3 Responsive Readings for Easter

easter-responsive-readings

To say that Easter’s a big deal would be an understatement. It’s the pinnacle of the Christian year. On this critical day, churches are packed with enthusiastic worshipers and seekers desperately needing the life-changing power of the resurrection.

This isn’t a day for spectators—this is a day where everyone should be involved. You want people singing their hearts out and listening carefully to a soul-stirring message.

Adding a responsive reading to your Easter service offers another opportunity for connection to Christ and his Word. Through this liturgical element, worshipers and visitors alike receive the resurrection story and respond with holy Scripture.

Here are three service-ready responsive readings that will minister to your church. The first is a retelling of the Easter story, the second is an encouraging prayer of trust, and the last a celebration of death conquered.

Feel free to use one (or all) of them in whatever manner best fits your service!

1. The Resurrection Story: Luke 24:1–12

Leader: On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

Congregation: They found the stone rolled away from the tomb.

Leader: When they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Congregation: While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

Leader: In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them,

Congregation: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! 

Leader: Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”

Congregation: Then they remembered his words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 

2. Easter prayer

Leader: The world is full of turmoil and unrest.
Congregation: He is risen!
Leader: We want to help, but we don’t know where to start.
Congregation: Take heart, he has overcome the world!

Leader: You prayed for the unity of you church, but we are not unified.
Congregation: He is risen!
Leader: We long to be a vibrant, healing community of faith.
Congregation: He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it.

Leader: My heart is full of turmoil and unrest.
Congregation: He is risen!
Leader: I need your power inside of me.
Congregation: In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Leader: He is risen!
Congregation: He is risen indeed!

3. Christ the Lord is risen today

Leader: Jesus rides into Jerusalem upon a donkey. The crowd cheers, laying palm branches at his feet.
Congregation: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Leader: Jesus prepares his disciples for what’s to come. The God of the universe kneels and washes their feet, instructing them to do likewise.
Congregation: Hosanna! Alleluia!
Leader: Jesus is arrested and unfairly tried. An offer is given—Rome can release Jesus the Messiah or the notorious prisoner, Barabbas. The crowd responds,
Congregation: Give us Barabbas!
Leader: Pilate asks, “What should be done with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
Congregation: Crucify him!

Leader: Jesus is mocked, beaten, a crown of thorns viciously pressed into his brow. Forced to carry the tool of his own execution, he stumbles. Nails are driven through his feet and hands. The cross is raised before the glaring crowd—his charges clearly visible.
Congregation: The king of the Jews.
Leader: Soldiers cast lots for his clothes. He thirsts and is given vinegar. He cries out in desperation, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” He gives up his spirit.
Congregation: It is finished.

Leader: Days later, the women head to a borrowed tomb where his body has been placed, but the large stone blocking the tomb has been rolled away. His body is gone, and in its place are nicely folded burial clothes. An angel speaks:
Congregation: “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.”

Leader (emphatically): He’s alive! He’s alive! Christ the Lord is risen today. He has conquered death!
Congregation: And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Leader: He is risen!
Congregation: And in him, we are renewed.

Jayson D. Bradley
For the last 20+ years, Jayson's been a pastor, worship leader, and church planter. Now he writes about ministry and Christian engagement. When he isn't hanging out here or writing for Overthink Group, you can find him contributing to JaysonDBradley.com.

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