Sermon: Not the End of the Story–An Easter Sermon – Mark 16:1-8

This gospel tells us that the male disciples flee in the garden of Gethsemane, and the same word, flee, is used to describe how the women react when they see the empty tomb. The women are described as trembling. They are afraid. But the good news that this gospel writer is sharing about is not dependent on what people do…the good news is about Jesus Christ. About the kingdom that he is proclaiming. A kingdom that cannot be stopped by anything. Not even by his own followers betraying him. Can you see how this gospel would resonate with a church that was experiencing great persecution, a church that was afraid?

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In the Name of Christ Litany

1.          In the name of Christ, First Born of all Creation,
2.          in the name of Jesus, the Second Adam, born of Mary,
3.          in the name of Immanuel, the Nazarene, who lived among us, 
1.          in the name of Christ, the Baptized One, first in obedience,
2.          in the name of Jesus, Wilderness Dweller, tried and tested,
3.          in the name of Immanuel, Word of Love for all people,
1.          in the name of Christ, Healer of our Every Ill,
2.          in the name of Jesus, Welcomer of Children,
3.          in the name of Immanuel, Beloved Teacher,
1.          in the name of Christ, Transfigured Son of God,
2.          in the name of Jesus, Bread of Life for the whole word,

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Believing in Resurrection Congregational Prayer

God of life,
thank you for empty tombs
and Jesus Christ, risen and alive.
Thank you that death does not have the final word, ever.
We pray for all who find it difficult to believe in resurrection
this Easter morning:
victims of natural disasters, or terrorism,
those who are caught in financial hardship, or webs of addiction,
those who are struggling with sickness or are weighed down with depression.
Especially we pray for people on the edge of terrorist attacks,
people who feel that violence is the answer that will bring change,
people with guns and bombs and plans to use them…

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“It is the Lord” Congregational Prayer

God, thank you for the dawn that comes every morning,
even after our darkest nights.
We give you thanks for life resurrecting from the death of winter.
For birds singing their spring songs in the dark before the dawn;
for the ice on rivers, shattered,
for the first green spikes of spring poking up through the melting earth,
for the smell of spring air fresh when we open the door,
for the sun’s rays on our face, warming us.
For every sign of spring, we give you thanks!

We give you thanks for your son Jesus Christ,
for his sacrifice for us, for his teaching.
Help us to grasp resurrection; to understand its power,

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God of Resurrection Prayer

God of Resurrection,
we come on this most holy of mornings,
thankful and awed by your power to save us.
Thank you for the gift of your son Jesus Christ
whose resurrection brings us life. 
You know us, Lord, in our humanness.
You lived and breathed and walked among us,
you know us inside and out, every word and action;
our secret thoughts are known only to you.
You know the areas in our lives that are dead;
you are familiar with our tombs.

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Shining Call to Worship

Great God of heaven and earth;
we come to sing of your mighty power this morning,
your wisdom, your goodness, your strength flaming out.
We come to give thanks for great gifts.
This morning, we ask that you would resurrect us,
opening us petal by petal, with your shining love,
warming us into life
even in the places where we feel cold and dead.
Shine in our hearts, Lord Jesus!


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“Can these bones live” Easter Congregational Prayer

God of grace,
we feel your hand upon us this morning,
saving us, loving us, encouraging us.
Jesus, you lived and walked among us,
you know us through and through.
You are familiar with our tombs,
the places where we have laid loved ones to rest,
and also those places where we are dead inside.
And you know the wars we fight,
personal and on a larger scale.
You have visited the battlefields, filled with corpses.
You ask us, “Can these bones live?”
and we think it’s impossible.
Death seems so final and powerful.  
And so does racism, and sexism, and every other ism.

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Emmaus Road Poem

Two travelers trudging
the long road from Jerusalem.
Their sorry faces are bent,
reliving the sad event
that sent them scurrying.
“What next?” they wonder.

The stranger comes alongside,
and he is told the sad tale,
but far from sympathizing
he starts scolding them;
too slow of heart,
too slow on the uptake,
not enough faith….

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Mary on Easter Morning

We were weighed down, walking to the tomb.
We knew the way, for we had walked it two days before.
We had followed Joseph of Arimathea and his servant
down the hill from Golgatha,
their arms straining with the dead weight of Jesus’ body.
We saw where they laid him, how they wrapped him in linen.
We saw their shoulders pushing that stone in place,
the sound of it grinding shut.
And though our eyes streamed tears
we marked the place,
for we knew we would come back.

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About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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