Christ Has Died, Christ Is Risen, Christ Will Come Again! A festival service for Eastertide

We were buried with Christ through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

—Romans 6:4

Baptism is a sacrament of Easter. As Paul teaches us, in our baptism we are buried with Christ and are raised with him to newness of life. This insight led many early Christians to designate Easter as the most fitting occasion for baptism. Adult candidates prepared for their baptism during a season of study, prayer, and renewal that later became known as Lent. They were baptized as a part of the Easter Vigil service on the eve of Easter or early on Easter morning, a practice that continues in the Eastern Orthodox tradition and is being restored by many churches today. These services sparked the genesis of what we now call the Apostles' Creed, which was originally spoken by those baptized in response to questions asked by the worship leader. We will emulate that pattern in this service.

The seasons of Lent and Easter focus our attention on the monumental events of Christ's passion, death, resurrection, and ascension. In this service we remember and celebrate these events, probing their meaning for those united with him in baptism. May we claim again God's promises made to us in our baptism and restore our vision for the kingdom of God.

Gathering for Worship

Gathering of the Worshiping Community (with musical prelude)
"Priere" (Prayer) Josef Jongen, oP.37, no.3)
"As a Deer in Want of Water" PsH 42

Call to Worship: from Isaiah 55

Entrance Prayer: "As a Deer in Want of Water" PsH 42

[st. 1 (first half) sung by cantor]

Spoken and Sung Prayers
Everlasting God, who has made us to be your people and given us the privilege of coming together in Christ's name, convict us by the presence of your Spirit that we may offer worship that is right and fitting to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Refrain

Loving Father, who has promised never to leave us, we bring before you now not only our praise and our thanksgiving, but also our pain. We come from broken families, broken communities, broken churches, and a broken nation. In hearing your Word and singing your praise, may we be strengthened in our walk by the power of your Spirit. Refrain

God of grace, who has saved us through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, we come before you acknowledging our sin. For we forget what Christ has done for us and do not remember who we are in him. We offer halfhearted worship and do not love you with all our strength. Forgive us, we pray. Refrain

Prayer from the Psalms: "As a Deer in Want of Water," PsH 42

[st. 3, sung by cantor]

Declaration of Trust
People of God, in whom is your help?
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Hymn of Praise: "Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above" PsH 465, RL 146
st. 1: unison
st. 2: harmony, without accompaniment organ interlude
st. 5: unison

Proclamation of the Word

Prayer for Illumination
God our helper,
Guide us by your Word and Spirit, that in your light we may see light, in your truth find freedom, and in your will discover peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Scripture Reading: Exodus 14:10-14

Hymn: "How Firm a Foundation" PsH 500'PH 361, RL 172, TH 94

Scripture Reading: Exodus 14:19-22, 30-31


Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:6-7; Luke 2:10-13

Anthem; "Gloria in Exceisis Deo," Pinkham, from Christmas Cantana

Passion and Death

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:8

Hymn: "Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended?" PsH 386, PH 93, RL 285, TH 248

[organ introduction by Helmut Walcha; st. 1 sung by all in harmony]

Spiritual: "Calvary"
refrain: cantor
st. 1: all, starting softly, then crescendo
refrain: all, starting strongly, then decrescendo

Scripture Reading: Romans 6:6-7

Prayer of Confession
Merciful God,

we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you
with our whole heart and mind and strength.
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.


Who was the guilty?
Who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus has undone thee.
'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee.
I crucified thee.

In your mercy forgive what we have been,

help us amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be,
so that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your holy name.

Prayer from the Psalms "Shepherd Me, O God" (based on Psalm 23)

[musical refrain sung first by the cantor, and then each time by all, seep. 31]

Declaration of Pardon: Ephesians 2:4-7


In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!

Thanks be to God.


Therefore, kind Jesus,
since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee,
and will ever pray thee;
think on thy pity
and thy love unswerving,
not my deserving.


Scripture Reading: Colossians 2:12

Hymn: "Christ, You Are the Fullness" PsH 229, PH 346, SFL 232

Scripture Reading: Matthew 28:1-7

Hymn: "We Know That Christ Is Raised" PsH 271, PH 495, RL 528

Ascension and Reign

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:9-11

Songs of Praise
"He Is Lord" PsH 633, SFL 178
"Worthy Is Christ" PsH 629, SFL 170

Sermon: "Handed Over": Mark 14:10-11, Romans 8:28, 31-32

Hymn: "O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High" PsH 364, FH 83, RL342, TH 155
st. 1-2: all
st. 3: women
st. 4: men
st. 5: organ alone, setting by Paul Manz
st. 6: all

Response to the Word

Litany of Praise and Dedication
Leader: Jesus Christ is Lord!

All: Worthy is Christ to receive all power and glory and honor!

Leader: Claiming the promises of God, we now pledge our allegiance to this Lord.

All: We renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of our sin.

Choir: We accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.

All: We confess Jesus Christ as our Savior, put our whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as our Lord, in union with the church that Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races.

Choir: Acknowledging the promise of grace, we pledge to be faithful members of Christ's holy church and to serve as Christ's representatives in the world.

All: May God's Spirit strengthen us for our mission in this world.

Profession of Faith: Apostles' Creed

Leader: Do you believe in God the Father?

All: I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Leader: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

All: I believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father
From there he will come to judge the living and
the dead.

Leader: Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?

All: I believe in the holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Charge to the People

Hymn: "Amazing Grace" PsH 462, PH 280, RL 456, TH 460
st. 1: cantor
st. 2: all men
st. 3: all
st. 4: all, in canon, as directed by the cantor to portray the image of eternal praise

Intercessory Prayer

Musical Refrain: "In Our Lives Be Glorified"SFL 71

Christ's Return

Anthem: "Song of Triumph" (Revelation 15:3-4)

Prayer for the Coming Kingdom
Liturgist: Lord Jesus, we long for the coming of your kingdom.

All: Come quickly, we pray. Until that day, strengthen us in faith, hope, and love. Shepherd us each day from death to life, that we may walk in the strength of our baptism and trumpet the good news of Jesus Christ throughout our world. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!

All sing: "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" PsH 568,PH 376, RL 464, TH 529

Benediction: Thessalonians 5:23

Organ Voluntary: "Holy God, We Praise Your Name"
(arr. Flor Peelers)

Rev. Dr. John D. Witvliet is director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and professor of music and worship at Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also teaches in the religion department at Calvin University.

Reformed Worship 38 © December 1995, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.