Message for April 12, 2020 Easter Sunday

Worship April 12, 2020


Christ is Risen

Christ is Risen Indeed

I welcome you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Hymn                                    Christ The Lord Is Risen Today  

Worldwide Virtual Choir

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of Christians from across the globe, including the United States, Africa, the Philippines and Eastern Europe, joined virtually to sing this celebration hymn for Easter Sunday.

Christ The Lord is Risen Today was written by John Wesley in 1739.

 Opening Prayer

Dear God, thank You for the resurrection of Your Son, Jesus. We want to celebrate Him every day of our lives. In a world that grows increasingly dark, help us hold up His light. Give us the courage to speak as boldly of Him, and never be ashamed or fearful of proclaiming Your Good News. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. Scripture

 Children’s Message with Ben

 Scripture                              Matthew 28:1-10                                                              BrieAnn Merkwan

Jesus Has Risen

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Special Music                    Hallelujah                                                                            Brody Halverson

 Meditation                         With Fear and Joy                                                  Pastor Debra Schaffran          

Christ is Risen…, Christ is Risen…, Christ is Risen…Christ is Risen Indeed

Easter 2020, unlike anything we have ever seen.

If the Easter bunny visits your home, I hope that continued.

That bunny is pretty resilient and hops in and out without anyone seeing him.

Perhaps you are home alone and haven’t had any contact with others for many days.

Perhaps your Easter dinner is a sandwich when last year and years before that it has been a table spread with all your favorite Easter foods, mine being ham and cheesy potatoes.

This might be the first time in your life that you weren’t in the church building for the Easter service.

Easter 2020 will not soon be forgotten.

The first Easter cannot, will not be forgotten. The first Easter didn’t happen in a church building. It happened outside of an empty tomb.

Did you notice that the word fear is mentioned four times in the 10 verses of Matthew chapter 28 that Brieann read earlier?

  • The guards, and then the women who came to the tomb, being
  • And the angels, and then Jesus himself, saying: “Do not be afraid.”

Words like ‘do not be afraid’ and ‘fear not’, occur over three hundred times and I’ve heard it said there is the mention of fear-not 365 times in the Bible, one for every day of the year.

The guards were afraid for a good reason.

They were charged with making sure no one stole the body and their own lives depended on it.

There they are, keeping watch over a dead guy, sealed in a tomb.

That doesn’t sound like a particularly tough job.

Death happened then as now, and the guards were not expecting a dead person to make an attempt at breaking out of the grave.

We’ve likely all had times that we thought we were the unluckiest people on earth but compared to these guards, well this surely must have been the unluckiest military assignment in history.  Keeping a dead guy in the grave, how tough could this be!

But suddenly, there’s an earthquake, and this angel, all white and glowing, bright as lightening, pushes the huge stone back from the entrance of the tomb, and what does the guard find but an empty tomb no body.

Then this bright as lightening angel speaks, not to the guards but to the women who had come to care for Jesus’ body: The angel says

“Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.
The women leave the tomb quickly, “with fear and great joy.”

“With fear and great joy.”

I don’t often think about fear and great joy or great excitement being emotions that go together.

But when I dig deeper I do see these emotions of fear and great joy going together.

Some of the biggest moments and events in our lives bring with them both fear and joy.

  • When Rod and I brought home our first baby, we certainly felt both fear and joy. We can laugh about it now, but we were terrified of doing something wrong and yet we were filled with such overwhelming joy.
  • More recently, almost four years ago when I answered God’s call for my life to enter ministry. I was scared, scared that I couldn’t do it or that I would fail or even disappoint God. While experiencing this great fear I was also so full of joy, joy because I knew I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do.
  • Here we are Easter 2020 and we are in the midst of a pandemic, Covid-19.
    • Our lives have been turned upside down and for many we are fearful. Fearful for our family’s health even fearful for our own health.
    • Many are out of work or work looks nothing like it did just a few weeks ago. The fear of what the future looks like is great
    • The economy is in tough shape and we fear for our retirements and the countries stability

And yet we are celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And we have joy, great joy.

I am reminded of the last song in the Faith We Sing Books, page 2284, words and music written by Natalie Sleeth.

There’ll be joy in the morning on that day,

there’ll be joy in the morning on that day,

for the daylight will dawn when the darkness is gone,

there’ll be joy in the morning on that day.


There’ll be peace and contentment evermore,

there’ll be peace and contentment evermore,

every heart, every voice on that day will rejoice,

there’ll be peace and contentment evermore.


There’ll be love and forgiveness everywhere,

there’ll be love and forgiveness everywhere,

and the way of the Lord will that day be restored,

there’ll be love and forgiveness everywhere.

And I feel joy on this Easter!

Pastor David Huffstutler says he can no longer hear the Resurrection story without thinking of little Brendan, the four year old grandson of a former colleague of his.

He was visiting his grandmother the week before Easter a few years ago and one afternoon he came with her to the church.

He went around with his grandmother and greeted everyone when he arrived, and somehow after those greetings, most of us, Huffstutler said ended up gathered in the Senior Pastor’s office, where Brendan was encouraged by his grandmother to share the Easter story he had been learning about in church.

Without hesitation, the little boy began reciting word-for-word and from memory Matthew’s account of the Resurrection.

Now, in typical four-year-old fashion, he was sort of rolling around on the floor as he told the story, and he was talking quite quickly and somewhat softly, and it was a little hard to understand him. But I will never forget how clear and pure his final words were, ““Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen!” As little Brendan said the word “risen,” he shot his fist up in the air and got a huge grin on his face. “He is not here; he has risen.”

It is the biggest announcement and greatest news of all time, and somehow in his own bold testimony, little Brendan managed to capture all of its meaning and significance and power.

So here we are, worshipping with our own mixture of fear and great joy.

And then, finally, we arrive at the very last words in Matthew’s whole gospel.

And Jesus offers this beautiful promise: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

“I am with you, always.”

Rev. Deborah Hannay Sunoo in her message last Sunday says the following: God’s always saying that, too.
It’s the same promise we hear at Christmas.  The promise of Immanuel, God with us.
It’s the same promise we hear at a graveside – that neither death nor life can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8)

It’s words like these that empower us to go into the world and share what we’ve experienced of God, even if we don’t have it all figured out.  Even if – for all our good intentions and desire to worship the risen Christ – we’re still a bit of a frightened, doubting mess.
The angel’s invitation to the women at the tomb is an invitation to each one of us:  Come and see. Then go and tell.
Jesus’ words to the disciples are intended for all of us, Share with the world my good news.  For I am with you always.

“Fear not,” say God’s angels.
“I am with you,” says Jesus.

They are always saying it, because we always need to hear it.

“Do not be afraid.”  “I am with you.”

On this Easter day, and every day, I pray God’s words will meet you in your own places of fear and bring you great joy. Amen.

 Special Music                    Was It A Morning Like This                                                                            Ruthanne Harman

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen


Alleluia! This is a day of new beginnings! This is the day of brightness and hope! For God has done wondrous things for us! Go in joyful peace and know that God’s peace and love go with you always. ALLELUIA! AMEN.


Online and written worship continue through May 10 per request from Bishop Ough, Bishop of the MN UMC.

Special Music today is provided by the Worldwide Virtual Choir, soloist Brody Halverson and soloist Ruthanne Harman.

Thank you for joining in this time of Easter worship. May God bless and keep you now and always

Closing Music                    He Lives                                                                               Melanie Halverson



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