• Prelude – Dare to Dance Theme, Justin Bell
  • Welcome, Call to Worship, & Opening Prayer – Rev. Ohle
  • Praise Song – All Things New, Andrew Peterson
  • Prayers of the People – Rev. Ohle
  • Scripture Readings – Rev. Ohle (Isaiah 25:6-9, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Acts 20:34-43)
  • Message: He Is Risen – Rev. Ohle
    • All videos from Easter Upside Down, The Skit Guys
  • Anthem – Thine Be the Blory, the UMC Virtual Easter Choirs
  • Benediction – Rev. Ohle
  • Postlude – Dare to Dance Theme, Justin Bell

INTRODUCTION (Reading of John 20:1-18)

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.

So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb.

 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.

 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.

 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.

 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).

 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.


Welcome! I’m Rev. Val Ohle, pastor of Union Grove United Methodist Church and I’m glad you’re here. It is April 4, 2021 … Easter Sunday and I have good news and only one announcement:

 The tomb is empty! The stone has been rolled away and the tomb is empty!

(Video of Peter & John at the Tomb)

Now let us begin with a Call to Worship and prayer:

Christ is Risen:

The world below lies desolate

Christ is Risen:

The spirits of evil are fallen

Christ is Risen:

The angels of God are rejoicing

Christ is Risen:

The tombs of the dead are empty

Christ is Risen indeed from the dead, the first of the sleepers, Glory and power are his forever and ever.


Go ahead, exhale. Breathe out. Let go. On this Easter Sunday, allow your souls to be replenished. Take in the joy. Take in peace. Take in the togetherness. Take what you need.

And wonder. Wonder, and imagine, and reflect, and question, and listen. Listen deeply to the words and the songs. Listen deeply to the Holy Spirit. And hear the words that God has for you.

Almighty God, Father and Mother of all of creation, as we emerge from the long days of Lent; from our journey through the wilderness, we acknowledge that there is a darkness that seems to loom in this world. But we remember, too … we remember that nestled within the great mystery of the Resurrection is a great light. Help us, God, as we search for that light, that hope on this day.

Be with us as we come into Your presence, Your sacred presence. Help us to bring ourselves; our whole selves. Embolden us to come not just in mind and spirit, but with our whole body … to give You a hand clap of praise, to sing, to jump around, to dance, to celebrate. Today and forever more as we celebrate the Risen Savior, strengthen us to bring our full selves our minds, spirits, our hearts, and our bodies, into worship because Christ is risen!

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen!


Join me, now in prayers for the people. If you see words appear on the screen, please say them with me.

Come now to give God all glory, laud, and honor, and lay your prayers and petitions at His feet:

Sing aloud, O mothers and sons! Fathers and daughters, sisters and brothers, rejoice and exult with all your hearts!

Let us offer our prayers and thanksgivings with one voice, calling out the good news —

The tomb stands empty!

We look for our Savior among the living.

Jesus Christ is alive and in our midst today.

We pray for all faithful people — for every human soul that turns to God in longing and in love. Today and every day, pull us out of our graves and into your life.

The tomb stands empty.

We look for our Redeemer among the living.

Jesus Christ is alive and among us today.

We pray for the nations of the earth — for those in authority, and for those under authority. Come from the four winds, O Breath of Life, and we shall live together in peace.

The tomb stands empty.

We look for our Mediator among the living.

Jesus Christ is alive and within us today.

We pray for this world, our garden home — for the rain and the snow, the seed and the sprout — for the birthing room and the last place of rest — for every new creation.

The tomb stands empty.

We look for our Gardener among the living.

Jesus Christ is alive and beside us today.

We pray for those who are sick or suffering — for anyone who needs extra help just now. As we pause now in silence, we pray especially for those we call out to you in our hearts and in our homes … wherever we are worshipping … that you would hear our spoken and silent cries on their behalf.

(Silent pause)

Living Lord, renew them in Your love.

The tomb stands empty.

