Easter Sunday: Worship at Home - April 11, 2020

A resource for you to use to worship at home on Easter Sunday during quarantine.


Worship at Home… In Our Shared Wilderness



We all have our own traditions around Easter—egg hunts, family lunches, Easter lilies, and meaningful worship. This year, those traditions will not be the same, and yet, we believe that just like every Easter before, the sun will rise, and something will be different.


This year, despite our physical distance, we invite you to carve out some sacred space in the comfort of your own home to recognize the holiness of this day.


This is a simple liturgy for your own personal Easter Sunrise service. Why sunrise? Every year, thousands of people celebrate Easter at sunrise because the women discovered the empty tomb early in the morning, “while it was still dark” (John 20:1). Therefore, we invite and challenge you to be like these brave biblical women, to rise in the dark, to recognize the wilderness, and to watch the sun rise over it.


May your morning be holy. May it be authentic. May it be joyful. May it be messy. May it be whatever it is you need on this day. For even though we cannot be near one another at this time, God always draws near to us. Even in the wilderness, God is there. Let us worship Holy God.




•   A candle

•   Matches or a lighter

•   Comfy clothes (pajamas are preferable)

•   A blanket (if it’s chilly)

•   Something warm to drink (this is optional, but if you’re getting up for sunrise, you deserve your favorite coffee or really good tea!)



Play a favorite song, or opt for one of the following hymns to set the tone.


Christ the Lord Is Risen Today (NCH 233)

I Come with Joy (NCH 349)

This Easter Celebration

OPENING| Light a Candle & Settle In

As you start your morning, head outside! Find a comfortable place to settle in and watch the sunrise. Watch from a front porch, a porch swing, a picnic table in your backyard, or a big front window if it’s too cold out.


Once there, light a candle. Allow this candle lighting to be a spiritual reminder that this place is a place set apart. This is a moment set apart, for even though the sun will rise, we, like the women at the tomb, begin our journey in the dark. Allow the flame to remind you that even in the darkest times, love and light find a way.


Tip: Invite various members of your gathering to play a role by lighting the candle(s) or deciding where you will sit.

POEM | "The Wilderness is the Birthplace of Joy"

Read the following poem a few times through as a centering prayer. Circle words that stand out to you. Pay attention to what visuals come to mind.



I used to know the wilderness only as pain;

A land without food, a land without water.

But you rained down manna

And even water flows in your desert.


I used to think the wilderness was total isolation—

But the Israelites had each other,

And you had the stars in the sky.


So then I thought the wilderness must be time wasted—

Forty years of circles.

Forty years of wondering.

But then I realized, each step is a step, And maybe there’s growth in that.


So then I concluded that the wilderness must be lonely spaces—

The woman and her well,

The blind man and his gate, Martha and her kitchen, Peter and his fire.

But then you showed up in each of those places, To each of those faces.


So now I wonder—

What if the wilderness is the birthplace of creation?

What if the wilderness is where call begins?

What if the wilderness is where joy is birthed?

What if, between the dirt and the sky

And that wide orange horizon,

The wilderness is where we find you?


READ| John 20:1-18


Read John 20:1-18 out loud. As you read, pick out a word or phrase that stands out to you. Share that word or phrase with those around you, or jot it down in the margins of your bible. Tip: Sometimes it helps to have something specific to listen for in the scripture reading. You might want to listen for what happens to Mary in particular.

Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance, (2) so she ran off to Simon Peter and the other disciple-the one Jesus loved-and told them, “The Rabbi has been taken from the tomb! We don’t know where they have put Jesus!” (3) At that, Peter and the other disciple started out toward the tomb. (4) They were running side by side, but then the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. (5) He didn’t enter but bent down to peer in and saw the linen wrappings lying on the ground. (7) and saw the piece of cloth that had covered Jesus’ head lying not with the wrappings. But rolled up in a place by itself.


(8) Then the disciple who had arrived first at the tomb went in. He saw and believed. (9) As yet, they didn’t understand the scripture that Jesus was to rise from the dead. (10) Then the disciples went back to their homes.


