Celebrating the Resurrection of Christ
Sermons, Outlines, Illustrations, Meditations and Program Ideas
J. Michael Shannon & Robert C. Shannon
(c)opyright 1984, J. Michael Shannon

Special Programs
    Do you live in a community that has a lake or a beach area?  If you do, why not sponsor a Galilean service?  Have singers in a boat with a lighted cross.  Let the message be delivered from the boat or the shore.  This service is common in church camps, but many in your area have never seen it.  It can be an inspiring evening to share with your neighbors.

    Why not hold a special "Inquirers Class" leading up to a "decision day" in conjunction with the special observance of Christ's resurrection.  The class will provide the teaching the prospects need; and the sermon will provide the inspiration to motivate people to make a solid decision.

    A special emphasis on the resurrection for young people could include a Homeland-Holyland Tour.  Perhaps there are areas in your town that could serve as an acceptable substitute for some sight in the Holy Land.  For instance, a lakeside or beach area could suggest the Sea of Galilee.  The tallest place in town could suggest the Mount of Olives.  A courtroom could serve as Pilate's judgment hall.  Your final stop would be a grave yard, an excellent place for a devotional, lesson, or sermon on the resurrection.  You will have to be creative and use your imagination.  See whether there might not be some "holy sites" in your home town.

    Tableaus are often used to observe Christ's birth.  Why not have one to observe His resurrection as well?  The scenes that could be used include the Last Supper, the prayer in the garden, Judas betrayal, the judgment hall, Calvary, and the tomb.  This would need to be adapted, depending on such things as your church's facilities, membership, and talent.  They could be done "live" with church people posing in an appropriate scenery.  Or the whole thing could be done months in advance and photographed for a slide presentation at the appropriate time.

    For a service emphasizing the crucifixion, you could feature a song service that utilizes the hymns of the cross.  You could begin with "The Old Rugged Cross" and close with "In the Cross of Christ I Glory."

    You could also feature hymns that focus on the life of Christ, leading up to the crucifixion.  A hymn on the cross could precede the message.

IDEAS FOR THE SUNRISE SERVICE

    Appropriate hymns can be selected and short talks can be given on the "morning after" theme.  The topics would include "The Morning After the Betrayal" (How did Judas feel?), "The Morning After the Crucifixion" (How did the disciples feel?), "The Morning After the Resurrection," and ''The Morning After the Second Coming."

    If you have used the Tableau idea for Good Friday, and if someone played the part of Christ on the cross, have that same person appear at the Sunrise Service alive and well!  You can easily put together a "first person" service with several individuals appearing in costume to tell their own story of the Passion Week events:  Judas, the centurion, Peter, John, Simon of Cyrene, the soldiers who guarded the tomb, the women, Mary Magdalene, the two who went to Emmaus.

    The morning of the Resurrection may be seen as one of the three great mornings of history.  Appropriate music and a short talk can be given on "The First Morning" (Creation), "Resurrection Morning," and "The Last Morning" (2 Peter 1:19).


A SIMPLE SUNRISE SERVICE
"I WALKED TODAY WHERE JESUS WALKED"

Soloist:

Enters, wearing clothes similar to those worn by women in Jesus day.  She pauses and begins singing, "I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked."  She takes a step or two, pauses, then repeats all the while she is singing.  She should be near her seat as she finishes singing.
Narratator #1:
Enters from the same direction as the soloist only moments after she enters.  He is wearing oriental garb, also.  He steps to pulpit and watches and listens in a meditative manner.  As soloist finishes and is seated, narrator rouses from meditative mood, turns, faces con gregation, and speaks quietly but very distinctly.
Narratator #1:
    I, too, have walked where Jesus walked.  Each time that I am in Jerusalem at the Passover season, I go to the upper room. (Begin playing "Break Thou the Bread of Life.")  There I see the Master as, on that memorable night, He took bread and blessed it and brake it and gave it to us and said, "Take, eat, this is my body." And He took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to us saying, "Drink ye all of it."  How little we understood then what He meant when He said it was His blood of the New Testament that was shed for many for the remission of sins.  Then we lifted our voices heartily and sang as we started out for the Mount of Olives.
    I will never, as long as I live, forget that walk that night.  The streets were dark as we made our way past the Temple.  Although there were eleven disciples who were usually full of questions, we were all strangely quiet.  No man spoke.  Only the Master. (Begin playing "Love Divine.")
    He told us about the vine and branches, that He is the TRUE vine, and we are the fruit-bearing branches.  He said all who fail to bear fruit are cut off.  He told us of the love between His Father and himself and of His love for us.
    His voice was low and gentle as He said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  He said that we are His friends if we obey His commands.  He then talked about the believer and the world - how the world would hate His followers and persecute them.  He told us of the Comforter He would send.


Narrator #2:    (Enters and stands beside Narrator #1.)

    We were amazed and could not understand when He told of His death, His resurrection, and His second coming.
    Then there was that wonderful prayer!  He prayed that the world might be one as He and His Father are One. (Begin playing" 'Neath the Old Olive Trees.")
    After that, we crossed over the brook Kedron into the garden called Gethsemane.  There He divided us into two groups and told us to watch while He went to pray.  Oh, the anguish of the Master as He prayed alone that night! (Stands thoughtfully during the music," 'Neath the Old Olive Trees.")
Duet:     "In the Garden" (vs. 1, 2)

Organ:     Chimes in the distance and the midnight hour begins to strike.

