watch today’s service here:
I pray that your inward eyes may be enlightened, so that you may know how vast are the resources of his power open to us who have faith.Ephesians 1: 18-19
Hymn SGP 7 Alleluia alleluia give thanks to the risen Lord
We are supposed to have faith, to trust in you
neither to doubt what we have been told about you
nor to doubt that you are a loving and caring God
who has the power to right wrongs
and establish peace and justice
But it isn’t so easy to do that in practice:
we have questions, we have concerns
we have niggling doubts
we look at the world around us –
maybe at our own circumstances –
and find it isn’t always easy to match
the theory with life as it actually is.
Thank you that Jesus lived a human life
and understands the challenges
that come with being human.
He had questions and concerns
His friends had questions and concerns
and he taught them to go on living and serving
without knowing all the answers
Help us to do that
Where there are things we need to know
help us to learn them
Where there are things we don’t need to know
help us to cope with uncertainty or lack of knowledge
and help us to know which is which.
Through Christ our Saviour we pray. Amen
All age time (for ages 0-100)
Let’s have a True or False Quiz today. No shouting out the answer. Put up your Right Hand if you think the statement is True, and your Left Hand if you think it is False
- Tulips come originally from North America TRUE/FALSE
- If you mix red and blue paint you get orange TRUE/FALSE
- Those who receive the royal Maundy money
receive the same number of silver Maundy coins
as the years of the sovereign’s age TRUE/FALSE
- If you had 6 Easter eggs and ate 2 you have 4 left TRUE/FALSE
- Cadbury released their first hollow egg filled with
sugared almonds in 1875 TRUE/FALSE
- A baby hen is called a chick TRUE/FALSE
- The name ‘Spain’ comes originally from the
Phoenician I-Shpania ‘The Land of the rabbit’ TRUE/FALSE
- Daffodils have purple flowers TRUE/FALSE
- 38 Faberge eggs were made for the Russian Tsars
Alexander III and Nicholas II to give as Easter
gifts to their wives and mothers TRUE/FALSE
- A lamb is a baby sheep TRUE/FALSE
Whatever our age, how do we know whether to believe a bit of information or not? When we are young we believe grown-ups, especially parents and teachers. As we get older, not only do we become naturally more sceptical (even cynical as we become even older again!) but we are taught and expected to be able to assess whether something we are told or read is true or not.
That said, how often do we just take things at face-value: what we read on social media, what a web-site says, what an ‘influencer’ thinks? We have to trust some people, we have to trust that some bits of information are right, or life just wouldn’t happen. So what are the guidelines we follow on when to trust people/ bits of information, and when to dismiss them?
Answers to the Quiz
1 False (they come from Anatolia across to central Asia, with some species being found in Mediterranean areas); 2 False (the answer is purple) 3 True 4 True 5 True 6 True7 True (though some other suggestions for the origin have been made) 8 False (they are yellow) 9 False (it was 52) 10 True
John 20: 19-30
Hymn 430 Christ has risen while earth slumbers
(what Thomas might have thought)
I think I’ll always be different from the other disciples. I just am different. Some of them as so full of miracles, of deep and meaningful sayings, of spiritual experiences. Me, I’m a practical person, I like to get on and do things, I call a spade a spade. I’m a natural sceptic. I’m the one who will say “Yes, but what about..” or “Have you taken into consideration the fact that..” The others think I’m an awkward so-and-so, that I’m not really committed, that I’m holding them back.
I’m also liable to say what I think, or maybe it’s more what I feel. I don’t always put it in the most diplomatic language. Sometimes I think I say what other people are thinking, but don’t have the courage to say.
I liked Jesus. I really did. But sometimes I just didn’t ‘get’ him. For someone with such a good grasp of human nature, he was too soft with other people, too ready to give them the benefit of the doubt, too ready to leave himself exposed to them. I’m not one to show my feelings very well. I was just as upset as the other disciples when Jesus was arrested, taken away and executed, and just as ashamed of my own behaviour – running away and hiding. Some of the others like to make a big show of being upset, and I can’t really handle that. Personally I like to go off somewhere on my own to think my thoughts and shed my tears when I’m alone.
