In life, in death, and in life beyond death,
The Risen Christ is Lord.
In success and discouragement, in fear and in hope,
The Risen Christ is Lord.
In Church and community, in our hearts and our homes,
The Risen Christ is Lord, and so we gather to worship in his name.
Hymn 410 – Jesus Christ is risen today
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow,
we rejoice in this new day you have made.
We praise you for all the beauty that surrounds us as spring takes hold with lambs and calves in the field and flowers blooming all around.
We praise you for your Son Jesus, and the power of new life promised in his resurrection.
We praise you for your Spirit at work in human history, to restore and redeem our hope with that power of new life.
God of steadfast love,
we worship you and claim your gift of new life,
even in the face of any doubt or danger within the world you love.
O God of might and mercy,
In his resurrection, Jesus promised to be with us everywhere and always.
Yet we confess we are sometimes uncertain about your promises. We doubt the promise of resurrection for our own lives.
Upheaval and anxiety eat away at our peace.
Forgive us when we struggle to trust your goodness
and your steadfast love for us.
Hear and believe the good news of the Gospel.
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and set free from sin and sorrow.
In Jesus Christ, God offers us the gift of peace.
May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ fill your hearts this day.
Readings – Acts 5: 27-32
John 20: 19-31
Hymn 432 – How often we like Thomas
Everlasting God, as Jesus appeared in the locked room to show his disciples the beginning of a new world, draw us closer to you. Like Thomas, may we examine the wounded hands and feet of Jesus in order to know and understand the depth of his love for us. Thank you that as believers we have life in His name. Amen
Life is sometimes unfair, and I am sure we all agree to that. I always think that on the Sunday after Easter. It is sometimes called Low Sunday, coming a week after the celebrations of Easter Day, and on this Sunday, we traditionally remember the disciple, Thomas. Thomas really gets a raw deal – he is called Doubting Thomas, and the name sticks. It seems so unfair. All the disciples had deserted Jesus at the time of his greatest need; Peter had even gone so far as denying that he knew him. They had all let him down – but somehow only Thomas is branded with this unfortunate title – the Doubter.
Scene One was the evening of Easter Day. Mary had been with the news that she had met the risen Jesus. You might have expected a scene of jubilation – but far from it. The disciples were huddled behind locked doors, and they were terrified. Terrified that they would be linked by association with Jesus and arrested. Terrified to brave the streets. Also they were lost, leaderless, still grieving. And the news of Jesus’ resurrection – they obviously didn’t know what to make of it. Didn’t quite believe it.
It was into this scene of fear and doubt that Jesus somehow appeared. Gatecrashed the party! He showed his wounds. He spoke words of peace and breathed words of forgiveness. But Thomas wasn’t there. Maybe he had drawn the short straw and had been sent out to buy some food. Maybe he needed a break from the doleful company. But he wasn’t there. He had missed all the excitement. There is nothing worse – when everybody else shares an experience, but you miss out. He dismissed their talk as hysterical, and said he would only believe if he could see the wounds in Jesus’s hands where the nails had been driven in, put his hand in the spear wound in his side.
Scene Two. The disciples are again together, but this time Thomas is with them. Jesus appears and stands among them. The Risen Lord shows his wounds to Thomas, and that is important. They hadn’t disappeared. He still bore the wounds. And he says blessed are those who believe without seeing. Thomas responds with one of the greatest affirmations of faith in the Gospels – My Lord and my God.
It is unfair, as I say, for Thomas shows healthy questioning, but also faith. He is patron saint to all who test and explore our human existence and indeed legend has it he took the Gospel message to India, where there is a strong church which sees its roots in Thomas.
Scene Three is really immediately afterwards, and for this we go to the Acts reading. For these tired, defeated, terrified people are completely transformed. Where they had been behind locked doors, now they are out in the open. Where they had run away and instinctively denied knowing Jesus, now they are openly testifying in his name. Where they had feared, now they were fearless – and they were fearless because they believed. It was a complete transformation. The disciples to me are proof of the resurrection, that such an inarticulate and fearful group could suddenly turn the world upside down.
There is a Scene Four too, and that is now. The characters in scene 4 are you and me and Christians everywhere. Christians in Ukraine rising above the pain and destruction to be a resurrection people and bear faith. Christians in Egypt where a priest was killed only a week or so ago, but the Church still seeks to be an agent of healing and reconciliation. Jesus still stands among us, and he calls us to be an Easter people in our scarred and wounded world and love it, and keep loving it and seek to bring Christ’s peace.
Hymn 415 – This joyful Eastertide
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
We thank you, God, for the many ways you provide for our needs:
for air and water, for food and shelter, for work to do and rest to sustain us.
We pray for your creation, too often at risk because of the choices we’ve made. Help us care for the earth and all its creatures.
Show us how to cherish the gifts you have given
and protect them for future generations.
We thank you, God, for family:
the families we were born into, the families we married into, and other families who welcomed us into their midst
We pray for those who have lost family members and relationships, and for any who know pain within the family circle.
God, we also thank you for friendship:
for friends who have supported us through months of pandemic restriction sand for those who bring us joy and wise counsel. Help us extend the gift of friendship
to those who are experiencing isolation, loneliness or grief.
We thank you, God, for the peace and freedom we enjoy in UK, but pray for those who know neither freedom nor peace:
those living under oppressive regimes or in conflict zones, and those who have fled their homelands, in search of safety. Ukraine; Palestine.
Give us courage to stand up for people who cannot stand up for themselves,
so that they too will know peace and freedom.
We thank you, God, for your Church,
for our congregation and its leaders,
and for all who volunteer time, talent and energy
to the work we undertake in Jesus’ name.
By your Spirit, guide us and inspire us with new insight into mission and ministry.
We pray for other churches in our community and in our presbytery,
and the sense of mission that guides each one into service. Amen
Hymn 413 – The day of Resurrection