Holy Week Prayer Vigil – Easter Sunday

During Holy Week – as we have to be separated from one another and kept from gathering in the sanctuary – we will be keeping vigil with one another as we pray with the stained-glass windows from our sanctuary at First UMC in Warner Robins.  Each day we’ll have a theme, meditation, personal prayer focus, and closing prayer.  Spend some time in meditation with the image and then commit to a time of personal prayer centered on the daily prayer focus.  

Theme: Christ the Lord is risen today!





Look at the image above.  Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and is alive forevermore!  Holy Week is always a rollercoaster experience of emotions – triumphant celebration as Jesus rides into Jerusalem, righteous anger as he overturns the tables in the Temple, the intimacy of friendship at the Last Supper, the anguish of the Garden of Gethsemane, the sorrow of the cross, the anxiety of a day of mourning, and the jubilation of the empty tomb.  What have you experienced during this Holy Week?  What have you learned about God and about yourself?  How has God drawn you closer to the divine heart?

As you gaze upon this image of the risen Christ, notice that he is dressed in all white, with a golden, shining halo around his head.  The light has dispelled the darkness.  Goodness has triumphed over evil.  The pure love of God has defeated the cruel hold of hate.  In what ways have you experienced the light and life of Jesus Christ?  Pause for a moment and let the love of the Lord shine in, through, and around you.

Notice that this image of the risen Jesus shows him standing on a cloud.  Jesus is ascending into heaven to take his rightful place – seated at the right hand of the Father – seated upon the throne of heaven and earth.  In what ways might you lift Jesus up with your praises?  Take a moment and offer words or songs of worship to the exalted, glorified Christ.  Or perhaps this is pointing us toward the future, when the risen Christ will return in final victory over sin and death and establish the Kingdom of God in its fullness.  Upon that day, those who are in Christ will experience the fullness of eternal resurrection life.  Yet, even today we can experience a taste of this life to come.  How are you experiencing the power of resurrection even now?

Jesus is holding out his arms to us.  Notice that the nail scars can be seen in his hands.  These are the marks that Thomas saw and Thomas felt before he gave his great confession of faith, calling Jesus, “my Lord and my God!”  Who do you confess the risen Jesus to be in your life?  The resurrected Jesus does not hide the truth of his sacrifice.  The risen Lord was first the crucified Lord.  It is only through death that we reach the place of resurrection.  In what ways do you need to die to ungodly desires, attitudes, and actions?  It is not easy, but new life waits on the other side of these sacrifices.  Finally, as Jesus holds out his arms, he does so in an act of embrace.  The world he rules over is first the world he loves.  Jesus is still going about the work of gathering his people together and holding them closely to him.  How might you join in this work?  In these closing moments, allow Jesus to embrace you in love.  Nothing will ever separate you from the love of the risen Lord of life.

Personal Prayer Focus: Pray for those who mourn.  We all experience the pain of death within our circle of loved ones.  God mourns with us, for death was never God’s plan for us.  Ask God to always keep the hope and promise of resurrection clearly at the forefront of our hearts and minds.

Closing Prayer:

LORD God, you have conquered sin and death for us and in us.  May we receive your good gift of resurrection life as we prepare to take our place in your Kingdom.  Amen.

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