We look for our Sustainer among the living.

Jesus Christ is alive and with us today.

We pray for those who have died, and for all who mourn. As we pause now in silence, we pray especially for those we call out to you in our hearts and in our homes … wherever we are worshipping … that you would hear our spoken and silent cries on their behalf.

(Silent pause)

Eternal One, bring them home and gather them in.

The tomb stands empty.

We look for our Beloved among the living.

Jesus Christ is alive and in the midst of us today.

With joy and exultation, we give thanks for the triumph of life over death, offering special thanks for those joys, sorrows, challenges and delights. As we pause now in silence, we pray especially for those we call out to you in our hearts and in our homes … wherever we are worshipping … that you would hear our spoken and wordless praise and thanks on their behalf.

(Silent pause)

We are amazed at what has happened.

The tomb stands empty!

We look for our Creator among the living.

Jesus Christ is alive and in our hearts today.

Holy One, even before we call, you answer; while we are yet speaking, you hear. We offer up these prayers in the name of the Risen Christ — our Savior, Redeemer, and Friend.

We are people of One God and You are our God. We are the Easter people. God with Us who dwelt among us in the flesh as Jesus, God Who Sees, God who conquered sin and death, we pray now the words You taught us through Jesus Christ, your son:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by 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. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.”


Friends, hear the good news: Do not dwell on your wounds any longer for he has risen to heal you, he has risen to forgive you; he has risen to change us all and bind us together now.

Christ has risen to forgive us.

Thanks be to God!


Open our eyes, gracious Lord, as we turn now to your scriptures. We long to know you, to understand life, and to be changed. Examine us, Lord, by the floodlight of your truth. Open our hearts and minds to hear and understand.

In the name of our True Teacher, Jesus, Amen.

Today’s scriptures are taken from the New Revised Stndard Version and The Message.

Isaiah 25:6-9 (NRSV)

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.

And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever.

Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.

It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (MSG)

Friends, let me go over the Message with you one final time—this Message that I proclaimed and that you made your own; this Message on which you took your stand and by which your life has been saved. (I’m assuming, now, that your belief was the real thing and not a passing fancy, that you’re in this for good and holding fast.)

The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died); that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence.

But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it. So whether you heard it from me or from those others, it’s all the same: We spoke God’s truth and you entrusted your lives.

Acts 10:34-43 (MSG)

Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.

“You know the story of what happened in Judea. It began in Galilee after John preached a total life-change. Then Jesus arrived from Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the Devil. He was able to do all this because God was with him.

“And we saw it, saw it all, everything he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem where they killed him, hung him from a cross. But in three days God had him up, alive, and out where he could be seen. Not everyone saw him—he wasn’t put on public display. Witnesses had been carefully handpicked by God beforehand—us! We were the ones, there to eat and drink with him after he came back from the dead. He commissioned us to announce this in public, to bear solemn witness that he is in fact the One whom God destined as Judge of the living and dead. But we’re not alone in this. Our witness that he is the means to forgiveness of sins is backed up by the witness of all the prophets.”

May the word we have heard, Lord, be planted deeply in our minds and hearts. Help us not to walk away and forget it, but to meditate on it and obey it and, in doing so, build our lives on the rock of your truth.

 The scriptures of God for the People of God.

Thanks be to God.


MESSAGE – If We Only Knew Then What We Still Don’t Know Now

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Amen.

(He Is Risen, Spoken Word Poem from Easter Upside Down, The Skit Guys)

I received a package in the mail yesterday. Something I’d been waiting on, wanting. Something silly and frivolous and totally unnecessary but also very necessary … a tradition amongst women clergy going back to the early 20th century … a story I’ll save for another day … but the story that makes red shoes a necessary component of the wardrobe of women clergy.

There they sat on top of their shoe box. My shiny, beautiful new red heels. My brother took one look at them sitting there on top of the box and said, “Hey … put on those new ruby slippers of yours, click your heels three times, and wish for something good.”

