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Sun 11/4/21

On this page. 
Sermon, prayers and hymns for Sunday 11th April 2021
Broadcast & Online services.

Broadcast and Live-streamed Opportunities for Worship
8.10 am  Radio 4 Sunday Worship 
10.00 am Chester Cathedral are livestreaming the Cathedral Eucharist at: https://chestercathedral.com/stream/
10.45 A modern-style of service will be livestreamed from Christ Church Gipsy Hill available at: https://www.facebook.com/christchurchgipsyhill
The Prayer Book Society continue to livestream a wide range of Book of Common Prayer Services available at: https://www.pbs.org.uk/churches-and-services/-1

A Sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter

John 20: 19 – end

 

At a time when we cannot touch each other, today’s Gospel makes interesting reading.  Touch is important.  A few years ago, there was a post doing the social media rounds declaring that hugs were fat free, sugar free, and lowered blood pressure.  Beneath the humour lay a lot of truth.

Researchers have discovered that when a person is touched, the amount of haemoglobin in the blood increases significantly.  Helen Colton, author of The Joy of Touching writes: “Haemoglobin is a part of the blood that carries vital supplies of oxygen to all organs of the body, including the heart and brain.  An increase in haemoglobin tones up the whole body, helps prevent disease and speeds recovery from illness.”

No wonder Jesus, the Word made flesh, invites the frightened and sceptical Thomas to: “Put your finger here… put your hand in my side…”  

Thomas is clearly one of those people who learns best by activity; by touching and seeing the evidence for himself.  He’s not going to be convinced by some far-fetched story of Jesus appearing to his grief-stricken, terrified disciples in a locked room.  If Jesus really is alive, Thomas needs to see for himself, and touch the wounds made by nails and spear.   Thomas is not going to be hoodwinked into believing some crazy story which no, rational person would believe.

I wonder what relationships were like between Thomas and the rest of the disciples during what must have been a very long week in which Jesus fails to appear again?  We can almost imagine Thomas mocking the disciples: “I told you it wasn’t true.  You were so crazed by grief you’ve imagined Jesus standing among you.  It’s quite normal for a bereaved person to be convinced they’ve seen the person they love.  You’ve not seen Jesus.  It’s all in your imaginations….”

The risen Jesus may be glorious; victorious; recognisable; different; but he is not in a hurry.  We all know that there are times in life when a week is a very long time indeed, and this must have seemed a very long week indeed as the disciples tried to convince Thomas they had seen the risen Jesus standing in front of them and conversing with them, and Thomas steadfastly refusing to believe their account.

We can imagine the anticipation of the disciples a week later as they gather once more behind locked doors.  “Will he come again?”  “Oh, I do hope so.”  “Thomas, don’t forget.  Make sure you’re there this time.  Jesus might come again.”

Thomas is persuaded, and although the resurrected Jesus appears when and where he will, and cannot be relied on to appear, the hopes of the disciples are fulfilled.  The risen Jesus appears among them, regardless of the closed doors.   Thomas is given the proof he needs, and Jesus invites him to place his hands into the wounds….

…. and as far as we know, Thomas doesn’t accept the invitation.  Faced with the reality of the risen Jesus, sight is enough.  This is no imposter leading the disciples astray.  No figment of grief-stricken imagination.  Jesus is standing in front of Thomas, familiar, yet clearly changed.  It is true and there is no need for Thomas to touch the wounds to know the truth.

Thomas is a disciple of our time.  We can identify with his scepticism.  We may live a couple of hundred years or so after the Age of Enlightenment, but we remain influenced by it.  Science has taught us that it is possible to prove anything… even if that has been called into question as scientists have revealed there is a force at work in the universe which they don’t yet understand. We like our ‘proof’.  We want to see, hear and touch the evidence for ourselves.

And yet, when it comes to seeing the resurrected Jesus, we cannot touch him – although some may see and hear him.

John, who at the start of his Gospel tells us that Jesus is the Word made flesh, knows that the physical Jesus is important and tells of a very physical Jesus until the end of his Gospel.  Revealing a Jesus who, even after the resurrection, breathed on his disciples, cooked breakfast for them and ate with them.

Thomas, who needed to see and touch Jesus so badly had opportunity to do just that when the risen Jesus appeared to him him…. but we do not.

40 days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended back into Heaven.  Touching him became impossible for the first disciples, and for the millions of Christians who came after them.

We have to believe from those accounts of the first disciples that Jesus rose from the dead, we have no choice...  but we can trust those accounts because in his concern to see and touch the proof, Thomas has told us that the proof has been tested, and found to be reliable.

More importantly than that, the Spirit of the risen Jesus has worked in our hearts to assure us that it is true. Jesus is alive.  Alleluia!  Amen!

S Anne Lawson

8 April 2021


Prayers 

 

The Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter

Risen Christ,

for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:

open the doors of our hearts,

that we may seek the good of others

and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,

to the praise of God the Father.  Amen.

 

The Post-Communion Prayer for the Second Sunday of Easter

 

Lord god, our Father,

through our Saviour, Jesus Christ

you have assured your children of eternal life

and in baptism have made us one with him:

deliver us from the death of sin

and raise us to new life in your love,

in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

Prayers of Intercession 

 

Knowing that the risen Christ is here among us,

let us pray in his name

for the Church and for the world.

 

Father, we pray for your blessing

on every group of Christians worshipping today

all over the world;

and we pray for all who doubt your truth.

We pray that our hearts may be set ablaze with love,

and that we may walk as children of light.

My Lord and my God!

 

Father, we pray for all the areas of your world

which are torn apart by hatred and violence,

famine, disease or religious differences;

we pray for an end to war

and a deeper commitment to peace.

My Lord and my God!

  

Father, we pray for those who face family rejection

if they become Christians,

and for all families divided by beliefs

or persecuted for their faith.

We pray for the children of our church

that they may grow up strong in the faith

with good role models to guide them.

My Lord and my God!

 

Father, we pray for those who wake up

to the prospect of another day filled with pain;

for those who long for someone

to spend time with them, enjoying their company;

and we pray for sight that notices needs.

My Lord and my God!

 

Father we pray for those who mourn,

and we give thanks for those they love and miss,

giving thanks that they

are in the everlasting arms of the God of love,

in whom there is life in all its fullness.

My Lord and my God!

 

Father, with joy in our hearts we thank you

for the new life opened up to us

through Jesus, our Redeemer.

 

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Susan Sayers (Adapted)