| ©2018 St. Blasius Old Parish Church, Shanklin

Hymn: Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem
The Gloria
Anthem: Christ the Lord is Risen again (Rutter)
SPIRITUAL COMMUNION SPIRITUAL COMMUNION St Blasius Home Page St Blasius Home Page St John’s Home Page St John’s Home Page
Song: Because he lives (Amen) Lyrics by Matt Maher
Taize Chant: O Lord, hear my prayer
An Easter Hallelujah Cassandra Star (10) & her big sister Callahan (19) sing this beautiful & meaningful Easter version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. These Easter lyrics were written by Kelley Mooney, the piano track was arranged by Jeff Buckley of Karaoke Studios & the recording by Maverick Judson.
Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
Opening our hearts to God Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Acknowledging our need of Forgiveness Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us. Let us therefore rejoice by putting away all malice and evil and confessing our sins with a sincere and true heart. (We keep a moment of quiet for silent reflection) Father eternal, giver of light and grace, we have sinned against you and against our neighbour, in what we have thought, in what we have said and done, through ignorance, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We have wounded your love and marred your image in us. We are sorry and ashamed, and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past; and lead us out from darkness to walk as children of light. Amen. Affirming God’s Forgiveness 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. Amen. Collect Prayer Risen Christ,for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:open the doors of our hearts,that we may seek the good of othersand walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,to the praise of God the Father. Amen.
Bible Readings Acts 4.32-35 The Believers Share Their Possessions 32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
John 20.19-end Jesus Appears to the Disciples 19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ Jesus and Thomas 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin * ), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28 Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ The Purpose of This Book 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe * that Jesus is the Messiah, * the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Reflections By Karen Crowhurst In our gospel reading today we witness the risen Jesus visiting the disciples in a locked room, not once, but twice, and the reaction of Thomas who missed Jesus’ first visit and finds it hard to believe that Jesus really is his beloved teacher. What do we know about Thomas? As with many of Jesus’ disciples, much of his life is speculation, but there is an apocryphal book called The Acts of Thomas that says that Thomas went to India to preach the gospel there, and there is certainly a ‘Thomist’ church in South India that traces its origins back to Thomas. Eventually, he was martyred for his faith. Thomas is sometimes condemned as ‘Doubting Thomas’, but I would suggest that doubt and scepticism are traits that we all probably share, if not about matters of faith, then certainly about other things in our lives. The current pandemic illustrates this nicely. There are those who do not believe that Covid-19 even exists but has been invented as part of some huge conspiracy, and there are those who are doubtful about whether having a vaccination is worthwhile, or concerned that it may do them more harm than good. As a society we have become more suspicious of authority and institutions, suspecting that those in power do not always have our best interests at heart, and perhaps being less willing to do as we are told, or to believe what we are told, than previous generations. The history of the Christian church also illustrates the human tendency to continue to question what has been handed down by earlier generations. In the early church, for instance, some doubters questioned how it was possible for God, in the form of Jesus, to physically die on the cross, and still be God. The Reformation resulted because many Christians began to think that the practices and teaching of the Church no longer corresponded with what God wanted it to be. Doubt can be a positive as well as a negative and is essential for scientific and medical research. As people question the existing understanding of things, they search for new solutions. In the Middle Ages people who had a problem with their eyesight might have asked a friend to lick the eye of a frog and then their own eyes, the idea being that the shine and clarity of the unfortunate frog’s eyes would restore their own. I am guessing that most of us today would prefer to visit an optician! But how does doubt fit in with being a Christian? Are we allowed to have doubts about matters of faith? Have we failed if we do? Let’s go back to the locked room of our gospel reading. The disciples are gathered there, not joyful because Jesus has risen, but fearful because they are afraid of the Jews and that the Jews might do to them what they did to Jesus. When Jesus appears to them, he doesn’t