Preparing for Worship – Ralph Manuel, handbell coordinator.
Last Sunday we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. His triumph over death and the world’s sin was made all the more meaningful to us because of our observance of Lent those 40 days previous.
It was a glorious time for us to gather and praise God in the presence of so many of our fellow worshipers on Easter Sunday.
But Easter is not over! We have only begun our celebration, because we are now in the season of Easter, which lasts until the Sunday of Pentecost, June 5.
This season, sometimes called Eastertide, is described in our hymnal as “the center of the Christian year, celebrating light and joy, and giving time for fuller exploration and refection on the meaning of resurrection” (see page 711 in the hymnal).
The music in our service this morning emphasizes the joyful nature of our worship adventure, beginning with the prelude. Listen to the handbells ring out “This Joyful Eastertide,” which combines a 17th-century Dutch melody with a more recent text urging us to “share our Easter joy” with one another.
As the music progresses, listen for the way the melody climbs higher and higher as it emphasizes “our Christ, who is arisen, arisen, arisen, arisen!”
The hymns we sing today allow us to join into the celebration in a more direct way. The first one gets right to the point: “Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.” (This is an unsubtle hint that we would like to hear you sing.)
As you sing, notice the richness of the text, as the author describes the implications of what has happened as a result of Christ’s resurrection. “Women and men, in age and youth, can feel the Spirit, hear the call, and find the way, the life, the truth, revealed in Jesus, freed for all.”
Our final hymn is “Rejoice, the Lord Is King,” a stirring expression of our joy. How can your heart not be moved as your voice joins the sound of the congregation and the organ in this music?
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice! Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!