Call to Worship (inspired by Isaiah 2:4, Isaiah 52:7)
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.
Who publish peace, who bring good tidings, who publish salvation, and proclaim, “Your God reigns!”
God will judge among many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and nation shall not lift up sword against nation: neither shall they learn war anymore.
Let us lift up our voices and praise the God of peace and justice. Amen.
A prayer for God’s help
Gracious Lord, we pray for your peace.
When our hearts ache for the victims of war and oppression, help us to remember that you healed people simply by touching them…, and give us faith in our ability to comfort and heal bodies and minds and spirits that have been broken by violence and illness.
When the injustice of this world seems too much for us to handle, help us to remember that you fed five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish…, and give us hope that what we have to offer will turn out to be enough, too.
When fear of the power and opinions of others tempts us not to speak up for the least among us, help us to remember that you dared to turn over the tables of money changers…, and give us the courage to risk following you without counting the cost.
When we tell ourselves that we have given all we can to bring peace to this world, help us to remember your sacrifice… , and give us the miracle of losing a little more of ourselves in serving you and our neighbours.
Walk with us, Lord, as we answer your call to be peacemakers. Increase our compassion, our generosity and our hospitality for the least of your children. Give us the courage, the patience, the serenity, the self-honesty and the gentleness of spirit that are needed in a world filled with turmoil and terror. Amen.
Please read John 20:19-22 Jesus Appears to His Disciples
The disciples had barricaded the door. Earlier that morning, they’d heard that things weren’t right at Jesus’ tomb. Peter and John checked things out. They found it just as the women had said. Empty! As the day wore on, their anxiety grew and grew. Now they’d set themselves apart to avoid danger.
The same is true for us. We’re wary of the Covid. A couple of weeks ago I tested positive for Covid and had to self-isolate. Breathless and barking. Would I get sick? would I be one of the unfortunate ones who end up dying from it? I prayed. There’s no lack of anxiety these days. And for some, the self-isolating adds to their stress. After a 10 days of isolation I can definitely relate to the disciples and their fear. I get it!
But then the risen Jesus breaks in through their locked door. Jesus enters their anxiety-filled room, and, of all things, he says, “Peace! Peace be with you!” Jesus doesn’t bring just any old peace. He brings his peace. For he is peace. His very presence is the source of their peace and when they were in his presence, the disciples anxiety melted away. His presence was peace.
Psychologists talk about how a person can have a non-anxious presence. The non-anxious person conveys an atmosphere of equilibrium to the people around them. They don’t easily get ruffled and agitated. With their peaceful presence, they convey a sense that things will work out all right. Jesus is the utmost non-anxious presence! He’s the author of life. He’s the Word made flesh! All things have come into being through him. And without him, nothing could exist. Jesus is the word of God, winging into the universe, into all of time. He’s the Alpha and the Omega, he’s the beginning and end.
And his presence is peace because he’s been through it all. He’s been there and done it. He has experienced utter rejection, even by his closest peers. He’s been condemned and cursed. He’s been whipped and chastised, taunted and tortured. Jesus underwent an agonizing death on a cross. His deceased body was laid in its grave. But then he overcame even death. Jesus is peace because he’s literally been to Hell and back. He’s walked victorious from his grave. There is nothing that he hasn’t overcome!
Benediction (inspired by Jeremiah 29)
We leave now to live our lives.
We will grow old, we will raise families, we will love neighbour and family.
We will get on with living our lives, mindful of the dreams God has for humanity.
Whether we are in Jerusalem or Babylon, we will trust that God’s peace will come. Amen.
Suggested music Peace, Perfect Peace, Is The Gift Of Christ Our Lord www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DWa8oWu1nQ Peace Is Flowing Like a River www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQ00H4Tavdo Hevenu Shalom Alehem (We brought you peace) www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZ_nbinWkvE
Bible study restarts week commencing 8/11/21.
· Poulton 10/11/21 7pm
· Fleetwood 11/11/21 2pm
· Fairhaven 12/11/21 2pm
· Hambleton postponed until the new year.