Prayers, Readings and Reflection for 2nd Sunday of Easter

19th April 2020

Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Confession

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. Like Mary at the empty tomb, we fail to grasp the wonder of your presence. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Like the disciples behind locked doors, we are afraid to be seen as your followers. Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Like Thomas in the upper room, we are slow to believe. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. May the God of love and power forgive us and free is from our sins, heal and strengthen you by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for the day

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.

Old Testament Reading:
Exodus 14: 10-31
Psalm:
Psalm 16
New Testament Reading:
Acts 2: 14a, 22-32
Gospel Reading:
John 20: 19-31

Reflection by the Revd Alan Bolding, Curate

We have a common saying that expresses our insistence on tangible proof of every faith claim: “I'll believe it when I see it.”

Many of us call Thomas one of our favourite gospel people! He was a man who did not ‘mess about’ with his faith. He found faith in the risen Lord hard to take and he let others know. He had a bit earlier – his solution to doubt the prophecy of Jesus’ death was that he should to go and die and get it done with!

I like him too because he did not always get it right! While his doubting is understandable, he also messed things up. He thought he could go it alone! He left the group and so missed the appearance of the risen Lord.

He messed it up in another way – he looked for touchable proof. He would not only sense the wounds of Christ but would touch them. Jesus took him at his word and said, ‘touch my wounds, Thomas’. Nowhere in the gospel of today does it say Thomas did in fact touch Jesus’ wounds. Our faith in Jesus is deeper than touch and all he said on meeting the Lord was, ‘my Lord and my God’. Our faith, our doubts and our hopes can be put in perspective by Thomas.

And just when will that be? I ask myself, as I read this passage about Jesus’ appearances to the disciples and then to Thomas. When will the moment come when we look up and really notice, really see the Risen Lord who stands before us in every room in our house, in every situation in our lives? He is, in fact, standing beside you right now as you read this. Have you noticed?

The disciples were, John tells us, locked in their room for fear of the Jews. John’s label for those among the religious leadership of the day who opposed Jesus. And, probably, code for those who opposed his community at the end of the first century. It doesn't refer to all Jews of Jesus’ day and it certainly doesn’t refer to Jews today.

I don’t take the disciples’ fear lightly. There was danger there. Who knew whether the people who had killed their leader would now come after them? Or whether they would be accused of having stolen his body in some resurrection scam? They were locked in their room with their fear and their grief.

That was bad enough, but now Mary had to come and introduce a ridiculous hope into their grief: telling them she had seen the Lord and that he had spoken to her. How could such a thing be true? I think if I had been there in that locked room, I would have been thinking I’ll believe that when I see it. The fact is I would probably have been looking down and missed it. I might have tried looking at the four walls and the locked door, but all they signal is fear and false security. I may have tried looking at my friends’ faces, but all they signal is grief and confusion. If I had been looking down when the Risen Lord arrived think what I would have missed.

Prayers

Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy. Sustain and support the anxious, be with those who care for the sick, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. God of compassion, be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation. In their loneliness, be their consolation; in their anxiety, be their hope; in their darkness, be their light; through him who suffered alone on the cross, but reigns with you in glory, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Gracious God, give skill, sympathy and resilience to all who are caring for the sick, and your wisdom to those searching for a cure. Strengthen them with your Spirit, that through their work many will be restored to health; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger. from St Patrick’s Breastplate

Blessing

God, who through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us the victory, give us joy and peace in our faith; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen. Remain in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia. Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.