Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;

It was as His flesh; ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

-John Updike, “Seven Stanzas at Easter”

 March 27, 2016
Easter Sunday

Center City Campus


Leader: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has born us again into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Amen.


Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia! 
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia! 
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! 
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!  

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia! 
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia! 
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia! 
Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia! 
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia! 
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia! 
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia! 

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia! 
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia! 
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia! 
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Music by John Baptist Walsh, 1708. Lyrics by Charles Wesley, 1739.



Leader:    Alleluia! Christ is risen. 

People:     The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia! 


Leader:     Alleluia! Christ is risen.

People:     He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Leader:     Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

People:     He has given us new life and hope. He has raised Jesus from the dead.

Leader:     God has claimed us as his own. He has brought us out of darkness.

People:     He has made us light to the world.

Leader:     Alleluia! Christ is risen.

People:     He is risen indeed. Alleluia! 

—Based on 1 Peter 1:3-5




I hear the Savior say,
Thy strength indeed is small
Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in me thine all in all

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power, and Thine alone
Can change the lepers spots,
and melt the heart of stone

Jesus paid it all,
All to him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow
And when before the throne, I stand in him complete
Jesus died my soul to save, my lips shall still repeat


O praise the One who paid my debt,
and raised this life up from the dead.
O praise the One who paid my debt,
and raised this life up from the dead.


Lyrics/Music by Kristian Stanfill. 




Leader:     In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 
—Isaiah 30:15, 18, NIV


People:     Almighty God, in raising Jesus from the grave, you shattered the power of sin and death. We confess that we remain captive to doubt and fear, bound by the ways that lead to death. We overlook the poor and the hungry and pass by those who mourn; we are deaf to        the cries of the oppressed and indifferent to calls for peace; we despise the weak and abuse the earth you made. Forgive us, God of mercy. Help us to trust your power to change our lives and make us new, that we may know the joy of life abundant given in Jesus Christ, the risen Lord. Amen. 


Leader: God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

—Ephesians 2:4-6, NRSV


Glory be to the Father, Glory be to the Son, 
Glory be to the Spirit, Three in one
As it was in the beginning it will be forever
Amen, Amen, Amen 





Luke 24:1-12, NRSV

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Minister: This is the gospel of the Lord. 
People: Praise to you O Christ! 


Sermon Title: An Idle Tale?
Speaker: Jared Ayers



Minister:    Let us say what we believe.

People:     We believe in one God, 
                  the Father, the Almighty, 
                  maker of heaven and earth, of all that is,
                  seen and unseen. 
                 We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
                 the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, 
                 God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,
                 begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
                 Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation
                  he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
                  and became truly human. 
                  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
                  he suffered death and was buried.
                 On the third day he rose again
                 in accordance with the Scriptures;
                 he ascended into heaven
                 and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 
                 He will come again in glory
                 to judge the living and the dead,
                 and his kingdom will have no end. 

                 We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
                 who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], 
                 who with the Father and the Son
                  is worshiped and glorified, 
                 who has spoken through the prophets. 
                 We believe in one holy catholic*
                  and apostolic Church. 

                 We acknowledge one baptism
                 for the forgiveness of sins. 
                We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
        (*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places)




The Lord be with you. 
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts now!  
We lift them to the Lord.

      Let us give thanks to the Lord our saving God.
It is right and good, always and everywhere,
To give thanks, to the Lord.


Minister:     With joy we praise you, gracious God, for you have created heaven and earth, made us in your image, and kept covenant with us— even when we fell into sin. We give you thanks for Jesus Christ, our Lord, who by his glorious resurrection overcame the power of sin and gave us new life. Therefore we join our voices with all the saints and angels and the whole creation to    proclaim the glory of your name, saying: 

      Holy, holy, holy, God of power and might
The whole earth is full of Your glory,
         hosanna in the highest!
Holy, holy, holy, God of power and might.
The whole earth is full of Your glory, 
 hosanna in the highest!


Minister:     By your power you raised Jesus from death to life. Through his victory over the grave we are set free from the bonds of sin and the fear of death to share the glorious freedom of the children of God. In his rising to life you promise eternal life to all who believe in him. We praise you that as we break bread in faith, we shall know the risen Christ among us. 


  Your death, O Christ, we proclaim.
Your rising celebrate! 

       Your coming Lord we await, to make all things new.


Minister:     Gracious God, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, that the bread we break and the cup we bless may be the communion of the body and blood of Christ. By your Spirit make us one with Christ, that we may be one with all who share this feast, united in ministry in every place. As this bread is Christ’s body for us, send us out to be the body of Christ in the world.

 Praise to the Father,
praise to the Son, 
praise to the Spirit, 
Our God the Three in One


Minister:    Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.  
People:    Therefore, let us keep the feast. 


Minister:      The gifts of God for the people of God.     

Gluten-free communion wafers are available at the welcome table in the front lobby of the church. Please pick one up prior to coming forward to take communion. Holy Communion, also called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, is the family meal of Christians. We invite all committed followers of Jesus Christ to partake of this sacrament: those who are baptized members of a congregation that proclaims the Gospel, who are at peace with God and their neighbor, and who seek strength to live more faithfully for Christ.



If you are not a Christian, or if you are not prepared to share in this meal, we encourage you to spend this time in prayer. We hope that this time is helpful to you as you consider your relationship with Jesus Christ and with his people, the church. If you are unable to receive Communion, we invite you to meditate on one of the following prayers:

PRAYER FOR THOSE SEARCHING FOR TRUTH: Lord Jesus, you claim to be the way, the truth, and the life. Grant that I might be undaunted by the cost of following you as I consider the reasons for doing so. If what you claim is true, please guide me, teach me, and open to me the reality of who you are. Give me an understanding of you that is coherent, convincing, and that leads to the life that you promise. Amen.

PRAYER OF BELIEFLord Jesus, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through you I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment on the cross, and offering forgiveness and new life. Knowing that you have been raised from the dead, I turn from my sins and receive you as Savior and Lord. Amen. 

PRAYER OF COMMITMENT: Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you in baptism and in a life of committed discipleship in your church. Grant that I may take the necessary steps to be one with your people, and live in the fullness of your Spirit. Amen.  



Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
But fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love
And bled for us
Freely You've bled for us

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

Beneath the weight of all our sin
You bowed to none but heaven's will
No scheme of hell, no scoffer's crown
No burden great can hold You down
In strength You reign
Forever let Your church proclaim


O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
The glory of God has defeated the night

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead
He's alive! He's alive!


Words and Music by Matt Maher, 2009.


People:     God our Father, you have invited us to share in the supper which your Son gave to his Church to proclaim his death until he comes: may he nourish us by his presence, and unite us in his love; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Minister:     Let us pray as our Lord Jesus has taught us:  
People:    Our Father in heaven, 
                hallowed be your name,  
                your kingdom come, 
                your will be done, 
                on earth as it is in heaven.         
                Give us today our daily bread.
                Forgive us our sins
                as we forgive those who sin against us. 
               Save us from the time of trial, 
               and deliver us from evil.    
               For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, 
               now and forever.





In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.

Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!

And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.

No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Music by Stuart Townsend, 2001. Lyrics by Keith Getty, 2001.




Minister: God the Father, by whose glory Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, strengthen you to walk with him in his risen life; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always.

People:     Amen.


Minister:    Go out now, in the hope of the resurrected Lord Jesus, to love and serve the world. 
People:     Thanks be to God!