Home Worship 24th April 2022

A gathering prayer

In the middle of my busy life, I seek Jesus.
In my caring and providing, in dreaming and hoping, I seek Jesus.
In my seeking after truth and my longing to know more fully, I seek Jesus.

In the troubles of the world, in conflict and distress, I come to find peace.
In my challenges and my hopes, in all I wish was different, I come to find peace.

When I don’t know the answers, when I don’t know what is true,
in all my searching and longing,
Jesus, meet me I pray. Amen.

A prayer of approach

Eternal God, ever present, ever loyal, I come today as part of your family – each with our different experiences of faith, but with one longing to serve you; each with our own questions and doubts, but with one heart to learn from you; each with our own burdens and joys, but as one in our desire to worship you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn STF 84

Praise the Lord, his glories show,
Alleluia!
Saints within his courts below,
Alleluia!
Angels round his throne above,
Alleluia!
All that see and share his love.
Alleluia!

Earth to heaven, and heaven to earth,
Alleluia!
Tell his wonders, sing his worth;
Alleluia!
Age to age, and shore to shore,
Alleluia!
Praise him, praise him evermore!
Alleluia!

Praise the Lord, his mercies trace,
Alleluia!
Praise his providence and grace,
Alleluia!
All that he for us has done,
Alleluia!
All he sends us through his Son.
Alleluia!

Strings and voices, hands and hearts,
Alleluia!
In the concert play your parts;
Alleluia!
All that breathe, your Lord adore,
Alleluia!
Praise him, praise him evermore!
Alleluia!

Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847)

A prayer of adoration
God of all the world, I believe in the fact that you created me, I believe in the fact that you love me, I believe in the fact that your Son died for me – even when it seems too good to be true, even when I long for a deeper encounter, even though there is so much that is mystery. I believe that you are my God, and I praise and adore you,
in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible reading: John 20.19-31

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[a] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life.

About this Bible passage:

Mary Magdalene told Peter and the beloved disciple that Jesus’ tomb was empty. They looked for themselves but returned home (20.10). She waited there and told all the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.’ But their reaction was to lock themselves away in fear. Despite this, Jesus, who opens doors for us that the world cannot shut (Revelation 3.8), appeared to them. He showed them his hands and side, breathed the Holy Spirit on them, and sent them out to proclaim forgiveness in his name. They followed Mary’s example and told the missing Thomas, ‘We have seen the Lord’ (v.25). He in his turn won’t believe them unless he can see and touch the risen Lord.

In John’s Gospel, many characters struggle for faith and understanding and engage Jesus in dialogue. Nicodemus asks about being ‘born again’ (3.4), the Samaritan woman about ‘living water’ (4.10), Martha about ‘the Resurrection’ (11.24), and Thomas himself asks about ‘the way’ (14.4-7). Jesus’ willingness to respond helps us to understand the meaning of unfolding events. Mary asks where the body has been laid, and when Jesus responds, ‘Mary’, she meets her ‘Rabbouni’ (20.16). When Jesus graciously invites Thomas to ‘reach out your hand’ (v.27), Thomas worships him, ‘My Lord and my God’ (v.29). Thomas, who was so concerned about ‘the way’ in which Jesus was leading them (14.4-7), was willing to die in his cause (11.16). To be faithful to the way of the cross, he needed to know that the risen one was indeed the wounded one, and that he, and not the crucifying authorities, was worthy to be recognised as Lord and worshipped as God. As ‘those who have not seen and yet have come to believe’ (v.29) we are blessed with the stories of those who raised with Jesus their own questions, with one another’s testimonies, and with the Spirit who continues to teach us the truth of Jesus (16.14-15).

Hymn STF 303

I know that my Redeemer lives –
What joy the blest assurance gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my everlasting Head!

He lives, to bless me with his love;
He lives, to plead for me above;
He lives, my hungry soul to feed;
He lives, to help in time of need.

He lives, and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death;
He lives, my mansion to prepare;
He lives, to lead me safely there.

He lives, all glory to his name;
He lives, my Saviour, still the same;
What joy the blest assurance gives,
I know that my Redeemer lives!

Samuel Medley (1738-99)

A prayer of confession and an Assurance of forgiveness

Living God, forgive me when in my heart I say unless my prayers are answered, I won’t believe.
Deepen my encounter with you and show me the truth of love. Forgive me when I say unless I can go my way, I won’t follow you. Deepen my encounter with you and show me the truth of love.
Forgive me when I want to be a disciple but on my terms. Deepen my encounter with you and show me the truth of love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

God of all that is real, I don’t always know what I believe, but I know I always believe in you and in your forgiveness, in your understanding of my needs, in your patience with my doubts, in your challenging of my stubbornness, in your meeting me where we are. And in the strength of that truth, and with the assurance of your love, I give you my best. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A prayer of praise and thanksgiving

Lord Jesus, I thank you that although I cannot touch you as Thomas did, I can reach out in prayer; although I cannot put my fingers in your side, I can proclaim you as my Lord and my God; although I cannot see the marks of the nails, I can open my heart to receive your peace and praise your wonderful name. Amen.

Prayers of intercession

In places where there is conflict between nations leading to violence and destruction,
on decision-makers and ordinary people
Spirit of unity, bring comfort and peace.
To the leaders of different religions and to their faithful followers,
where there is difference and dispute:
Spirit of unity, bring comfort and peace.
In homes where people live in fear of violence and abuse;
where there is neither safety nor sanctuary:
Spirit of unity, bring comfort and peace.
In communities fragmented by greed, disagreement and discord, to peacemakers and those who seek to bring healing:
Spirit of unity, bring comfort and peace.
May the risen Lord be present through the Holy Spirit to heal, renew and fill people with hope.
In his name I pray. Amen.

Hymn STF 316

When Easter to the dark world came,
Fair flowers glowed like scarlet flame:
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O glad was the world at Eastertide.

When Mary in the garden walked,
And with her risen Master talked:
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O glad was the world at Eastertide.

When John and Peter in their gloom
Met angels at the empty tomb:
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O glad was the world at Eastertide.

When ten disciples met in fear,
Then “Peace” said Jesus, “I am here”
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O glad was the world at Eastertide.

When Thomas’ heart was hurt and grieved,
Then Jesus’ wounds his doubt relieved:
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O glad was the world at Eastertide.

And friend to friend in wonder said:
“The Lord is risen from the dead!”
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O glad was the world at Eastertide.

This Eastertide with joyful voice
We’ll sing: “The Lord is King! Rejoice!”
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O sing, all the world, for Eastertide.

W.H. Hamilton (1886-1958)

A sending out prayer

God beyond my understanding, yet always with me, I offer to you: my mind to think of your words and your promises;
my heart to show your love for the world;
my imagination to dream big for your kingdom;
my hands to work for a better world,
and all of my life to love and serve you always.
Amen.