• Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

Easter Sunrise Worship 2020


The Great Vigil of Easter and The Holy Eucharist with Easter Communion

Easter Day (Year A) April 12, 2020


Watch the Livestream at www.Facebook.com/StMattSav/Live/

Sunday at 6:00 a.m. (or anytime afterward)






Preface


I am posting this worship service online because we at St. Matthew's Church in Savannah are unable to gather together in person this week. The Governor of Georgia and President of the U.S.A. have declared states of public health emergency due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak. Public health officials recommend avoiding large gatherings of people to avoid spreading the illness to more vulnerable people. Therefore, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia has ordered all parishes in our diocese to suspend in-person worship.


At 6:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, I will broadcast the following worship service using Facebook Live at www.Facebook.com/StMattSav. After the service concludes, you can re-watch it at any time.


Today's service is the Great Vigil of Easter and the First Communion of Easter Season. We are marking the beginning of this holy season with this special sunrise service. We are also celebrating communion with the Rector and Senior Warden in order to replenish our parish's reserved sacrament (which is used to serve the sick and dying). When the time arrives to receive communion, I have included a special prayer for "spiritual communion." This is for use at home while watching the live stream or reading the prayers when you cannot actually consume the Body and Blood of Christ due to this pandemic and church closures.


May God protect you from this virus and protect the most vulnerable among us. May we be God’s hands and feet of compassion and service to all in need during this time. Amen.


Yours in Christ,

Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda




The Great Vigil of Easter


The Service of Light



The Lighting of the Paschal Candle

[BCP, p. 285]


In the darkness, fire is kindled.


Dear friends in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer. For this is the Passover of the Lord, in which, by hearing his Word and celebrating his Sacraments, we share in his victory over death.


Let us pray.

O God, through your Son you have bestowed upon your people the brightness of your light: Sanctify this new fire, and grant that in this Paschal feast we may so burn with heavenly desires, that with pure minds we may attain to the festival of everlasting light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Paschal Candle is then lighted from the newly kindled fire, and the Deacon (the Celebrant if there is no deacon) bearing the Candle, leads the procession to the chancel, pausing three times and singing:


The light of Christ.

Thanks be to God.

The light of Christ.

Thanks be to God.

The light of Christ.

Thanks be to God.

Viewers may light candles in their homes at this time.


The Exsultet

[BCP, p. 286]


Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout Salvation for the victory of our mighty King. 


Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth, bright with a glorious splendor, for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King. 


Rejoice and be glad now, Mother Church, and let your holy courts, in radiant light, resound with the praises of your people. 


All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame, pray with me to God the Almighty for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light; through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord who lives and reigns with him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible, almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam's sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people.


This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.


This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.


This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.


How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.


How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.


How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and [humanity] is reconciled to God.


Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this candle in your honor. May it shine continually to drive away all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find it ever burning--he who gives his light to all creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.


It is customary that the Paschal Candle burn at all services from Easter Day through the Day of Pentecost.





The Service of Lessons

[BCP, p. 288]



Let us hear the record of God's saving deeds in history, how he saved his people in ages past; and let us pray that our God will bring each of us to the fullness of redemption.

The Story of Creation


A Reading from the Book of Genesis (1:1--2:2)


In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so. God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.


The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Psalm 36:5-10


5 Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, *     and your faithfulness to the clouds.

6 Your righteousness is like the strong mountains, your justice like the great deep; *     you save both man and beast, O LORD.

7 How priceless is your love, O God! *     your people take refuge under the shadow of your wings.

8 They feast upon the abundance of your house; *     you give them drink from the river of your delights.

9 For with you is the well of life, *     and in your light we see light.

10 Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you, *     and your favor to those who are true of heart.

Let us pray.

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Israel's Deliverance at the Red Sea 

A Reading from the Book of Exodus (14:10--15:1, 20-21)


As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, 'Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." But Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still."

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers."

The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh's horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt."

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers." So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and ride he has thrown into the sea.” …

Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.”

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Hymn S-208: Canticle 8 - The Song of Moses

[Exodus 15:1-6, 11-13, 17-18]


I will sing to the Lord, for he is lofty and uplifted; *      the horse and its rider has he hurled into the sea.  The Lord is my strength and my refuge; *      the Lord has become my Savior.  This is my God and I will praise him, *      the God of my people and I will exalt him.  The Lord is a mighty warrior; *      Yahweh is his Name.  The chariots of Pharaoh and his army has he hurled into the sea; *      the finest of those who bear armor have been                               drowned in the Red Sea.  The fathomless deep has overwhelmed them; *      they sank into the depths like a stone.  Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in might; *      your right hand, O Lord, has overthrown the enemy.  Who can be compared with you, O Lord, among the gods? *      who is like you, glorious in holiness,      awesome in renown, and worker of wonders?  You stretched forth your right hand; *      the earth swallowed them up.  With your constant love you led the people you redeemed; *      with your might you brought them in safety to                               your holy dwelling.  You will bring them in and plant them *      on the mount of your possession,  The resting-place you have made for yourself, O Lord, *      the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hand has established.  The Lord shall reign *      for ever and for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *      as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Let us pray.

