Easter Sunday Liturgy for prisons

The prison liturgies are very rhythmic and repetitive. That’s so that a single idea can cement itself, rather than a complicated liturgy that is unpredictable and keeps you off balance. There’s a place for both kinds of liturgy. Prisons are generally the place for the former.

It frustrates me how wordy these have to be. Honestly, the limitations in the prison context work against every principle of what i believe good worship involves.

The worship space is laid out the same as Friday’s, but there’s gold fabric underneath the black, spilling out. We haven’t got rid of the black completely. That’s a theological statement.

Call to worship

We have gathered together
because we’re people who have heard a rumour
that there’s life to be found on the other side of death.
We’re here because just the rumour is enough to bring us hope
and just the hope is enough to bring us a moment of life.
We’re here because even though it is only a flicker, a moment, a breath
it’s changed our death forever.

Welcome to worship.


Bible reading: John 20: 1-18

Reflection 1:

The resurrection was first discovered by the friends of Jesus who stood in grief outside his tomb.
Resurrection turned despair into life.

It was discovered again by a group of Jesus’ disciples who had known the loss of all they had known.
Resurrection turned fear into hope.

It was discovered again by black south africans when apartheid was dismantled.
Resurrection turned injustice into liberation.

It was discovered again by the people of East Timor who fought for independence.
Resurrection turned oppression into freedom.

It’s been discovered again whenever someone has found the space to love after being hurt, has found the courage to begin again when it seems life has ended.

And that gives us faith to believe resurrection will happen in Palestine and Israel.

We have faith to believe resurrection will happen in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

We have faith to believe resurrection will happen in refugee camps in Laos and detention centres in Maribyrnong.

We have faith to believe resurrection will happen in the systems that crumple and oppress.

We have faith to believe resurrection will happen in the lives we know are shattered and the hearts we know are broken.

may the resurrection come.

may the resurrection come.


Prayer of confession

We too quickly lose faith that new life is possible
forgive us

We are so often cynical at the promise of hope
forgive us

We believe too easily that love only comes to those who deserve it
forgive us

We have lost hope that justice can prevail
forgive us

We have not believed our lives are worth starting over
forgive us

We have believed too often that we don’t need you to bring life
forgive us

Let your love take the place of all that is dying within us

in Jesus name


Prayers of intercession
[invite people to light tapers / tea lights between each phrase and to put them onto the black fabric]

Where there is fear today, bring hope
[light candles]

Where there is death today, bring love

Where there is injustice today, bring freedom

Where there is oppression today, bring life

Where there is guilt today, bring liberation

Where there is numbness today, bring grace

May your story of resurrection come to life again today.

Sending out:

Hold fast to the story of life.
Trust that this is God’s story
and that in every time and in every place,
new life is emerging, relentlessly, in this broken, dying world.
Go into the world and put yourself alongside it.


  1. Brilliant. Thanks for this. I just used this with my fiance and in-laws on a cliff overlooking the English peak-district, it was great, thanks for putting it online!

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