Mar 28

Easter Sunday (Year B) – “Alternative” Worship Ideas

Looking for something a little different to include in your Easter worship this year?  The Worship Closet has got you covered!  Here are a few of the ideas that I’ve developed this year.  Be blessed!

Creative Worship Settings and Elements

  • If the weather is good (and warm enough), have your worship service outdoors on the lawn.  Set up picnic tables – and even some large blankets on the ground for kids.  You could have bread, wine (juice), cups, and napkins at each table/blanket for people to share communion (or, pass out picnic baskets with the elements in them when it is time during the service).
  • For a “sunrise” Easter service, begin worship outside (or, at least outside of the sanctuary).  Quietly process in to the sanctuary, where only the Christ Candle is lit (no other lights, or at least as few lights as possible).  Once people are seated, read the Gospel lesson for the day – and as you read, have someone(s) gradually turn the lights on to full brightness in the sanctuary.  When the scripture reading is done, the worship leader can proclaim, “Christ is Risen!”  The congregation can then respond with, “Christ is Risen, Indeed!”  Then, the musicians can lead everyone in singing a joyful Easter hymn.
  • We had palm branches to wave on Palm Sunday – but what can we wave on Easter?  How about strips on white cloth (or sections of wide, white ribbon)?  You could tie strips of cloth/ribbon to small dowel rods or craft sticks – or, you can leave the cloth/ribbon unattached to anything.  As hymns of praise are sung, the congregation (especially children) can wave the strips of cloth/ribbon in celebration of the Risen Lord.
  • Distribute musical instruments (small drums, cymbals, triangles, tambourines, shakers, etc), and welcome folks to play along with the hymns of praise.  You could do this throughout the entire worship service, or limit it to a particular hymn.  If you have limited instruments, let the kids/youth use the instruments – invite the adults to clap their hands, tap their feet, pat their laps, or snap their fingers.
  • Butterflies are a symbol of new life.  Make butterfly mobiles to hang in your worship space (wire hangers or dowel rods, thread or thin fishing line, and paper cutouts of butterflies).  Craft stores and scrapbook shops may have a paper-cutter that will produce butterfly shapes.  You can use a variety of papers and colors.
  • Eggs are also a symbol associated with new life.  You could have a small-scale Easter egg hunt in your worship space.  Write Easter-related Bible verses or phrases on slips of paper (things like, “This is the day that the Lord has made” and “Christ is Risen”), put them inside of some plastic eggs, and “hide” the eggs in the worship space (they don’t need to be well hidden).  During the Children’s Moment, invite the kids to go find an egg and then read what it says (if they are too young to read, invite them to find an adult to read it aloud for everyone to hear).  At the conclusion of the Children’s Moment (after whatever “message” you want to include, etc), invite the kids to come see you after worship, so you can give them each a thank you gift (another plastic egg, filled with toys, candy, stickers, etc) – meet kids at the door to the worship space with a basket full of plastic eggs full of goodies.

Mission Projects

  • We are called to go and share the Good News that Christ is RISEN!  So, why not provide a very real and tangible way for the congregation to do that?  Following the Proclamation of the Word, move the worship service into another room (a large classroom or fellowship hall) to assemble Easter Baskets to be distributed to children in need.  Easter baskets or bags can be purchased at a Dollar Store for, well…a dollar each (or maybe less) – along with decorative “grass” and other goodies.  Fill each basket/bag with things like small toys, basic art supplies, children’s games, books, children’s Bibles, and (of course) candy.  Once they are assembled, pray over them – pray for the kids and families that will receive them.  Then, divide into small groups to distribute the baskets/bags.  Make arrangements before Easter Sunday to give baskets to kids in orphanages, shelters, hospitals, etc.  Plan to gather back at the church at a particular time to reflect on their visits – and, if you had not had Communion during the worship service, you could conclude your time together with the Lord’s Supper.
  • Easter worship services can be absolutely beautiful…but what about the people who can’t attend worship in your church on Sunday?  Maybe they are in a nursing home.  Maybe they are in a hospital.  Maybe they are in a shelter of some sort.  Maybe they are in prison.  Gather for worship, and have an abbreviated service in your regular worship space (shorter sermon, perhaps).  When it is time to celebrate Communion, distribute bags/baskets that contain bottles of grape juice, loaves of bread (I recommend gluten-free and nut-free, as you want to be sensitive to people’s allergies), napkins, cups (small, disposable, easy to hold by people of all ages), and a printed communion liturgy (including the scripture lessons that were read in worship).  Divide the congregation into groups (make sure that you have a driver in each group and enough room in cars/vans), and have each group take communion to others in the community.  Have groups that visit the nursing homes, others who visit hospitals, others who visit individual homes, and others who visit shelters and prisons.  Be sure to make arrangements beforehand.  Each group can share the Easter story, Communion, and some time in fellowship with those they meet.  You may want to gather as a large group later that evening, or maybe share your experiences in worship the following Sunday.
  • Isaiah 25:6-9 speaks of the Lord providing a great feast.  Why not get inspired by that, and host a community meal?  You can sing hymns and tell the Easter story while you are preparing the feast in the kitchen and dining room.  Then, open the doors and welcome all who are hungry to join the feast you prepare – serving them, as God serves us.  Have cards at each seat that have the Isaiah 25:6-9 and Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 scriptures written on them (for your guests to take with them).  Once everyone has been served, you could offer a prayer for those gathered.  You could even offer “Communion” during the meal, breaking a large loaf (to be taken around for each person to rip off a chunk of bread) and pouring small cups (carefully distributed by church volunteers) for everyone to enjoy.  (I’m not imagining this to be a “we want to save your soul” kind of event – this is all about hospitality with no expectations. Let God take care of turning people’s hearts, and let’s just focus on showing love with our neighbors.)
  • Don’t have the resources to host a community meal?  You can still find inspiration in that Isaiah passage!  Invite the congregation (the Sunday and week before Easter Sunday) to bring in food donations for your local food pantry!  When the Isaiah passage is read during worship, invite the congregation to bring their “gifts” forward to set up their “feast” in the front of the worship space.  Following worship, invite the congregation to help stock the shelves of the pantry (especially if it is located in your church).

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