O God, whose wonderful deeds of old shine forth even to our own day, you once delivered by the power of your mighty arm your chosen people from slavery under Pharaoh, to be a sign for us of the salvation of all nations by the water of Baptism: Grant that all the peoples of the earth may be numbered among the offspring of Abraham, and rejoice in the inheritance of Israel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A New Heart and a New Spirit

A Reading from the Book of Ezekiel (36:24-28)


Say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Canticle 9: “The First Song of Isaiah”

[Words: Isaiah 12:2-6; Tune by Jack Noble White]


Surely, it is God who saves me; *     I will trust in him and not be afraid.  For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *      and he will be my Savior. 

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *      from the springs of salvation.  And on that day you shall say, *      Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name; 

Make his deeds known among the peoples; *      see that they remember that his Name is exalted.  Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *      and this is known in all the world. 

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *      for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *      as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who are reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.




The Renewal of Baptismal Vows

[BCP, p. 292]


The Ministers prepare to sprinkle holy water on the congregation.

Through the Paschal mystery, dear friends, we are buried with Christ by Baptism into his death, and raised with him to newness of life. I call upon you, therefore, now that our Lenten observance is ended, to renew the solemn promises and vows of Holy Baptism, by which we once renounced Satan and all his works, and promised to serve God faithfully in his holy Catholic Church.

Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil and renew your commitment to Jesus Christ? 

I do.

Do you believe in God the Father?

I believe in God, the Father almighty,      creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.       He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit           and born of the Virgin Mary.      He suffered under Pontius Pilate,           was crucified, died, and was buried.      He descended to the dead.      On the third day he rose again.      He ascended into heaven,           and is seated at the right hand of the Father.       He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit? 

I believe in the Holy Spirit,      the holy catholic Church,      the communion of saints,      the forgiveness of sins,      the resurrection of the body,      and the life everlasting.

Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

I will, with God's help.

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

I will, with God's help.

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?

I will, with God's help.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

I will, with God's help.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

I will, with God's help.

May Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and bestowed upon us the forgiveness of sins, keep us in eternal life by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.




The Holy Eucharist


The candles at the Altar may now be lighted from the Paschal Candle.

Opening Sentences

[BCP, p. 294]

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!


Hymn #207: Jesus Christ is Risen Today (vv. 1-3)

1. Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia! our triumphant holy day, Alleluia! who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia! suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!

2. Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia! unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia! who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia! sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!

3. But the pains which he endured, Alleluia! our salvation have procured, Alleluia! now above the sky he’s king, Alleluia! where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!

The Collect of the Day

[BCP, p. 295]

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Let us pray:

O God, who made this most holy morning to shine with the glory of the Lord's resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in  sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (31:1-6)

At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.” 

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God

Psalm 114 (BCP, p. 756)

Read responsively by half-verse (at the asterisk).

1 Hallelujah! When Israel came out of Egypt, *     the house of Jacob from a people of strange speech,

2 Judah became God's sanctuary *     and Israel his dominion.

3 The sea beheld it and fled; *     Jordan turned and went back.

4 The mountains skipped like rams, *     and the little hills like young sheep.

5 What ailed you, O sea, that you fled? *     O Jordan, that you turned back?

6 You mountains, that you skipped like rams? *     you little hills like young sheep?

7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, *     at the presence of the God of Jacob,

8 Who turned the hard rock into a pool of water *     and flint-stone into a flowing spring.

A Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans (6:3-11)

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.


The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God

LEVAS #42: He Lives

1. I serve a risen Savior He’s in the world today,

I know that He is living, Whatever others say,

I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice cheer,

and just the time I need Him He’s always near.

[REFRAIN]

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today

He walks with me and talks with me

Along life’s narrow way,

He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?

He lives within my heart.

2. In all the world around me I see His loving care,

And though my heart grows weary I never will despair,

I know that He is leading through all the stormy blast

The day of His appearing will come at last.

3. Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, Lift up your voice and sing

Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King!

The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find,

None other is so loving, so good and kind.

