Morning Worship for 11th April 20213 days ago
As we begin this act of worship let us remember all those not able to be with us who are joining us in their own homes, we remember that there are many friends who are doing the same and are joining with us in worship. Although we will not be having hymns in church for those of you at home If you have Youtube then please find an appropriate version of the suggested hymns and join in the singing online. As you go through this time of worship try to remember this reality; you are in the presence of God who holds us all in His care and keeping.
Christ is Risen, he is Risen indeed Alleluia. We remember Jesus in the garden appearing to Mary and calling her by name. Come, risen Christ! Help us to remember that you know us each intimately and that you call us by name. We remember Jesus appearing to the disciples and saying ‘peace be with you.’ Come, risen Christ! We remember Jesus appearing to Thomas and saying ‘do not doubt, but believe.’ Come risen Christ! Help us to rise above our doubts and fears and to trust completely in your name. We remember Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus, talking with his followers. Come, risen Christ! Open to us the Scripture and help us to know your truth. We remember Jesus sharing breakfast on the beach with his companions. Come, risen Christ! Be to us the bread of life. We remember Jesus commanding his disciples to tell the good news to all people and to baptize in his name. Come, risen Christ! Help us to be your witnesses in the world. Hear us as we praise your name together:
Collect of the day:
Almighty Father, You have given your only Son to die for our sins And to rise again for our justification: Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness That we may always serve you In pureness of living and truth; Through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Who is alive and reigns with you, In the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, now and for ever. Amen.
Our Declaration of faith
The preaching of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God. To those who are called, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the folly of God is wiser than human wisdom, And the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you; because by your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.
Hymn: Jesus Stand among us.
Readings: Acts 4: 32-35, 1 John 1: 1 – 2:2.
Hymn: Christ is the world’s true light.
Gospel Reading: John 20: 19-end.
I have really learnt to value the message given in today’s gospel reading as it seems to encapsulate so much about the response of people to the church in our society.
The first message is all about confidence, we see the early disciples having just lost their master and now they are left floundering. They have given up everything to follow Jesus and now what is left for them to do, how can they carry on without him?
How often do we find ourselves in similar circumstances?
I can recall talking to my Dad about his life down the pit, despite its hardships, the dirt and toil, and the dreadful effect it had on his health, my dad spoke of his time in the mines with great affection. It was a job for life, he started young and worked hard all of his working life, he earned good money and brought up 6 children and he loved the camaraderie, he loved having to think on his feet, and he loved the sense of challenge everyday brought. Then all of a sudden mining went out of fashion cheaper imports led to the closure of the mines and in desperation that which seemed unending eventually meant him having to go and work on the factory floor of a steel investment company.
He never spoke of this time with any affection at all, there was good health and safety a clean working environment but there was no life there was no sense of camaraderie and very little personal challenge.
He had lost the very thing that actually gave him meaning in relation to his working and relational life.
I look at this and sense so much of it around in the world today, there are so many people doing jobs which have no sense of drive, no real sense of purpose and which fail to provide a medium for the effective building up of relationships.
This is what those early disciples must have been feeling for the man who had promised so much was now dead, the life of following the master which had brought them so much personal challenge commitment and excitement was now all over.
Here they were hiding in an upper room for fear of the authorities, such was their fear that the door was securely locked. They were lost just as my dad was lost when the pit closed and as so many are lost through their engagement with what is offered to them by our secular world.
Then something amazing happens Jesus comes to them, no locked doors can prevent him from being with them and he comes to them bearing the gift of eternal peace. They are over joyed, at last their lives have meaning again, it had not all been for nothing, Jesus was alive and that sense of challenge once again enabled their hearts to swell, and their sense of purpose to be restored.
This it seems to me is the second piece of learning, no matter how hard things get no matter how desolate the world may look at times, with trust in the Lord Jesus our lives can be restored and our work can once again be the fulfilling, and satisfying thing it is meant to be. With a sense of purpose and the drive to move forward following or being encouraged by another and being given an inner strength of which previously we had not been aware, there is nothing that cannot be achieved. And yet even on the momentous occasion of the Lord Jesus revealing himself to his disciples, desolation, rejection and dis-belief were still clearly evident at least for one of them.
Thomas doubted and this it seems to me to be the third piece of teaching in the Gospel! Doubt often raises its head within the Christian world and especially in our secular society, what do we, and who do we, ultimately place our trust and confidence in?
Politicians and world leaders let us down constantly, and in the eyes of many so too do Church Leaders, People look at all the failures of the church rather than the positives as it is only failure and negativity which is so often portrayed to others and as a result people have no confidence in the churches leadership. As a result respect and confidence in the church as an institution has been seriously eroded. There is insufficient evidence to believe and so people have stopped believing. Thomas right back at the very beginning of the churches life had not been present when Jesus had come, and to him it all sounded so implausible, he would not believe until he was personally satisfied. So Jesus returns and Thomas believes, not because he touched the Lord’s hands not because he reached out and touched the lords side, he did not need to, for such was the depth of personal relationship between Jesus and his disciples that Thomas just knew instinctively that the man who stood before him was Jesus.
