2nd Sunday of Easter – April 24, 2022

Lectionary Texts

During the Easter season a reading from the book of Acts replaces the Hebrew Bible reading. Revelation 1. 4-8 is John’s greeting to the churches at the beginning of his book. It opens with a greeting from God and from Christ, who has set us free and made us a nation of priests who serve God, and who is coming again.

In Acts 5. 27-32 the authorities try to stop Jesus’ followers from preaching in his name, but the disciples say “We obey God, not human authority,” and they keep right on preaching.

Psalm 150 invites us to praise God with all the musical instruments (and all the other means) that we can imagine. Let everything that breathes praise God!

In John 20.19-31 The risen Jesus comes to the disciples and breathes his spirit into them (“spirit” and “breath” being the same word in Greek). Thomas misses this, and wants to see the crucified and risen Lord—wounds and all. When he does see Jesus he is overwhelmed, not by the physical proof but by Jesus’ presence.

Preaching Thoughts

The Gospel reading comprises two scenes. The first is John’s Pentecost. Jesus breathes the Spirit on his followers. This is what Jesus has returned for: not to prove anything, not to exalt in his victory over death, but to breathe his living spirit into the disciples. Now they are his risen body.

Thomas (the “Twin”) says he won’t believe unless he touches the wounds. Maybe that’s doubt. But maybe he’s saying, on behalf of all of us, that resurrection isn’t something you just think is true because someone said so; you believe it because you’ve experienced it. We don’t want to hear beliefs about resurrection; we want to see evidence of resurrection. When he does see Jesus, what convinces him is not the wounds (he never does touch them) but simply the overwhelming (and I assume loving) presence of Jesus. Thomas represents all those to whom we want to proclaim resurrection. Words alone won’t suffice.

We love happy endings. But Thomas is holding resurrection to a higher standard: resurrection is not just bouncing back; it’s radical transformation from something that is truly dead—you can see the wounds—to something that is truly alive. Thomas wants to see and touch the wounds. He wants to know not just that Jesus is OK after all, but that the one who is alive and whole is indeed the one who suffered and died. That the one who stands before him with forgiveness is the very one he denied and abandoned. (Remember when Jesus set out to Lazarus’ tomb, despite a contract out on him, and Thomas said “Let us go die with him.” But Thomas didn’t die with him. He ran away.) Now, in the wounds, and the Living One who bears them, he needs to see his own sin forgiven. As do we. Thomas is our twin.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Christ is risen!
All: Christ is risen indeed!
God of Love, you have passed through our sin and sorrow,
died of our wounds, lain in our grave.
And you have risen, full of life.
You have entered our darkness,
and you have made the darkness one with the light.
Now even the darkness shines with your glory.
All of life is raised, new, and we with it,
praising you with new voices, new hearts, new lives. Alleluia!

2. [Psalm 150 ]
Leader: Praise the Holy One! Praise God in the sanctuary;
People: God, we praise you in the mighty heavens!
We praise you for your mighty deeds, and for your surpassing greatness!
We praise you with trumpet sound; we praise you with lute and harp!
We praise you with tambourine and dance; we praise you with strings and pipe!
We praise you with clanging cymbals; we praise you with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise God!
Praise God!

3.
Leader: Loving God, this is the day that you are making.
All: Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
You have raised Christ from the grave and overcome death.
You have defeated the power of evil and oppression.
We long for your presence, and we open ourselves to your Spirit.
Christ, our living Chief, you are with us, and we give you thanks.
We look for signs of your rising;
and we live in a world that longs for your living presence.
Breathe your Spirit into us, and raise us to new life,
that we may be living evidence of your resurrection,
the Body of your risen Christ. Amen.

4.
Leader: Christ is risen!
People: Christ is risen indeed!
Creator God, we praise you!
Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
Alleluia! We have seen the Risen Christ! Alleluia!
You alone are holy, O God, and so we worship you.
You have brought Christ up out of the grave.
You have brought life out of death, hope out of despair.
We have seen your victory in our lives;
we have beheld your Risen Christ among us
For what we have seen, we give thanks.
For what is yet to come, we give you our hearts.
We worship you, and give you ourselves. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of new life, your grace is always beyond our grasp. But we want to see you, to feel your presence. Open the eyes of our hearts to see you, present for us. Open the ears of our hearts to hear you speak your Word to us, now and always, through the living Christ. Amen.

2.
Resurrecting God,
when the risen Jesus appeared to his disciples,
he offered them signs of peace,
and breathed his spirit on them.
Breathe your Spirit into us,
and grant us seeing hearts,
that we may live as your faithful disciples,
and offer peace and healing in a broken world. Amen.