rebuke them for their lack of faith, but greets them. Because Jesus was a Jew, it's likely he was offering the Hebrew greeting shalom aleichem (aleichem being the ‘with you’). He also breathes the Holy Spirit onto them and tells them that (through God) they have the power to forgive sins. Likewise, when he appears to Thomas who has failed to believe the other disciples when they told him about Jesus’ first visit, he does not rebuke him and cast him out for not believing them, although he does go on to pronounce a blessing on those who will believe without having seen him. The Bible contains many examples of characters who have had a hard time believing God. Sarah and Abraham, for instance, laughed at God’s promise that she will bear a child in her old age (Gen. 17:17, 18:12). Moses struggled to believe that he was really the person to bring the Hebrews out of Egypt into the promised land, afraid that they wouldn’t believe him or listen to him (Ex. 4:1). Jonah doubted that God was making the right decision by wanting to save the people in the city of Nineveh (Jonah 4:1). Mother Teresa, so well known for her incredible work with disadvantaged people in India may seem to us to be the perfect Christian. Self-effacing, self-sacrificing, hard-working and always in prayer, she seemed to embody saint-like qualities, and was canonized by the Roman Catholic church in 2016. She held the hands of lepers as they died; she kissed the cheeks of faces sunken in starvation; she ministered to the poorest of the poor, with her hands, her smile and her loving attention. However, her private writings revealed that for many years she also struggled with her faith. Her prayer life often felt dry and empty and although she showed God’s love to others, she did not always feel it herself. Perhaps the greatest testament to the real depth of her faith, is the fact that, even though she did not always feel close to God, she remained his faithful servant to the end, never ceasing to show his love to the poorest of the poor. Although perhaps we may not admit it, even to ourselves, and certainly not to others, many Christians come to question their faith at different times in their lives. Young people brought up to go to church, need to do so, in order to claim their faith as their own. Older people may find themselves in doubt because they have never really come to grips with the question, 'Who is God?’, or perhaps because they struggle to understand how a loving God can allow some things to happen to themselves or others. Some may doubt that they are worthy of God’s love or perhaps just feel distant from him. The great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon had the following to say about doubt: ‘I do not believe there ever existed a Christian yet, who did not now and then doubt his interest in Jesus. I think, when a man says, “I never doubt,” it is quite time for us to doubt him’. The Benedictine nun, Sr. Sheila McGrath, adds the following: ‘We aren't wrong or bad for having questions and doubts. It's helpful to have doubts - they can strengthen our faith. Think of how much we appreciate the sun after a spate of overcast days. Hope helps us get through. And remember, saints from John of the Cross to Teresa of Avila had profound doubts. So when we doubt, we are in good company’. So where do we go from here? Sometimes we may need to remind ourselves that faith is about more than feelings and that even if we don’t always find ourselves on a spiritual mountaintop, God is still with us. He is faithful and will continue to love us despite our human tendency to doubt. We need to carry on finding space for personal prayer and tending our faith, even in the tough times. Times of doubt can become classrooms of learning when they drive us to God for answers and we may reach a new level of faith that will even bring us closer to God, but perhaps at times the best we can do is to repeat the words spoken by the father in Mark 9:24: 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief’. I’d like to finish by sharing a poem about Thomas written by the Anglican priest Malcolm Guite from his collection of poems called Sounding the Seasons: “We do not know… how can we know the way?” Courageous master of the awkward question, You spoke the words the others dared not say And cut through their evasion and abstraction. Oh doubting Thomas, father of my faith, You put your finger on the nub of things We cannot love some disembodied wraith, But flesh and blood must be our king of kings. Your teaching is to touch, embrace, anoint, Feel after Him and find Him in the flesh. Because He loved your awkward counter-point The Word has heard and granted you your wish. Oh place my hands with yours, help me divine The wounded God whose wounds are healing mine.
Prayers In a moment of quiet reflection, you are invited to bring before God your own special thoughts and prayers at this time, whilst listening to the words of this Taize chant, accompanied by beautiful pictures:
God’s Blessing The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, make you perfect in every good work to do his will; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with you now and always. Amen.