Choir:     "'Tis Midnight" (vs. 3, 4), v. 3 all sing, v. 4 only men sing (singing melody not parts).

Narratator #1:

    Oh, the agony of that night!  The shame that burns within me to this day when I remember that we could not watch one hour with Him.  We slept during His sorrow!
    Then it was over.  His will was completely surrendered to that of His Father.  He was ready when Judas arrived with his kiss of betrayal.  Jesus looked into the eyes of Judas and said, "Friend, wherefore art thou come?"
    Then one of our number drew a sword and cut off the ear of a soldier.  The Lord performed His last miracle of healing as He stopped, picked up the ear, and replaced it.
Narrator #2:
    Turning to the mob, He asked why they had come to take Him armed with swords and staves as if He were a thief.  He told them that even then He could pray the Father and more than twelve legions of angels would come to rescue Him. (Begin playing "Alone.")
    It seems I can hear them now as they leave the garden.  The shouting, abusive soldiers leading our meek and humble Master.  Truly, He was as a sheep being led to a slaughter friendless and alone.
Solo:     Chorus of "Alone", very softly and distinctly, fading at last "alone."

Narratator #1:

    Within the palace, the scribes and elders were assembled with Caiaphas, the high priest.  He asked Jesus if He were the Christ, the Son of God.  Jesus answered that He was and that later the high priest would see Him in His glory.  Angered by this, the high priest charged Him with blasphemy.  The council said He was guilty of death.  The chief priests and all the council spit in His face.  Some hit Him with their fists, while others slapped His face with their open hands.
    It was about this time that Peter denied His Lord, with an oath.
Choir:     "Alone" chorus, softly.

Narrator #2:

    When morning came, Jesus was bound and delivered to the governor, Pontius Pilate.
Narratator #1:
    Pilate suggested that they try Him according to their law, but they refused, saying it was not lawful for them to put a person to death.  Pilate returned to Jesus and asked, "Art Thou the King of the Jews?"  Jesus asked why he had asked this question.  After Pilate answered, Jesus told him that His kingdom is not of this world, that if it were, His servants would fight to rescue Him.
    Again, Pilate asked, "Art Thou a King, then?"  Jesus reply was, "Yes, indeed, I am a King."  He told Pilate that the reason He was born was to bear witness to the truth and that all who are of the truth listen to His voice.
Narrator #2:
    Now at the time of the Passover, it was custom for the governor to release a prisoner to the people.  The chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude to demand the release of a notorious prisoner called Barabbas and put Jesus to death.
    Pilate had the Master scourged.  The Roman soldiers mocked Him by making a crown of thorns for His already torn and bleeding brow.  They put a purple robe on Him.  They slapped Him in the face with their hands and said, "Hail, King of the Jews."
    Again, Pilate went before the people.  This time he presented Jesus to them.  He thought the sight of Him would touch their hearts.  Here was the man who had healed their diseased bodies, brought sight to the blind, raised the dead, fed the hungry, and taught them all to love one another.
    Here He stood before them - alone, humiliated, His body bruised and bleeding from the merciless beating.
Solo:    "Alone," v. 2; also chorus.

Narratator #1:

    Pilate continued to seek a way to release Jesus; but after being threatened by the Jews, he released Him to them, and they led Him away.  Our blessed Lord was forced to bear His own cross to the hill called Golgotha.
Choir:     "Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone," v. 1.

Narratator #1:

    Then they crucified the spotless Lamb of God, who never had known sin with two thieves.
Choir:     V. 3, first line only, "Tell Me the Story of Jesus."  (This is not intended as a 'special ; only as a thought provoking bit of background music.  The word "pain" should be held and "faded" slowly.)

Narrator #2:

    All are familiar with the story of our Lord on the cross.  The terrible suffering, the humiliation, and in all of this His thoughtfulness of His mother and His prayer for His murderers.
Organ:     Begin playing "The Old Rugged Cross.

Narrator #2:

    After three hours of darkness, Jesus of Nazareth died.
Choir:     The Old Rugged Cross (chorus)

Narratator #1:

Darkness reigned in our hearts and souls.  Our disappointment was beyond compare.  We were so sure this was the promised Messiah - and He was only a man, after all.  A leader, yes.  A truly great teacher, yes.  A marvelous friend, yes.  But only a man.  And now, a dead man.  Yes, our Leader was now dead and in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea; and the Sabbath was at hand.
Choir:     "Christ Arose", v. 1, 2, 3; chorus only after v. 3. (Solos by two different people for vs. 1 & 2, v. 2 by a man;
                v. 3 by all; also chorus)

Narrator #2:

    Yes!  The Master did arise from the dead.  Jesus of Nazareth became the Savior of the world and the Friend of all who believe.
Organ:  Music begins, "I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked."

Narrator #2:

    Let us all walk today where Jesus walked from our first steps in the earliest morning hours to our weary ones at night.  Let us walk where the Master walked in love, in service to God and our fellow man, and in humility.  Time and distance matter not.  If we truly love Him and obey His commands, we are His and we walk with Him.
Choir:     Softly, "I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked and Felt Him Close to Me" - end very softly.

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Scanned and proofread by Michael Riggs