Welcome, Cheviot churches and also those joining us from elsewhere. Come, people of God, let us worship together on this 2nd Sunday of Easter, what is traditionally been called ‘Low Sunday’, after the highs of Easter Day, and we focus on Thomas’ encounter with the risen Christ. Rev Ian Clark, assisted by Graeme and Elizabeth Watson, will lead the services on Sunday, so the service below will not correspond to their service.
Call to Worship
In worship and in prayers
Jesus stands among us
In the telling of stories and in signs
Jesus stands among us
In this place and in this moment
Jesus stands among us in joy
Hymn 415 – This joyful Eastertide
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of new life,
we come to you, rejoicing in the mystery of the Risen Christ, present among us always, even when we least expect him.
We marvel at your constant love,
your victory over evil and death, and your resurrecting hope which embraces us in every circumstance.
Trusting in these gifts, we seek to live as Easter people in every place and time.
Strengthen us with the gift of your Holy Spirit in this time of worship, and bless us with your peace through Christ, our Risen Lord.
Yet even as we delight in Easter’s promise,
let us confess the ways we fail to live it out:
Merciful God, we confess there are times when our trust in you weakens,
and we become anxious about many things.
We talk about love, but we are gripped by fear of those who differ from us.
We cling to our personal agendas and forget you call us to live as a community of believers.
Forgive us for seeking our own interests before the needs of others.
Open our eyes to the many signs of your love for us.
Through the power of your Holy Spirit, rekindle our passion for you,
so we can work together to witness to your love.
Hear the words of the risen Christ: Peace be with you.
Receive the peace and forgiveness of Christ,
and rejoice in his gift of new life this day and every day. Thanks be to God.
Readings – Acts 4:32–35
Hymn SGP 7 – Alleluia, Alleluia
Faithful God, we praise you for the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ from the dead. As Jesus stands among us now, we see the bodily marks of His saving love. May we live as those who believe in the triumph of the cross and that believing, we have life in His name. Amen
Maybe it is an occupational hazard, but I like graveyards. I find it fascinating to go round and look at the old stones. Some have marvellous carvings on them, of angels or cross bones, and the inscriptions can tell us a lot about the history of the area. But as time goes on the inscriptions can be eroded, and so I was happy to find that a few of my members had gone round the churchyards in Roxburgh and Berwickshire, painstakingly cataloguing the graves.
Easter is a time we think of graves, as Jesus was buried in a tomb, but the tomb couldn’t hold Jesus, and the stone blocking it was rolled away. Jesus had risen, and of course we celebrated that last Sunday on Easter Day. Mary encountered her risen Lord and ran to tell the disciples, He is risen!
What would your reaction be? If you had been one of the disciples, you would have thought that the death of Jesus had affected Mary’s mind, that she was imagining things, though she seemed to speak with such conviction.
Just as Jesus had been closed in the tomb, so the disciples had hidden themselves away and locked the door. They were terrified, probably justifiably, that they would be next, that they would be arrested. Mary’s assertion that she had met Jesus just added to the mix of their jumbled emotions.
But in our reading today, Jesus suddenly stood among them. Locked doors or not, he was there. He spoke words of peace and he spoke words of forgiveness. They would have needed that, for they had deserted him and ran away; they had let him down when he needed them most. In their confusion, in their grief, with their whole world topsy-turvey, Jesus spoke words of peace. Just as we have been isolated and shut in our homes, Jesus still speaks his words of peace to us. Peace which is comforting, yes, but also the peace which is liberating.
But one of the disciples was missing when Jesus appeared. Thomas wasn’t there. Maybe he was braver than his friends and had gone out for the shopping or to see the lie of the land, hear if they were liable to be arrested. We don’t know, but he wasn’t there. And when he was told that Jesus had appeared to his friends, he pooh-poohed the idea. Thomas the doubter, we call him, rather unfairly. I prefer to think of him as ‘Questioning Thomas’ and the patron saint of all the researchers carrying out work on the coronavirus, asking the questions to find ultimately a vaccine. We live in a world of fake news and social media, where we need to sift through to see what is true. Thomas can be our patron saint too, for I think that our faith is always strengthened by asking questions about what we believe.
Jesus did appear again, though a week later. He shows Thomas the marks of the nails on his hands, the mark of the spear in his side. He still has the scars that speak of sacrifice and was the same Jesus who had been nailed to the cross, who was willing to die to show us the height and breadth and depth of God’s love. That means Christ can still speak to our wounded, suffering world today. Christ can still speak to us in our pain.
Christ showed Thomas his wounds, and Thomas said ‘my Lord and my God’, one of the most heartfelt affirmations of faith we find in the Gospels. And from there the disciples became transformed into an Easter people, ready to turn the world upside down with their belief in the Risen Christ. We too are an Easter people ready with our questioning and with our faith to be as Christ to those around us at this challenging time.
Hymn 432 – How often we like Thomas
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Generous God, we thank you for the hope and joy we find in your resurrecting power. Bless the gifts we bring so they may spread that hope and joy in the world you love.
Thank you, loving God, for your renewing presence in our lives, and for all the many blessings we have in life. For family and for friendship, for shelter and for food. For medical care and local services. All the things we take for granted, but we are so grateful for them.
We pray for those who are feeling fearful, worried or overwhelmed, especially as the months of pandemic restrictions stretch on.
We pray for those who face violence and unrest each day, in countries around the world and at home in our own community, and we think of the unrest in Northern Ireland.
We pray for our national and local leaders, especially at election time for the Scottish parliament. Be with all as they work for our communities to recover from the pandemic.
We pray for our congregation, for churches in our community,
and for Christians around the world, especially those who face persecution.
We pray for our neighbours, especially for those who live in poverty and those who know rejection and discrimination.
We pray for those who are ill, in pain or in grief.
We remember before you, silently or aloud, those on our hearts today:
Bring them comfort and strength,
Reveal to them your risen presence.
God our Maker, hear our prayers,
and use us in ways we may not yet even imagine
to respond to those around us with the love we see in Jesus Christ and the confidence we draw from his resurrection. Amen
Hymn 404 – I danced in the morning
Risen Christ, no tomb could hold you and no door could shut you out. Bless us with your presence and fill us with your peace. And may the blessing of God Almighty, the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, be with you and with those whom you love, wherever they may be, now and always. Amen