Church at Home for Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday

Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Resurrection of the Lord.

 

Prepare a prayer centre with an Easter candle, a bowl of water with a little branch with leaves to sprinkle, and a crucifix. If you have been able to collect Easter Water from the church, you can use it for sprinkling. If you do not have Easter Water, the liturgy includes a prayer of blessing for the water.

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply: Amen

Leader: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply: Blessed be God for ever

Leader: This Easter morning we gather for a most unusual Easter celebration. The coronavirus pandemic threatens to overwhelm us, yet the Church insistently proclaims: Christ is risen! We still celebrate the central mystery of our faith, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He suffered on the cross and died for us, but now he has conquered death and fear! Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church. Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement in this world of pain, sorrows, and tears. It reminds us that life is worth living. It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in the Church, in the Blessed Sacrament, and in Heaven that gives meaning to our personal as well as our communal prayer.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Acts 10:34a.37-43

Introduction to the reading:The Apostle Peter was originally skeptical about preaching the Gospel to non-Jews, but one day, the Holy Spirit summoned him to preach to a Gentile – the pagan army officer Cornelius and his household.Today’s passage is a portion of Peter’s sermon, which summarizes the life and ministry of Jesus.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

In those days:
Peter opened his mouth and said:
“You know the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and with power;
how he went about doing good
and healing all that were oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.
And we are witnesses to all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree,
but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest;
not to all the people
but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
And he commanded us to preach to the people,
and to testify that he is the one ordained by God
to be the judge of the living and the dead.
To him, all the prophets bear witness
that everyone who believes in him
receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 118:1-2.15c-17.22-23 (R. 24)

Let us pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice in it and be glad.

Give praise to the Lord, for he is good;
his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”

“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty deeds;
his right hand is exalted.
The Lord’s hand has done mighty deeds.”
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount the deeds of the Lord

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done,
a marvel in our eyes.

R/. This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice in it and be glad.

Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4

Introduction to the reading: The letter to the Colossians depicts Christ as the only mediator between God and the world.A previous passage of the letter presented baptism as the way we are united with Christ.The author will today remind us of the heights to which Christ has raised us, and they call upon us to live up to this.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians.

Brothers and Sisters:
If you have been raised with Christ,
seek the things that are above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things that are above,
not on things that are on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is our life appears,
then you also will appear with him in glory.

The word of the Lord.

Alleluia. Alleluia.
Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed;
let us, therefore, celebrate the festival in the Lord.
Alleluia.

Gospel: John 20:1-9

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.

On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark,
and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple,
the one whom Jesus loved,
and said to them,
“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,
and we do not know where they have laid him.” 

Peter then came out with the other disciple,
and they went toward the tomb.
They both ran,
but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first,
and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there,
but he did not go in.
Then Simon Peter came, following him,
and went into the tomb;
he saw the linen cloths lying,
and the napkin, which had been on his head,
not lying with the linen cloths
but rolled up in a place by itself.
Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in,
and he saw and believed;
for as yet they did not know the scripture,
that he must rise from the dead.

The Gospel of the Lord

Reflection on the Readings 

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Homily

The Egyptian pyramids are world-famous as one of the “seven Wonders” of the ancient world. But they are actually gigantic tombs containing the mummified bodies of Egyptian Pharaohs. Westminster Abby is a famous church in London, and thousands visit it, because the dead bodies of famous writers, philosophers, and politicians are entombed there.

 

But there is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and pilgrims from all over the world visit it. It has a tomb there which is empty with a note at its entrance which says, “He is not here.” It is famous because Jesus Christ, Who was once buried there, rose from the dead, leaving an empty tomb, as He had told his disciples he would. Jesus defied the laws of nature and proved that He is God. 

We rejoice at this great and unique event by celebrating Easter.

Every year we hear the story  of the Resurrection. They are told in variations by the four Gospel writers. Details follow a similar pattern. Something like this: they begin with the disciples living in a “Good Friday way,” in a world of huge disappointment and loss – perhaps like our current lives saddened by the pandemic with all their accompanying pain and limitations.  

The events happened early in the morning, “while it was still dark,” we are told. That sums up their world and ours these days. Mary Magdalene is on her way to the tomb. Other gospel accounts have several women going.  There is a heavy stone, with a question we sometimes also ask in our need, “Who will roll it away?” Today’s account has no one at the tomb.  The other Gospels have an angel, or one or two figures in white. In Luke’s Gospel the two men at the empty tomb ask the women, “Why do you search for the Living One among the dead?” It is a question that is put to us as well. 

Have we been looking in all the wrong places for direction, solace and help? 

The differences in the accounts cause some people to conclude the event never happened at all. But, if Jesus really did rise from the dead, think of the confusion and wonder of those who breathlessly told of having seen the Risen Lord. This was a first. No one had ever had this experience before. The confusion and differences in the stories could very well have been caused by the excitement of telling something that seemed so unbelievable. 

We will hear variations of the story over the next weeks. We could shrug our shoulders and say, “So what’s new?  It is the same old story we have heard many times in years past. I know the resurrection accounts almost my heart. What’s changed?” 

What’s changed! 