His gently teasing suggestion gave me pause. What “something good” could I possibly wish for on this day of days that is any more good than the knowledge of an empty tomb and a risen savior? The knowledge that by his death and resurrection, we are saved?

Nothing. Nothing is … to quote my grandkids … “gooder” than the Resurrection.  So I thought about it some more and I finally arrived at something almost as good.

When Mary first found the stone rolled away from the tomb, she was afraid, probably terrified. She immediately went to Peter, John, and the other disciples and told them what she’d seen.

And of course … they being men and all … didn’t believe her. In their sorrow, in their desolation, in their wonderings of whether they could have done something, anything, to prevent his death they were experiencing terror of their own.

They ran to the tomb, Mary on their heels, and discovered the body was gone. Then they returned to their homes.

But not Mary. Mary stayed, weeping, distraught. This was the final straw, the keystone of her terror. Someone, probably Rome or the religious authorities that demanded his death, had stolen Jesus’ body and carried it off somewhere, undoubtedly to prevent them from giving it a proper burial.

So, Mary waited and wept and worried.

Imagine how frightened she must have been to see two figures suddenly appear in what had been an empty tomb!  

“Woman, why are you weeping?”

“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

And then there was that gardener appearing suddenly out of nowhere …

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”

“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Her fear, her terror at the thought that the Romans had stolen the body of Jesus must have changed to amazement, the painful void she was feeling turning into something good when she heard that oh, so familiar voice call her by name.

Oh how her heart, her very spirit must have been soaring, leaping, and dancing with joyful amazement as she ran on winged feet to carry out his instructions to her that day …

“But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

And she ran … as fast as she could, her tears of grief now tears of joy. She ran to the disciples and exclaimed, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what he had said.

It would not be until later that day, in the upper room where all the disciples except Thomas had gathered behind doors locked out of fear of the religious authorities, that their fears would be replaced by amazement when Jesus appeared to them, too.

Can you imagine their joy, their elation at finally … finally understanding what he’d been trying to tell them all along? The relief Peter must have felt to know, just being in His presence, that his denials were already forgiven. To see, with their own eyes, their beloved teacher, their rabbi, the Lord of Lords, King of Kings …

Talk about something good … their hearts must have danced like Baryshnikov and Pavlova or Astaire and Rogers.  He had risen and he was back, praise God Almighty, he had risen!

It would be another eight days from that glorious morning before Thomas, the last of the disciples to accept his resurrection, would see and believe.  And it would be on that day that Jesus would say, “So you believe because you have seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

Even better blessings for those who believe without seeing.

The thing is, in order to recognize the blessings, we also have to recognize the pain, the sorrow, and not just our own, but that of all our brothers and sisters. And often, when we do recognize that kind of pain, that kind of sorrow, we are compelled to cry instead of dance.

And crying is okay. Crying is welcome here as much as dancing and singing and shouting praises.

Mary cried.

She wept.

She had the courage to cry.

So, we can cry … like Mary.

Even on this Easter Sunday, we can cry like Mary.

Crying is welcome here.

In fact, we must cry.

We must cry when we’re hurting.

We must cry with the missing.

We must cry with the dead.

We must cry with those who suffer.

We must cry with the marginalized, the silenced, and the forgotten.

We must cry with those who lack bread.

We must cry.

Crying is welcome here.

If we don’t cry, if we don’t cry out,

If we try too hard to be strong for too long,

If we don’t release the pain,

We will hurt only ourselves.

We must cry.

How else will we be able to see our need for the Resurrected Savior in our midst?

Crying is welcome here.

And the need for the Resurrected Savior is great in our world because we … are … messed … up down here, aren’t we? WAY messed up. We struggle to remain faithful in a world that tries to chip away at our faith, that constantly challenges it. We struggle to walk the way you taught us in a world full of Caesars and Religious Authorities who demand we walk their walk and talk their talk according to their rules and their beliefs instead of what Jesus taught us … instead of doing no harm, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.

