This service has been written by Rev Arthur Cowburn.
The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord
StF 313 Thine be the glory
Let us pray
Loving God, we worship you.We celebrate your amazing love which brings light and hope to people In the darkest of situations.In the beginning you said,
“let there be light!”
You brought order out of chaos,And when people failed to recognise your love,
You sent Jesus To be the light of the world.
We confess that we often walk in darkness,We fail to trust you
And, at times, doubt your power.Help us to see your light
And hear your word Which says, “Peace be with you,
Your sins are forgiven.”
Help us to walk In the power of your resurrection
That we may worship you Now and always.
John 20: 19-31
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!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 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.” 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!” 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.”Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.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[b] that Jesus is theMessiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
StF 314 This joyful Eastertide
I’ve never been inside a prison without somebody beside me who had a set of keys to let me out again. And yet, there’s something about the way prison gates and doors close that leave me with an incredible sense of finality, of knowing that without those keys, I’m stuck. I find prisons fearful places.
In the reading from St John’s Gospel we find the disciples behind a locked door, not afraid of what’s on the inside but the people on the outside. They’ve seen Jesus crucified and are afraid that they might be next on the list. There’s been a crazy story from Mary Magdalene that she’s seen Jesus which has left them with all sorts of questions. Then, suddenly, there is Jesus in the middle of them. They don’t appear to notice that somehow he’s broken through their security arrangements. They’re just overjoyed to see him.
Many of you will remember the fuss there was back in the 1980’s when Rev. Dr. David Jenkins, then Bishop of Durham, said that he didn’t believe that the resurrection body of Jesus was the same as the one he had before his crucifixion. I believe that this incident gives a great deal of credence to his claims. Before his death, we have no evidence of Jesus being able to appear and disappear at will and yet, it is very much a physical presence that stands before the disciples as proven a week later when Thomas is encouraged to touch him to reinforce his belief.
We live in a fearful world. Ronald Reagan is alleged to have said that one of the tasks of Government was to keep the people frightened so that they would believe the Government of the day was the only thing that could protect them. At the beginning of the current pandemic, I had a feeling that Governments were working very much in that mode. Do what we say, and you’ll be all right! Except that Governments across the world seem to have very different ideas on the right path, meaning that all we can do is hope and trust we’re on the right one. And we’re right to be concerned about this virus which is contributing to so many deaths at the moment.
Jesus stands in the room with his disciples and says, “Peace be with you.” He doesn’t offer to solve their problems. Instead, he commissions them to go out and face the world head on. We may not be able to do that at present, but we can still hear those words of Jesus offering us peace and hope in the midst of turmoil. The risen Christ is still free to enter our locked down spaces in a way that nobody else can. May we know his peace and love throughout this Easter season, throughout the lock down, however long that might be and forevermore. And may we find ways of transmitting that peace to the world by our telephone and other conversations now, and by giving testimony to God’s presence when we’re free to go out again.
Give thanks for
The beauty in the world around us
Families and friends and the different ways we can keep in touch
All those who provide for us in different ways
Something good that has happened this week
The peace and love that Jesus brings
The Government and those making difficult decisions at this time
The NHS, Nursing Home Staff, those who care in the Community
Those caring for family members
Those at work providing vital services
People worried about bills whilst they’re not working
People worried about what the future will hold
Those suffering from covid-19
Those whose surgery or other medical intervention has been delayed
Those who have lost loved ones
The Lord’s Prayer
StF 303 I know that my redeemer lives
May the peace of God which passes all understanding,
Keep our hearts and minds
In the knowledge and love of God
And of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord;
And the blessing of God,
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Remain with us now,
Throughout the Easter Season
And for evermore. Amen