So much has happened since last March when we last heard the stories. We are not the same people we were last year. We are not the same church we were last year. We are not the same world we were last year. Everything has changed. We need to hear these stories as if they were brand new, as if we have never heard them before. Because we are hearing them in this new, drastically changed and un-chartered world we find ourselves in.

 

Because we are different and so much has changed, the resurrection stories are different for us today. It is not like some old familiar tales we find on a bookshelf, a bit dusty from age. They are brand-new stories so they help us experience God in a whole new way, this year – today. 

Can we identify with Mary and those disciples who were still in the dark? Are we like those locked-up disciples, afraid. Do we also have a sense of foreboding and need hope. In our Good Friday world our eyes get used to the dark and all we can see is an empty tomb, nothing else. 

Good Friday is shrouded with darkness, brokenness and sadness, disenchantment and feelings of abandonment. Though we cannot see our way out, God is still at work. Easter reminds us that God does some of God’s best work in the dark, always has, always will. 

We believe God is giving us new life even in today’s darkness and gloom.

What if someone were to say, “Prove it.” Well we can’t just from those very familiar gospel accounts. No one actually saw Jesus rise. What we have is an empty tomb and their word. “Prove it.” We can’t, the resurrection was the only event in Jesus’ life that was entirely between him and God. I can’t prove the resurrection, I can’t explain it, I can’t force it to make sense. 

What we can say is: “I believe it, I trust it. I will live my life in the light of the resurrection” 

We have experienced more than once how Good Friday became Easter Sunday.  We believe that on the other side of death and pain is always resurrection; always new creation; always new life.  It is not Good Friday for ever. 

But it is Easter Sunday forever.

Renewal of Baptismal Promises

Since baptism is a rebirth to a new life, a spiritual resurrection, it is fitting that we renew our Baptismal Promises on Easter Sunday. 

If you do not have blessed Easter Water, this prayer can be prayed over the water:

Leader: Blessed are you, Lord, all-powerful God. Christ is the living water of salvation and blesses us and transforms us. When we are sprinkled with this water or make use of it, we will be refreshed by the power of the Holy Spirit and continue to walk in the new life we received at baptism. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Leader: Dear brothers and sisters,
through the Passion, death and Resurrection,
we have been buried with Christ in baptism,
so that we may walk with him in newness of life.
And so, let us renew the promises of made at our baptism,
when we renounced Satan and his works
and promised to serve God in the holy Catholic Church. 

And so I ask you: 

Leader: Do you renounce sin,
so as to live in the freedom of the children of God? 

All: I do. 

Leader: Do you reject the lure of evil,
so that sin my have no mastery over you? 

All: I do. 

Leader: Do you reject Satan, the author and prince of sin? 

All: I do. 

Leader: Do you believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth? 

All: I do. 

Leader: Do you believe in Jesus Christ,
his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father? 

All: I do. 

Leader: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting? 

All: I do. 

Leader: And may almighty God,
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
who has given us new birth by water and the Holy Spirit,
and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins,
keep us by his grace,
in Christ Jesus our Lord,
for eternal life. 

All: Amen.

Each person now takes some of the Easter water and blesses themselves with it.

Prayer of the Faithful 

Leader: Gathered together as disciples of the risen Christ, we bring before the Lord our cares and concerns as we make our prayers of intercession for ourselves, the Church and the world.

Reader:

We pray for our leaders in the Church who have a special responsibility for preaching the word of God: (pause) that they may present the Gospel message clearly to us and to all the people of our time.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for the leaders of South Africa: (pause) that the light of the resurrection may lead them into the ways of justice and peace, and a concern for the true common good. 

LORD HEAR US

We pray for a just and equitable distribution of the Coronavirus vaccines: (pause) that God will give insight to those distributing and administering the vaccines so that those who are most vulnerable may be vaccinated.
LORD HEAR US

We pray for all those who were received into the Church at the Easter Vigil: (pause) that the joy of the resurrection may fill their hearts, guiding them into a new life of hope and joy.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US

Leader: Let us pray our Easter Prayer:

God of unending joy, 

you have set us free from sin and death 

through the rising of your Son, 

our Lord Jesus Christ.  

In this season of renewed hope, 

we rejoice and pray that throughout the year 

we may be faithful to our baptismal promises.  

Help us to find hope all around us, 

to believe in your mercy 

even when we cannot see it, 

and to proclaim your goodness to the world.  

We ask this through Christ our Risen Lord. 

Amen. Alleluia.

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. 

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I receive you. Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader: Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us: 

All say: 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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader: On this most holy day, Lord God,

through the triumph of your only-begotten Son

you have shattered the gates of death

and opened the way to everlasting life.

Grant, we beseech you,

that we who celebrate the festival of the Lord’s resurrection

may rise to a new and glorious life

through the quickening power of your Spirit.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

All: Amen.

Easter Blessing

Leader: Through the resurrection of Jesus
God has redeemed us and made us his children.
May God bless us with joy. 

All: Amen.

Leader: Our Redeemer has given us lasting freedom.
May we inherit everlasting life. 

All: Amen. 

Leader: By faith, we rose with Jesus in baptism.
May our lives be holy,
so that we will be united with Jesus for ever.

All: Amen. 

Leader: May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All: Amen.

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