18 Apr 2020 • General news
Thought for the day:
In our Gospel reading this morning, we see Jesus step into the room where the disciples are gathered. Their lives have been turned upside down, their way of life is gone, their friend and leader is dead. The disciples are in hiding.
As they are gathered together, comforting one another in their grief, lamenting and crying out - suddenly, into that room, steps Jesus. Jesus meets them where they are, in all their confusion, pain and grief, and he offers them the old, familiar greeting: Shalom - Peace. Jesus calms their grief and confusion with the simple phrase, “Peace be with you.”
Even though it is only just over a month since we last gathered at St Mary’s, in a way it seems like a lifetime ago. But what I am very much aware of is that we are still a community; just for the moment, one that is scattered around the parish and further away.
We all are experiencing this lockdown differently, and whatever our age, it is confusing and sometimes painful. Some of us are grieving the death of loved ones, or the separation from people we cannot visit in hospital or at home.
Sometimes, when we see pictures on our television screens of empty streets and town centres, the world looks apocalyptic. In my own personal bible study I have been re-reading the book of Revelation, in a world that sometimes feels as though the end times are upon us - that the life we had even a few short months ago, at Christmas, feels like a distant memory, I have been comforted by the visions of a new heaven and a new earth -a promise of a new world to come. I am reassured that wherever we are, Jesus is alongside us, as he was alongside his friends on that first Easter Day:
“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” (Revelation chapter 3, verse 20)
However, you are coping - or struggling at this time - remember that Jesus is the one visitor we can open our homes and our hearts too. He will be with us always; we just have to open the door and let him in - and he will give us his peace.
22 “You that are Israelites,[a] listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth,[b] a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death,[c] because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25 For David says concerning him,
‘I saw the Lord always before me,for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;moreover my flesh will live in hope.27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,or let your Holy One experience corruption.28 You have made known to me the ways of life;you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 “Fellow Israelites,[d] I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Foreseeing this, David[e] spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah,[f] saying,
‘He was not abandoned to Hades,nor did his flesh experience corruption.’
32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.
1 Peter 1:3-9
A Living Hope
3 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, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice,[a] even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 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 honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Although you have not seen[b] 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, 9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
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[a]), 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[b] that Jesus is the Messiah,[c] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Prayers for 19 April 2020, the second Sunday after Easter:
Heavenly Father, Lord of all creation, Lord of the empty tomb. We marvel at the work of your hands and often frustrated at the frailty of our own as we endeavour to put your will for us it into action. So we come before you to ask our prayers and petitions in the name of Him whom you sent for our Salvation even Jesus Christ.
As we struggle to cope with the lockdown, with the frustrations of not being able to come together as your people, we pray for your Church everywhere; help us to adapt or faith to this changing world whilst holding on to and proclaiming what is timeless and universal. Let us never lose our vision of establishing your kingdom here on earth; help us to use every opportunity we can find to speak boldly the truth of the risen Lord and Saviour of all. Even apart, let us find unity in doing your will.
Lord, hear our prayer.
We pray for your world, for all those places overwhelmed by the pandemic, for all those places struggling to put measures in place to prevent or minimise the spread of infection.We pray for those who are ill, for those who are recovering and for the families of those who have fallen victim.We give thanks and prayers for those who, in following your example, show concern and compassion to others.We pray for those working to combat the disease, for the front-line workers whose vital contributions keep our societies running, for health care staff all over the world, and for all those whose daily work means that they must expose themselves to risk of infection in order to provide needed care for someone else.
Lord, hear our prayer
We pray for our own nation, especially for those in government now faced with difficult decisions which will affect us all.We give thanks for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recovery, and we pray that all our leaders will work together for the good of all sections of the community with wisdom, humility and justice.We pray for the people of this nation, that they may be inspired to follow the guidelines set out for social distancing and self-isolation, that the lockdown may come to a swifter and more successful end.
Lord, hear our prayer
Lord Jesus, comforter and healer to those in both physical, mental and spiritual need, we bring before you all those, whether known to us personally or not, who are in that need at this time.We are emboldened to ask that your healing touch may be felt in their lives.All these we hold up to you and commit to your loving care.
Lord, hear our prayer
We thank you Lord, for the opportunities in the life of our church to offer support and comfort to the bereaved.Our lives are enriched by the touch, however light,of those who have gone before us; and at this time of increased death, when many cannot be with their loved ones in their final moments, nor give them the sending off they truly deserve, we pray for all those who face the pain of grief at the loss of a loved one; for we can boldly claim that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, a light which no darkness can quench.
We remember before God all those who have died and are dying at this terrible time.
Lord, hear our prayer
Risen Lord, you sent your disciples out into the world to spread your message.You met with your followers on the road to Emmaus and encouraged them.As we face a world we cannot go out into, and roads we cannot walk, we ask no more than that you be with us each day on our own path, wherever it leads or does not lead.Open our eyes to the vision you have for each one of us.
Let our faith in your resurrected glory be like that of Thomas so that we too can declare, “My Lord and my God!”
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.