Sunday, April 19, 2020


April 19, 2020 Liturgy

Announcements

  • Welcome to worship! I apologize there is no worship video this morning. I sprained my foot yesterday and am not able to film for the next 3-5 days. I plan to be back with a video next week!

  • Please continue to mail your donations into the church. We have someone checking the mail at both churches daily. Your donations allow us to keep paying our staff and maintain our buildings.

  • At this time, I do not know when we will transition back into in person worship. Session and I are monitoring the governor’s recommendations closely. This week I think we are starting to see signs that soon we can start planning for our new normal.

Prelude

Sharing of Joys and Concerns (Pastor lead, everyone participates)

  • Suzanne Connors is home recovering from pneumonia and COVID-19.

  • Health Care Professionals, Essential Workers

  • All those experiencing mental health challenges because of having to shelter at home.

  • Educators transitioning to online learning.

  • 22 million and counting Americans who are unemployed.

Call to Worship

This is the message I have heard from him

and now celebrate with you:

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed.

Blessed are you who have not seen him,

yet you truly believe and trust him.

See how good and delightful it is

when Christians gather together as one.

The Lord has commanded a great blessing:

Life for evermore.

Opening Hymn

Thine Is the Glory GTG 238

Thine is 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.

Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son; endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won.

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 the Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting.

Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son; endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won.

Prayer of Confession

Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgement. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world.

Words of Assurance: (Pastor)

Hear the good news! Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might be dead to sin, and alive to all that is good. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Amen.

Gloria Patri Micki

Glory be to the Father. And to the Son. And to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning. Is now and ever shall be. Word without end. Amen. Amen.

Apostle’s Creed (Everyone)

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Anthem

“My Savior and My God”

Pastoral Prayer

Almighty God, in Jesus Christ you taught us to pray, and to offer our petitions to you in his name. Guide us by your Holy Spirit, that our prayers for others may serve your will and show your steadfast love; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord:

  • Let us pray for the world.

  • Let us pray for the church.

  • Let us pray for those who govern us.

  • Let us pray for world leaders.

  • Let us pray for the sick.

God of compassion, bless us and those we love, our friends and families that, drawing close to you, we may be drawn closer to each other, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AmeAmen.

Offertory

How have you experienced the presence of Jesus during this period of isolation?

In unpredictable times, as you sit, notice what are signs of peace and hope for you…

Doxology

Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Scripture Reading

John 20:19-31

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 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!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 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.”

26 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!” 27 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.”

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

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Sermon “Peace Be With You”

Let us pray,

May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all of our hearts, be pleasing and acceptable to you, our rock and our redeemer…

This week I had coffee with a friend via Facetime. As we chatted, it became very clear to me that she is barely holding it together. Her husband is a contractor. He isn’t able to work right now. They can cover their bills for now, but she is worried what the summer will look like. Her kids have been home with her now for over a month. Last week their school sent home packets of homework for them to complete each day. Which means she had to put the girls on a schedule because all three of them couldn’t be on the internet at one time. She’s working from home. But her boss keeps scheduling mandatory happy hours at 2pm. Which is exactly when her daughter is supposed to be taking a math test. She told me that most days she just wants to hide under the covers because maybe then she’ll get a break from the dogs and the kids and the mortgage payments.

Does her situation sound familiar to you? Even if you aren’t sheltering at home with little kids. Or scrambling to cover your bills because of unemployment. Or recovering from COVID-19/caring for someone recovering from COVID-19. Everyone’s lives are hard right not. We’re all being asked to sacrifice. Our lives today look completely different than they did a month ago. We’re worried about our jobs, our families, and our futures. We’re wondering when things will return to normal.

In many ways, our lives look like the disciple’s lives did on the evening of that first Easter day. Huddled together behind a locked door. While we’re social distancing from a virus, the disciples are hiding from the Jewish leaders who were behind the plot to kill Jesus. Like us, the disciples are likely afraid for their own lives, and afraid of their uncertain futures. They’re scared to leave their homes and wondering what will happen next.

In our Scripture reading for this morning, we learn that Jesus isn’t stopped by fear or by locked doors. He came to the home of the disciples and stood among them and said ‘Peace be with you!’ Jesus comes not to confront his disciples with their failures. Of the ways they denounced him or abandoned him during his arrest and crucifixion. But to grant them peace.

