Easter 2

April 7, 2024

Lectionary Texts

Acts 4. 32-35— The disciples held possessions in common… There was not a needy person among them.

Psalm 133— How good it is when we live in unity!

1 John 1.1 – 2.2
— We have seen eternal life in Jesus. … We are sinful, but forgiven…. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the whole world.

John 20.19-31— Jesus appears to the disciples, breathes on them, sends them.. Thomas questions, then experiences Jesus in the flesh.

Preaching Thoughts

       Resurrection isn’t just a thing we believe; it’s a way of living. Raised from our self-centered lives, we are part of the Body of Christ. We belong to each other. We don’t need to defend and provide for ourselves alone; our lives are in community. Self-giving will not deplete us. All of our needs will be met.

1 John
      Watch out for the old substitutionary way of thinking about an “atoning sacrifice.” Jesus’s sacrifice, his profound self-giving, is simply his love, not playing a part in a divinely concocted transaction. He isn’t “offered up” as a sacrifice; he offers himself. He’s not sacrificed to God; he sacrifices himself to our sin, evil and violence. And his self-giving love is “atoning” not because it “pays for” our sin, but because it makes us “at one” with God.” Jesus inhabits our sin and pain and alienation and right there extends God’s love to us. Nothing, not our sin or our death or our loneliness or our disbelief in God, not even our worst evil, can separate us from God’s love. Jesus’ self-giving love brings us back into harmony with God.

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 (John doesn’t say he touches 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

Leader: Christ is risen!
All: Christ is risen indeed!
The Crucified One has been raised from the dead.
The victim of our cruelty and injustice has been given eternal life.
Life has conquered death! Justice has triumphed over oppression!
Forgiveness has wiped away sin! Love has overcome evil!
Alleluia! We thank you, God,with hearts, like graves, newly opened.
Alleluia! We worship you, God, with lives made new. Alleluia!

Leader: God of love and miracle, you have raised Christ from the dead!
All: We thank you. We praise you. We worship you.
And yet we long to see Christ in the flesh
We long to touch his wounded, healing hands.
We wait for you.
We reach for you.

And yet even in our not seeing, not knowing, you are here.
We thank you. We praise you. We worship you.

Leader: God, Life-Giver, we praise you.
All: You who set us free, we thank you!
Risen One, we greet you.
Beloved, we open our arms to you.
Breath of life, you fill us, and we sing your praise.
Alleluia! Holy Spirit, live in us, and make us your Body. Alleluia!

Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
We have seen your love among us.
We have touched your grace.
You are alive among us!
We open our hearts to your risen presence.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Leader: Christ is risen!
All: Christ is risen indeed.
Alleluia! We are baptized into Christ’s death,
so that as Christ was raised by your glory,
we too may walk in newness of life.
Alleluia! Raise us up, O God,
from cynicism to trust, from fear to love,
from death to life.
Raise us up, O risen Christ! Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

God of love, we come to you thankful for the miracle of Christ’s resurrection, and yet confessing our doubt and self-protection, and the harm that we do in our fear. Heal the wounds of our fear, set us free from the armor of our fear, and redeem us from the habits of fear. Speak your Word to us. We reach out for your hand. Come to us, in the risen Christ. We are open. Amen.

God of Resurrection, receive our past, gather it into your grace, and usher us into your new future. We who seek Jesus wait with eager hope. We search with earnest hearts. We reach out with trembling hands. May Christ come to us, that we may see anew, and live in faith. Amen.

Gracious God, Thomas wanted to see and touch the risen Christ. We too want to see you and hear you, and feel your presence. By your grace you are present here, speaking to us, reaching out to us and in us. Help us to listen for your voice and to open our hearts to your real presence as we read your scriptures, proclaim your Word and share in your feast. Amen.
God of life, in the beginning you breathed your breath into the dust of the earth and it became a living human. Breathe your life-giving breathe into us once again, that we may become new beings in you. Fill us with your Spirit, and send us into the world to love, in the name of Christ, whose rising is the dawn of our new life. Amen.

Listening Prayer

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

Risen Christ,
I cannot always feel you,
I don’t always see you before me,
but I don’t seek feelings.
I seek you.
And you come through the locked door of my heart
and are present with me,
my Chief, and my God.

Risen Christ,
come breathe your spirit into us,
breathe into us new life,
fill us with your love,
resurrect us in your Spirit.

Prayer of Confession

Pastor: Loving God, we profess resurrection and yet we have lived as if it is not true. We have not trusted you completely, received life from you fully, or given of ourselves freely. We have not loved as you have asked us to.
God, have mercy.
Forgive our sin. Reach out and touch the wounds of our hearts, and heal them.
God, have mercy.

From the grave of our sin, raise us up to new life. Restore our faith, renew our love, and grant us once again your deepest joy.
God of all mercy, by the mystery of your grace,
raise us up to new life with the Risen Christ.

Eucharistic Prayer

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

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
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.

