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Sunday 19th April 2020- Second Sunday of Easter

posted 17 Apr 2020, 09:44 by CHS Info   [ updated 19 Apr 2020, 09:28 ]
Our Sunday Service was online, 
with Revd Caroline Clarke presiding. You can hear the sermon on YouTube here.

You can download the order of service here, and a printable version of these readings, sermon and prayers can be downloaded here

Sunday 19th April 2020

Second Sunday of Easter

The disciples are GLAD when they see the risen Christ yet the doors are still locked when he returns. Fear and doubt as well as Joy and belief are an important part of our faith journey. Can we truly be glad when Christ returns bearing the wounds of his execution and death in his risen body? In actively displaying the results of cruelty and injustice in human society Jesus challenges us at the same time as he offers us a new way of living. We need to be able to confront and take responsibility for our part in a world that inflicts pain and suffering if we are to embrace a new way of living together, a way that leads to peace, justice and inclusion for all people. This is not an easy path but … we have the risen Christ with us always.

 


Readings

1 Peter 1: 3-9

Praise to God for a Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 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.

 

John 20.19-31

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “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.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 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.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

Sermon

Sermon for Easter 2 19 April 2020      Church of the Holy Spirit, Clapham

1 Peter 1.3-9; John 20.19-31

Yesterday was the first cool, cloudy, morning for quite a while, and I found it extra-hard to feel the joy of Easter. While the sun was shining, our one-hour walk each day has revealed so much beauty in the signs of new life on trees and flowers, and it has been possible to relate that to the truth of resurrection – we could see new life coming out of old barren branches, new growth sprouting from the seemingly dead earth!

That new life is all still there, still growing, but the greyness yesterday heightened feelings of doubt, and even anxiety – will this ‘dead’ time of lockdown ever end? 

I am generally an optimist, so if I am experiencing some doubts about that, I realise it must be increasingly difficult for those who tend more to the feeling that it can only get worse, and it will never get better.

I wonder how the disciples were feeling on the two Sunday evenings described in our Gospel today. For three years they had devotedly followed Jesus, but in recent weeks they had become increasingly anxious about the opposition he was facing. When Jesus decided that it was time to go to Bethany, where Lazarus had died (John 11.7), and the disciples pointed out that the people in Judea had been trying to stone him, Thomas was the one who said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11.16)  Realistic?  Yes – maybe he was – their lives would be at risk if Jesus were to be killed.

At the Last Supper, when John (chapter 14) describes Jesus telling the disciples that he’s going to ‘prepare a place’ for them in his Father’s house, you may remember he says, “And you know the way to the place where I am going”.  It is Thomas who responds, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’  Honest? Willing to ask questions? Yes – I like Thomas!

Now, just a few weeks later, Jesus had been killed. No wonder they were hiding behind locked doors “for fear of the Jews” on that first Easter evening.  If Jesus was no longer in the tomb, they would be the first to be suspected of stealing his body. They had heard the good news from Mary that she had seen Jesus alive, but in their fear they couldn’t believe it, or if they believed it, they didn’t know what it meant.

It was into this place of fear that Jesus came, greeting them with the words, “Peace be with you.”  He had promised them his peace at the last supper (John 14. 27): “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” Here, the risen Jesus brings them that peace, reassuring them that it is still available for them.

We don’t know why Thomas wasn’t with them on that first Easter evening, but he represents all of us who find it hard to believe that a man who was so clearly dead and buried could be alive.  He needed to see with his own eyes, and touch with his own hands -  to get visible and tangible proof of what he’d been told. 

The following Sunday evening Thomas is there – and the doors are still shut, the disciples are still scared, hiding away.  Even those who have seen Jesus find it hard to know what this all means.  Again, Jesus says, “Peace be with you.” 

Thomas doesn’t even need to touch – he has seen Jesus, and even more than the other disciples, he has seen “My Lord and my God”.  As so often with John’s Gospel the ‘seeing’ is also ‘understanding’, and this whole Gospel story is told for us so that we too may believe “that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing [we] may have life in his name.”

Many of us may be like Thomas at times, not able to believe.  My prayer for today is that in all the darkness and doubt that we are facing during this lockdown that we will be able to say with conviction that Jesus is ‘Our Lord and our God’, and that we may not only know the peace that he brings, helping us to accept what we’re going through at this time with trust and hope that it will come to an end, but that we will also allow ourselves to be changed by this belief as the disciples were – changed from frightened people cowering in an upper room, into people inspired to go out into the world to bring light and life to others.

Our present circumstances may make that difficult for many of us until the lockdown is over, but we can plan and pray about how we can live our lives differently in the light of the resurrection. Because, as we heard in our first reading today from the first letter of Peter, the resurrection gives us “a new birth into a living hope”.  Death and Darkness are defeated by Life and Light – everything is changed by this. 

Ruth Etchells, in a book called A Rainbow-coloured Cross* wrote a prayer for Eastertide:

“… O my dear Lord teach me that Easter changes everything or it changes nothing, and so it must begin – and continue – by changing me.  So let me live out the power of Easter in this very place, Lord. Never doubting that here, even here, you intend life abundant: and it is for me in your strength, to help make it happen. Amen”

 

 

 

 

* A Rainbow-Coloured Cross: Personal Prayers with Easter Supplement Ruth Etchells 2007 SPCK.  A book in which Ruth Etchells suggests, in her introduction, that “prayer is a key that unlocks prison gates and frees us into this world and the next… releasing us from whatever binds or imprisons us and narrows our existence, that we may discover for ourselves again the marvellous liberty that is God’s gift; and so enter more fully into our inheritance.”  She wrote an earlier volume, Safer than a Known Way, which has a seasonal supplement for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

 

 


Intercessions for Eastertide

Common Worship: Times and Seasons © The Archbishops' Council 2006 published by Church House Publishing

 

In joy and hope let us pray to the Father.

That our risen Saviour may fill us with the joy of his

glorious and life-giving resurrection …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That isolated and persecuted churches

may find fresh strength in the good news of Easter …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That God may grant us humility

to be subject to one another in Christian love …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That he may provide for those who lack food, work or shelter …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That by his power war and famine may cease through all the world …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That he may reveal the light of his presence to the sick,

the weak and the dying,

to comfort and strengthen them …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That, according to his promises,

all who have died in the faith of the resurrection

may be raised on the last day …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That he may send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon his people,

so that we may bear faithful witness to his resurrection,

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father,

you have delivered us from the power of darkness

and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:

grant that, as his death has recalled us to life,

so his continual presence in us may raise us to eternal joy;

through Christ our Lord.

Amen.


Prayers

Prayer 1

Hear us Risen Lord,

Our resurrection and our life.

O Lord, our hearts overflow with sounds of exultation and victory.

We will say it again and again, “Jesus has triumphed! Jesus is exalted!”

This is your doing, O God who is our strength and salvation,

yours alone, And it is marvelous in our eyes.

 Behold, you have made your people to dwell in unity,

And have given us the blessing, life forevermore.

On this day, you have acted;

We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Amen.

 

Prayer 2

God of mercy,

you wash away our sins in water,

you give us a new birth in the Spirit,

and redeem us in the blood of Christ.

As we celebrate Christ's resurrection,

increase our awareness of these blessings,

and renew your gift of life within us.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

 one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Ċ
Church Office,
17 Apr 2020, 15:00