Being together, eating together, wasn’t the same without Jesus. It made me miss him all the more. I took some stick for not being there that Sunday evening. “Where were you last night? Out enjoying yourself again? You really missed yourself. You’ll never guess what happened to us? We’ve seen the Risen Jesus. We received the Holy Spirit from him. Wonder what that means for you. Never mind, when we all die and we’re sitting on our clouds, we’ll wave down to you burning in the fires of hell”. That week was hell. It hurt so much. Like a knife going in and being twisted. My Jesus let me down! If he knows everything, surely he knew about my hurt and grief. So why did he turn up when I wasn’t there? I was missing him, I was feeling bad about letting him down, and he seemed to snub me, to give the others an excuse for making fun of me. “Doubting Thomas”. Doubting Thomas. Doubting Thomas.
May I shouldn’t have said what I said “Unless I can put my hand..” and all that. But I said it. Even without my personal baggage there are lots of questions round the claims they were making. Jesus died on the Friday. He must have died after all that suffering. He couldn’t have somehow survived and been well enough to be out and about three days later. But how could someone rise from the dead? How could a body as battered and broken as his come back to life? Could it really come unannounced into a room with locked doors? Was it wishful thinking? Was it really a dream, or a hallucination? Did they exaggerate things?
Despite everything I was there a week later. It wasn’t comfortable – those looks, those smirks, Doubting Thomas, Doubting Thomas. But that was as nothing to what I felt when Jesus appeared. I just wasn’t aware of the others at that point. All I could take in was Jesus standing there. Him and me. I thought I was going to get the full edge of his tongue, like the money changers in the Temple. I thought he might threaten me with the fires of hell. But I should have known better. What was it I said about him being too soft and giving other people the benefit of the doubt. He did that to me. “Put your finger here and look at my hands, stretch out your hand and put it in my side.” It was weird. It was gruesome, but it was fascinating. Nail marks. Spear mark. But it wasn’t raw flesh, there wasn’t blood or obvious pain. Just marks on living flesh. I wanted to touch them, and I didn’t. I didn’t need to. It really was him, alive, and not holding against me anything that I’d said or done.
Now I don’t care if I’m Doubting Thomas. I’m Jesus’ Apostle Thomas. He forgave me, he accepted me for who and what I am, and he sent me out. I’m still me, different from the others, not one who is full of miracles, deep and meaningful sayings or intense spiritual experiences. I’m still a practical person, who calls a spade a spade, asks awkward questions and says what he things or feels (though maybe I’ve learned to pause before I speak and consider how I phrase things). Jesus showed me that he has a place for me in his team, he needs someone like me in his team – though he wouldn’t really want a complete team of people like me. We’re all different, but Jesus needs our differences, our different skills, our different personalities, to make an effective team. He gave me the Holy Spirit, he gave it to the others, he has it given to everyone else who has joined his team, with the instruction to go out and be witnesses wherever we are to the Good News that he has been raised from the dead.
The others might never admit it, but I think they secretly appreciate my doubts and questions: it makes them have to think, it helps them to grapple with issues that people in the community of Jesus’ friends have to confront, and it prepares them for the sort of questions, arguments and doubts they encounter from people who don’t know Jesus, or are hostile to Jesus. And I think many of them have learned, or are learning, that there are some questions and doubts you have to live with, but against that there is the certainty of knowing Jesus’ love and presence with us all the time.
Prayers for others
We live in a world where many people
live uncomfortably with uncertainty or doubt
Where will the next meal come from?
How secure is their job?
Will peace come back?
Will they be able to return home?
Will the captive be set free?
Will they or their friend or loved one be well again?
Can they believe what they are told in the media,
by the authorities?
How much is propaganda, or ‘fake news’?
You are a God who cares.
You are a God who strives for truth, for justice and for peace
And so we bring you our prayers for those in need.
we pray for those who are ill, at home or in hospital
those undergoing treatment
and those for whom there is no treatment
and for all who care for them
we pray for those who are lonely or feeling low
those grieving a friend or loved one
we pray for those who are worried about work,
about money, about home
we pray for those who work for peace and justice
that they may know your strength
we pray for those who suffer loss of hope or purpose
that they may know your comfort
we pray for those who seek to heal and reconcile
that they may know your patience
we pray for those who feel the pain of anger, hurt or bitterness
that they may know your peace
we pray for those whose cries for help we cannot hear
that they may know the courage of your presence
we pray for the Queen
and for all in positions of responsibility
we pray for your church
here and throughout the world
help us to live together in love and unity
and be your hands, your feet, your witness
in everything we do
We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us
And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us
Hymn 432 How often we like Thomas
Christ was raised from the dead
by the glorious power of the Father.
Set out, then, on a new life with Christ,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
rest and remain with you,
today, and every day, and for ever. Amen