1 John 1.1-2.2 1We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— 3 we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our * joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 2My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Hymn: In Christ alone
We gather together all our prayers and praises in the words that Jesus taught us… The Lord’s Prayer Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Hymn: Love’s redeeming work is done
Sunday 11th April 2021 2nd Sunday of Easter Prayer and Worship

| ©2018 St. Blasius Old Parish Church, Shanklin

Hymn: Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem
The Gloria
Anthem: Christ the Lord is Risen again (Rutter)
SPIRITUAL COMMUNION SPIRITUAL COMMUNION St Blasius Home Page St Blasius Home Page St John’s Home Page St John’s Home Page
Song: Because he lives (Amen) Lyrics by Matt Maher
Taize Chant: O Lord, hear my prayer
An Easter Hallelujah Cassandra Star (10) & her big sister Callahan (19) sing this beautiful & meaningful Easter version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. These Easter lyrics were written by Kelley Mooney, the piano track was arranged by Jeff Buckley of Karaoke Studios & the recording by Maverick Judson.
Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
Opening our hearts to God Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Acknowledging our need of Forgiveness Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us. Let us therefore rejoice by putting away all malice and evil and confessing our sins with a sincere and true heart. (We keep a moment of quiet for silent reflection) Father eternal, giver of light and grace, we have sinned against you and against our neighbour, in what we have thought, in what we have said and done, through ignorance, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We have wounded your love and marred your image in us. We are sorry and ashamed, and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past; and lead us out from darkness to walk as children of light. Amen. Affirming God’s Forgiveness 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. Amen. Collect Prayer Risen Christ,for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:open the doors of our hearts,that we may seek the good of othersand walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,to the praise of God the Father. Amen.
Bible Readings Acts 4.32-35 The Believers Share Their Possessions 32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
John 20.19-end Jesus Appears to the Disciples 19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ Jesus and Thomas 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin * ), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28 Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ The Purpose of This Book 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe * that Jesus is the Messiah, * the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Reflections By Karen Crowhurst In our gospel reading today we witness the risen Jesus visiting the disciples in a locked room, not once, but twice, and the reaction of Thomas who missed Jesus’ first visit and finds it hard to believe that Jesus really is his beloved teacher. What do we know about Thomas? As with many of Jesus’ disciples, much of his life is speculation, but there is an apocryphal book called The Acts of Thomas that says that Thomas went to India to preach the gospel there, and there is certainly a ‘Thomist’ church in South India that traces its origins back to Thomas. Eventually, he was martyred for his faith. Thomas is sometimes condemned as ‘Doubting Thomas’, but I would suggest that doubt and scepticism are traits that we all probably share, if not about matters of faith, then certainly about other things in our lives. The current pandemic illustrates this nicely. There are those who do not believe that Covid-19 even exists but has been invented as part of some huge conspiracy, and there are those who are doubtful about whether having a vaccination is worthwhile, or concerned that it may do them more harm than good. As a society we have become more suspicious of authority and institutions, suspecting that those in power do not always have our best interests at heart, and perhaps being less willing to do as we are told, or to believe what we are told, than previous generations. The history of the Christian church also illustrates the human tendency to continue to question what has been handed down by earlier generations. In the early church, for instance, some doubters questioned how it was possible for God, in the form of Jesus, to physically die on the cross, and still be God. The Reformation resulted because many Christians began to think that the practices and teaching of the Church no longer corresponded with what God wanted it to be. Doubt can be a positive as well as a negative and is essential for scientific and medical research. As people question the existing understanding of things, they search for new solutions. In the Middle Ages people who had a problem with their eyesight might have asked a friend to lick the eye of a frog and then their own eyes, the idea being that the shine and clarity of the unfortunate frog’s eyes would restore their own. I am guessing that most of us today would prefer to visit an optician! But how does doubt fit in with being a Christian? Are we allowed to have doubts about matters of faith? Have we failed if we do? Let’s go