Easter Sunday Service

Worship by Pastor Bill Chadwick | April 12, 2020


Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Welcome to folks from both churches and others from around the world.

I had a delightful phone chat with Jan Cottrell the other day. She had just come inside from being out in her yard raking and wheelbarrowing.  Good grief. For those of you who don’t know Jan, a member of the McGrath Church, she is recently coming off a broken leg. And she’s not young.  And she’s blind. And she’s amazing.

Elsewhere on the website and FB page you will find a couple of favorite Easter hymns: “Thine Is the Glory” and “The Day of Resurrection.”  Thanks so much to Tura and Andrea Eye for posting this service and the pastoral letters and for producing an updated church directory!  

There will be another pastoral letter tomorrow.  It will be in honor of Easter Monday, which traditionally is a time to tell jokes, because of the joke that God played on the devil on Easter.

Gosh, I miss seeing you all in person.  And as I said before, we are celebrating Easter today, but we will REALLY celebrate Easter that first Sunday when we can be together again!Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is a Presbyterian pastor and a prolific hymn writer.  She has composed lyrics for an Easter during sequestering. It’s called “This Easter Celebration” and it is to the tune of  “The Church’s One Foundation.”  I use it as a call to worship for us.

Call to Worship: This Easter Celebration

This Easter celebration is not like ones we’ve known.
We pray in isolation, we sing the hymns alone.
We’re distant from our neighbors — from worship leaders, too.
No flowers grace the chancel to set a festive mood.

No gathered choirs are singing; no banners lead the way.
O God of love and promise, where’s joy this Easter Day?
With sanctuaries empty, may homes become the place
we ponder resurrection and celebrate your grace.

Our joy won’t come from worship that’s in a crowded room
but from the news of women who saw the empty tomb.
Our joy comes from disciples who ran with haste to see —
who heard that Christ is risen, and then, by grace, believed.

In all the grief and suffering, may we remember well:
Christ suffered crucifixion and faced the powers of hell.
Each Easter bears the promise: Christ rose that glorious day!
Now nothing in creation can keep your love away.

We thank you that on Easter, your church is blessed to be
a scattered, faithful body that’s doing ministry.
In homes and in the places of help and healing, too,
we live the Easter message by gladly serving you.

Tune: Samuel Sebastian Wesley, 1864 (“The Church’s One Foundation”)  (MIDI)
Text: Copyright © 2020 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: carolynshymns@gmail.com     New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com/

This new hymn is a prayer to be used in Easter 2020 worship services, while most churches are closed and people are remaining in their homes because of the pandemic. It can be used for online worship or in online written communications from a church to its members. Permission is given for free use.

Children’s Sermon

As most of you know, I don’t wear a robe very often.  But I always do on Easter. Last Easter I thought it might well be my last chance to preach an Easter homily.  So, I am delighted that the McGrath and Wahkon folks honored me by inviting me back as their pastor. I’m going to do a children’s time now, so I invite you to pause this video and round up your kids.

Bill: Why do I have butterflies on my stole instead of a picture of the Easter bunny?  

Gramps:  Good question!

Bill: Who likes candy?  

Gramps: I don’t really like candy.  

Bill: What?

Gramps: Ha!  I’m TOTALLY joking!  I love candy. And I love that the Easter bunny brings us candy.  But the bunny isn’t found in the stories of Easter in the Bible, is it Bill.  

Bill: You’re right, Gramps.  No Easter bunny in the Bible. But I love the candy.  And Easter isn’t really a celebration of spring, either. Because people in the Southern Hemisphere have Easter in the fall. Wouldn’t that be interesting?  Anyhow, Easter is the celebration of Jesus coming back from the dead. So again, why do I have butterflies on my stole instead of the Easter bunny?

Gramps: The butterflies are prettier?

Bill: Well, no.  Where do butterflies come from?  

Gramps: Mexico!

Bill:  Well, yes.  But each butterfly starts out as a what?

Gramps: A caterpillar.

Bill: Right, a caterpillar oonching along.  It can’t fly. Most aren’t very pretty. But then it makes a chrysalis and appears to be dead.  And some time later it eats its way out of the chrysalis and, shazam! It’s a beautiful butterfly!  Way cooler than being a caterpillar. You would think the caterpillar was dead, when it was resting in the chrysalis.  So the butterfly is a symbol of new life out of death. It’s not a perfect symbol because Jesus was truly dead when he was in the tomb. We celebrate Easter as the promise of new life for us, so we can live this life without fear, and face death also without fear.  I invite you to talk some more about this with your mom or dad or grandparent. Let’s do an echo prayer: Dear God…Thank you for Easter…thank you that we can have church online…thanks for each child watching this video…Above all, we thank you for raising Jesus from the dead…Thank you that your love never dies…Amen!

John 20:1-9 The Message

 1-2 Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, “They took the Master from the tomb. We don’t know where they’ve put him.”

3-10 Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.

Prayer:  Living God, may this ancient, written word become Living Word in our lives, that we may serve you faithfully and joyfully.  Amen!


A few years ago I was about to begin Easter worship in the little chapel at Castle Ridge Care Center in Eden Prairie where I was the chaplain.  About 16-17 residents were gathered, all in the last days of their lives, most deep into dementia. I began with a loud declaration: “It’s Easter!”

A little woman in the first row of wheelchairs, hunched over, eyes down, suddenly sat up and said, “It’s Easter?”  


“Yay!” she shouted, raising her hands in the air!  

My work was done.  I had nothin’ left to say or do.  “It’s Easter! Yay!” 

Any preacher will tell you that Easter is the most difficult sermon to prepare.  What words are adequate in the face of the greatest event in history? At least the church in its wisdom has given us not just one day to observe Easter, but a season of fifty days, the liturgical season of Eastertide, in which to celebrate God’s incredible gift of Resurrection.  