We delight to praise and thank you, God, and we share this meal in celebration.
For you create us in love and make Covenant to be our God.
You expose the crucifying nails we hold and hammers we wield,
and you judge the forces of oppression.
In love you overcome the power of evil,
and set us free, oppressor and oppressed alike.
In Christ you receive our evil and transform it by your grace;
you raise Christ from the dead, and you raise us with Christ, to new lives.
So we come to this feast, singing your praise with all Creation.

            [Sanctus, spoken or sung:]
        Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and might,
        heaven and earth are full of your glory.
        Hosanna in the highest.
        Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
        Hosanna in the highest.
               [or alternate version]

Blessed are all who come in the power of your love,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He taught and healed with love; he gathered the broken and the outcast.
He faced our violence with non-violence and our betrayal with forgiveness.
He bore the marks of our cruelty, and died at the hands of our injustice;
but you raised him from the dead. Your love in him prevailed over sin and death.

[The Blessing and Covenant…]

Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
Remembering these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

             [Memorial Acclamation, spoken or sung:]
        Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
        Dying, Christ destroyed our death. Rising, Christ restores our life.
        Christ will come again in glory.
             [or alternative]

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.
Breathe your Spirit into us, and send us in your love.
By your grace may we bear the marks of humble obedience,
suffer for the sake of love and justice,
and trust your power to raise us up in victory over all evil.
We pray in the name of the Crucified and Risen One,
Christ our victim, Christ our Savior, Christ our head.

     [Spoken or sung]

* 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 / after Communion

[Adapt as needed.]
Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.). We have seen with our eyes and known in our hearts, we have tasted with our tongues and known in our sols your risen presence—in this meal, in our sharing, in one another. Breathe your Spirit into us and send us now in your grace, so that through our love others may hear and see and feel your love, alive in this world. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

Easter Eucharistic Responses Nine sets of Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen set to familiar hymn tunes appropriate for the Easter season.

See Easter Communion Songs, nine songs of invitation and preparation for communion set to familiar hymn tunes.
We Have Hungered (Tune: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,
HOLY MANNA or Joyful, Joyful )
We have hungered, we have longed to reach and touch you in the flesh.
Now you show yourself in glory, risen and made new and fresh.
Though we turn away, you hold us. We who once were dead now live.
Blest, received, adored, forgiven, now in gratitude we give.

God, we bring our gifts, rejoicing in your love, your love so great!
For you call us to your table, all as one, to celebrate.
Here we see and touch and taste you in the wine and in the bread:
in the loving, in the sharing you are risen from the dead.

Offering Songs,
Brief songs for dedication of offering or communion gifts,
set to familiar hymn tunes.
(Tune: The River Is Wide / Gift of Love)

O risen Christ, O Living One,
we greet you fresh in morning sun.
And as you rise you hold us, too,
that we may be raised up with you.

Christ, as you bear our lives into
this day of God, created new,
we give them back for you to take
and use with love, for blessing’s sake.

Christ Is now Living       (Tune: Morning Has Broken)

Christ is now living, who was once buried,
lovingly giving life to us all.
Deep in the grave he bore all our sorrow;
risen to save, he utters his call.

Christ has arisen! My heart is singing:
God, you have given life that is new,
endlessly giving, blossoming deeply.
So I am giving my heart to you.

Siblings of Jesus, let us go on now,
one with each other in this new light,
serving and loving; so by our giving
others may meet Christ in their own sight.

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.

New Breath (Tune: Morning Has Broken)

Christ, we are baptized into your dying,
and like the sunrise, we are made new,
given new breath, to live every moment,
for out of death comes new life in you

Great Holy Spirit, breathe in us daily,
set free from fear that once bound us in,
free now to love our neighbors with courage,
rising above our death and our sin..

Blessed and forgiven and resurrected,
set free for living by grace alone,
may we live lives of gentle compassion,
with the same light that in Jesus shone.

Risen (A communion song) (Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)
[This song may be found in Table Songs,
a collection of communion songs to familiar tunes.]

Blessed Lord Jesus, you laid down your life for us.
Risen from death, now you bid us dine.
Grateful, we bring our gifts, as we receive from you
your love poured out in bread and wine.

Risen Lord Jesus, make your presence known to us;
come in flesh we can see and feel.
In bread and wine and prayer, in those with whom we share,
be present in this holy meal.

Now as we share this meal give to us your Spirit.
Make us your Body, your living Word.
In our forgiveness, in lives that heal and bless
may this world know our risen Lord.

Risen Bread (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

You laid your life down like sowing a seed;
once dead and buried, from death you are freed,
rising like wheat in the warmth of the sun!
Christ you are risen! New life has begun!

Christ, you are risen, but not far above:
you live among us in each act of love,
in every deed of compassion you rise,
living in flesh we can see with our eyes.

Christ, we are blest as we gather to dine,
strengthened for love by the bread and the wine.
This is your Body, now entering ours,
strong with your loving, miraculous powers.

Gathered like wheat from the fields in the sun,
once we were scattered but raised we are one.
We are the body of your love and grace,
your blest community, your real human face.

Jesus, you feed us, then bid us to leave,
sharing with others the love we receive.
We are your Body, sent by your command,
making love real as the bread in our hands.

Third verse may be omitted if there is no communion.
         Final verse may be included with previous verses

                  or as a blessing at the end of the service.

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