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ According to St. Matthew (28:1-10)

Glory to you, Lord Christ.

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, Lord Christ.

The Sermon:

“The God of Resurrection” by Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

Alleluia! Christ is risen! We, Christians, serve a God of Resurrection. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose Holy Spirit lives in us, is a Resurrecting God. That’s what Easter is all about. It’s about knowing and believing that God isn’t okay with death and sin and illness and suffering. God sees these things and chooses to bring us back to life. There are countless examples of how our God brings about resurrection, healing, and salvation from otherwise terrible situations.

This morning, we heard the end of the story of the Exodus. The people of Israel suffered as slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years. Most of the people lost hope that anything would ever change for them. But then God sent Moses to lead them out of slavery. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt did not want to cooperate, but God did not abandon them. God would not allow the Hebrew people to continue suffering and dying as slaves. God wanted to give them freedom and liberation, a new life.

So after the 10 plagues struck Egypt, they left for Mount Sinai and got caught between the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s advancing army behind them. They wanted to give up and turn back to slavery. But God wouldn’t let them. God miraculously parted the waters of the Red Sea, led the people through with a pillar of fire and cloud, and they emerged safely on the other side, while the Egyptians slavers drowned. God saw the people in slavery, and God acted mightily to save them. God brought them from the brink of death to new life. Our God is a God of Resurrection!

Next, we heard from Ezekiel and Jeremiah. Both of these Hebrew Prophets wrote hundreds of years after the exodus and hundreds of years before Jesus was born. They wrote during another period of great suffering for the people of Israel and Judah. After losing a series of terrible wars to the Babylonian Empire, a large chunk of the survivors were captured and forcibly taken to Babylon as prisoners of war. The Bible refers to this period as the Exile in Babylon. The exiled people missed their homes and wanted to return to normalcy. They had their whole world destroyed and turned upside down. They experienced a collective and communal trauma and did not know what to do. But God did not abandon them.

God sent prophets like Ezekiel and Jeremiah to preach to the people in and around the exile. Through Ezekiel, God promises to bring them back from the exile into their homeland (what we now call Palestine and Israel). In the process, God will give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them, so that they will obey God’s commandments and live as God’s people. Jeremiah delivers a similar beautiful message of hope: Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (31:2-3). When the people are at their lowest point, God appears and saves them. Out of their tragedy and despair, God gives restoration, love, and healing. God brought them from the brink of death to new life. Our God is a God of Resurrection!

On Good Friday, we heard the whole story of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial, abuse, and death on the cross. Jesus experienced the worst of human sin and evil. He died. And on Holy Saturday, his disciples and loved ones mourned. They thought the Jesus movement was over and that he wasn’t coming back. But God did not abandon them.

God raised Jesus from death. He emerged from the tomb in glory and triumph on Easter morning. When God’s people thought all hope was lost, God showed them the power of love over hate and life over death. God brought Jesus from death to new life. Our God is a God of Resurrection.

That brings us to today. If you’re watching or reading this, then you’re not dead. But you may well be suffering. The human race has entered an incredibly surreal, painful, and lonely season through the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Some of us have lost loved ones. Some of us are sick. Some of us are anxious and afraid of getting sick. Some of us have lost work and/or income. And some of us are just tired of being cooped up at home. While most of us at St. Matthew’s are privileged enough to still have homes, food, and water, everybody is experiencing loss and despair to some degree. But God has not abandoned us.

The God of Resurrection is still with us. No matter how bad things get, even when it feels like we have nothing left to fight with, when we’re at rock bottom, God is still with us. And it’s the same God that liberated Israel and restored the exiles and raised Jesus from the dead. The God of Resurrection can take us from the brink of death to new life.

So do not lose hope, do not lose faith, and above all, do not lose love. God loves you with an everlasting love, and in these troubling times, hold onto love for one another. For the God of Resurrection will be with us. Amen.

The Prayers of the People

[Adapted from Prayers provided by the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia]

United with Christians around the globe on this Easter Day, let us pray for the church, the earth, our troubled world, and all in need, responding to each petition with the words “Your mercy is great.”

Blessed are you, holy God, for the church. Gather all the baptized around your presence in the Word. Strengthen the body of your people even when we cannot assemble for worship. Grant Bishop Scott, Bishop-elect Frank, and all our deacons and priests faithfulness and creativity for their ministry in this time, and accompany those preparing for baptism.

Hear us, holy God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, bountiful God, for this good earth and for the flowering of springtime. Save dry lands from destructive droughts. Protect the waters from pollution. Allow in this time the planting of fields for food. Make us into care-givers of your plants and animals.

