The Easter morning service is a time of joy, celebration, and renewal. Even churches that do not customarily follow the church year celebrate this day as the culmination of all that the gospel is about. “The hopes and fears of all the years” culminate in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, making Easter the most celebrative day of the church year. In contrast to the somber starkness of Holy Week, on Easter the worship space should be bright and celebratory. Music and songs reflect the full joy of the victorious Christian faith because of Christ’s resurrection.

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Worship Ideas for Easter

Easter Sunday follows Holy Week. We move from the darkness of Good Friday and the waiting of Holy Saturday into the celebration of Christ’s resurrection and what Christ’s death and new life means for God’s people. This is a service of celebration and remembrance of Christ’s victory over death and our calling into that. Easter is traditionally a Sunday to celebrate baptisms because Christ’s death and new life mirrors our own journey from death to new life. In preparation for this service it’s important to note that many who do not attend church regularly will attend on Easter Sunday. This may inform worship leaders’ approach to certain elements of the service.

When: the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, which is the first full moon on or after March 21
Liturgical Colors: white and gold
Associated Objects/Symbols: lilies, flowers, empty tomb

  • resurrection
  • new life
  • creation, new creation
  • fulfillment of god’s promises

Ideas from Scripture for Easter

Gospel Resurrection Accounts

Each of the four gospels gives its own account of the resurrection. While each story has its own take on the redemptive history, each story points to the mystery, wonder, celebration, and victory that we celebrate and remember on Easter Sunday.

Old Testament Promises

As people of the resurrection, we can read and understand the many promises of salvation and redemption found throughout the Old Testament.

New Testament Texts for Easter

The message of the resurrection permeates and defines the New Testament. This message brings hope and shapes the people of the New Testament and us as we live into the promises God made and anticipate the time when Christ will come again.

Reflections on Easter

Jesus Christ's resurrection is “the central event of the Christian religion and of all human history. Christians who make this confession are talking not about the resurrection of faith in the disciples, or of hope in the women at the tomb, or of tulips in the spring. They are confessing the real resurrection of a horribly dead Jesus. As the Apostles' Creed says pointedly, “he was crucified, dead, buried.”

But on the third day, in a spectacular miracle, Jesus Christ rose from the dead and changed the history of the world. The first message of the gospel, a message with power to straighten the spine of every believer, is simply this: “The Lord is risen.” “He is risen indeed!” Preaching, sacraments, evangelism, Christian social action—even worship on Sunday instead of on Saturday—all center on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To the desperate and bewildered, Christians say, “The Lord is risen.”

To doubters, Christians say, “The Lord is risen.” To martyrs who sing to God while their enemies set them on fire, “The Lord is risen.” To poor people . . . who first suffer the indignity of their poverty and then the desolation of being blown out of their houses by hurricanes or washed out by flood—all because they are too poor to build anything on habitable land—to these people Christians say, “The Lord is risen.” “Proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus isn't nearly everything Christians have to offer the world, but it's the platform for everything they have to offer. Every Christian hospital, college, orphanage, media ministry, counseling service, political party, relief agency, and AIDS clinic builds on this platform. Christian hope builds on this platform. In fact, a Christian's hope rises with Christ because Christians see in his resurrection that God's grace cannot be defeated, not even by death itself” (Cornelius Plantinga, Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning and Living [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002], 79–80).

Affirmations of Faith for Easter

Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 45

How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?
First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he obtained for us by his death. Second, by his power we too are already raised to a new life. Third, Christ’s resurrection is a sure pledge to us of our blessed resurrection.

Westminster Confession, Chapter VIII, Sections 4–5, 8; Chapter XIII, Section 1

This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which, that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it; endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified, and died; was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered; with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father, making intercession; and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.

The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father, and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.

To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey; and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.

They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

Our Song of Hope, stanza 4

Jesus Christ is the hope of God’s world.
In his death,
the justice of God is established;
forgiveness of sin is proclaimed.
On the day of the resurrection,
the tomb was empty;
his disciples saw him; death was defeated;
new life had come.
God’s purpose for the world was sealed.

Our World Belongs to God, stanza 25

Standing in our place,
Jesus suffered during his years on earth,
especially in the tortures of the cross.
He carried God's judgment on our sin—
his sacrifice removed our guilt.
God raised him from the dead:
he walked out of the grave,
conqueror of sin and death—
Lord of Life!
We are set right with God,
given new life,
and called to walk with him
in freedom from sin's dominion.


Introduction from The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013], 631–2.