Sunday 19th April 2020

An act of worship at home

19th April 2020

Reading          John 20 vv 19-29

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[a]), 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.’


One of the things that has happened over the last few weeks is that many of us have found ourselves relying on technology far more than we used to simply to be able to communicate with others. Speaking on the phone, texting, emailing, facetiming, skyping and now zooming are becoming ever more popular. But they’re not without their challenges. I remember when Eddy first started texting our daughters her phone would correct “mum” to “nun”, which was slightly odd (I’m sure there are more mums in the world than nuns) but also very frustrating as she’d have to re-correct it each time. Worse still are is computer software that can be used to convert the spoken word into text. One minister who was using it to dictate her sermon was surprised to find her words “we should love others as we love ourselves” come out as “we should laugh at others as we laugh at ourselves”! On this second Sunday of Easter perhaps hearing God can feel a bit like that. It isn’t easy to know exactly what God is saying to us as we’re shut up in our homes, it’s not easy when we aren’t.

The dramatic events of Pentecost were described by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. But John describes the giving of the Holy Spirit very differently, in fact it was in such a quiet way that it can easily be missed.

John tells us that on that first Easter Sunday evening when Jesus appeared to the disciples locked away in the Upper Room he showed them his wounds, and then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit, God’s gift of himself within them, within us. The Holy Spirit which is the source of God’s  love and strength and power within us. The first disciples discovered within themselves astonishing, undreamed of powers, and suddenly emerged with enormous confidence and courage, for all those fears which kept them hidden indoors had disappeared.

We may be physically shut in at the moment but perhaps we need to recognise that we too have fears and doubts which we keep shut in within us. Fears we may try to keep to ourselves, like fears of what other people might think or do or say, or of making fools of ourselves, or of getting it wrong or making a mistake. Fear turns hearing God’s voice into a game of Chinese whispers. If we’re afraid we only hear God faintly through the locked door of our fear. But if we really want to find life, if we want to live the full and complete and exciting and enjoyable life which God has waiting for us, then we need to go beyond our fears and tap into the Holy Spirit within. The good news is that Jesus ignores the locked doors of our fears just as he ignored the locked door of the upper room and once more comes to us and breathes on us, ‘Peace be with you!’ ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’

Thank you, Lord.


In the stillness let us pray for a world in need of love: love for people who have lost themselves,

love for friends who have become isolated,

love for families who are missing physical contact with one another.

In the stillness let us pray for a world in need of hope:

hope in the midst of despair when so much seems unknown,

hope when sickness seems to be winning, hope for a better future for everyone.

In the stillness let us pray for a world in need of joy: joy when there is cause for celebration,

joy where there is a reason to give thanks, joy as a means of sharing in the wonder of shared love. Amen.


When our futures are uncertain,

when our Christian life is tough,

when our worries fill our thinking,

when our hope is not enough –

then the rallying cry of Thomas

rises high above the crowd:

‘Give your lives, your all, for Jesus.

Join him on this narrow road.’

When the many signs confuse me –

aimless wanderings fill my day –

then I pray the prayer with Thomas:

‘Gracious Lord, show us the way.’

Suddenly the spell is broken!

Truth and Life in Christ, I see:

‘I’m the way that you are seeking,

Come, disciple, follow me.’

When I miss the great adventure,

When belief is too absurd –

deep inside, I need, with Thomas

simple faith to be assured.

Then, the resurrected Jesus

brings to me his hands and side.

Overwhelming love engulfs me!

Death is dead and Christ’s alive!

Come, inspire this feeble vision,

put your daring in our minds:

words to motivate disciples,

lives that challenge humankind.

Like Saint Thomas, full of passion,

clear our gloom that we may see –

Christ, our Lord, alive forever!

Christ, my God, alive in me!

Words: © Adrian Low – Suggested Tune StF 131 – “Scarlet Ribbons”


Loving Lord, may we know your presence with us and within us

and so may we know your blessing this day and always. Amen.

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