So yes, we have cried and despaired and wrung our hands and been terrified for the condition of this world, forgetting too easily that Jesus has overcome this world.

Today, though … on the two thousand and twenty-first anniversary of his resurrection, we … like Mary and Peter and John and the other disciples and even like Thomas who doubted … we find ourselves amazed and our hopes renewed in the one who overcame death and sin … and in this … standing in the light of his amazing grace, we know what we must do.  We know because he told us.

(The Great Commission video from Easter Upside Down, The Skit Guys)

In Year 2 of the pandemic, in a nation … a world, but especially in this nation … filled with growing waves of social injustice and civil unrest and senseless hate  … to find something good …  

Click … click … click …

God? I know you’re out there and I know you’re listening, so God, please hear me now.

Please give us strength to walk your walk and talk your talk in spite of the world. Give us courage to dance. Dances of hope. Dances of justice. Dances of love.

Spirit, move these tired, worn, weary bodies to go out into the streets and dance and laugh and sing praises and shout the good news.

Jesus, remind us when we face the pressures of this world that you have already overcome it and that you are right here walking and dancing with us … the groom and his bride … just like at the wedding in Cana.

In the name of all that is holy and good, God, please give us the courage and strength to dare to dance again.

Christ, we come to the empty tomb, we see our own death, we see our own tomb, we see our own emptiness.

And we remember how we have treated other people—members of our family, friends and neighbors.

Lord, we come to your tomb, we see a hungry world before us, the pain of starving children, the guilt of war on our hands, and we know that collectively we share in those injustices.

Lord we come to the empty tomb, we search within ourselves and we cannot escape what we are, people caught up in the pain of our own wrongdoing, for some a deep sense of loneliness and a frustration of what we would be but are not.

Lord, when we come to the empty tomb, we lay before you our pain, our emptiness and look to you for hope.

People of God, why do you seek the living among the dead in an empty tomb?

Are you afraid, are you uncertain, and are you uncomfortable here?

Our wounds are deep, we have turned away from that man, we have broken with him and seek his fellowship.

Do not dwell on your wounds any longer for he has risen to heal you, he has risen to forgive you; he has risen to change us all and bind us together now.

Christ has risen to forgive us.

Thanks be to God.



Thank you, again, for worshipping with me today. I hope you’ll join us again next Sunday as we continue to Dare to Dance Again.

Now hear this benediction:

May the loving power of God, which raised Jesus to new life, strengthen you in hope, enrich you with his love, give you courage to dare to dance again, and fill you with joy in the faith.

Stay safe folks. Wash your hands, wear a mask when you go out, get your COVID vaccination as soon as you’re eligible, really truly love your neighbors … starting with the ones you’d rather not love. And dance. Dances of hope, of justice, and of love.

God be with you. Now go in peace to love and serve the Lord, in the name of Christ.


  • All Video Clips – The Skit Guys

  • Call to Worship – Hippolytus (AD 190-236)

  • Opening Prayer – adapted from “Christ is Risen”, Ashley Johnson, Easter Liturgical Resources from Africana Writers

  • Pastoral Prayer – adapted from Prayer by Margaret D. McGee, In the Courtyard, and excerpt from Service of Holy Communion 2010, River of Life

  • Benediction – Darlene A. Moore, The Africana Worship Book Year B

Even though we can’t meet together in person, the church still has expenses that need to be met. If you are able, please consider making an offering or paying your tithes through the online service provided by Holston Conference. It’s safe. It’s free. It will help us continue ministry at Union Grove.

Just visit http://www.holston.org/churchoffering, and follow the instruction for making your offering.  When asked, please choose Smoky Mountain District and Union Grove UMC Blount – Friendsville.

If you are not comfortable using a debit or credit card online, you can mail your offerings/tithes to:

Smoky Mountain District
Holston Conference
PO Box 905
Alcoa TN 37701-0905

Please be sure to make your checks payable to Smoky Mountain District and write “Union Grove UMC Friendsville” on the memo line!