(11) Meanwhile, Mary stood weeping beside the tomb. Even as she wept, she stooped to peer inside, (12) and there she saw two angels in dazzling robes. One was seated at the head and the other at the foot of the place where Jesus’ body had lain. (13) They asked her, “Why are you weeping?” She answered them, “Because they have taken away my Rabbi, and I don’t know where they have put the body.” (14) No sooner had she said this than she turned around and caught sight of Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus. (15) He asked her, “Why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?” She supposed it was the gardener, so she said, “Please, if you’re the one who carried Jesus away, tell me where you’ve laid the body and I will take it away.” (16)  Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned to him and said, “Rabboni!”—which means “Teacher.” (17) Jesus then said, “Don’t hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to Abba God. Rather, go to the sisters and brothers and tell them, “I’m ascending to my Abba and to your Abba, my God and your God!”


(18) Mary of Magdala went to the disciples. “I have seen the Teacher!” she announced. Then she reported what the savior had said to her.


REFLECT| Discussion or Journaling


Reflect on the following prompts. You can either jot these down in a journal, mull them over in your mind as the sun rises, or discuss them with others present.


1)   What are your Easter morning traditions? Why is this morning special to you? What feels different about this morning this year?


2)   There are many emotions present in this story—fear, hope, grief, disbelief, awe. What emotions are you feeling today? Put words to those emotions. Share with others or write them down.

3)   Jesus says to Mary, “Who is it you are looking for?” What is something you are looking for in your faith journey, in your life, in your relationships, or in your own self-growth?

4)   Mary ends her discussion with Jesus with a declaration: “I have seen the Lord.” It is a statement of faith, a statement of hope, a statement of trust. Where do you see God? Where have you seen God in years past, and where do you see God this very morning?



Additional questions for those curious in the Wilderness:


1)   Why do we celebrate Easter? What is special about this day? What are some of your favorite Easter traditions?


2)   On Easter morning, Jesus returned to his disciples, to people he loved. Who are some of the people you love? Who are the people you would like to see soon?


3)   When Mary sees Jesus in the garden, she calls him “Teacher.” What are some good things about teachers? Who are your teachers? What do you love about them? Why is learning so good?


This week, our Social Media Team asked the community: what are your
favorite Easter traditions?

Find out more here:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/stpeterscarmelucc

Twitter https://twitter.com/stpeters_ucc

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/stpetersucc_carmel/

PRAY| Gratitude Prayer


Easter is a day of new beginnings and new life. It is a day for hope and love that overflows. It is a day of gratitude for the days we’ve had and the days to come. It is a day where we remember that love is stronger than hate, and death does not have the last word. Therefore, it only seems appropriate to take a moment to practice gratitude.


Listen to the birds chirping. Take a moment to appreciate the rising sun, and as you do, write down a list of ten things you are grateful for. Allow this practice to be a prayer.


Tip: If some people in your gathering aren’t yet able to write on their own, consider making a gratitude list together. Feel free to extend beyond 10 things and instead try to write down as many things as you can think of that you are grateful for, making sure each person has an opportunity to share. Another option would be to turn this exercise into a game by going around in a circle and inviting each person to add one thing to the list. Remember: you can’t say something that has already been said!


SENDING| Memory-Making and Passing of the Peace


Memory Making

This Easter Sunday is unlike any we have ever seen. We are not in the company of our church community, and yet we trust that God is still here. So, take a photo of your space—of the candle, the sunrise, your journal, the people with you. Document this moment. Cherish this holy morning, for each new day is a gift.


Passing of the Peace

We cannot be physically close to one another in this time, but we can be relationally close. So, on this Easter morning, you are invited to pass the peace with your   church community and loved ones by taking a moment to text or call people and let them know you are thinking about them. Send your Easter photo, or post it on social media, to maintain your connectional nature, even while physically distancing.

Please use #findingthespirit, #togetherinthewilderness, and #stpeterscarmel. You will be amazed how much a text or call can brighten someone’s day.




Play a favorite song, or opt for one of these to celebrate Easter!


Now the Green Blade Rises (NCH 238)

Yours Is the Glory, Resurrected One! (NCH 253)


Until we are together again....


This worship was adapted for use by the people of St. Peter’s UCC and beyond from the Liturgy by Sarah Are | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org.  This liturgy was created during Lent 2020, in the midst of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19.