Peace be with you is the response of the Lord once again which of course has become a key phrase of our communion service sharing together in that which the good Lord brought upon us, for it is through the gift of his peace that our lives are for-ever transformed.
But how is this peace given and how do we share in it?
The final piece of teaching is once again dependent on the forming of relationships. What is truly amazing is the way in which Jesus shares his peace with us his disciples, Jesus breathes upon us and we are filled with his Spirit. There is a sharing of that very essence of Jesus, that which spoke to others about a sense of purpose, a sense of commitment, of a camaraderie which was second to none. Following Jesus is not easy nor for that matter was working down the mines, but there was something which was shared which made it all worthwhile, something shared which brought the possibility of belief into reality.
Jesus by sharing his very self, Jesus by breathing upon us and sending forth his Spirit upon us restores us to a life lived out and within the love of God. It is through Jesus that we are brought fully into relationship with the Almighty and in Jesus that belief becomes more than just plausible but completely trustworthy and true. Jesus said to Thomas have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.
Seeing Jesus in the flesh is not required for us to believe, because we know that through the gift of his Spirit to us we are so bound up in him that we need no external proof, for we possess an inner truth which is beyond words, an inner truth beyond question. That is where the world falls so sadly short for it looks to those things in life which cannot offer any sense of purpose any sense of relationship or any sense of commitment. Through the resurrection of Jesus all doubt falls away and we know that we can trust God with our whole heart. At times we may still have doubts something will not ring true or a personal experience may be so shattering to our faith that we never recover from it, that is why I believe the message of the Gospel is so relevant to people today, for Jesus does not disappoint us, Jesus never fails us, Jesus is always with us and we with him, when that relationship is right nothing else matters.
This is what people are called to recognize today, there is no need to look for Jesus, no need to prove his existence, all we need to do is open up our hearts to the power of his Spirit and through the depth of the relationship which will then ensue will we find ourselves able to rest eternally within the words of the Risen Lord.
May the peace of the Risen Lord be with you always, Amen.
Hymn: At the name of Jesus.
Prayers for others:
This morning let us pause for prayer for so many people and for so many situations.
O Lord our God,
We thank you for the many people throughout the ages who have followed your way of life joyfully; for the many saints and martyrs, men and women, who have offered up their very lives, so that your life abundant may become manifest. For all those who have been witnesses of your love in our own lives we give you thanks and for all whose contribution to humanity is currently being made manifest in our midst.
For your love and faithfulness we will at all times praise you.
O Lord, we thank you for those who chose the way of Jesus Christ. In the midst of trial, they held out hope; in the midst of hatred, they kindled love; in the midst of persecutions, they witnessed to your power; in the midst of despair, they clung to your promise. As we continue to struggle through the impact upon us and our freedoms as we continue through this pandemic, we pray for all those who do not have the depth of faith in your Son Jesus Christ to strengthen through their current difficulties.
For your love and faithfulness we will at all times praise you.
O Lord, we thank you for the truth those of faith have passed on to us; that it is by giving that we shall receive; it is by becoming weak that we shall be strong; it is by loving others that we shall be loved; it is by offering ourselves that the kingdom will unfold; it is by dying that we shall inherit life everlasting.
Hear us as we pray for the weak, the generous of heart, the vulnerable and self –sacrificing; may these personal offerings of so many bring strength, love, hope and joy to your faithful people.
For your love and faithfulness we will at all times praise you.
Finally we pray for all whom have entered into your rest, for those they leave behind to mourn their loss, for all who find loneliness and isolation from those they have loved so difficult to endure. May your love wash over them and bring them comfort in their distress.
For your love and faithfulness we will at all times praise you.National Council of Churches of the Philippines, 14th Biennial Convention Worship Resource Book (1989) adapted.
And so we pray
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
Hymn: We have a Gospel to proclaim.
A Memorial of the Resurrection:
At dawn on the first day of the week, the women came to the tomb. The angel asked them, whom do you seek? We seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. Why seek the living among the dead? If you have taken my Lord away, tell me where you have laid him. He is not here, he is risen as he promised; We are witnesses of these things. Risen Lord Jesus, as Mary Magdalen met you in the garden on the morning of your resurrection, so may we meet you today and every day. Speak to us as you spoke to her; reveal yourself as the living Lord; Renew our hope and kindle our joy; and send us to share the good news with others; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, now and for ever. Amen. Behold, I am with you always, to the end of time. And will come to reign among you in glory. Alleluia!
The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.