Service Planning for Eastertide

The "great fifty days" of Eastertide begin on Easter Sunday, marking the end of the somber days of Lent. Songs, music, and sermons during the Eastertide season reflect the joy and celebration of the resurrection.

The Common Lectionary provides a rich variety of texts for this Eastertide season. Pastors may wish to choose just one of these passages as the main text for the sermon, making references to the other passages wherever possible. The comments below are addressed to six Sundays, beginning with the Sunday after Easter or, more appropriately, the second Sunday of Easter.

Psalms and hymns are selected from The Hymnbook (HB), the Psalter Hymnal (PH), Rejoice in the Lord (RIL), and the Trinity Hymnal (TH).

Second Sunday of Easter

John 20:19-3!
The gospel lesson pictures the "more-than-conquerors" afraid of the conquered. Christ has risen, but the disciples are huddled together in great fear. Christ grants them the gift of shalom, passing on his mission to his followers. Thomas's wonderful confession constitutes our proper relationship to Jesus.

Acts 5:27-32
The Acts passage makes abundantly clear by whose power these disciples are able to become such bold witnesses (c. 4:31). The Spirit of the living Christ empowered simple fishermen to defy the authorities (5:29). They wanted to be radically obedient to God.

Revelation 1:4—8
Tire verses in Revelation are a moving doxology to the risen Christ. Because these introductory verses preface the book addressed to the church in the midst of persecution, John places the emphasis upon Christ in all his majestic power and glory.

Psalms and Hymns
Psalm 2(PH 2, TH 227)
Alleluia! Alleluia! (PH 387, TH 204)
Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies (HB 47. PH 481, RIL 463, TH 330)
Rejoice, The Lord Is King (HB 140, PH 408, RIL 596, TH 226)

Suggested Organ Music
O Sons and Daughters/ O FILII ET FILIAE, by H. Deshayes; Care Selected Festival—Music for Lent and Easter
Beautiful Savior/SCHONSTER HERRJESU, by E Peeters; C.F. Peters Corporation

Third Sunday of Easter

John 21:1-19 or 15-19
The gospel story is an appendix to the gospel of John. This chapter contains a rich harvest for the pulpit (the preacher will need to be very selective). Peter's reinstatement after his dismal denials is of great significance. The risen Christ beckons this fallen fisherman again with the familiar call, "Follow me." The living Lord still wants people for his important mission, and his call remains unchanged.

Acts 9:1-20
Luke's account of Paul's conversion is a key incident in the history of early Christianity. It is a beautiful story about how God chose to move toward the Gentiles through a man whom the church feared and hated. This former enemy will prove to be an important bridge between Jew and Gentile.

Revelation 5:11-14
Revelation 5 is a great Easter doxology. The Lamb that was slain is now the One worthy to receive all power and blessing. The reigning Christ still carries the scars of Calvary. The Lamb is the key to history, revealing purpose and meaning. Cosmic praise is the only proper response.

Psalms and Hymns
Psalm 30 (HB 127, PH 30, TH 526)
Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (PH 406, RIL 346)
O Word of God Incarnate (HB 251, PH 279, RIL 387)
The Day of Resurrection(HB 208, PH 390, RIL 317, TH 197)

Suggested Organ Music
Jesus Shall Reign/DUKE STREET, by H.A. Matthews; Twelve Choral Preludes on Familiar Hymn Tunes, Oliver Ditson Company, Theodore Presser Company
All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name/ CORONATION, by J. Innes; Organ Hymns for Praise and Worship, Fred Bock Music Company

Fourth Sunday of Easter

John 10:22-30
The beautiful note of grace in this gospel passage is the fact that the Shepherd will protect his sheep. The believing community, created by God, will be sustained in every age because its ultimate security has been assured: "No one shall snatch them out of my hand."

Acts 13:15-16, 26-33
Invited to speak a few words, the apostle Paul delivers a long speech that is meant to be an example of the appeal he made to his feilow Jews (Acts 13:15—41). The sermon includes several motifs, but Paul's statement about the resurrection of Jesus as God's act is most important.

Revelation 7:9—17
Revelation 7 u nderscores that God's people, though they are persecuted, will be vindicated. God's final victory is never in doubt. The faithful will share in the celestial liturgy, and even the choir of angels will say their amen. The blood of the Lamb turns the red blood of death into the white sign of victory.