back to the locked room of our gospel reading. The disciples are gathered there, not joyful because Jesus has risen, but fearful because they are afraid of the Jews and that the Jews might do to them what they did to Jesus. When Jesus appears to them, he doesn’t rebuke them for their lack of faith, but greets them. Because Jesus was a Jew, it's likely he was offering the Hebrew greeting shalom aleichem (aleichem being the ‘with you’). He also breathes the Holy Spirit onto them and tells them that (through God) they have the power to forgive sins. Likewise, when he appears to Thomas who has failed to believe the other disciples when they told him about Jesus’ first visit, he does not rebuke him and cast him out for not believing them, although he does go on to pronounce a blessing on those who will believe without having seen him. The Bible contains many examples of characters who have had a hard time believing God. Sarah and Abraham, for instance, laughed at God’s promise that she will bear a child in her old age (Gen. 17:17, 18:12). Moses struggled to believe that he was really the person to bring the Hebrews out of Egypt into the promised land, afraid that they wouldn’t believe him or listen to him (Ex. 4:1). Jonah doubted that God was making the right decision by wanting to save the people in the city of Nineveh (Jonah 4:1). Mother Teresa, so well known for her incredible work with disadvantaged people in India may seem to us to be the perfect Christian. Self-effacing, self-sacrificing, hard-working and always in prayer, she seemed to embody saint-like qualities, and was canonized by the Roman Catholic church in 2016. She held the hands of lepers as they died; she kissed the cheeks of faces sunken in starvation; she ministered to the poorest of the poor, with her hands, her smile and her loving attention. However, her private writings revealed that for many years she also struggled with her faith. Her prayer life often felt dry and empty and although she showed God’s love to others, she did not always feel it herself. Perhaps the greatest testament to the real depth of her faith, is the fact that, even though she did not always feel close to God, she remained his faithful servant to the end, never ceasing to show his love to the poorest of the poor. Although perhaps we may not admit it, even to ourselves, and certainly not to others, many Christians come to question their faith at different times in their lives. Young people brought up to go to church, need to do so, in order to claim their faith as their own. Older people may find themselves in doubt because they have never really come to grips with the question, 'Who is God?’, or perhaps because they struggle to understand how a loving God can allow some things to happen to themselves or others. Some may doubt that they are worthy of God’s love or perhaps just feel distant from him. The great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon had the following to say about doubt: ‘I do not believe there ever existed a Christian yet, who did not now and then doubt his interest in Jesus. I think, when a man says, “I never doubt,” it is quite time for us to doubt him’. The Benedictine nun, Sr. Sheila McGrath, adds the following: ‘We aren't wrong or bad for having questions and doubts. It's helpful to have doubts - they can strengthen our faith. Think of how much we appreciate the sun after a spate of overcast days. Hope helps us get through. And remember, saints from John of the Cross to Teresa of Avila had profound doubts. So when we doubt, we are in good company’. So where do we go from here? Sometimes we may need to remind ourselves that faith is about more than feelings and that even if we don’t always find ourselves on a spiritual mountaintop, God is still with us. He is faithful and will continue to love us despite our human tendency to doubt. We need to carry on finding space for personal prayer and tending our faith, even in the tough times. Times of doubt can become classrooms of learning when they drive us to God for answers and we may reach a new level of faith that will even bring us closer to God, but perhaps at times the best we can do is to repeat the words spoken by the father in Mark 9:24: 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief’. I’d like to finish by sharing a poem about Thomas written by the Anglican priest Malcolm Guite from his collection of poems called Sounding the Seasons: “We do not know… how can we know the way?” Courageous master of the awkward question, You spoke the words the others dared not say And cut through their evasion and abstraction. Oh doubting Thomas, father of my faith, You put your finger on the nub of things We cannot love some disembodied wraith, But flesh and blood must be our king of kings. Your teaching is to touch, embrace, anoint, Feel after Him and find Him in the flesh. Because He loved your awkward counter-point The Word has heard and granted you your wish. Oh place my hands with yours, help me divine The wounded God whose wounds are healing mine.
Prayers In a moment of quiet reflection, you are invited to bring before God your own special thoughts and prayers at this time, whilst listening to the words of this Taize chant, accompanied by beautiful pictures:
God’s Blessing The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, make you perfect in every good work to do his will; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with you now and always. Amen.
