Easter 2 Sunday 24th April

Welcome

Hymn –  A New Commandment I Give Unto You

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you

All: And also with you

Loving Lord,

Fill us with your life-giving,

joy-givingr peace-giving presence,

That we may praise you now with our lips,

and all the day long with our lives

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

Cast your burden upon the Lord

All: And he will sustain you

Create in us clean hearts, O God

All: And renew a right spirit within us

Cast us not away from your Presence

All: And take not your Holy Spirit from us

Give us the joy of your saving help

All: And sustain us with your life-giving Spirit

Blessed be the Lord day by day

All: The God of our salvation, who bears our burdens.

We have a moment of quiet, to call to mind the things we

Have thought, said and done which we know grieve the God

who loves us 

Come, let us return to the Lord and say: 

All: Almighty God

Long-suffering and of great goodness

I confess to you.

I confess with my whole heart

My neglect and forgetfulness of your commandments

My wrong doing, thinking and speaking:

The hurts I have done to others,

And the good I have left undone.

O God, forgive me, for I have sinned against you;

And raise me to newness of life;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

May the God of love and power

Forgive us and free us from our sins,

Heal and strengthen us by his Spirit,

And raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.

All: Amen. 

We praise God for his love and forgiveness with:- 

Hymn – From heaven you came helpless babe (The Servant King)

Our First Reading is taken from – Acts Chap: 5

27 They brought the apostles in, made them stand before the Council, and the High Priest questioned them. 

28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in the name of this man,” he said; “but see what you have done! You have spread your teaching all over Jerusalem, and you want to make us responsible for his death!” 

29 Peter and the other apostles answered, “We must obey God, not men. 

30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from death, after you had killed him by nailing him to a cross. 

31 God raised him to his right side as Leader and Saviour, to give the people of Israel the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. 

32 We are witnesses to these things – we and the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to those who obey him.” 

33 When the members of the Council heard this, they were so furious that they wanted to have the apostles put to death. 

This is the word of the Christ

All: Praise to you oh Christ

Our Second Reading is From – John Chap: 20

19 It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Then Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 

20 After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord. 

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” 

22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 

23 If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 

24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came. 

25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 

26 A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!” 

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

29 Jesus said to him, “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!” 

30 In his disciples’ presence Jesus performed many other miracles which are not written down in this book. 

31 But these have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life. 

This is the word of the Christ

All: Praise to you oh Christ

Sermon for the Second Sunday After Easter

I don’t know about you all, but this last week, has been a much appreciated time of rest and relaxation for Stephen and I, having led services in our church every day of Holy Week, with the exception of Holy Saturday.  By the time we got to last Sunday evening, we were elated but exhausted, and have this week enjoyed a few, much needed days away by the sea.

But for Jesus’ disciples, Easter Sunday, with its strange events of the resurrection, and the first visit of Jesus to the Upper Room which we have heard read to us today, was only the beginning of a new ministry, with all the difficulties and joys which that would bring to the lives of Jesus’ disciples.

But firstly, they had to get their heads around the weird conundrum, which was that their LORD and Rabbi had been raised from the dead – that although they had seen (or at least some of them had observed) the callous and painful death which Jesus had suffered, his tomb had been found open that morning, with firstly Angels and then Jesus himself meeting with Mary Magdalene and comforting her in her grief.

We have almost 2000 years of hindsight, from our Christian tradition to be able to look back over the events of that first Holy Week, and the 40 days from Jesus’ Resurrection to his Ascension.

Those bewildered disciples and other followers of Jesus were still desperately trying to come to terms with everything had happened. In their grief and confusion, everything must have felt like a dream- a very unreal dream, that they probably wished they could wake up from, and find themselves back in the safety of a known world, travelling around Galilee with Jesus.

When Jesus enters the Upper Room on the evening of that first Easter Day, and says to them “Shalom” or Peace, he isn’t just offering them the traditional greeting, but gently trying to encourage them into peace – quiet of voice and quiet of mind – to be able to just stop and take in everything that had been going on. It is then, we are told, that Jesus shows the disciples the wounds from the crucifixion nails and from the spear which the Roman soldier had thrust into his side to check Jesus was dead.

Try and imagine yourself in that upper room, with others of Jesus’ friends. Would you have been pacing up and down, in your confusion; or perhaps sitting in a corner quietly trying to understand or maybe shouting at or challenging others around you about what might have really happened, whatever your state of heart and mind, Jesus comes into the midst of everything and offers his peace – Shalom.

It can be too easy to forget in our busy world, with demands on our time and attention from 24 hour news channels, the internet and our mobile phones, amongst other distractions, to truly remember what Peace is. What is it is just to stop, to step away and to focus on God. One of my pre-Covid habits was to go on retreat at least once a year, and the benefit of those few days away, made so much difference. I am hoping that as life slowly starts returning to a little more normality, that I might find myself somewhere to go and stay, to rest, to pray and to learn more about Jesus.

