Sunday 19th April 2020

How to use this order of service:
This service makes use of pre-recorded materials enabling you to make use of it at whatever time of day, and at whatever pace, suits you. Don’t immediately print it off, rather keep it on your screen so that you may access the hymns at the click of a mouse. When you click on any of the links you’ll be taken to the appropriate video on Youtube; once you are there simply press play. You are then free to listen or join in as you see fit. After each video ends simply switch back to the order of service and pick up where you left off.

Call to Worship (from Psalm 113)
Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the Lord is to be praised.

HYMN 459 Crown him with many crowns

Prayers of approach and confession

Let us pray:

Glorious God of all,
You are the giver of new life,
You are the one to whom we owe each breath,
You are the reason for our hope.
Send your enlivening spirit, be present with us as we come close to You,
seeking Your light to see what has been revealed
seeking Your warmth to set hearts aglow with Your love
seeking Your truth, that we might trust.
As we proclaim the Easter gospel, that in You is life which conquers death, make us anew Your beloved children.

Merciful God,
We confess that too often we have lived lives of those not worthy to be called Your children.
Though You are light, we have preferred to lurk in shadow,
though You are truth, we have made idols of lies and falsehood,
though You are love, we have been hard of heart.
Too often You show us the Way, and we have wandered far off course.
We turn to You with repentant hearts, and seek Your forgiveness.
We lay claim to your promise, and pray that You will transform us, re-make us, that we will live as Your children, and by word, thought and deed, we might lead lives worthy of subjects within Your kingdom of love, peace and mercy.
Amen

Lord’s Prayer

Scriptures

I Peter 1: 3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

John 20: 19-31

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.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

Jesus and Thomas

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 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.’

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.’ 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.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 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

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 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.

HYMN 596 Breathe of me, breath of God

Reflection

Behind closed doors

Behind closed doors; that’s where we find the disciples today as we continue to reflect upon the events around the resurrection of Jesus. Behind closed doors out of fear of the populace and the authorities. Yet one is missing; Thomas is not there. We do not know where he was or what he was doing, and so he misses the appearance of the risen Jesus. His absence, and his response on hearing the news from his brethren, leads to how we generally think of him. Thomas is forever remembered as the ‘doubter’. He sought evidence for what he was told but had not seen, and for that he gets a bad name yet the others had seen; the others had evidence.

The reputation gained by Thomas isn’t really fair. He was no worse than the others. After all, Peter could open his mouth and put both feet in it (think of the three denials of Jesus) whereas brothers James and John could probably start a fight in an empty room (they jostled for the best positions in the coming kingdom). Don’t forget, either, that Judas was a disciple too.

But let’s stand back from the reputation of Thomas for a moment, and look and the context. The disciples were in hiding; if they had gone out they could have been arrested, flogged, beaten, and possibly executed. Hiding was the wise thing to do. Staying behind closed doors offered them safety. It must have been hard for them. Having spent at least three years out on the road with Jesus travelling the land and encountering so many people their current isolation must have been hard. They would, however, have needed to eat so someone would have had to go out for provisions. Although, culturally, that would have been a woman’s role perhaps, on this occasion, Thomas had picked up the task. To go out in twos or threes would have increased the chance of their being recognised, and facing the dire consequences. It was safer for all for just one to go.

We naturally consider the disciples’ hiding to be a bad thing, but is that necessarily the case? It was, after all, in hiding that the risen Jesus came to them. Their moment of awakening as they realise the resurrection is real takes place behind closed doors. It doesn’t take place in the noise and tumult of the market place or street or playground but in the effectual solitude of the locked room.

Today many of us are, like the disciples, in behind closed doors. Like the disciples we may be experiencing fear however unlike them it is not of persecution but due to the current circumstances. For safety we cannot all go out at once but one of us could go out to get provisions. But might we allow the restrictions placed upon us free us for something else? I do not mean being freed up to replace one activity with another but freeing us to be present and available to God. What if, as our daily patterns and practices are changed, we allow ourselves space to encounter God and to have our own epiphanies; what if we have our own encounters with the risen Christ?

Behind closed doors the disciples encounter the risen Christ; perhaps, behind our closed doors, we too may encounter him.

Amen.

Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession

Let us pray:
God of bountiful blessing,
we thank You for the promise of Jesus Christ,
who is the Life by which we live,
and the perfection of Your holy glory.
We thank You for the faith to believe that which we have not seen,
and for Your mercy upon us as we clumsily grasp the significance of Your love.
We thank You for Your sustaining strength as we try to lead lives which reflect Your glory,
and for Your ever-present Spirit as our guide, helper and advocate.
With thankful hearts we give You praise.
We offer our prayers for those whom we trust will be fed by Your goodness:
who will be nourished by Your presence.

We pray for all people around the world in fear of such violence:
acts of war and destruction committed in the midst of peaceful civilian lives.

Where terror has a grip, where violence dominates,
Lord, bring justice, bring peace.

We pray for those who know the harshness of natural disaster;
where lives are lost in unpredictable catastrophe.
Where floods ruin crops, where there will be no bountiful harvest this year;
we pray for generosity and provision for all Your people.

We pray for those who are of poor health.
We pray for those known to us, where poor health prevents full living;
where pain is a daily reality; where frailty causes bodies to falter.
Lord, give healing, give comfort, give perseverance.

We pray for those who mourn:
those who mourn lives that have been lost;
long lives well lived, which have come to an end;
and lives which had still much promise and feel to us to have ended far, far too soon.
We trust each life to You, saving God,
and we trust that each soul finds its home in Your eternal love;
but for those who mourn, who know any loss;
give comfort, give reassurance,
give Your gentle presence in the lives of us still living.

We pray for all those growing:
for young people who so often are at the heart of a story of faith that we can overlook.
We trust them to Your nurturing, and we pray that all those involved in the lives of young people and children
will empower them to flourish today and tomorrow.

We lift all of these things to You now
Offering the prayers of our own hearts; trusting them to You now
in a moment of quietness

[PAUSE for silent prayer]

In all our prayers, we pray trusting in Your sure and certain promise,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

HYMN 465 Be Thou My Vision

Benediction

Behind closed doors
Jesus is waiting.
Behind closed doors
Jesus is calling.
Do not be afraid,
Jesus is with you.
Amen.

Copyright Information
Church of Scotland for Prayers from ‘Weekly Worship’Scripture readings courtesy of:
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.