A week later, Jesus appears to Thomas, one of the 12 disciples, who was not with the disciples when Jesus came. Thomas demands that Jesus show up for him, just like Jesus showed up for the other disciples. Thomas says: “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.” Once Thomas sees Jesus’ hands and feels Jesus’ side, he stops doubting, and he believes.

The story of Thomas is the story of Christian discipleship. Or of how people come to faith in Jesus. First one person, in this case Mary Magdalene, sees Jesus. She then goes and tells the disciples about her encounter. The disciples doubt that she really saw Jesus. It isn’t until they have an encounter with the risen Lord that they are able to believe. Once they encounter Jesus, they are able to tell others about him. And so it goes until the gospel is shared with every nation and peoples.

I believe that the good news of Eastertide is this. The first is that no matter the wrenching chaos of the world. No matter where or how or even if we mark this day, Easter happens. Easter happens in an empty tomb. Easter happens in the space between ourselves and our computer screens. Easter will happen as we transition to a new normal. Just as Jesus found the disciples on that first Easter evening, Jesus will continue to find us behind our locked doors. And Jesus will continue to offer us peace.

The second bit of good news is that everyone doubts, but not everyone believes. This is good news for those of us who are struggling to see God in the midst of a global pandemic. Thomas teaches us that faith is not always believing in that which we cannot see. It is hanging in there with some level of interest and commitment until Jesus moves us to the next level.

This week I’ve been reflecting on what faith looks like in the midst of a global pandemic. For me faith looks a lot like hanging in there. Of taking each day as it comes. Of developing a routine, and of setting small goals. Of being patient with myself and with those I’m interacting with. Of remaining unwaveringly hopeful that we will get through this while at the same time confronting difficult realities. Of being okay with saying “I don’t know.” While at the same time saying, “But I’m not going anywhere.”

This week during our offering time, I asked us all to reflect on where we see signs of hope during unpredictable times. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please send me an e-mail or a text message if you’d like to share what you’ve learned. The reason I had us reflect on this is to illustrate that we’re all feeling some degree of doubt right now. We’re all angry with God, angry with each other, angry with a stupid virus. It’s difficult to see God at work when you’re just trying to make it through the day.

But even in the middle of a bad day, there are signs of hope. This is why I also asked you to reflect on where you have experienced the presence of Jesus during this period of isolation. Maybe you experienced Jesus in the quiet moments with your kids that you missed when you were running everyone to their practices and playdates. Maybe you experienced Jesus in the phone calls from friends and family calling to check up on you. Maybe a stranger dropped off toilet paper, food, or a bottle of wine when you were at the end of your rope.

What I love about Thomas is that he doesn’t just doubt, he demands. He demands that Jesus show himself and answer his questions. Even in doubt, he expects that Jesus is alive, that Jesus is powerful, and that Jesus cares for his people. He doesn’t use his doubt to refuse to ask Jesus the hard questions. Instead he uses his doubt to demand Jesus remind him who he is and whose he is. Demanding that Jesus show up is one way that Thomas holds on to hope in the midst of uncertain times.

My hope for us this week is that even in doubt, we would be willing to demand some resurrection hope. To demand that God show up for the hurting, the feverish, the unemployed, the grieving, and the new moms of this lonely new world, and wash over us with the good news of Easter. That Jesus is alive, and for that we have hope, and for that we celebrate. Because of Easter, Good Friday will not last forever. Even, and especially in the midst of a global pandemic.

Friends, my hope for us this week is that we would be able to go out into this week living into that hope in the midst of strange and uncertain times. Let us try, in all that we are, and in all that we do, to extend the peace of Christ to those we interact with either at home, at the grocery store, or in the middle of a Zoom meeting.

Thanks be to God,

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Closing Hymn

We Walk By Faith and Not By Sight GTG 817

We walk by faith and not by sight; with gracious words draw near, O Christ, who spoke as none e’er spoke: “My peace be with you here.”

We may not touch your hands and side, nor follow where you trod; but in your promise we rejoice and cry, ‘My Lord and God!’

Help then, O Lord, our unbelief; and may our faith abound to call on you when you are near and seek where you are found.

And when our life of faith is done, in realms of clearer light may we behold you as you are, with full and endless sight.

Benediction

Remember, you go nowhere by accident. Wherever you go, God is sending you. Wherever you are, God has put you there. God has a plan and a purpose to you being there. Christ who dwells in you has something he wants to do, through you, wherever you are. Believe this and go in his grace, and love, and power.

Amen.

Postlude

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