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Were You There When He Kept Showing Up? - 1 Corinthians 15 (Sunday after Easter)

A service plan for Eastertide focused on our certainty in faith and our confidence in the credibility of the Christian religion as based on the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The final service plan of a Lenten series following specific events that led up to Christ's death and resurrection.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

The general theme for the season of Lent has been "Were You There? "; we have focused on major events in the passion of Christ and have asked hearers to step into the events and experience the drama.

On Easter Sunday we took that posture in the Garden where Jesus arose. Now, on this first Sunday after Easter, we attempt to step into a cluster of experiences that happened during the next forty days when Jesus appeared as the resurrected one to validate his physical resurrection.

We will concentrate on the multiple appearances of Christ. Our aim will be to increase our certainty in faith and our confidence in the credibility of the Christian religion as based on the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Prelude: "This Joyful Eastertide" [see <href="#music" >music notes]
"Easter Alleluia"
"Alleluia! Alleluia!"

The Call to Worship

*Song of Praise: "The Strife Is O'er, the Battle Done" PH 119, PsH 391, RL 319, TH 275, TWC 233, UMH 306

*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.

A Time for Praise: Your Favorites
(You are invited to request your favorite Easter Hymns for congregational singing.)


The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession

The Assurance of God's Pardon

God's Will for Grateful Living


The Prayer for Illumination

The First Reading of Scripture: Psalm 16
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Second Reading of Scripture: John 20:19-31
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

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

Sermon: "Were You There When He Kept Showing Up?"
(Were You There - #8)

Song: "Were You There?" PH 102, PsH 377, SFL 167, TH 260, TWC 218
1. "Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?"
2. "Do you know that he 'rose for you and me?"
3. "Do you know that in him we're made alive?"


The Prayers of the People

Songs: "Come and See" SFL 176
"He Is Lord" PsH 633, RN 29, SNC 160, SFL 178, TWC 97, UMH 177
(During the singing the offering will be received.)

*Our Affirmation of Faith: The Apostles' Creed or Nicene Creed


*The Benediction and Congregational Amen!

* Song: "Lift High the Cross" (st. 1, 5-7) PH 371, PsH 373, RL 415, RN 297, SFL 171, TH 263, TWC 229, UMH 159

Postlude: "Lift High the Cross" [see<href="#music" > music notes]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

  1. Most worshipers find their minds wandering from time to time, wondering why many things happen the way they do. That's true about a lot of things. But it's also true about the Easter events. Why did so much have to happen after Easter? Why wasn't it all done on one day? And why couldn't it have happened in such a way that Jesus was crucified and buried on Friday, arose on Sunday, with all his followers seeing him, and ascend from the Mount of Olives at 3:00 Easter Sunday afternoon? It seems that would have made such a nice compact story. Why didn't it happen that way? Why forty days more?
  2. Underlying this message is the firm fact that the Christian religion stands or falls with the physical resurrection of Christ. The failure of Christ to come back from the dead would spell the destruction of the Christian faith. So perhaps God had to take pains to verify and document the physical resurrection of Christ. Follow Paul's tight line of reasoning in 1 Corinthians 15:12ff.
  3. Another fact is that the resurrection of Christ will be subjected to constant attacks. If Christianity could collapse by undermining the resurrection of Christ, you can count on many efforts by the enemies of the cross to work hard at undermining the resurrection. We've seen all kinds of such efforts through the centuries!
  4. So the forty days during which Christ made multiple appearances (see the gospel accounts and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8) and the evidence of his resurrection accumulated, are days in which we see God catering to human skepticism that finds it hard to believe in this foundational doctrine. The result is a faith with certainty!
  5. The resurrection sets Christianity apart from all other religions in the world. Other religions are based on the teachings and example of their leaders. Christianity is based on the supernatural miracle of the death, resurrection, and multiple appearances of Christ.

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)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice ( Augsburg Fortress)

1. The prelude suggestions on the hymns "This Joyful Eastertide," "O Sons and Daughters," and "Alleluia! Alleluia" can be found in the following sources:

VRUCHTEN ["This Joyful Eastertide"]

  • Beck, Theodore. Five Hymn Preludes. Concordia 97-5391 [1976] (M).
  • Bender, Jan. Five Festive Preludes on Easter Hymns. Concordia 97-5495 [1979] (M-D).
  • Bouman, Paul. Partita on This Joyful Eastertide. Concordia 97-6060 [1990] (E-M).
  • Burkhardt Michael. Five Easter Season Hymn Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-403 [1990] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Seasonal Interpretations Lent-Easter. Summa SP-112 [1998] (E-M).
  • Clarke, Andrew. Easter Triology, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-405 [1991] (M).
  • Hildebrand, Kevin. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 3. Concordia 97-7052 [2004] (E-M).