By the time of our reading from Acts, some unknown number of months or years has gone passed since Jesus’ death, resurrection and Ascension. This is only a tiny segment, from a larger story within the writings of the Acts of the Apostles. The disciples have been performing miracles, healing people and astonishing them with their wisdom. The high priests and other elders, decide that these practices must stop, and order for the disciples to be arrested and put in jail, but the chains of their bonds miraculously are broken and when daybreak comes the disciples are once more preaching and teaching within the Holy Temple.

The Captain of the guard went and brought the disciples before the Sanhedrin – the Jewish courts and questioned them as to why, having been ordered never to speak about Jesus, they were continuing to preach and teach against the orders of the authorities. In the reading we heard today, we listened to Peter’s response that “they must obey God rather than men” 

If you continue to read Acts Chap: 5, you see that the men were flogged, for their disobedience, but continued to preach and to teach, even with the threats to their own liberty and possibly their lives.

Earlier this week, I read a quote on Facebook, from a man named Charles Colton, who had been a political advisor to President Nixon in the early days of the Republican Administration about the miracle of the Resurrection, and why he believed it to be true.

“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How?

Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it.

Everyone was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison.

They would not have endured that if it weren’t true.

Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.

You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years?

Absolutely impossible.”  Chuck (Charles) Colson

This set me thinking. Now I admit that I do not remember the Watergate Scandal – I was only tiny, when President Nixon resigned – but I have seen enough in the last few years, especially in various political parties both here and abroad, where someone has categorically denied being in involved in something one week, only to admit “involvement” a short time later.

The piece from Acts today, is one of several occasions when the disciples are in trouble with the authorities for preaching about Jesus, and for converting people to faith in “The Way” as the new Christian religion was originally called.

We know from various writings, that most if not all of the original Disciples lost their lives for their faith and a great many other, unnamed martyrs also died, especially under the regimes of Nero and other Roman emperors, in various purging’s across 300 years before the Emperor Constantine issued an edict in 312CE which enabled the practice of several religions including Christianity to be “tolerated”.

For us, sitting here in a quiet village within Great Britain, it is easy to forget the reality that some people face for their faith in Jesus. Around our world, there are many who profess a faith in Christ Jesus, and therefore are persecuted for their beliefs, sometimes leading to imprisonment or even to death.

As we go out today, back to our Monday to Saturday lives, I pray that we might take with us, not only the peace of Christ in our hearts, but also that we may have the courage of so many who have gone before us, to speak about our faith, and how it affects our lives, to those we come into contact with..

Amen 

Let us declare our faith in God.

All: We believe in God the Father,

From whom every family

In heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son

Who lives in our hearts through faith,

And fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit

Who strengthens us

With power from on high.

We believe in one God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Prayers and Intercessions

We pray for God to fill us with his Spirit.

Generous God,

we thank you for the power of your Holy Spirit.

We ask that we may be strengthened to serve you better.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the wisdom of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to make us wise to understand your will.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the peace of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to keep us confident of your love wherever you call us.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the healing of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to bring reconciliation and wholeness

where there is division, sickness and sorrow.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the gifts of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to equip us for the work which you have given us.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the fruit of your Holy Spirit.

We ask you to reveal in our lives the love of Jesus.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the breath of your Holy Spirit,

given us by the risen Lord.

We ask you to keep the whole Church, living and departed,

in the joy of eternal life.

Lord, come to bless us

All: and fill us with your Spirit. 

All: Generous God,

hear our prayer,

and make us one in heart and mind

to serve you with joy for ever.

Amen.

We gather our thoughts and prayers in the words our Saviour gave us 

All: Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed by 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 In Heavenly Love Abiding

1 In heavenly love abiding,
no change my heart shall fear;
and safe is such confiding,
for nothing changes here:
the storm may roar without me,
my heart may low be laid;
but God is round about me,
and can I be dismayed?

2 Wherever he may guide me,
no want shall turn me back;
my Shepherd is beside me,
and nothing can I lack:
his wisdom ever waketh,
his sight is never dim,
he knows the way he taketh,
and I will walk with him.

3 Green pastures are before me,
which yet I have not seen;
bright skies will soon be o’er me,
where darkest clouds have been;
my hope I cannot measure,
my path to life is free;
my Saviour has my treasure,

and he will walk with me.       (by Anna Letitia Waring – 1823 to 1910) 

All: Eternal Giver of love and life

Your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world

To preach the Gospel of his Kingdom.

Confirm us in this mission,

And help us to live the good news we proclaim,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen. 

Hymn – Thine be the Glory, Risen, Conquering Son

  1. Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;
    endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won;
    angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
    kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.

Refrain:
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.

  1. Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
    Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
    let the Church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
    for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting. 

Refrain:
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won

  1. No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
    life is naught without thee; aid us in our strife;
    make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
    bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.Refrain:

Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.
(by Edmond Budry – 1854 to 1932)

The Lord bless us, and preserve us from all evil

And keep us in eternal life. 

All: Amen

© 702211

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