On Line Worship Service, Easter, April 12, 2020


I imagine this as the sound of Mary Magdalene’s heart beating on Easter morning.  Pianist Annemieke McLane plays the Etude in F# Minor, Op. 15, No. 9 by Sergei Bortkiewicz.

Introit  “Alleluia” recorded this week by our choir and collected and produced by Becky Bailey.  The sun rises!

Our Choir Still Has Joy!

Not all our choir members are in this screen shot from a recent Monday evening sing, and not all on this shot are singing in the Introit, but all the joy you see here is shared by the whole choir and it is all in the Alleluia this morning.  Thank you choir and thank you Annemieke!


Call to Worship

You can read the text of the Call to Worship and the Sermon on this website by clicking here.


Peter and Mary Alice Amidon led our Lent and Easter singing workshop this winter.  Here the Amidon singers from southern Vermont perform one of Peter’s arrangements.

Welcome and Announcements

Welcome to this online worship service of the United Church of Strafford, Vermont for Easter Day, April 12, 2020.

You can respond with thoughts about the service or with anything you would like to say by using the comment feature at the end of the post or by emailing us.  You can also bring others into this experience by sharing the link to this service by email or social media.

Today we have a series of videos including:

  • the Call to Worship above;
  • an Annemieke McLane Prelude (audio);
  • several joyous hymns and choral pieces;
  • a Children’s Message;
  • the New Lord’s Prayer;
  • the Easter story from the Gospel of John;
  • A Sermon;
  • a Benediction
  • And at the very end you will find the Easter Spiritual Exploration by Joey Hawkins for Children and Youth. Don’t miss it!

Please note that we are gathering as a congregation by Zoom at 10:30 AM on Sunday mornings including Easter to say hello to one another and share our Joys and Concerns and Prayer requests and offer our compassion and support and company for this wilderness journey.

Our Heartfulness Contemplative Training Circle is also meeting by Zoom on Thursdays at 6:00 PM.  This is for anyone who is interested in practicing mindfulness or meditation, or heartfulness and centering prayer.  It is a time for talking about those practices and also more generally about our spiritual life.

You can find links to instructions on how to be part of those Zoom gatherings on the Welcome Page of our website.

It is extremely important that we stay connected now, especially on Easter when we could naturally be sad because we are not together with extended family and friends.  Please reach out by phone or email to neighbors and other members of the congregation, especially those who live by themselves or are struggling or vulnerable.  Our Deacons, Becky Bailey, Kim Welsh and Maggie Hooker, are coordinating our outreach to people in need of support, and Danette Harris, Chair of our Mission Committee, is leading our work with the Food Shelf.  If you would like to help the Deacons or Mission Committee in these please email us or use the comment feature on this page.

You can listen to this service in one sitting in under an hour or you may spread it out over the course of the day or week. Thank you!

Time with Children and Youth

Alternative Lord’s Prayer

I invited children, parents and teachers to record themselves saying the prayer.  My original idea was to splice together lines from each, which I still may do, but they are each so beautiful in entirety that I plan to share a different one each week.  We are running out of them, so please send more!

Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer,
Way, Truth and Life,
Force of Love and Light
flowing within and all around us,
may your realm of compassion,
justice and peace rule our world.
Thank you for nurturing and guiding us,
forgiving us and helping us forgive,
and leading us away from harmful desires.
Please save us from all forms of evil,
for you are our source, our home, our power,
all goodness and beauty forever. Amen.


Annemieke’s friend and colleague, Dashon Burton, sings a resurrection aria from Handel’s Messiah.  Used by permission.

Scripture Reading of the Easter Story  John 20:1-18 (Watch for the cameo appearance of Daisy as Mary Magdalene in the garden!)

Scripture and Sermon

You can read the text of the Sermon and the Call to Worship on this website by clicking here.

Sermon Hymn

You are invited to sing along with the British star soprano, Laura Wright.  You won’t be alone.


The earliest church tried to follow the teachings and the way that Jesus lived as closely as it could.  They were strictly nonviolent and they devoted themselves to healing the sick, caring for the vulnerable and those in need and working for equitable social justice. They pooled their resources and became so effective (their grain warehouses to feed the hungry were larger than their houses of worship) that the Roman Empire used provincial churches as their formal welfare system (when they weren’t throwing them to the lions, that is).

The best response to Easter is to be the body of Christ risen and living in the world by continuing this work.  We each do that through our individual actions, but we can do much more by pooling our resources and efforts, as our response to our current local and global crisis shows.  The offering makes that possible—it supports all that we are and all that we do.

To make your offering on line, please click here.  (This is a new service we are providing through an extremely well established church on-line donation company recommended by the national United Church of Christ and used by thousands of churches like ours.  To read more about our decision to allow on line donations, click here.)


The Benediction is from Hildegard of Bingen

Be not lax in celebrating.
Be not lazy in the festive service of God.
Be ablaze with enthusiasm.
Be an alive, burning offering
before the altar of God,
And the God who is love will be with you,
in your heart and all around you,
leading to peace and joy and greater light,
and leading to new life.
May it be so for you
this day and forever more.  Amen.

Closing Hymn

The United Methodist Church just produced and posted this version of the beloved Easter hymn, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.”  It features a wide range of ages, races, nationalities and walks of life.  Some of the most moving to me are in medical scrubs.  The YouTube description says:

“We may be apart for Easter 2020, but we can still find ways to worship and celebrate the resurrection together. Nearly 400 United Methodists from across the globe — Africa, Asia, Europe and North America — join their voices to sing together a hymn by Charles Wesley.”

Spiritual Exploration of Easter with Children and Youth

Teacher Joey Hawkins talks about the meaning of Easter.

5 Comments on “On Line Worship Service, Easter, April 12, 2020

  1. This was wonderful!!! Thank you for providing this – an amazing way to celebrate Easter! From the Adirondacks to all of you in Strafford – Love! from Alison Riley-Clark


  2. Thanks for a wonderful service on this Easter morning. So well done and just what was needed to set a blaze of enthusiasm for the day and days ahead. May you each find peace and happiness on this special day. God Bless to All.


  3. This was so lovely. I loved experiencing this service, and hearing the voices of Strafford, in my home with our magnolia out my window. Peace to all. Happy Easter. Happy Spring.


  4. Thank you to all who worked to put together this uplifting Easter service. Bless you all.


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