Celebrating your ministries during the season of Easter

The font in many churches is fairly portable, and it’s noticeable how often it is shoved out of the way, especially in smaller worship spaces. This is very unfortunate, as the Table, Font and Lectern make up the Trinity of furniture which should be focal in every Anglican Church.

Having the font near the entrance is symbolic of baptism being the sacrament of entry into Christ’s church.

Local Shared Ministry is derived from the belief that every baptised person has a ministry to fulfil. When we baptise children the priest says May you grow in the Holy Spirit, fulfil your ministry and follow Christ your whole life long.

Easter is the primary and ancient season of baptism, so it is the ideal time for LSM congregations to reaffirm their Commitment to Christian Service. This liturgy is very appropriate on the Day of Pentecost too (especially when candles are used).

This can be done as part of a service of baptism, by including either of the sections on p390 & 391 of ANZPB/HKMOA.

If there is no baptism, a liturgy can still celebrate our commitment to our baptism into Christ and our ministries. The people can also be invited to mark themselves with water which has been blessed in the font (this can happen after receiving communion, if convenient) and/or they can light a candle as a symbol of the light of Christ in their lives, as we often do at a baptism.

Another occasion when such a liturgy is appropriate is on or near the anniversary of the commissioning of the LSM unit. It is a great opportunity for thanksgiving and reaffirmation.

If time constraints are a consideration, there could be a Gospel reading only, with a short homily/reflection, and the Eucharistic form on p730 could provide the basis for the service. The Celebration of Baptism would appropriately come where the Affirmation of Faith would normally be included.

The Celebration of Baptism could include:

God’s Call p383

[A Prayer to consecrate the water (this could be the first half of p386)]

The Affirmation p387 & 388

Commitment to Christian Service p390 or 391

Instead of the Laying on of Hands, the congregation could say together an adaptation of the Prayer for Renewal:

Creator Spirit, rekindle in us your gifts of grace, renew our lives in Christ and bring to completion all that your calling has begun. Amen

[Candles could be lit from the Christ Candle here]

The Celebration of Faith

The Liturgy would continue with the Peace

This would be a very appropriate celebration when the Bishop is present, too!

N.B. Sometimes congregations fall into the trap of viewing ministry roles as “functions” only. This service helps us to refocus on the call of God, our common vocation in Christ, and the enabling of the Holy Spirit as the source of all ministry.

Suggestions: Music for the Easter Season from “Faith Forever Singing”

As we walk along beside you – A communion or gradual hymn based on the “Road to Emmaus” – words are also in “Hymns for Today’s Church”

God of the Bible – An easily-learned hymn focusing on renewal and change

God speed you on your way – A blessing/closing hymn suitable for the season

In the singing, in the silence – A communion/invocation hymn

Maker of mystery – An evocative hymn which may be sung to DOWN AMPNEY (Come down, O love divine)

Relentless Lover, God in Christ – A hymn of challenge and commitment, which may be sung to KINGSFOLD (I heard the voice of Jesus say)

Tip for establishing new hymns: Remember that in order for most people in the congregation to experience a hymn or song that is introduced (especially a seasonal one) it will need to be sung with much more frequency than the well known repertoire. It is a good idea to sing something new two weeks running, and then, say, a month after it was first introduced. Congregations need to feel confident that they have learned something new properly.

Add some new music to the Easter season

If you are in the business of selecting music for the congregation, don’t forget the material written by New Zealand authors and composers! I noticed that “He Came Singing Love” has been a popular selection during Holy Week, so this is one NZ hymn which has become a “standard” (after around 20 years!).

Here are some suggestions from “Alleluia Aotearoa” and “Faith Forever Singing” for the season of Easter. Remember that we are celebrating the Resurrection through until Pentecost, so sing those Easter hymns over the next few Sundays.

If you have other Easter favourites to recommend (written more recently, from any source!) please add a comment so that everyone can benefit from your inspiration.

From “Alleluia Aotearoa”

Christ is alive (and the universe must celebrate) – a wonderful hymn of praise, suitable for opening or closing

Every day – a rousing hymn to learn ahead of Pentecost especially suitable for a recessional

For the bread and wine and blessing – perfect communion hymn for the season

Who is my mother? – a hymn to celebrate inclusion in Christ’s new family (before the Gospel, recessional)

We wait for you – A haunting hymn which calls to us in every season, reflecting the Great Commission

We are an Easter people – a hymn to celebrate Christian identity

Sing a happy Alleluia – calypso style, lively and fun

One, two, three, Alleluia – fun children’s hymn encouraging participation

Now as we go – A blessing song suitable for the season

Love to the world – Simple worship song ideal for Eastertide

Give thanks for life – Processional or recessional sung to the familiar SINE NOMINE (For all the saints)

From the waiting comes the sign – Perfect invocation/processional to learn ahead of Pentecost

E Te Ariki – Maori version of the chorus “Jesus, what a wonder you are”

Come to the celebration – Lively gospel-themed Introit or Offertory hymn with Scottish-style tune

Church of the living Christ – Stately Easter hymn ideal for LSM! Can be sung to the tune LITTLE CORNARD (Hills of the north, rejoice)

See the next post for ideas from  “Faith Forever Singing”

Desperate Preacher faced with Easter?

The Episcopal Church (USA) has a useful site called Sermons That Work, which has an example sermon for each Sunday of the RCL, and other holy days too. If you are a learner in the discipline of effective preaching (and aren’t we all, if we preach?), these sermons can provide you with some useful modelling. This sermon, for Easter day,  is about the concept of Practising Resurrection. It can be used with acknowledgement.

Sermons That Work

Don’t go too Low in the Easter Season!

I guess your planning for Holy Week and Easter is all done by now and after the celebrations – what? We need to help people to celebrate the whole of the season of the Resurrection through to Pentecost. The Revd. Bosco Peters has a very helpful outline for the Eucharist for the Sundays of the forthcoming season on his Liturgy site.

Bosco helpfully points out that the emphasis should be on celebration, and penitential elements of the liturgy can be omitted or minimised.