1 John 1.1-2.2 1We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— 3 we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our * joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 2My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Hymn: In Christ alone
We gather together all our prayers and praises in the words that Jesus taught us… The Lord’s Prayer Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Hymn: Love’s redeeming work is done
Sunday 11th April 2021 2nd Sunday of Easter Prayer and Worship

| ©2018 St. Blasius Old Parish Church, Shanklin

Hymn: Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem
The Gloria
Anthem: Christ the Lord is Risen again (Rutter)
Song: Because he lives (Amen) Lyrics by Matt Maher
Taize Chant: O Lord, hear my prayer
An Easter Hallelujah Cassandra Star (10) & her big sister Callahan (19) sing this beautiful & meaningful Easter version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. These Easter lyrics were written by Kelley Mooney, the piano track was arranged by Jeff Buckley of Karaoke Studios & the recording by Maverick Judson.
Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
Opening our hearts to God Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Acknowledging our need of Forgiveness Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us. Let us therefore rejoice by putting away all malice and evil and confessing our sins with a sincere and true heart. (We keep a moment of quiet for silent reflection) Father eternal, giver of light and grace, we have sinned against you and against our neighbour, in what we have thought, in what we have said and done, through ignorance, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We have wounded your love and marred your image in us. We are sorry and ashamed, and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past; and lead us out from darkness to walk as children of light. Amen. Affirming God’s Forgiveness 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. Amen. Collect Prayer Risen Christ,for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:open the doors of our hearts,that we may seek the good of othersand walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,to the praise of God the Father. Amen.
Bible Readings Acts 4.32-35 The Believers Share Their Possessions 32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
John 20.19-end Jesus Appears to the Disciples 19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ Jesus and Thomas 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin * ), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28 Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ The Purpose of This Book 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe * that Jesus is the Messiah, * the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Reflections By Karen Crowhurst In our gospel reading today we witness the risen Jesus visiting the disciples in a locked room, not once, but twice, and the reaction of Thomas who missed Jesus’ first visit and finds it hard to believe that Jesus really is his beloved teacher. What do we know about Thomas? As with many of Jesus’ disciples, much of his life is speculation, but there is an apocryphal book called The Acts of Thomas that says that Thomas went to India to preach the gospel there, and there is certainly a ‘Thomist’ church in South India that traces its origins back to Thomas. Eventually, he was martyred for his faith. Thomas is sometimes condemned as ‘Doubting Thomas’, but I would suggest that doubt and scepticism are traits that we all probably share, if not about matters of faith, then certainly about other things in our lives. The current pandemic illustrates this nicely. There are those who do not believe that Covid-19 even exists but has been invented as part of some huge conspiracy, and there are those who are doubtful about whether having a vaccination is worthwhile, or concerned that it may do them more harm than good. As a society we have become more suspicious of authority and institutions, suspecting that those in power do not always have our best interests at heart, and perhaps being less willing to do as we are told, or to believe what we are told, than previous generations. The history of the Christian church also illustrates the human tendency to continue to question what has been handed down by earlier generations. In the early church, for instance, some doubters questioned how it was possible for God, in the form of Jesus, to physically die on the cross, and still be God. The Reformation resulted because many Christians began to think that the practices and teaching of the Church no longer corresponded with what God wanted it to be. Doubt can be a positive as well as a negative and is essential for scientific and medical research. As people question the existing understanding of things, they search for new solutions. In the Middle Ages people who had a problem with their eyesight might have asked a friend to lick the eye of a frog and then their own eyes, the idea being that the shine and clarity of the unfortunate frog’s eyes would restore their own. I am guessing that most of us today would prefer to visit an optician! But how does doubt fit in with being a Christian? Are we allowed to have doubts about matters of faith? Have we failed if we do? Let’s go back to the locked room of our gospel reading. The disciples are gathered there, not joyful because Jesus has risen, but fearful because they are afraid of the Jews and that the Jews might do to them what they did to Jesus. When Jesus appears to them, he doesn’t rebuke them for their lack of faith, but greets them. Because Jesus was a Jew, it's