Hear us, bountiful God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, sovereign God, for our nation. Inspire all people to live in peace and concord. Grant wisdom and courage to heads of state and to legislators as they face the coronavirus. Lead our elected officials to champion the cause of the needy.

Hear us, sovereign God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, faithful God, for you accompany suffering humanity with love. Abide wherever the coronavirus has struck. Visit all who mourn their dead; all who have contracted the virus; those who are quarantined or stranded away from home; those who have lost their employment; those who fear the present and the future. Support physicians, nurses, and home health aides; medical researchers; and the World Health Organization.

Hear us, faithful God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, gracious God, for you care for the needy, especially all on our parish prayer list: Martha Avery, Zavier Bradley, Raleigh Bryant, Christine Brown, Mark Case, Genella Chamberlain, Annie Colbert, Lazola Cope, Alice Dailey, Brittany Dawson, Ruby Fernandez, Harry Frazier, Earl Golden, Gary Gordon, Loretta Harmond, Marva Harris, Enoch Henderson, Charles E. Hines, Kenneth Howard, Terri Howard, Dale Hundley, Jared Hundley, Tracy Hundley, Milinda James, Alvin Jenkins, Dana Jenkins, Frances T. Jones, Lori Jones, Robert L. Jones, Sr., Ronald Jones, Whitney Kennedy, Leonard Law, Jr., Ryan Lovett, Tammie Lovett, Craig Maxwell, Sada Maxwell, Carmelita Maynard, Viola Maynard, Bette Milledge, Hollie Moultrie, Patricia Murry, Russell Nails, Dorothy Neal, Glenzy Payne, Robert Payne, James Small, Gwendolyn Smith, Willie Stephens, Gisele Walton, Lori Ward, Gertrude Washington, Noel Wheeler, and Dean Williams. We beg you to feed the hungry, protect the refugee, embrace the distressed, house the homeless, nurse the sick, and comfort the dying.

Hear us, gracious God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, loving God, that your Son knelt before us, your unworthy servants. Preserve our lives, comfort our anxiety, and receive now the petitions of our hearts. Remember Georgette Kelley and Helen Scroggins (4/15) on their birthdays, and Charles and Joenelle Gordon (4/12) on their wedding anniversary.

Hear us, loving God.

Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, eternal God, for all who have died in the faith, and those whom we name before you here. At the end, bring us with them into your everlasting glory.

Hear us, eternal God.

Your mercy is great.

The Celebrant sings:

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.





Holy Communion & Spiritual Communion

The Offertory

“O Lord our God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power; because you have created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11; BCP, p. 377)

Make a secure online gift to St. Matthew’s at: https://onrealm.org/StMattSav/-/give/now

LEVAS #43: Because He Lives (vv. 1 & 3)

1. God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus He came to love, heal and forgive He lived and died to buy my pardon An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow Because He lives, all fear is gone Because I know He holds the future And life is worth the living Just because He lives.

3. And then one day, I’ll cross the river

I’ll fight life’s final war with pain

And then, as death gives way to vict’ry

I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives

Eucharistic Prayer B

[BCP, p. 367]


It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth

But chiefly are we bound to praise you for the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who was sacrificed for us, and has taken away the sin of the world. By his death he has destroyed death, and by his rising to life again he has won for us everlasting life.

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who forever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

[LEV #255]

Holy, holy, Holy, holy, Holy Lord God of hosts

Heaven and earth are filled with your glory.

Hosanna in the highest

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest, Hosanna in the highest.

The people remain standing.

We give thanks to you, O God, for the goodness and love which you have made known to us in creation; in the calling of Israel to be your people; in your Word spoken through the prophets; and above all in the Word made flesh, Jesus, your Son. For in these last days you sent him to be incarnate from the Virgin Mary, to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. In him, you have delivered us from evil, and made us worthy to stand before you. In him, you have brought us out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.

On the night before he died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me."

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, "Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me."

Therefore, according to his command, O Father:

[LEV #260]

We remember his death,

We proclaim his resurrection,

We await his coming in glory!

And we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to you, O Lord of all; presenting to you, from your creation, this bread and this wine.

We pray you, gracious God, to send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts that they may be the Sacrament of the Body of Christ and his Blood of the new Covenant. Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

In the fullness of time, put all things in subjection under your Christ, and bring us to that heavenly country where, with Blessed Mary, the Bearer of God, Blessed Matthew our patron, and all your saints, we may enter the everlasting heritage of your sons and daughters; through Jesus Christ our Lord, the firstborn of all creation, the head of the Church, and the author of our salvation.