  • Tucker, Margaret R. This Joyful Eastertide. Morningstar MSM-30-400 [1988] (3 octaves, E-M).
  • Tucker, Sondra K. This Joyful Eastertide. Choristers Guild CGB341 [2003] (4-5 octaves, level 3).

O FILII ET FILIAE ["O Sons and Daughters"]

  • Guilmant, Alexandre. The Practical Organist, vol. 1. Schirmer (E-M).
  • Held, Wilbur (1964). Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (E).
  • Johnson, David N. Easy Trios. Augsburg 11-9291 [1969] (E).
  • Willan, Healy. Ten Hymn Preludes, set 1. Peters 6011 [1956] (E-M).


  • Nelson, Susan. Easter Alleluia. Choristers Guild CGB216 [1999] (3-5 octaves, level 2).

EBENEZER/TON-Y-BOTEL ["Alleluia! Alleluia!"]

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Seven Hymn Improvisations and Free Accompaniments, set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-847 [1992] (E-M).
  • Hildebrand, Kevin. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 3. Concordia 97-7052 [2004] (E-M).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 3. SMP KK278 [1983] (E, adaptable to piano).
  • Purvis, Richard. Seven Chorale Preludes. Fischer 0 3450 [1949] (E-M).


  • Medema, Ken. Sanctuary. Genevox 4181-16 [1989] (M).
  • Shackley, Larry. Celtic Hymn Settings for Piano. Hope 8117 [2001] (E-M).
  • Wilhelmi, Teresa. Hymns . . . Light Jazz Style. Word 301 0136 315 [1997] (E-M).


  • McChesney, Kevin. Once to Every Man and Nation. Alfred 18556 [1999] (3-5 octaves, level 3).

2. You will notice that no planned vocal choir participates in this service. Sometimes it is helpful to reinforce the concept that the congregation is the primary choir of the worshiping community. Please consult the Liturgy Notes for further suggestions for the Time of Praise.

3. Because spirituals were passed on through aural/oral tradition, we have taken the liberty to craft verses on "Were You There" that tie in with the theme and sermon.

4. We suggest incorporating congregational song during the offertory; with the wealth of wonderful Easter songs, give your congregation extra opportunity to respond with their praise. If you would prefer an instrumental offertory, a number of suggestions are offered for the prelude music that could also be used here.

5. Alternative harmonizations for "Lift High the Cross" can be found in the following sources:


  • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001].


  • Cherwien, David, & Laura E. Wasson. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

6. The postlude suggestions are based on "Lift High the Cross." A variety of arrangements on this hymn can be found in the following sources:


  • Burkhardt, Michael. Six General Hymn Improvisations, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-534 [1999] (E-M).
  • Busarow Donald. Processional on "Lift High the Cross." Concordia 97-5442(M).
  • Callahan, Charles. Partita on Crucifer. Concordia 97-6456 [1994] (E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 9. Concordia 97-5556 [1980] (E).


  • Carter, John. The Wondrous Cross. Hope 1747 [1994] (E-M).


  • McChesney, Kevin. Lift High the Cross. Lorenz HB 230 [1988] (3-4 octaves, M).

Liturgy Notes:

  1. Let the music and words early in the worship service establish a direct link with the Easter celebration of last Sunday. Clearly contradict the notion that "we may put Easter away." We encourage you to continue the theme of victorious living before the face of the risen Lord all the way through to Pentecost.
  2. You'll notice that we've included a "Time for Praise: Your Favorites" in this service. It gives worshipers an opportunity to make their own song requests, knowing that in our worship planning in recent weeks we likely have overlooked songs that some eagerly desire to sing at Easter time. How smoothly this goes will depend on the size of the congregation (in smaller groups worshipers are usually more free to make requests) and the acoustics of the sanctuary (so the leader is able to see the hands and hear the requests). It is usually wise to set some limits (Easter songs, etc.) and to plan this carefully with the accompanists because some of them will be comfortable with spontaneous picks and some not. Be sure the worship leader watches for the hands of children and youth in making requests.
  3. Three Scripture readings are included in this service. Psalm 16 and John 20:19-31 are recommended by the Revised Common Lectionary. The passage from 1 Corinthians 15 is the text for the message. We suggest that three different readers be appointed for these readings, preferably of different ages and gender. Those that need assistance for effective reading could be invited to practice the reading at the microphone sometime during the week. We encourage you to provide some suggestions (or script) so that each reader can introduce the reading with a sentence or two that will point to the message of this passage and indicate how they are tied together. For example, Psalm 16 can be introduced with the words "Listen as the psalmist expresses his hope in God even in a time of trouble, and is confident that God will give him eternal pleasures," and John 20 could be introduced with "Watch as Jesus surprises the disciples by meeting with them on Easter Sunday evening and the next week also." And for 1 Corinthians 15, "Listen as Paul describes the centrality of the resurrection of Christ for the Christian faith."
  4. Though this message will complete this series of sermons, the spirit of the worship service at its closing should focus on the continuation of Easter living in the victory of Jesus Christ.