published by Augsburg 11-10976 [1999] (E-M), needs careful and thoughtful registration which helps to bring the text to life.
    - "Alleluia! Alleluia!" (EBENEZER)arranged for 3-5 octaves handbell choir under the title "Once to Every Man and Nation" by Kevin McChesney is published by Alfred 18556 [1999] (E-M). The piano arrangement of this tune can be found in Larry Shackley's collection Celtic Hymn Settings for Pianopublished by Hope 8117 [2001] (E-M).
  8. The historic tune JESUS, MEINE ZUVERZICHT is usually paired with the text "Jesus Lives, and So Do We." If this wonderful and sturdy chorale tune is not familiar to your congregation we suggest you pair the text with GROSSER GOTT. Easter Sunday morning is probably not the best time to introduce your congregation to this tune-they should focus on the text and sing their faith rather than face the challenge of mixing new text with new tune!
  9. Congregational copies of "The Hallelujah Chorus" can be purchased through Fred Bock Music Company B-G0745 [1984]. A choral arrangement transposed to the key of C by Clair W. Johnson was published by Rubank, Inc. in 1941. Using the transposition makes the chorus more accessible for congregational singing.
  10. The "Toccata" from Charles Widor's Fifth Symphony is certainly worth the effort needed to learn it. This standard in organ literature was published by Marks in 1936. (D)

Liturgy Notes:

  1. Because this is Easter, the highest point of the church's celebration, whatever efforts can be contributed to make the worship space bright and celebrative will aid the spirit of worship on this day. Banners, paraments, and so on will make the worship space expressive of this theme. You may wish to have your congregation participate in the purchase of sanctuary flowers for the day. The church we previously served gave congregational members choices of lilies, hyacinths, or tulips with which they could remember those people special to them who had died and joined Christ in glory. At the end of Sunday worship, folks were free to take "their" plant home with them.
  2. The worship leader should try to be sensitive in balancing two concerns on Easter Sunday. On the one hand, only committed Christians are able to fully understand and enter the celebration of Christ's resurrection. On the other hand, Easter is often a time when folks who are unchurched or underchurched come to worship. A warm welcome should be extended to them, and care must be taken that the great truths of the gospel and Christ's resurrection are made accessible to them.
  3. The children's message should bear in mind the same awareness. Some children may be visitors, and this is a golden opportunity to speak to them about the importance of Easter and to make it clear that the resurrection of Christ is at the center of it.
  4. Since there are multiple Scripture readings, we encourage that a variety of persons be included as readers. An Easter service is a good opportunity to include children and youth as readers. Be sure they are coached and prepared well so that it is a positive experience for all.
  5. The unison reading of Psalm 23 should be introduced in such a way that all are aware this is a Scripture reading. We, as the body of Christ, read his word to one another and in doing so are giving testimony to our own faith.
  6. The pastoral prayer for this service must focus on much more than local pastoral needs. Those who are seeking new hope for empty lives, those who have drifted away and need to be drawn back, those who are doubting and need reassurance, those who are suffering and persecuted, those who are dying and in need of reassurance, among other concerns, should all be included.