likely he was offering the Hebrew greeting shalom aleichem (aleichem being the ‘with you’). He also breathes the Holy Spirit onto them and tells them that (through God) they have the power to forgive sins. Likewise, when he appears to Thomas who has failed to believe the other disciples when they told him about Jesus’ first visit, he does not rebuke him and cast him out for not believing them, although he does go on to pronounce a blessing on those who will believe without having seen him. The Bible contains many examples of characters who have had a hard time believing God. Sarah and Abraham, for instance, laughed at God’s promise that she will bear a child in her old age (Gen. 17:17, 18:12). Moses struggled to believe that he was really the person to bring the Hebrews out of Egypt into the promised land, afraid that they wouldn’t believe him or listen to him (Ex. 4:1). Jonah doubted that God was making the right decision by wanting to save the people in the city of Nineveh (Jonah 4:1). Mother Teresa, so well known for her incredible work with disadvantaged people in India may seem to us to be the perfect Christian. Self-effacing, self-sacrificing, hard-working and always in prayer, she seemed to embody saint-like qualities, and was canonized by the Roman Catholic church in 2016. She held the hands of lepers as they died; she kissed the cheeks of faces sunken in starvation; she ministered to the poorest of the poor, with her hands, her smile and her loving attention. However, her private writings revealed that for many years she also struggled with her faith. Her prayer life often felt dry and empty and although she showed God’s love to others, she did not always feel it herself. Perhaps the greatest testament to the real depth of her faith, is the fact that, even though she did not always feel close to God, she remained his faithful servant to the end, never ceasing to show his love to the poorest of the poor. Although perhaps we may not admit it, even to ourselves, and certainly not to others, many Christians come to question their faith at different times in their lives. Young people brought up to go to church, need to do so, in order to claim their faith as their own. Older people may find themselves in doubt because they have never really come to grips with the question, 'Who is God?’, or perhaps because they struggle to understand how a loving God can allow some things to happen to themselves or others. Some may doubt that they are worthy of God’s love or perhaps just feel distant from him. The great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon had the following to say about doubt: ‘I do not believe there ever existed a Christian yet, who did not now and then doubt his interest in Jesus. I think, when a man says, “I never doubt,” it is quite time for us to doubt him’. The Benedictine nun, Sr. Sheila McGrath, adds the following: ‘We aren't wrong or bad for having questions and doubts. It's helpful to have doubts - they can strengthen our faith. Think of how much we appreciate the sun after a spate of overcast days. Hope helps us get through. And remember, saints from John of the Cross to Teresa of Avila had profound doubts. So when we doubt, we are in good company’. So where do we go from here? Sometimes we may need to remind ourselves that faith is about more than feelings and that even if we don’t always find ourselves on a spiritual mountaintop, God is still with us. He is faithful and will continue to love us despite our human tendency to doubt. We need to carry on finding space for personal prayer and tending our faith, even in the tough times. Times of doubt can become classrooms of learning when they drive us to God for answers and we may reach a new level of faith that will even bring us closer to God, but perhaps at times the best we can do is to repeat the words spoken by the father in Mark 9:24: 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief’. I’d like to finish by sharing a poem about Thomas written by the Anglican priest Malcolm Guite from his collection of poems called Sounding the Seasons: “We do not know… how can we know the way?” Courageous master of the awkward question, You spoke the words the others dared not say And cut through their evasion and abstraction. Oh doubting Thomas, father of my faith, You put your finger on the nub of things We cannot love some disembodied wraith, But flesh and blood must be our king of kings. Your teaching is to touch, embrace, anoint, Feel after Him and find Him in the flesh. Because He loved your awkward counter-point The Word has heard and granted you your wish. Oh place my hands with yours, help me divine The wounded God whose wounds are healing mine.
Prayers In a moment of quiet reflection, you are invited to bring before God your own special thoughts and prayers at this time, whilst listening to the words of this Taize chant, accompanied by beautiful pictures:
God’s Blessing The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, make you perfect in every good work to do his will; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with you now and always. Amen.
1 John 1.1-2.2 1We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— 3 we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our * joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 2My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Hymn: In Christ alone
We gather together all our prayers and praises in the words that Jesus taught us… The Lord’s Prayer Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Hymn: Love’s redeeming work is done
Sunday 11th April 2021 2nd Sunday of Easter Prayer and Worship
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