By him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. AMEN.


The Lord's Prayer

[BCP, p. 364]


And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Fraction Anthem: Hymn S-154

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;

Therefore let us keep the feast.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!


The Presentation of the Gifts

[BCP, p. 364]


The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.

The Gifts of God for the people of God.

An Act of Receiving Spiritual Communion

[The Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book, ed. David Cobb, 2nd ed. (2014), pp. 190, 192-193]


Instructions:

"The Book of Common Prayer reminds us that if one is unable to actually consume the consecrated bread and wine due to extreme sickness or disability, the desire is enough for God to grant all the benefits of communion. When being present at a celebration of the Eucharist is absolutely impossible, this act of prayer and meditation can provide the means by which you can associate yourself with the Eucharistic Action and open yourself to God's grace and blessing."


In union, Blessed Jesus, with the faithful gathered at every altar of your Church where your blessed Body and Blood are offered this day, I long to offer you praise and thanksgiving, for creation and all the blessings of this life, for the redemption won for us by your life, death, and resurrection, for the means of grace and the hope of glory.

I believe that you are truly present in the Holy Sacrament, and, since I cannot at this time receive communion, I pray you to come into my heart. I united myself with you and embrace you with all my heart, my soul, and my mind. Let nothing separate me from you; let me serve you in this life until, by your grace, I come to your glorious kingdom and unending peace. Amen.

The Post-Communion Prayer

[Enriching our Worship 2 [2000], pp. 56-57]

Let us pray.

Faithful God, in the wonder of your wisdom and love you fed your people in the wilderness with the bread of angels, and you sent Jesus to be the bread of life. Though we cannot consume these gifts of bread and wine, we thank you that we have received the sacrament of Christ’s presence, the forgiveness of sins, and all other benefits of Christ’s passion. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may we embody your desire and be renewed for your service through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

The Blessing

[The Book of Occasional Services 2018, p. 12]


May Almighty God, who has redeemed us and made us his children through the resurrection of his Son our Lord, bestow upon you the riches of his blessing. Amen.

May God, who through the water of baptism has raised us from sin into newness of life, make you holy and worthy to be united with Christ for ever. Amen.

May God, who has brought us out of bondage to sin into true and lasting freedom in the Redeemer, bring you to your eternal inheritance. Amen.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you for ever. Amen.

Hymn #174: At The Lamb’s High Feast

1. At the Lamb's high feast we sing praise to our victorious King, who has washed us in the tide flowing from his pierced side; praise we him, whose love divine gives his sacred Blood for wine, gives his Body for the feast, Christ the victim, Christ the priest.

2. Where the Paschal blood is poured, death's dark angel sheathes his sword; Israel's hosts triumphant go through the wave that drowns the foe. Praise we Christ, whose blood was shed, Paschal victim, Paschal bread; with sincerity and love eat we manna from above.

3. Mighty victim from on high, hell's fierce powers beneath thee lie; thou hast conquered in the fight, thou hast brought us life and light: now no more can death appall, now no more the grave enthrall; thou hast opened paradise, and in thee thy saints shall rise.

4. Easter triumph, Easter joy, these alone do sin destroy. From sin's power do thou set free souls newborn, O Lord, in thee. Hymns of glory, songs of praise, Father, unto thee we raise: risen Lord, all praise to thee  with the Spirit ever be.

Announcements

  • You may watch Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry preach an Easter sermon from the Washington National Cathedral at 11:15 a.m. at https://episcopalchurch.org/holy-week-2020

  • We continue under shelter-at-home orders and do not yet know when we can safely return to in-person worship at church. This week we will return to our quarantine schedule:

  1. 9:30 am Sunday services and

  2. 5:00 pm T/W/Th Evening Prayer

  • Many people are already feeling the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, including the church. We still need your support to pay our staff, pay our bills, and provide for these online live streams. If you pledged a donation in 2020 and are able, please continue making those contributions. If you have not pledged, please consider donating to St. Matthew’s now and in the future. There are several ways to give, but the simplest are these: (1) Mail us a check or money order at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 1401 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd, Savannah, GA 31415; OR (2) Make a secure online gift to St. Matthew’s and/or automate future gifts at: https://onrealm.org/StMattSav/-/give/now; OR (3) Text “stmattsav” to 73256 to make a secure online donation through your phone.

The Dismissal

[BCP, p. 366]


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!





Note: This service is reproduced from The Book of Common Prayer 1979 (BCP), The Hymnal 1982 (Hymn), Lift Every Voice and Sing II: An African American Hymnal (LEV), and other sources cited. The Scripture readings are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible.

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