Mark was three years old when his pet lizard died. Since it was her grandson’s first brush with death, Grandma suggested that Mark and his older brother hold a “funeral” for the lizard. Grandma explained what a funeral was: a ceremony where you say a prayer, sing a song, and bury your loved one.

 Grandma provided a shoe box and a burial place in the backyard. The boys thought it was a great idea, so they all proceeded to the backyard. Taking the lead, the older boy said a little prayer. Then he turned and asked little Mark if he wouldn’t like to sing a song. With tears in his eyes, Mark clasped his hands, bowed his head, and belted out “Hit the Road, Jack! Don’t you come back no more, no more.  Hit the road, Jack, don’t you come back no more.”

That’s exactly what Pilate, Herod…, Caiaphas,… and everyone else who had plotted the death of Jesus were singing on Friday. That was their fondest wish. “Hit the road, Jesus, and don’t you come back no more, no more. Hit the road Jesus, and don’t you come back no more.”  (Billy D. Strayhorn, Resurrection: God’s Final Answer)

That was their plan.  But God had a different plan.  God brought Jesus back and Jesus “hit the road” to Emmaus and the world has never been the same.

What does Jesus’ resurrection mean for us and for the world?  In Luke’s account the men in white say, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”    Nancy Claire Pittman’s commentary struck me: We are just as guilty of such a fruitless search.  We too want to tend the corpses of long dead ideas and ideals.  We cling to former visions of ourselves and our churches as if they might come back to life as long as we hold on to them.  We grasp our loved ones too tightly, refusing to allow them to change… We choose to stay with what we know…The words of the unworldly messengers are a challenge to stop hanging on to the dead and to move into new life.  They are reminders that the Holy One dwells wherever new life bursts forth. (Feasting on the Word, Year C, Vol 2, pl. 351)

There’s a painful story about a congregation in which a new pastor came to serve and she started leading that church into all sorts of social justice ministries.  This was welcomed by some members, but was very upsetting to the folks who thought church was only about singing hymns and having potluck suppers. One Sunday after worship a disgruntled long-time member accosted the pastor in the hallway.  “If Jesus knew what this church was doing, he’d roll over in his grave!” (Long pause to let that sink in.)

That, of course, is the point…of Easter.  Jesus isn’t in his grave. Instead he’s let loose in the world, continuing to lead his people in ways of love and life and justice.  If his life can’t be stamped out by the most powerful empire in the history of the world, what else is this Jesus capable of?

Above all, says my friend Dan Erlander, what Resurrection means is that Jesus was right.  The Resurrection is God’s stamp of approval on Jesus’ ministry.  

YES to Jesus’ servanthood, 

    YES to Jesus’ kin-dom of inclusion, 

        YES to Jesus’ faithfulness…

                even to a cross.

 (Dan Erlander, Manna and Mercy) 

Will we follow the world, or will we follow Jesus?

That is the crux of the matter.  Have you ever thought about that phrase?  Crux of the matter. That word crux means “cross.”  The Cross leaves each of us at a crossroads. Which way will we follow?

The world says:  Look out for number one.

The world (even before sequestering) says plop yourself down in front of your TV or computer 

and watch whatever junk is on there, 

as long as you buy the products being advertised.

The world says:  The one who dies with the most toys wins.

The world says that protecting the environment 

    is not as important as shareholder return…

and consumer convenience.

The world says protect what you have at all costs, 

with giant fences at your borders, 

with a half-trillion-dollar military budget, 

with the sacrifice of your beautiful young men and women.

In short, the world gives us a culture of domination and death.

The Resurrection, on the other hand, again says 

YES to the beatitudes—Yes to those who are merciful, 

who are peacemakers, 

who hunger and thirst after righteousness…

The Resurrection says 

Yes to loving our enemies, 

Yes to human rights for all

Yes to caring for the poor,

        Yes to caring for the Creation

        Yes to forgiving others and 

        Yes to forgiving ourselves.

As followers of this resurrected Jesus, 

as the very body of Christ in the world today, 

will we be Easter people?  

To God be the honor and the glory and the power, now and forever!

Paul writing from prison, gives us this good word: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And the people said, “Amen!”

Paul writing from prison, gives us this good word: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And the people said, “Amen!”

Pastoral Prayer

We thank you for Jesus.  We thank you that he said “Yes” to your call upon his life.  We thank you for his words—and his deeds—of love and healing and welcome.  We thank you that he touched lepers, that he forgave sinners, that he treated women as children of God, and welcomed the little children.  We thank you that he had compassion upon the widows, and the poor and downtrodden, the mentally ill, the blind and lame and those who were spiritually blind and lame.  

We thank you for his courage, as opposition grew, both from within the religious leadership and the political powers, that Jesus kept on keepin’ on, proclaiming your ways of justice and truth all the way to a Roman Cross.  We thank you for his faithfulness to you, and we praise you for your faithfulness to him, in raising him from death to new life.  

O God of the ages, in this time of anxiety and fear, we praise you for your message of life, and hope and love.

As the Resurrection transformed the first disciples from cowardice to courage, may your Spirit fill us with power and courage and stamina to continue your ministry of justice and compassion through our words and deeds.

Because of the Resurrection, we know that you hold history in your hands, and that your ways of life and love will prevail.  We give ourselves anew to you this day.

All this we pray in the name and the power and the love of Jesus, and we pray together as you taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  THY kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For THINE is the kingdom, the glory and the power forever. Amen.

Friends, before I sign off, let me say again, if you need anything, please let us know.  Give one of the elders a call, or me (952-738-1783) or Pastor John.

Paul writing from prison, gives us this good word: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And the people said, “Amen!”


Paul writing from prison, gives us this good word: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And the people said, “Amen!”

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