Easter Sunrise Service

Notes on this service below


Leader : This morning, we celebrate the rising of Jesus, which took place three days after his death. Jesus who died is raised by our God; Jesus our Lord, our salvation, our hope. Through song and scripture and prayer, let's join with Christians all over the world this morning in rejoicing. No sermon is needed: attend to "the lesson" in the words of the scriptures we read, the prayers, and in the words of the songs we sing. But be attentive also to what's happening in the sky, and in the world today. There is much noise behind the words and the songs we speak and sing. There is a great rejoicing in heaven this morning. So turn your whole mind and your whole heart to the east as we welcome the son who rises today.

Today, Christ is risen from the dead: trampling down death by death; and upon those in tombs giving life. Shine, shine you new Jerusalem: for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! Rejoice in the dance and exult, o Zion! And delight you men and women of God in the rising of his Son!

Our star, the Sun, which gives light and warmth to the earth and all creation, rises this morning as it has every morning. But this is not like other mornings. Today we celebrate the rising of the one Son, who is above all creation and whose rising truly warms our hearts and gives light to the world.

Reader 1: Matthew 28.1-10; 16-20

After the Sabbath, as Sunday morning was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake; an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid that they trembled and became like dead men. The angel spoke to the women. "You must not be afraid," he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has been raised, just as he said. Come here and see the place where he was lying. Go quickly now, and tell his disciples, "He has been raised from death, and now he is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see him!' Remember what I have told you." So they left the tomb in a hurry, afraid and yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Peace be with you." They came up to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. "Do not be afraid," Jesus said to them. (TEV)

Reader 2: Luke 24. 13-34

That same day two of Jesus' followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles out of Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. Suddenly, Jesus himself came along and joined them and began walking beside them. But they didn't know who he was, because God kept them from recognizing him.

"You seem to be in a deep discussion about something," he said. "What are you so concerned about?"

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, "You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn't heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days."

"What things?" Jesus asked.

"The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth," they said. "He was a prophet who did wonderful miracles. He was a mighty teacher, highly regarded by both God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders arrested him and handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had thought he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. That all happened three days ago. Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, Jesus' body was gone, just as the women had said."

Then Jesus said to them, "You are such foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn't it clearly predicted by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his time of glory?" Then Jesus quoted passages from the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining what all the Scriptures said about himself.

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus would have gone on, but they begged him to stay the night with them, since it was getting late. So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took a small loaf of bread, asked God's blessing on it, broke it, then gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

They said to each other, "Didn't our hearts feel strangely warm as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?" And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem, where the eleven disciples and the other followers of Jesus were gathered. When they arrived, they were greeted with the report, "The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter!" (NLT)


Leader: Ezekiel 36.24-28

I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. (NRSV)

Reader 3: Psalm 30

I will praise you, LORD, for you have rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O LORD my God, I cried out to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O LORD. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. Sing to the LORD, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning.

When I was prosperous I said, "Nothing can stop me now!" Your favor, O LORD, made me as secure as a mountain. Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered. I cried out to you, O LORD. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying, "What will you gain if I die, if I sink down into the grave? Can my dust praise you from the grave? Can it tell the world of your faithfulness? Hear me, LORD, and have mercy on me. Help me, O LORD." You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever! (NLT)

Leader: Prayers for Easter from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout Salvation for the victory of our mighty King! Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth, bright with a glorious splendor, for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King. Rejoice and be glad now, Church of Christ, and let your holy courts, in radiant light, resound with the praises of your people.

[Prayers of the People]

An opportunity to raise up praises to God for the things he has done for us.


Reader 4: It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind to praise you, the invisible, almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam's sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people.

This is the night, when you brought our fathers and mothers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.

This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.

This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.

How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem us slaves, you gave a Son.

How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.

How blessed is this day, when earth and heaven are joined and humankind is reconciled to God!

Song (close with two or more songs)

Leader: May the light of Jesus shine continually to drive away all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find his light ever burning in our hearts--he who gives his light to all creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.

And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined.
Matthew 4.16; Isaiah 9.2

Notes on this service:

On Easter morning, many Christians get up early to celebrate the great joy of Easter in some outdoor setting, while the sky lightens and darkness is symbolically banished. This script may be used as a guide for a sunrise service.

There should be one leader and several readers for this service. The leader will welcome people and begin the service about 30 minutes before the sun is expected to rise. The sky will brighten during the service. Readers will split up the scripture readings, and the leader may take one or more of the scripture readings as well.

There should also be a worship leader to lead the songs (pick appropriate songs that are familiar to your community). Nothing elaborate is needed for the music: a guitar is plenty of accompaniment, though no instruments are needed if those attending are familiar with the songs being sung.

(Prayers Adapted from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer , 1979, and A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers , St Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1991)


2001-2013 D. Maddalena