Psalms and Hymns
Psalm 23 (HB 104, 106, 216, 380; PH 23, 161, 162, 550; TH 77,141,663)
By the Sea of Crystal (PH 620) Children of the Heavenly Father (PH 440. RIL 585)
O Worship the King (HB 26, PH 428, RIL 2, TH 13)
Of the Father's Love Begotten (HB 7, PH 342, RIL 190, TH 122)

Suggested Organ Music
Children of the Heavenly Father/ TRYGGARE KANINGEN VARA, by A. Jordan

Worship Service Music
O Worship the King/LYONS, by D. Hustad; Hymns in Classic Style, Hope Publishing Company
Praise to the Lord/LOBE DEN HERREN, by D. Cherwien; Book II Interpretations

Fifith Sunday of Easter

John 13:31-35
The gospel reading points to the new commandment of Jesus: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." In Jesus' death the disciples will learn the meaning of true love. This kind of love will be the hallmark of Christ's followers in every age.

Acts 13:44-52
The passage in Acts describes the great turning point of Christian mission. The apostle Paul insists that it is time to go to the Gentiles because the good news of the gospel is for all the world. Paul's insistence is not to be interpreted as anti-Semitic (cf. Rom. 9:1-2).

Revelation 21:1—6
The wonderful promise in Revelation 21:5, "Behold, I make all things new," is a stirring note of hope. The essence of Christian hope is the vision that the whole creation will be radically renewed and transformed.

Psalms and Hymns
Psalm 145 (HB 3, PH 145, 185, 186; TH 2)
Jerusalem the Golden (HB 428, PH 618, RIL 579, TH 604)
Jesus Shall Reign (HB 496, PH 412, RIL 233, TH 374)
Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven (HB 31, PH 475, RIL 144, TH 70)

Suggested Organ Music
All Glory Be to God on High/AL-LEIN GOTT, by P. Manz; Ten Chorale Improvisations, Op. 5, Concordia Publishing House
Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven/LAUDE ANIMA, by J. Innes; Organ Hymns for Praise and Worship, Fred Bock Music Company

Sixth Sunday of Easter

John 14:23-29
The gospel account centers upon the impending departure of Jesus. The Master gives his friends words of courage and comfort: courage by reminding them of the gift of "the Counselor" and comfort by reminding them of his gift of peace. These words were not intended just for their ears but for the church of today. The Holy Spirit will help us understand the mind of Christ as we face today's difficult issues.

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Acts 15 reports a meeting in Jerusalem—the first apostolic council of the church. Because the future of the mission to the Gentiles was at stake, this meeting was very critical. The question those who attended the council debated was this: Must Gentiles become Jews before they can become Christians? No one stormed off in a huff, and the group reached a historical decision. The reason for their unity can be found in verse 28.

Revelation 21:10, 22-27
The passage in Revelation depicts the new Jerusalem with its twelve open gates facing the four corners of the earth. The city of God is an ec-umenopolis—a city open to all peoples. But it is a city only for the faithful— those whose names are written in the "Lamb's book of life" (v. 27).

Psalms and Hymns
Psalm 67 (HB 22, 493; PH 67, TH 385)
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (HB 399, PH 568, RIL 464, TH 460)
Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above (HB 15, PH 465, RIL 146)
Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life (HB 507, PH 602, RIL 482)

Suggested Organ Music
Holy Spirit, Truth Divine/GIB-BONS SONG 13, by T.C. Lee; The Sacred Organ Folio, Lorenz Industries
Take My Life and Let it Be/HEN-DON, by A.C. Whitworth; Be Thou My Vision, Beckenhorst Press, Inc.

Ascension Day

These are the lessons recommended for Ascension Day, celebrated on May 4 in 1989. In many churches, however, the ascension of Jesus is celebrated on the following Sunday. These three lessons are not meant to answer our shallow questions about the laws of gravity, the location of heaven, or the behavior of clouds, but to direct us to the grand themes of Christ's ascension.

Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-11
Did the ascension occur on Sunday evening (Luke 24:51) or forty days later (Acts 1:3)? We need to study the author's intention. In Luke 24 the ascension is a fitting finale to the earthly ministry of Jesus. In Acts 1 the ascension is the beginning of the church's world mission under the rule of the ascended Christ.

Ephesians 1:15—23
The passage in Ephesians assures us that the ascended Lord controls this world. Believers have no reason to question "who is in charge"; Jesus Christ is the ruler yet.

Psalms and Hymns
Psalm 47 and 97 (PH 47, 97, 166; TH 59,61) .
All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (HB 132, PH 471, RIL 593,TH 218)
Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise (PH 409, RIL 331) .
The Church's One Foundation (HB 437, PH 502, RIL 394,TH 270)

Suggested Organ Music

Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken/AUSTRIAN HYMN, by D.Hustad; Organ Preludes on Hymns Old and New, Hope Publishing Company.
Rejoice, the Lord Is King/DAR-WELL'S 148TH, by J. Innes; Organ Hymns for Praise and Worship, Fred Bock Music Company.

Michael De Vries is a retired pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.


Lynda Hakken is head organist for Harderwyk CRC, Holland, Michigan.


Reformed Worship 10 © December 1988, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.