3.
O God, you make every moment new. You come through the locked doors of our habituated lives, and reveal yourself in Jesus, who bring us his peace. May we continually pass with him from death to life, and embody his love and forgiveness.May the wounded but risen Christ, who is present with us, empower us to be present with this wounded world, by the grace of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

4.
Gracious God, your risen Christ appeared to the disciples and spoke to them. Pass through the locked doors of our fears and our doubts, our need to control and understand. Be present with us; speak to us; open our hearts and minds, that we may hear with joy what you are saying to us today, and give you our hearts. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

God we confess our trust in you is broken
by our fears and cynicism,
by our need to control and understand,
by our attachment to comfort and security.
In the wounds of Christ touch us,
soften our hearts, and turn our spirits toward you,
that in us Christ may rise anew, living and whole.

Reading

1. [May be used as an affirmation or creed.]
Revelation 1.4-8

Leader: Grace to you and peace
from the One who is and who was and who is to come,
and from the seven spirits who are before the divine throne,
and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of all earthly rulers.
All: To Christ who loves us
and in his dying freed us from our sins
and made us to be a nation of priests serving our God and Creator,
to Christ be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Look! Christ is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see, even those who pierced Jesus on the cross;
and for Christ all the tribes of the earth will mourn . So it is to be. Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says God,
who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Come, risen Christ, come Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace.
Alleluia!

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Living God,
the doors of our hearts are locked.
Come through them,
grace us with your loving presence,
breathe your Spirit into us,
and grant us your peace.

Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively by leader(s) and congregation, or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

God of love, you create all things in your grace.
You bring light out of darkness and life out of death.
You bring people out of slavery, and Christ out of the grave.

Through the locked doors of prisons you set the captives free.
Through the locked doors of our fears
you come with forgiveness and peace.

We rejoice in your presence that we cannot understand,
your love that we cannot comprehend.
So we feast in joy beyond words, singing your praise with all Creation:

     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ, crucified and yet risen,
wounded and yet forgiving,
having passed through death, yet bearing peace.

He passed through the walls of people’s fears and prejudice
and brought them truth and healing.
He passed through the disciples’ closed doors
and brought them love and peace.

He touched the wounds of others,
and now in broken bread we touch his wounds.

     (The Blessing and Covenant)
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

     (Memorial Acclamation)

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us, that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
that we may touch the world’s wounds with healing,
that we may offer peace and forgiveness,
that a world yearning for your presence
may behold it in us and our love,
by the power of your Holy Spirit
and the presence of your living Christ in us,
for your glory and the for the healing of the world.

(Amen.)

____________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

1.
Gracious God, you have breathed your Spirit into us. Now into this world, that is hungry for your peace, send us as signs of your living presence. Into this world that is doubtful of your love, send us as vessels of your grace. May your love pass through the locked doors of our world and reach the hearts of those who hunger for your grace. Send us in your Spirit as bearers of your healing light, in the name and Spirit of Christ.

2.
Gracious God, there are many people in this world who have not experienced your love, who have no reason to hope, who have not seen the risen Christ. Use us, we pray, to bring your love to them. We give you our lives, symbolized in our gifts, with which to make resurrection real in this world, in the name of Christ. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. In our hunger for you, you come to us. You touch us with your presence and feed us with your flesh. Now throw open the doors we have locked around us, and send us, for the sake of others who hunger for you, as the Body of Christ. Amen.2.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. In the broken bread we have touched your wounds. In the cup poured out you have filled us. Send us into the world to touch the wounds of Christ in those who suffer, seeking always your life-giving presence. We go in the name and the Spirit of Christ, in the courage and compassion of Christ, in the loving company of the risen Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view on the Music page)

Communion Songs for Easter set to familiar tunes
Eight songs of invitation to the table, set to these melodies:
All Creatures of Our God and King,
Infant Holy, Be Thou My Vision,
The Gift of Love / Water Is Wide,
Morning Has Broken, Fairest Lord Jesus.

Easter Eucharistic Responses
Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen set to:
All Things Bright and Beautiful (Includes Preface
)
Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Fairest Lord Jesus
Morning Has Broken
Now the Green Blade Rises


Come, Risen Christ   (Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)

Come, risen Christ, to us. Come into our daily lives.
Come in our labors and in our rest.
Walk with us by our side. Show us where grace may hide.
Become our host, who once was guest.

Come, risen Christ, to us. Come into our fear and pain.
Come, speak to us your word of peace.
Nourish our weakened hearts. Feed us the food of grace.
From guilt and anguish grant release.

Come, risen Christ, to us. Lay your hand upon our hearts.
Draw us to follow. Our lives now use.
Call us your word to keep, love you and feed your sheep,
and bear your light where you shall choose.


Let Me Feel Your Wounds   (original song)

Risen Christ, let me feel your wounds
in the heart of the one whom I have crucified.
May I feel your forgiving and begin brand new living.
May I know your rising there.

Risen Christ, let me feel your wounds
in the hands of the lonely and despairing ones.
May I love with your caring. May I hope with your daring.
May I know your rising there.

Risen Christ, let me feel your wounds
in the feet of the poor and homeless wandering.
May I weep with their weeping. May I give without keeping.
May I know your rising there.

Risen Christ, let me feel your wounds
in the marks of our violence upon the world.
May I bless and heal. May your peace be my seal.
May I know your rising there.