Welcome and Call to Worship:
Come, embrace the risen Christ.
Come, embrace the prince of peace.
Come, embrace his pierced hands.
Come, meet your Lord and your God.
Hymn --- 425 … The Saviour died but rose again.
Prayers of Adoration, Confession and Lord’s Prayer:
Mighty God, what an amazing gift we have received! We have been born again through the resurrection and even though we have not seen the Risen Christ we love and believe in him, rejoicing with all Christians in an indescribable and glorious joy.
Gracious God, like Thomas we will still face times of doubt and uncertainty but we know that we are not alone in our doubts and that you, our Father in heaven, continue to love us whatever our state of mind or body. We give you thanks for our fellow Christians here in the Scottish Borders.
The Lord’s Prayer:
Which art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth
As it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory. Forever. Amen
John 20: 19 – 31
1 Peter 1: 3 - 9.
Hymn --- 187 … There’s a wideness in God’s mercy. (Morebattle)
Alternative--- 417 … Now the greenblade riseth. (Yetholm)
As the disciples in the locked room reached out and touched you, let us reach out and touch you today, living Lord Jesus. Let us feel your scarred hands and feet. Let us put our hands in your side. Let us be still and know that you are our Lord and our God. Amen.
'Low Sunday' is probably so named because of its relative unimportance in contrast with Easter Sunday
Thomas: Changed from Doubt to Faith
“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” [John 20:25]
We often judge people by one mistake. We never let them forget it. Further, we never let the world forget it. When we think of David, we think of his sin. We forget what a great man he was despite his failure. When we think of Jacob, we think of how he stole his brother’s birth right. When we think of Peter, we remember his denial.
Shakespeare said, “The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.” This is what happened to Thomas. No doubt he showed great faith many times, but we remember him because of his doubt. Today when someone is sceptical, we call that person a doubting Thomas. In reality Thomas was one of the most steadfast and loyal apostles among the Twelve. How many times have we wrongly judged someone!
We know that Thomas was sceptical by nature.
Thomas believed with much difficulty. One day when Jesus was preaching far from Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, his friend Lazarus became seriously ill. In great haste Lazarus’s sisters, Mary, and Martha, sent for Jesus to come and heal him. When word of Lazarus’s sickness reached Jesus, he deliberately lingered for two days. The apostles, remembering the threat of mob action on their last trip to Jerusalem, presumed that was the reason. However, at the end of two days, Jesus surprised them by announcing that he was departing. So, then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe”. Thomas responded “let us also go, that we may die with Him.” This comment seems to reveal excessive pessimism; he could see nothing but disaster ahead. Let me hasten to add that some of the most creative people who have ever lived have been of this nature. Georgia Harkness, a theologian and author, described her personal struggle with depression in “The Dark Night of the Soul.” She told how she came through the valley to find strength and victory in her experiences.
In the Scriptures we find expression of this temperament in Job, David, Elijah, and Jeremiah. If Thomas was melancholy, he had plenty of company.
Again, when Jesus sought to assure the disciples of eternal life, the spirit of Thomas was revealed. “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Thomas could not accept things without questioning them. He was a realist who wanted to be sure.
Thomas utterly refused to believe the resurrection. Even after the other disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” He had to see for himself. The last disciple to concede the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Have you doubted? Most of us have. The psalmist cried out, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”
Thomas wanted to believe
There is a difference between honest and dishonest doubters. Some people just do not want to believe. They prefer a life of unbelief. They make up excuses and blame others as a cover for their own dishonesty. This was not the spirit of Thomas. Thomas wanted to believe.
Thomas found sympathy from Jesus
Christ blames no one for wanting to be sure. Jesus did not condemn Thomas for his doubts. Jesus knew that once Thomas fought his way through the wilderness of his doubts, he would be the surest man in Christendom. Jesus never says, “You must have no doubts,” but rather, “You must struggle with your doubts until you reach certainty.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Jesus spoke to him as a sincere disciple whose faith was weak, not as one with an evil heart of unbelief. Thomas’s answer was immediate. He fell down prostrate at Jesus’s feet and exclaimed with a warm, passionate cry of joy, “My Lord and my God!” His doubts vanished in the presence of the living Christ like morning mist in the sunlight.
Thomas has given assurance to the world. His confession was noble—the most advanced, in fact, made by any of the Twelve during the time they were with Jesus. The greatest doubter attained the fullest and firmest belief. Thomas declared his belief in the miraculous by proclaiming, “The One who was dead is alive! This One who was crucified has become my Lord!” He acknowledged Jesus as the Christ.
Thomas emerged stronger because he doubted
Thomas’s faith became strong and vibrant. Tradition has it that he took the gospel to India. Tertullian said about the early Christians, “No man would be willing to die unless he knew he had the truth.” They would not have died for a dream. They would not have been loyal to a figment of their imagination. Thomas emerged victorious and became faithful unto death in his witness for God. We emerge victorious as we wait on God to reveal himself to us..
Do you have doubts? Keep doing the best you know right where you are. Stay faithful. Keep trusting, following, serving, praying. God will reveal himself. He will show you the nail prints.
Many times, my prayer like many others has been “Lord I believe help thou my unbelief”
The contrast of our Bible Readings could not be more relevant for us to-day as we see in our second bible reading from 1 Peter 1 v 8 & 9
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Jesus is the supreme example of love. Even the secular world often recognises this. TIME Magazine said this: ‘Jesus: the most persistent symbol of purity selflessness and love in the history of western humanity.’
Hymn --- 432 … How often we like Thomas, (tune 739 Aurelia)
You are an abundant God and out of Your great mercy you have given us so much. We give you this offering today. With it we worship You and give our whole selves to You. Please now take it and use it for Your kingdom and Your glory.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercessions:
Creator God, we pray for peace in our troubled world. Wherever nations are at war, especially in Ukraine and people are suffering, we pray for true reconciliation. Protect all Christian people in the nations of the world, and help them to influence their country for the good of all.
Father God, we pray for the times when our doubts, our fears and our blinkered vision prevents us from taking care of our immediate family and household or when through our busyness, we take no part in the life of our neighbourhood or wider community.
Faithful God, we hold before you, those whom life has damaged and all who find it difficult to trust in you. We pray that you will push aside their doubts and fears and bring them hope, comfort, and healing and with it an inner peace.
Everlasting God, we thank you that our time of worship renews our faith and trust in you and your risen son Jesus Christ. Send us out into the coming week ready to show our gratitude and live the Good News of Easter.
Hymn --- 419 … Thine be the Glory, risen, conquering Son.
Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord, In the name of Christ. Amen.