Job 14:1–14 or Lamentations 3:1–9, 19–24 | Psalm 31:1–4, 15–16 | 1 Peter 4:1–8 | Matthew 27:57–66 or John 19:38–42
Theme: Our new life in Christ is grounded in Jesus’ humility, service, and self-sacrificial love which he expressed by voluntarily laying down his life for every one of us.
Small Group Gatherings—Join together in groups of eight to twelve people during the discussion period. Have pen/pencil and paper available for each group, It may be helpful to have the discussion questions on each paper to encourage participation: (1) What are some areas of death, grief, loss, or sorrow that we see in our neighborhood or community? (2) How is Jesus at work right now in bringing his life and light into these dark places? (3) How can we as a congregation participate with Jesus in what he is doing to bring his light and life into these dark places? Have one person in the group act as facilitator and recorder, who will share on the group’s behalf with the congregation what is gathered. You may wish to select facilitators beforehand and coach them to encourage full participation by all the members of their group.
Readings—Invite volunteers, youth perhaps, to read—see below for when to include the readings in the service: (R1) Lamentations 3:1–9, 19–24; (R2) 1 Peter 4:1–8; (R3) Matthew 27:57–66.
Prayers—Invite volunteers to give short prayers as follows—see below for when to include these prayers in the service: (P1) Thanksgiving to Jesus for being present by the Spirit, for drawing everyone together, and for reminding us of all he has done; (P2) Thanksgiving to Jesus for entering death in our place, on our behalf, and bringing his hope and light into our darkest places; (P3) Thanksgiving to Jesus for the people he brings into our lives to whom we can bring his hope and light, and offering ourselves up to Christ to be broken and poured out as he was.
Closing Song—A song or hymn of sending or service, or of commitment (CS).
Holy Saturday Reflective Service
Welcome, to be followed by the gospel reading and thanksgiving prayer (see below).
On this day of remembrance, Holy Saturday, we participate in Jesus’ rest, in his penetration into death itself, freeing us from all that death means for us. And we are reminded of how Christ’s ongoing gift being poured out in our hearts by the Spirit is meant to be shared with others in their own dark times of loss, suffering, and grief, as we participate with Jesus in bringing the light of God’s grace, comfort, and healing into those places.
Today we are gathered together in remembrance of our Lord’s death. We are reminded of how Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sat and observed Joseph and Nicodemus preparing Jesus’ body for burial. The finality of the moment of death dismayed these disciples. What would they do now that they had lost their Messiah?
(Name of member) will read Matthew 27:57–66 (R3), to begin our service.
Thanksgiving prayer (P1)
Jesus’ body died as each of ours one day will die, and he was buried in a tomb. In the darkness of that tomb, Jesus, having lost his human life, entered into our darkest place—death—and in that place, transformed it with his living presence. As God in human flesh, Jesus entered into our human death and brought new life.
(Name of member) will read 1 Peter 4:1–8 (R2).
Thanksgiving prayer (P2).
Just like Jesus brought light and hope into our lives, each of us is called to participate in Jesus’ work of bringing his life into places that are dark and full of death. We will be gathering into groups of eight to twelve people and will be asking these three questions: (1) What are some areas of death, grief, loss, or sorrow that we see in our neighborhood or community? (2) How is Jesus at work right now in bringing his life and light into these dark places? (3) How can we as a congregation participate with Jesus in what he is doing to bring his light and life into these dark places?
Have the facilitators break the congregation into groups of eight to twelve persons (5-7 for smaller groups). Announce each question and give the group 5-7 minutes (or more) per question for discussion: (1) What are some areas of death, grief, loss, or sorrow that we see in our neighborhood or community? (2) How is Jesus at work right now in bringing his life and light into these dark places? (3) How can we as a congregation participate with Jesus in what he is doing to bring his light and life into these dark places? At the end of the allotted time, have the congregation regather. Invite each facilitator to share what his or her group has gathered.
(Name of member) will read now read Lamentations 3:1–9, 19–24 (R1).
So often death is seen as an untimely and unwanted end. But in Christ, death has been reforged into a time of new possibilities. We participate individually and as a congregation in Jesus’ transformation of death into a place where the potential for new life is present and real. Today, after participating in this gathering, what might the Spirit be prompting you individually to do as a participation in Christ’s work where he entered into death to bring new life? What are some tangible steps you can take in that direction?
Thanksgiving prayer (P3) and closing song (CS).
Benediction: Now may the God who sends you, sanctify you by his Spirit, keep you from the evil one, and fill you with his inexpressible joy, in Jesus’ name. Amen. (John 17:6-19)